Tips of the Trade: How to Price Your Artwork

Pricing artwork is complicated and one of the most challenging tasks that emerging artists face. Expert opinions vary. There is no one correct path; if there was, well, then the process wouldn’t be as complex as it. In this article we proffer a few suggestions. We recommend taking away what resonates with your own practice.


Remove emotion.

Lori Woodward, a painter, writer and teacher, cautions artists in an article on Artist Daily stating, “When I price with my emotion, I tend to lower my prices because I feel sorry that the collector has to spend so much…I need to look at pricing and how to sell artwork objectively.”

Don’t under-evaluate yourself and your work.On the other hand, avoid overpricing your works to impress viewers. Pricing is a delicate balance, but luckily…


There’s a formula to help.

Lori Woodward, like other artists, uses a Square Inch x Dollar Amount formula to price her works.

  • Multiply the paintings length by width (in inches)
  • Take the square inch total and multiply it by a set dollar amount that’s appropriate for your reputation.* Lori uses $6 per square inch.
  • Optional: Round the total down or up, i.e. $1920 becomes $1900.
  • Calculate your cost of canvas and framing, and then double that number.

Let’s walk through an example with the following data points:

  • 16” x 20” painting
  • $6 is the set dollar amount per square inch
  • $150 is the cost of materials

320 x $6 = $1,920.00

$150 x 2 = $300.

$1,900 + $300 = $2,200 (the retail price).

If the painting sells from a gallery, Lori gets a 50% commission.

So, her total takeaway would be…$950 for the painting + $150 for the framing = $1,100.

*Lori asserts that she has been painting for 14 years so her cost per inch will be higher than an emerging artist’s. An artist starting out should make his/her work as affordable as possible, but still be able to cover costs and make a small profit.

Here are two other formulas for pricing your artwork. One includes treating your work like an hourly wage.


Charge the same in your studio as in a gallery.

Galleries invest time and money in the marketing and selling of your works. They do not appreciate being undercut, even if it is your own studio. Maintain strong amicable relationships with your galleries and keep your prices the same.


Beware of pricing yourself too low.

You can always lower prices. It is much harder to increase your prices.


Research the prices of comparable artists.

Research your market. Look at other artists’ work that is comparable in medium, size, style, etc. Don’t forget to take into consideration these artists’ experience, accolades and geographic location. Visit galleries, art fairs, exhibitions, etc. Note what is being sold…and what isn’t.


Price your work consistently.

Buyers want to understand how your art is priced. Consistency establishes credibility and a strong reputation among buyers, collectors, galleries, etc.


Stand by your prices with confidence.

Once you define your pricing strategy, be confident!

Social Media for Artists: Tips for Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

Social media.

The term has become synonymous with marketing. It is supposed to unlock marketing opportunity and sales for artists. But, how? We’re sharing a few tips for leveraging your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Before we dive into each platform, here are a few general social media best practices:

  • The 80/20 rule: People do not want to be barraged with sales messaging. Instead, dedicated 80% of your posts to entertaining your viewers and 20% promoting to them.
    • Content quality over quantity: Make sure your content is valuable to your readers and you’re not posting for posting’s sake. Connect with your customers in an authentic way.
  • Brand consistency across platforms: Make it easy for consumers to recognize your business and brand by maintaining consistency in: your logo and tagline, imagery and your bio/artist statement and tone and voice of your content. Follow successful artists and pay attention to how they brand themselves.
    • Dashboards save time: Download and use a social media dashboard like Tweetdeck or HootSuite to manage your social accounts.
  • Track engagement: Stay tuned to what posts perform well so you can get an idea of best performing content and timing for your audience.
  • Be consistent: Don’t come out of the gates sprinting. Only commit to a feasible amount of posting. You don’t want to set up unrealistic expectations with your followers.

Facebook

  • Engagement: Encourage engagement by asking a question in your post. And make sure to follow up with all comments! Engagement keeps readers coming back for more.
  • Cadence: It’s recommended to post once a day.
  • Timing: Studies show that the best time to post on Facebook is between 1pm – 4pm. But remember, since that’s a popular time, there will be a lot of competition; consider testing posts at other times.

