View Full Version : How much should I charge?

04-30-2003, 01:50 PM
Since doing some painting at work I have had requests for pictures.
I have done the lilys but not yet framed.
I have the tulips nearly done for someone else.
And I have had requests for a picture for in a nursery and someone who saw my nude picture wants a set of 3 doing.
I just don't know what price to ask!?
Help please.

04-30-2003, 02:05 PM
hi Hayley

I read in another thread on this site that a good formula is to take a decent minimum wage, eg. 4 an hour, and multiply it by the number of hrs you spent on the piece; then add the cost of your pastels and paper, multiplied by 2; then add the cost of any mount and/or frame.

This all seems very reasonable. The only part I'd find hard to gauge is the amount of money spent on pastels for one painting!

04-30-2003, 02:16 PM
Good advice E-J although 4 sounds a bit cheap to me... a good graphic designer/Illustrator would expect 20 an hour! but that is in a corporate market.

Katherine J
04-30-2003, 02:46 PM
Just because this has come up again, I thought I'd share some information I got. In an art organization I belong to, some brave soul did a survey of the painting prices and mediums shown in the monthly newsletter. He came up with average prices per square inch - I'm presuming this would take into consideration framing because all the paintings shown in the magazine were shown in juried shows and therefore had to be framed. He didn't have enough information for pastels, but here's what he came up with (in Canadian dollars):

acrylics - $3.32 per square inch
oils - $3.18
watermedia - $4.48

So, if you go to your handy inernet currency converter, you'll get your answers! I tried this, incidentally on one of my paintings and I used the lowest pricing as I'm reasonably new at selling, and it seemd to work for me. Mind you, I haven't tried the above menthod - maybe I should and see what happens!


04-30-2003, 02:49 PM
well I dont know about charging by the hour....... as someone could end up paying for someone who works slow :p :D ......

.... you need to get to a happy medium lol ....... not to frighten them off or come across too cheap ..... its a hard one to gauge, and there will be lots of other advise...... some charge by the inch hee hee heee

..... I would say..... obviously cover the costs of materials and any packaging..... think of the lowest price you would be happy to see it go.... and add some on :D ..... see if thats a figure you like

04-30-2003, 06:54 PM
From my experience..its very hard to price an individual piece,,,because each piece does take different emotions and different time schedules....yet as Katherine said pricing by the inch gives you a set standard...I have found pricing by the size very helpful to me..some pieces will take longer ..depending on the medium(of which I have set a separate pricing rate for each medium).....not all will fall into the same time frame,,but if you are doing a lot..they all seem to even out in a way....

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are doing something of value...if not..know one would want to pay anything for what you are doing.....

so set yourself up for a retail price for the work you are doing..by the square inch is a good formula to go by...make sure it is a little bit above the hourly minimum wage..because you have too much invested in your materials and time...you will find that by the square inch..brings you to an appropriate rate..if you don't find that to be true..add 10%..just to compensates the incidentals,,you may find appropriate to the situation..such as travel, phone calls..etc,,that are involved with the transaction...

Price your work for only the artwork..matting, framing..are all very easily added to the price....they are added on, later...as the client can compare those prices.....

Luck to you


04-30-2003, 07:57 PM
OMG! That makes my soft pastel nude and my tulips worth 40 each at a conservative 2 a square inch.
When I started out doing artwork again I never dreamed of selling.......but now I am being asked........this is so wonderful for me I can't describe how happy I am.I don't feel worthy at all when I see what others do in here.Its just blown me away!
Thanks for all the advise.
Much appreciated.

04-30-2003, 07:59 PM
Sounds good Sunny.... thanks for that......it is always a poser....

I haven't sold any of work for a time....but in the past I charged a price per hour, which wasn't the minimum wage, + expenses etc.,...which worked okay... The price per inch sounds good.


05-01-2003, 02:58 AM
Katherine - I am very surprised to see you put watermedia in at a higher price than oils - here in the UK oils are always priced FAR higher than any other media, and watercolours and pastels are the poor relations.

I never price per hour,or per inch. What I did when I began was to go to a local art gallery, to see what other artists charged for their work. I judged mine as honestly as I could alongside theirs, and started my pricing accordingly.

There are huge differences in pricing these days. My work, for instance, sells for, on average, around 500 for a medium-sized work. However, I have seen other artists, whose work I do not consider to be any better than mine necessarily, charge FAR more and still manage to sell. I was involved in an exhibition a while ago, when a Royal Academician had work on display for around 1000, while another artist, with far less qualifications and experience, and nothing in the way of track record or investability, was selling his for 6000. I have seen really quite good work sell on Ebay for $9, and have seen artists DELIGHTED to sell there for $50!! (much to my horror.)

