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Pricing Your Artwork - What To Do, What To Do

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Pricing Your Artwork - What To Do, What To Do by Arnold White

Do you know the value of your work and how to price it? Probably not.

As a publisher, distributor and consultant in the art world, I have personally reviewed the work of thousands of artists over the last 30 years. In all of that time only a handful were able to say, "yes" to that question.

Pricing art is actually not that difficult. It is basically no different than pricing any other product. The problem with artists pricing their own work is that they generally don't view their work with the same eyes that other businesses do. This is because they are emotionally tied to their product.

Let me make it simple and easy. First, you have cost of materials. Second you have cost of labor.

Such items as paint, brushes, canvas, and other supplies becomes your cost of materials. The cost of labor is the actual time spent in creating your image (product). Determine a value for your time $25.00 - $100.00 per hour. Add the cost of materials to the value of your time and you have a starting price.

What you can do next is to take that price and check comparable work. Comparables are works similar to yours in size, style or subject. You obtain comparables by going to actual or online galleries, trade shows, fairs or festivals.

An interesting exercise would be to apply this to previously established pricing for your work, and compare it to the formula provided above.

What should an artist do about "Wholesale vs. Retail"?

First of all it is important that you fully understand the difference. As the manufacturer of your product, you are the one who needs to establish both retail and a wholesale price for your art.

The retail price is the asking price to consumers or collectors, the person purchasing your work to hang in his/her home or office. The wholesale price is the lowest price for which you are willing to sell your product to a gallery or other retail entity. Usually the difference between the retail and the wholesale is 50%. So, if your retail price is $3,500.00 your wholesale price will be $1,750.00.

It is always better to price your work higher than lower. It is easier to start high and go down than vice versa.

When selling your work directly to a collector or consumer, it is essential to protect the integrity of the retail price. Otherwise, you will be in direct competition with your gallery affiliations. If you are still having difficulty with the pricing of your art, art agents or consultants can be of great assistance to an artist struggling with the pricing and marketing aspect of the art world.

Remember that every year the cost of living increases and so should the price of your art. A good rule of thumb is to have a yearly increase of between 5 and 10%.

Finally, the second rule of thumb is to try and maintain objectivity and to apply the formula. It's only natural that artists have emotional ties to their work, but emotions can cloud their vision and dilute their business judgment.

Arnold White has been a publisher and distributor of fine art prints for over 40 years. He is retired now from the firm he founded that assisted artists seeking to enter the print market.