Inspiration: Here are 10 Artist Facebook pages for inspiration. You can also learn from other types of businesses here. And, Facebook provides artist profile advice.


Twitter

  • Post length: At the end of September Twitter changed the game. It doubled the character length allowed in posts, from 140 to 280 characters.
    • Save characters by using a URL shortener like Bit.ly or TinyURL.
  • Timing + Cadence: According to the research of an established entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, the best time to Tweet is  between 4:30 – 6:00pm ET. And he recommends posting about 6 times in that 1.5 hour window. The second most effective time is between 10:00am – 2:00pm ET.
  • Re-tweet (RT): Re-tweet posts to get the attention of collectors, artists, organizations and others you’d like to follow you.
  • Photos: Share a photo using Twitpic to share your complete or works in progress. It’s a great way to get your work out there and get feedback along the way.

Instagram

  • Consistency: Treat your account and the grid of images as a collection. Every photo should be cohesive. The easiest way to achieve this consistency is to choose a color scheme and stick with it. Some artists use only pastels or earth tones.

*Hashtag: Back up..what is a hashtag? A hashtag is a tag; anyone who clicks on a hashtag is taken to a stream of all posts with that same tag. According to ArtistsNetwork: “The right combination of hashtags helps expose you and your work to a larger but also targeted audience by making what you’re specifically offering easier to find.”

6 Resources to Help You Sell Your Artwork without Headache and Hassle

You don’t need a Masters in Business to sell your artwork. And you don’t have to feel like you are “selling out” when selling. We have 6 helpful resources to give you the tools and knowledge to make genuine and fruitful sales online and offline.

How to Sell your Artwork Online By Cory Huff 

Resource Type: Book

Online sales are increasing. The lionshare of the market has been held by galleries, separating artists and collectors, but now the internet has changed the game. There’s a new generation of artists connecting directly with buyers online.

How to Sell Your Art Online outlines how to set up an effective website and provides advice on email marketing, blogging, social media marketing and paid advertising.

Huff provides exercises that artists can use to clarify the intellectual and emotional process behind their art, and teaches them how to turn that knowledge into unique stories they can tell online and in person.

ArtistsNetwork.com

Resource Type: Website

ArtistsNetwork.com is a subdivision of F+W Media, Inc. Art Community, which offers books and articles for artists, art videos, online art classes, and art contests. Check out the Art Career Tips and Articles section of the site to boost your sales. Here are two helpful articles:

Art Commissions: General Rules for Selling Art. From the article, “If you underprice your work, the purchaser will value it accordingly. If they pay $25 dollars for something, they will not treasure it nearly as much as they would had they paid $250. You tell the customer what your art is worth by the price that you charge. Sell it cheap, and it may end up being discarded, or sold in a garage sale.”

Selling Artwork Online reminds you of the importance of paperwork legal counsel – “Wherever you sell art online–whether through your own eCommerce store or an online art selling hub–make sure you are protected and you consult a legal professional and or CPA beforehand.”

Artsy Shark’s 250+ Places to Sell your Artwork Online

Resource Type: Online Directory

Artsy Shark gives artists a directory of places that they can market and sell their artwork. General categories include marketplaces, website providers, commission sites and print on demand services. Here are a few examples:

  • Portraity: This site aims to connect artists and clients who want commissioned portraits. Upload your portfolio onto the site and a “contact” button puts potential clients in touch with you.
  • Society6: This provider takes your uploaded art images and uses them to make prints, canvases, iPhone cases, hoodies and more. Set your price, and you receive payment for everything over the base price of their products.
  • Square: This is the same group that created the Square card reader. This popular marketplace offers free online stores, with a very clean contemporary look. Use it as your website or link to them as your store.

The Wealthy Artist: 6 Myths and 6 Tips on Marketing your Art

Resource type: YouTube Video

This YouTube video is help for up-and-coming artists. CanvasPop co-founder, Adrain Salamunovic, debunks 6 myths on marketing artwork and offers advice on how to market artwork while maintaining your artistic integrity. how up-and-coming artists can market their works and still maintain their artistic integrity. Here are two myths he addresses:

  • “Creating prints of my will reduce its value.”
  • “If I increase my art prices, I will make more money.”

