Pricing art work requires research, a good knowledge of the existing market and an understanding of the targeted buying audience. In determining how to price your work, research the prices of artists who produce in a similar style, sell in a similar manner, and have a similar exhibition and sales history as you. Here are some Pricing Guidelines to start the process:
Suggested Categories for Artists
- Aspiring Artist: Developing style. No gallery exhibitions yet.
- Emerging Artist: Early stage artist. Has a degree in the arts, preferrably a BFA or MFA. Has from 1-5 gallery exhibitions.
- Mid-Career Artist: Practicing artist with 5 or more gallery or museum exhibitions. Has gallery representation in at least one city. Building a collector base.
- Well Known Artist: Established, international artist. Shows extensively worldwide. Has gallery representation in multiple cities. Has a significant collector base.
*Note: Exhibitions in boutique and retail spaces such as bookstores, restaurants, cafes, clothing boutiques or other similar venues do not count as gallery exhibitions.
Suggested Prices for Prints (varies depending upon size and type of print)
- Aspiring Artist - start at $25
- Emerging Artist - start at $35
- Mid-Career Artist - start at $100
- Well Known Artist - start at $500
Suggested Prices for Originals (varies depending upon medium, size and market)
- Aspiring Artist - from $75 - $500
- Emerging Artist - from $500 - $3000
- Mid-Career Artist - from $3000 - $25,000
- Well Known Artist - $25,000 & over
Decide Your Objective
Are you selling your work to make a living? This implies pricing at a lower level, and possibly selling multiples, limited editions, smaller works or works using less expensive materials as you start to build your career.
Do you want to be very discriminating because you do not need the income from your art? In this case set the prices high. You probably won't sell as much but when buyers show interest at these elevated prices you will feel positive about selling it.
Establishing and Growing Your Pricing History
In general terms, start out with lowish prices and plan to gradually raise them over time as you become more successful. Perhaps you would choose to raise your prices 3% a year (without announcing your intent). If you can maintain enough sales momentum while raising your prices in this way, your buyers and collectors will love you for it.
Pricing should be based on the factors mentioned above as well as medium, size and materials.
Avoid price reductions after you have sold works at higher prices, because they upset buyers that have already purchased your work. This implies that you will do better in the long term if you start off at a lower price point.
Test your own thought process
Ask yourself how much you would pay for your art work? As yourself how you would feel if you set your prices too high, and after a few months, you have no sales? Then ask yourself how you would feel if you set your prices too low, and after a few months you have sold too many works or digital editions, thereby leaving money on the table for those sales?
Going through this process will help guide you in deciding which approach to take. Some artists love their works so much they would really rather not sell them at any price. Other artists are intent on making a living from their art. This is a truly personal decision.
Refer to the following two excellent articles by Alan Bamberger for more guidance;