I think the advice from Dark Shades is actually right........what would you be happy to accept? Double the frame cost? Not enough? Triple the frame cost? If it feels right, it probably IS right. If it feels like you would be giving it away, then it isn't enough.

Make that trip to a gallery, or even a large department store. See what artists are asking for originals. Then find out framing costs, which will depend on the size of your work, and then sit down and sort it out!

Incidentally 40 sounds very low to me, for almost any size of pic, particularly a framed one. For heaven's sake, that is what someone would spend on a meal in a smart restaurant. your creativity is worth more than a meal which is forgotten the following day, or a pair of new jeans. Don't undersell your work - hand-crafted items should be valued properly, and if you underprice, you devalue your work and yourself.


05-02-2003, 06:36 AM
Jackie your post above all really made me think long and hard.
It's been awkward for me to put a value on my work for a few reasons.......
I do not value myself very highly(a personal issue),I am not doing these for money simply for the enjoyment,
I am still very much learning pastels and am by no means an established artist......I have only been at this for 2 months.These factors may be why I am finding this such a shock to be pricing my works.
I did last night contact one of the clients and give 50 as a price......she replied by saying she would have to leave it and she could not afford it.I know for a fact this person is not short of money......and feel they were looking for a bargain from me.
I can see this being a huge learning curve!

05-02-2003, 02:01 PM
Well, if she wanted to pay less than 50, she does not deserve to have your hard work, and you should hang on to your pic.

Another time, call the person's bluff by asking them, when they say that 50 is too much, what they think would be reasonable?

Then, when they come back at you with, say, 20, you can use my argument and ask if they think a picture is worth only as much as an outing to the movies with a Macdonalds thrown in, or a few items from the Supermarket!!! It will really make them think.

Was the 50 you quoted for a framed piece? Yuo could always offer them the piece unframed for a slightly lower price, and then leave them to pay for the framing. This saves you time and trouble, and they will have the shock of their lives when they get to the framers, but that won't be your problem!!

If you are truly not doing this for the money, as you claim , then you can either give your pictures away - or give the picture to the person and ask them to give you what they feel it is worth.


05-02-2003, 10:35 PM
Jackie I have to agree with you on this..........and thankyou for your advise.
On a more positive note I had someone ask me if I could do them a picture for them and I said ok but I'm not giving them away.
She was very agreeable and I am being commisioned to do a 12 by 9 inch for 30 without framing. That to me is ample to cover my time and material costs. And I am happy with this.
As for the other commision I will se just what they have in mind to pay.

05-03-2003, 12:43 AM
as someone who sells in quantity, I have found that price per square inch is a reasonable and stable way to go.....and if you are new, without a following...start lower then increase.

The idea of going and looking at other's work and then pricing "what the market will bear" or "what you think you deserve" is not very business like,


:rolleyes: I know...we are artists, not businessmen....but you need to have a solid reference.....if I sell one for $400 and then another for $350....why? Clients will be confused and pretty soon so will I.

If there is a formula that works for you...use it consistently to avoid problems.....I have an artist friend here who sell in the Summer art fairs and actually has people say things like "well, last year you sold on to my frined for $---, so why is this more?

be consistent , whatever method you choose.


05-03-2003, 06:09 AM
Ive been thinking about the questions and problems raised in this thread and others quite abit lately - I wondering if its a 'British' thing!!, and lack of education hee hee..... Meaning....... that for the most part the general population wouldnt think or dream of owning an 'original' art work, they see a picture they like and that is as far as it goes (not thinking of how much work and time, effort went into it) - a picture they like perhaps in Woolies e.g Walmart..... Wilkies....... markets!!... or where ever.... albeit prints....., its all matted and framed and they get it for 6.99/$10.97, so it comes as a shock when some one says 40.00/$64.00 just for the painting itself.
I really liked what Jackie said about the price of going out for an evening...... that would make people re think, as paintings would give years of pleasure not just for a few hours
Pampe as you have sold so much, any more advise or tips?
how would you price a same size piece of work which was minimal in painting to another that had much more work in it?

Arlene has recently painted a pic in CP's its only 5 x 5 but it took her 8 hours !!! ..... wonder how she works out her prices

05-03-2003, 06:25 AM
Just to respond to what Pampe said about "not very businesslike".