How to Sell Your Art: Discover How to Stop Being a Starving Artist and Start Being a Successful Entrepreneur  By Alex Korman

Resource Type: Book

Most artists want to make art, not sell it, but in order to turn your passion into a career, you have to think like a business(wo)man and be entrepreneurial. This book gives you those tools without sacrificing your creativity. Here is what you’ll learn:

  • Understanding your market
  • Composing your artist statement
  • Refining your sales pitch
  • Knowing how to price your pieces
  • Discovering where you art belongs
  • Identifying the buyers
  • Defining your target market
  • How to sell art online

 

Etsy Artist: How to successfully launch, market and sell your art on Etsy By Clare Hudson

Resource Type: Book

From the author: “When I started my Etsy shop, I tried looking for a book that specifically focused on selling art and art prints on Etsy, but couldn’t find one. This ebook includes everything I wish I’d been told right from the start and outlines the strategies that worked well for me in the first eight months of having my Etsy shop. There’s also a chapter on tips from other Etsy shop owners who sell artwork.”

It covers everything from creating a successful brand to writing engaging descriptions and effective tags that will help lead customers to your work.

Commonly Asked Questions about Estate Planning – ANSWERED!

This is a compilation of advice from experts and articles. We advise that you seek legal counsel before taking an action as these answers are supposed to be guidelines not action steps.

What should be done with my art work?

You have a few options:

Sell your artwork before or after you pass. Selling art is more expensive than selling other assets. The capital gains tax on art is 28% vs. the usual 20%. The artist is responsible for paying a sales commission, taxes, and most likely, shipping.

If you sell the works after you pass, the capital gains tax is reduced or eliminated. Make sure the work’s value is clearly recorded and communicated. Sometimes family members or executors do not know the value of works and may sell them for less at auction after you pass.

Give pieces to your family and other beneficiaries. It’s highly recommended to leave records and resources to your beneficiaries so that they can maintain your art. This includes names of appraisers, insurance agents, framing experts, gallerists and other specialists.

Set up an LLC. You can leave artwork to multiple beneficiaries through an LLC. What is an LLC? A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.

An LLC allows family members to be responsible for the collection as a group. If they decide to sell one piece, they split the profits evenly. Can’t decide who is your favorite child? You can avoid choosing specific pieces for specific family members.

In an LLC, the heirs own the interests rather than the artworks. The managers are typically responsible for maintaining insurance, display, storage and sales. You can have more than one manager of the LLC.

Set up a trust. A panel of experts at a NYFA legal discussion highly recommended setting up a trust. Why? You can save on taxes. There is a one-time credit available; the IRS allows up to $5.5 million of the value of artwork to NOT be subject to taxation. The exempt amount of artwork can be set aside in a trust and not be taxed again. The appreciation of the work is free of taxation.

Donate to a museum or other type of organization. Donating artwork during your lifetime is called inter vivos gift. There are three requirements for an inter vivos gift.

  1. There has to be an intent to divest the title by the donor.
  2. The donee has to accept the artwork.
  3. The donor has to deliver the work to the donee.

If you donate your art to a charitable organization or museum before you pass, you get an income tax deduction of up to 30% of your adjusted gross income. The deduction is based on the value of the work at the time of the gift.

Donating your art to a museum is the simplest option. No one has to worry about tracking and managing separate pieces, your entire collection is delivered to the museum and your estate receives a tax deduction based on the current valuation.

Make sure your intent is clear. Produce a written document that clearly describes your intentions and the rights that are being extended through the gift. Note: An artwork’s copyright does not automatically transfer just because the physical object is gifted to someone.

Can I only leave artwork to my relatives?

You can leave artwork to anyone. A beneficiary / heir does not have to be blood related. The technical term for heirs is a “non-charitable beneficiary.”

Why is it important to keep an inventory of my art? And what should it include?

Imagine your loved ones going through boxes of papers and manila folders trying to make sense of your collection. That seems brutal, right?

It’s good practice to keep track of your artwork in a systematic way whether that’s using an online or desktop database system, or an organizational product like Excel. It’s even more important to make sure all that information is centralized and easily accessible when you pass away and cannot help those that have to sift through records and post-it notes.

There have been major lawsuits and issues over authentication from poor record keeping. When an artist fails to keep records of their works during their lifetime, it is hard to determine authenticity.

