View Full Version : Pricing - Sooo Confusing!

Kathryn Wilson
07-18-2007, 12:53 PM
I am about to show 6 paintings to a potential buyer and have been trying to come up with a good pricing system. I am so confused by the square inch formula -

If you care to discuss your pricing strategies in public, post here. If not, PM me with some advice. Please!

There are some pieces that I truly value as to their quality, others are just paintings - how do you work that into pricing?

Also, how do you work in the framing prices? Work, sold as is, and then add in the framing cost? What if they don't like the framing -

Thanks for any help you care to share :thumbsup:

07-18-2007, 01:22 PM
i will put my info. here, hope it helps a little but do know that i am also very uneasy on the subject of pricing! esp right now, seems all my costs have gone way up, but yet i haven't been able to raise my prices. really, i probably shouldn't be giving anybody advice at all, but taking some for my self!

that said....i go by inch. otherwise, those paintings that make me yawn vs. those that i think are great would have vastly diff. prices, buyers do not see why one 11.14 is $X and the next is $XXX. and funny thing about those 'yawners', i do sell them! ppl see things differently and happily some see my sketches as delightful where some still want a large painting or a commisioned work. BUT, i use the inch for a starting point. that is the mid range price, things that are 'less' have less on the tag, those wonderful paintings that just are a leap above the others, i hold out for more. confusing? yup, but the inch method at least gives me a starting point. if someone asks why is this more than that one, its usually cuz of more detail and that is what i tell them. but they usually don't ask, cuz it obvious why the price diff. or they feel great getting a 'steal' on a lesser work. (but, i do not show anything that i dont' think of as decent. if they are real stinkers, burn baby burn!)

for framimg, most of mine are framed with simple wooden frames, cream top matts with a bottom mat of a dark color matching the work (dark choc. brown, deep navy blue, or a dark evergreen) i keep my framing down with simple styles, but do charge well enough for them too. if the person really doesn't like it, i will take some $ off, or change it occasionally. if i change it, its usually a much more expensive frame (customers choosing) and i charge well for it, but usually is less than any frameshop could do it for cuz i work at home with no overhead. so they still think they are getting a bargin.

and at the gallery lately the only thing that's sold much of is the plein air or daily type 'sketches'. those are single matted, put in a plastic bag. so you could do that too. those look much less expensive cuz the framing cost isn't on the price, but i also enjoy not having to do the framing either!

so to sum it up, art is $X per inch, add framing onto that. dont' forget the tax!

Piper Ballou
07-18-2007, 03:53 PM
I also charge by the square inch. Someone said paintings the same size should be the same price, you do not price it higher because you like it better or because it has more details. I think one has to decide if what they are worth per square inch. One thing I did was look at poeple's websites and tried to figure out what they actually charged per square inch and then based my prices on my experience from looking at theirs.

My husband mats and makes the frames, we try to figure out what the cost of the material and his time and add a little but usually we have a standard price for the frames.
We will change mats or frame colors and styles but have not had to do that yet.

just some ideas

Kathryn Wilson
07-18-2007, 04:12 PM
Thanks Piper! I should have thought this through a bit earlier, but this viewing came as a total surprise and caught me unprepared. So what else is new - :)

07-18-2007, 04:54 PM
I have no experience or words of wisdom for pricing, Kat, but best wishes with the showing.

07-18-2007, 05:10 PM
i guess my thought on the diff. cost for same size is this--if i was looking at say, a saddle, i'd expect to pay more for one that is completely tooled vs. one that is completely smooth. and that is how they do charge, base price, plus tooling, plus level of snaps, buckles, etc. i think ppl can understand that very well. where do you go where the simple plain stuff is the same as the more detailed, ornate stuff? even a new car, the basic one costs far less than the one with a jammin' stereo, moonroof and fancy rims! if my painting of a simple horse face is next to one with a herd running thru water, i don't think there are too many ppl that couldn't see the reason for cost variance.

i think there would be a problem if i had 2 horse face paintings of same size, one just happened to be my fav. horse of all time vs. the other of the neighbor's and they were vastly diff. in price. i also will not put as high price on a pencil or vignette type vs. a fully covered piece.

just some thoughts.

Piper Ballou
07-18-2007, 08:17 PM
Chewie..you do have a very good point....thanks..

07-18-2007, 08:25 PM
Being new to all this I find this discussion fascinating. I read through a lot of the threads in the Art Business Forum as well.

I am in no position to sell painting as of yet but I do have a background in professional design. I have to sell my services everyday re. industrial design.

I have a complicated formula based on time, effort, degree of detail, phases needed and even a factor regarding how difficult the client seems to be. :)

So, applying this to art would be interesting, but from what I am reading, maybe having a few price per sq inch depending on the painting is a good idea.

EG. $1.00/sq inch for basic paintings; $1.25 for those that you put more time in than your average painting; $1.50 for those that really talk to you when you were painting them and possibly $2.00 for a painting you know is stellar.

At $1/sq inch for and 8x10 is $80. However, I cannot tell you if I have ever seen a painting at an art show for $80. Unless it is at the christmas fair, but true art shows, even community ones, the lowest I think I see is $150.