I consider that I am producing a hand-crafted product, no two paintings are the same, have the same content or the same "value". If you take some of the soul out of the process, it becomes just like selling fabric = by the metre. Sorry - this seems too grim to me, for words.

Sometimes I will paint a cracking piece, which will take me 1-2 hours. I know, in my heart of hearts, that this piece is magical, far better than another one, same size, that I slaved over for hours. I know that I do not want to sell them both for the same price.

So I do not. If someone asks why one is more expensive than another, I say it is because it felt right to me to charge a little more for that one, sorry - I even say, clearly, that I do not charge by the inch, and I am sure they would not want me to do that. Most people are happy with this response!

In fact, in one exhibition, I did a picture which I was thrilled with ......it flew out of my fingers, probably painted by someone else, I was possessed that day. I put DOUBLE the price on it, it was SCADS more expensive than any of the others in the exhibition. Someone came up to me and asked why. I said it felt right to me, as it was a very special picture and I did not mind if I did not sell it. Too bad, he said, I am buying it. It was the first to sell!

I have come to the conclusion, having sold my work, lots of it, for years, that it is not necessary to be logical about pricing paintings. I keep my prices fairly stable, do not drop them too much even if the market is bad, and so no-one feels that they spent too much two years back. I keep an eye on what the market is doing, and what other artists are asking for work of a similar standard, and feel this is a perfectly professional approach. It has served me well, and I have never ever been accused of being unprofessional or unbusinesslike. I cannot emphasise enough that I do not think we artists are producing something which needs to be packaged and priced in the same way as a mass-produced product.

Prints are another matter - now there, one needs to be much more consistent, I agree.


05-03-2003, 06:37 AM
Jackie - your advice is worth a lot.
It is a 'joke' Angeline, that somebody said 50 is too much! A poster of Tom Cruise in any poster shop would go for a little less, let alone a reproduction of some art work. And you're talking originals......
Dawn - Arlene recently wrote down how she prices her stuff in the Art Business forum. Eer...not sure which thread, maybe 'how to price my artwork'. Look around.
My prices are still in the test phase as I have not sold much so far...but people (?!) tell me it is alright......it is a most difficult subject though!

05-03-2003, 07:05 AM
Originally posted by soap

Dawn - Arlene recently wrote down how she prices her stuff in the Art Business forum. Eer...not sure which thread, maybe 'how to price my artwork'. Look around.

no it wasnt I actually wanted to know Soap, it was more where people were saying price by inch ...... hers are only 5 x 5!!, that was my point, also there are miniature artists here too, some work as small as 3 x 4"

05-03-2003, 07:33 AM
Oops, sorry Dawn - missed you there. Got your point. And I agree - pricing per inch is not fair - if that 's the ONLY thing to go on.

05-03-2003, 10:50 AM
If I sold a painting based on hours, I could retire....:D.Ah hahahahhahahahaha :D

05-03-2003, 11:26 AM
good point about the miniatures, if one prices by the inch!! Am most amused by that thought.

And howsabout if you work huge-scale? Price by inch? That's almost as funny.

Nope, I just don't buy the price-by-inch theory at all.

If I was a miniature painter (no matter how much I diet, that I will never be) I would most certainly want to trek around and see what other miniaturists charge for their work. I reckon that is a perfectly reasonable - nay, sensible - approach.


05-03-2003, 12:20 PM
What an interesting read this is becoming :p

05-03-2003, 01:04 PM
I usually work to commission, but am taking part in an exhibition which opens mid- May. I have a set price scale for my commissions (mostly graphite portraits). eg-for an unframed, unmounted A3 size graphite portrait of one preson packaged in a card posting tube I charge 59.99 incl P&P(they don't take me terribly long and the materials are cheap).

However, with work that's being exhibited, its different because I don't know what folk will be willing to pay, and am particularly unsure of what to charge for my pastels as I started using this medium a few weeks ago. I used to run a print & frame shop so am well aware of the British reluctance to spend money on original art.

Its quite a prestigious gallery in a seaside town, is being well publicised, and as 23 of us are taking part (only a few other visual artists) there is going to be a vast range of stuff on display. I am exhibiting pastels, small graphite works, watercolours, acrylics, mixed media, oils, and pen & ink, all mounted & framed. I would like to sell as much as possible as this exhibition is making NO CHARGE or fees for sold work. (I have about 10msq to display in, and will be doing some drawing & pastels on location in the gallery while the exhibition is open to help boost sales).

Can anyone reccommend some sites I could look at to get an idea of what others are charging?

Many thanks