An art inventory should keep all records of your works including: photographs, sale records including the contacts, storage or consignment information, artwork materials and dimensions and any other relevant information that would be helpful for say, someone wanting to mount an exhibit of your work – press releases, notes about the creation process, etc..

How do I start the estate planning process?

First, start documenting and inventorying your artwork. Maintain accurate records (value, location, maintenance needs, etc.) and keep it all centrally located. You can find many desktop or cloud-based art inventory systems to fulfill your needs. Just Google it.

Keep all information related to your art and career in the same central location. This includes show reviews, photographs, invoices, correspondences with dealers, collectors, artists, etc.

Make sure to:

  • Sign, date and title all of your artwork….legibly.
  • Price your work or get an appraisal.
  • Assign an executor.
  • Assign a power of attorney.
  • Leave no loose ends. Make sure your representatives (executor, heirs, agents, etc.) know what you want done with your art.

How do I find a lawyer who will understand my needs as an artist?

Ask fellow artists, your art dealer and other professionals. Check out Arts & Business Councils and Volunteer Lawyers Associations near you. They often have connections to attorneys practiced in art estates.

How much will this all cost? Storage, executor fees, taxes, etc.?

It depends. You’ll have to pay your attorney and most likely your executor. There will be taxes on selling your work. And there are additional costs for artist estates – storage, insurance, and appraisals. You can reduce the cost of storage by gifting it to organizations that will handle that aspect, like museums. It’s recommended to hire an accountant for all of this.

To learn more, read this helpful PDF produced by the Pittsburgh Arts Council.

 

Protect Your Artwork: Secure Your Studio & Storage

Recent events have us thinking about the importance of safeguarding our artwork. When natural disasters hit our studios, it can be disastrous. There’s only so much protecting we can do when a level 10 earthquake shakes or category 5 hurricane drops (hence the importance of digitizing our artworks). But, we should not forget about the smaller, more common hazards to our work.

You spent hundreds of hours crafting your art; take some time to secure it so that your creative effort was not wasted. We have a few tips to help keep your artwork protected and preserved.

 

  • Put your works on wooden pallets to keep them off of the ground. This will protect them from flooding caused by rainfall or burst pipes.

  • Protect works from above too. Cover your art with heavy plastic or scrap carpeting; wrap it completely to protect from the elements above and below.

  • Never store your work near windows, doors, vents or ceiling fans. That being said, you want your storage unit or studio to have ventilation. Condensation forms when cool air meets moisture, and it destroys paintings.

  • Keep the temperature of your studio or storage unit between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid fading, cracking and chipping. This keeps both your works and your art supplies safe.

  • Store three-dimensional works on padded metal shelving and place the heaviest works on the bottom shelves. Make sure the bottom shelves are elevated from the floor.

  • Secure those shelves to the wall and/or floor. Why? Unsecure shelves fall during earthquakes or float away during floods.
    • If you live in a place where earthquakes are possible, add a rope or other barrier to keep items from vibrating off of shelves.
    • Secure works on display with museum wax to keep them from vibrating off of the shelves. Museum gel (typically used for glass secured on glass) can be used as well.

  • Store paintings in vertical storage bins with barriers between artworks, preferably acid-free materials.

  • If you have to stack your artworks, place corrugated cardboard barriers between artwork and stack work front-to-back and back-to-back. Please don’t stack unframed art in this way; you don’t want paper/canvas making contact with other works, and weight on corners can puncture the work.

  • Digitize your work! Photograph and inventory your works. You’ll want a record in case those works are destroyed. We hope that NEVER happens to you.

  • The same goes for recording your material supplies. In the unfortunate event you need records for insurance, you’ll have them at your ready.

Here are some additional resources for safeguarding your artwork and maker’s space:


Now go protect your work and rest easy tonight!

10 Art Business Books to Ignite Your Art Career

There are over 73,000 results for “Business of Art” books on Amazon. That’s overwhelming! We’ve curated the list down to our 10 favorites.

These art business books will help grow your career whether you need advice on art marketing, legal issues, selling or grant writing.


