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!

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.

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!