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Pricing Art Work as a New Artist

Should you lower prices if you aren’t selling?

For first-time exhibitors, pricing artwork is often a last-minute, difficult decision. It’s daunting to assign value to your own work. Do not make common mistakes and go straight to an hourly wage pricing, by taking your art and charging a price based on hours and materials. The reason this does not work is because an artist is not a factory! Taking time, materials and overhead costs to create price is the fast and loose pricing model but is not perceived well by an audience of buyers.

Cost of materials is always important, when trying to make a profit or breaking even as a new artist. The real consideration should be on the perceived value a piece creates for its audience. You can visit a gallery with artists similar to your style and get a rough idea of what pricing looks like in the area you are selling work. The other aspect is asking potential buyers and art admires how they feel about the price of the pieces currently being displayed. This allows a new artist to gain insight into the market they are selling in but also helps to highlight how artists should market themselves to create more value ! 

Perceived value is the additional value that the client attributes to your work regardless of its intrinsic value perceived by the creator. Perceived value is subjective and heavily influenced by the artist’s image, word of mouth and portfolio. If given a choice between two similar paintings, clients are frequently willing to pay more for the one with greater perceived value. If you are selling copies of originals online or in galleries a buyer is going to perceive the value and price as lower, hence lower prices are needed. If a piece was particularly difficult to work on, or you are particularly attached to it, there’s a tendency to want to price it higher. Raising prices by 10 to 20 percent is a good starting point for pieces that you are willing to hold in your inventory for a longer time.

Some artists price artwork based on size because of the perceived value, either by the square inch or the perimeter because the idea makes sense to buyers looking at other art in similar markets. Pricing based on the perceived value starts with the artist and their story. To buyers, the artist and the story behind the art certainly drives the motive for buying. Make sense of your story as an artist before pricing and selling art work. Improve your sales with a healthy dose of self-promotion. Telling your story, and your artwork’s story, increases its value, becoming a contributor to a blog like Art Storm can help share your story. Customers will pay extra for the familiarity and confidence that the artists brand has, so do not lower prices just yet!



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