The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Author: Jackie Battenfield

Jackie Battenfield, a successful artist and professional development coach, wrote this comprehensive guide to teach emerging and mid-career artists how to build and maintain a professional art career. Battenfield provides strategies for all aspects of the job – marketing, online promotion, grant writing and portfolio development. It’s all easy to comprehend through her real-life examples, illustrations and step-by-step exercises. Keep this book by the nightstand!


I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion

Author: Alyson Stanfield

“Enjoy sharing your art as much as your enjoy making it.” – Alyson Stanfield

Self-promotion is a big part of succeeding in the art world  and unfortunately for most artists, it doesn’t come easy.  Luckily, Alyson Stanfield, an art marketing expert, consultant, and author of the popular The Art Biz Blog, helps artists market themselves authentically and genuinely. This book focuses on Internet marketing – building a social media presence, blogging and newsletter secrets, and getting your name into search engines.


Legal Guide for the Visual Artist

Author: Tad Crawford

Whether you like it or not, the legal system is a part of our professional lives. Art law expert, Tad Crawford, crafted an informative guide of the legal implications artists face. He walks through contracts, taxes, copyright, litigation, commissions, licensing, and artist-gallery relationships with practical examples. He also shares sample legal forms and contracts, and offers tips for connecting with affordable attorneys.


Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class

Author: Elaine Grogan Luttrull

Budgeting, taxes and cash flow, Oh My! Books about finances are usually dull and boring, but not this book by CPA and artist, Elaine Grogan Luttrull. It’s filled with engaging stories and examples to help you succeed in your business endeavors. Luttrell will boost your confidence and expertise in taxes, budgets, money management, business etiquette, and much more.


The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing

Author: Gigi Rosenberg

Are grants your white whale? This guide gives you all the fishing supplies you need like writing tips and marketing strategies from grant officers, grant writers and fundraising specialists. Tap into the fundraising resources at your disposal and finance your artistic endeavors with this accessible read.


The Artist’s Guide to Selling Work

Author: Annabelle Ruston

How do you sell your work in today’s competitive market? This guide covers selecting the right gallery, approaching galleries, pricing, terms and conditions, artist agents, working with publishers, and public art commissions. Ruston also gives advice on social networking and e-marketing so that you can seize digital opportunities.


Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered

Author: Austin Kleon

“[The] subtitle could just as easily be, ‘How to Self-promote Without Being a Jerkface.’ It’s an incredibly useful and compulsively readable short book.” — The Fast Company

Austin Kleon helped readers unlock their creativity in the New York Times bestseller, Steal Like an Artist. Now, he helps artists get known in his 10-step journey of self-promotion in which he encourages creatives to share their work and voice. The book is small and short, but it packs a punch.

Kleon emphasizes audience building as a process, not a product. Chapters like “You Don’t Have to Be a Genius;” “Share Something Small Every Day;” and “Stick Around,” contribute to the manifesto of being open, generous, brave and productive in our digital age.


Art Inc. – The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

Author: Lisa Congdon

“Art, Inc. is a revelation. At long last, there is a resource to help creative people articulate their aesthetic values, successfully brand their business, and manage their artist’s income.” – Debbie Millman, president, Sterling Brands

Professional artist, Lisa Congdon, helps artists do what they love and make a career out of it. Learn how to set actionable goals, diversify your income, manage your bookkeeping, copyright your work, promote with social media, build a standout website, exhibit with galleries, sell and price your work, license your art, acquire an agent, and much more.


Sell With Confidence

Author: Barry Watson

Sales does not have to be sleazy. Barry Watson shares actionable techniques to improve your confidence and skills as a salesperson. Understand the true nature of selling, discover the “secret sauce,” be yourself, positively redefine rejection, turn setbacks into comebacks, and create a sales-confidence game plan. You’ll also get a downloadable 7-Step Sales Cheat Sheet!


Art/Work- Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As you Pursue Your Art Career

Authors: Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

No matter where you are in your professional career, you’ll get incredible value from this comprehensive guide. Heather Darcy Bhandari, a gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an arts lawyer, give you the business and legal tools to stay in control of your career. The book covers business basics like inventory tracking and preparing invoices; legal precautions like registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; promotional tools like websites and business cards; and how to approach career decisions like choosing the right venue for showing your work. Don’t learn these lessons the hard way!