In all honesty, when I get to a point where I can sell paintings I won't price any under $100. IMO it is all about perceived value.

You perceive your art to be inexpensive, then it is in quality as well. Besides I do not subscribe to the 'starving artist' syndrome that one produces art for just the enjoyment.

This is only my opinion, of course.

Kathryn Wilson
07-18-2007, 09:09 PM
Thanks for your thoughts mrking - I agree on the starving artist syndrome - for me producing art is pure pleasure, but when it comes time to sell, then I will demand a respect for my work through a fair pricing system - for me as well as the buyer.

07-18-2007, 11:01 PM
By the square inch, plus framing expenses. After the square inch is determined, it is multiplied by a factor that is based upon the artist's experience & training, show acceptances, awards won, and artistic recognition (Certain society signatures & honorariums are highly valued by the public. Others mean nothing to the public).

An hourly fee is not applicable to paintings in my opinion. What I can paint in 3 hours may take another artist all day (or vice versa). Experienced artists get larger fees, and usually paint faster. I don't think anyone expects to pay the same price for a painting by someone new to the selling market & untired in competitions, etc compared to some of the master painters even if they like the newcomers painting better.

Neither do I think "detail" is a viable determinator of value in art. If that were the case, would Renoir's Girl With a Watering Can or Pont Neuf, Paris be more valuable than van Gogh's Girl in White or Farmhouse in Provence? One is complex and in comparison the other simple, but each is highly valued. We may not agree on which painter we prefer, but then the buyer of today doesn't always agree with us as to which of our paintings is the "better" or more "complex". Sophisticated buyers recognize detail is not necessarily indicative of quality or length of time it takes to paint. How many of you agonize over "simplifying" a painting when you can so easily put every little detail you see into it? For some people, it takes longer to "simplify" than it does to do detail.

Those are a couple reasons I stick to the square inch method of pricing. It takes all the emotion out of the equation.

Unless I know the buyer and where they will have my work framed, I never let a pastel out of the studio unframed. I too do my own framing so changing a frame for a client isn't difficult for me. However, they will pay the difference in price (as someone said it is almost always a higher priced frame), and that includes my additional time unframing and reframing the painting.


Kathryn Wilson
07-18-2007, 11:07 PM
I am glad everyone is chiming in on the price by sq. inch as that is what I have done for these paintings.

My only difference is that I cannot do my own framing - I have to have it professionally done, but I did find a very accomplished framer who works out of her home and does a really nice job. She is a pastelist also, so understands all that entails in framing.

07-18-2007, 11:10 PM
I agree with the sq. in. method of pricing. I also know that framing costs extra, and if you need to ship it, be sure to include that price. I have found that works very well for me.

Good luck to you.

07-18-2007, 11:56 PM
My only difference is that I cannot do my own framing - I have to have it professionally done, but I did find a very accomplished framer who works out of her home and does a really nice job. She is a pastelist also, so understands all that entails in framing.

Oh Kat there are days I wish I didn't know how to frame! You are very fortunate to have a pastelist framer who is reasonably priced. I'd do that too if I could find someone like that.

Let us know when the customer decides to buy the painting/s. Wouldn't it be grand if they bought more than one? :smug:

Kathryn Wilson
07-19-2007, 12:57 PM
How about 3!!!! Yowza! Not a quibble with the prices either and I had healthy prices on them.

It surely will help with the framing costs for the show.

I am so glad I started this thread - it gave me the gumption to charge what I needed and not back down - :)

07-19-2007, 01:44 PM
How about 3!!!!

I am so glad I started this thread - it gave me the gumption to charge what I needed and not back down - :)


Always nice when you get what the value is worth!!!


07-19-2007, 02:25 PM
Kathryn, were these the uncharted sea pictures and beach picture you posted? If they were I loved those. Great job!

Kathryn Wilson
07-19-2007, 03:42 PM
Hey Peter - yes, one was Uncharted Waters and the others were Falls Lake and Aspen Creek which can be seen on my website.

I think I might have his office manager convinced he needs the other companion piece with the sailboat - cross your fingers!

07-19-2007, 04:46 PM
How about 3!!!! Yowza! Not a quibble with the prices either and I had healthy prices on them. :)

:thumbsup: Super, absolutely Super and well deserved. :clap:
I hope they get the "companion piece" as well.


07-19-2007, 05:26 PM
Congrats, Kat! :thumbsup: Selling three - and maybe four - must feel really good! It says a lot about the quality of your work. Will these be hung in an office?

Kathryn Day
07-19-2007, 05:41 PM
Way to go, Kat. Congratualtions on the sales. Couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Kathryn Wilson
07-19-2007, 06:23 PM
Annie - yup, in a law firm's office and the attorney's home and his paralegal's home.

Kathryn - awwww, you say the nicest things - LOL

07-19-2007, 06:34 PM

you do beautiful work - it's no wonder they grabbed them up - I'm very happy for you - keep it flowing.............'bluefish' :thumbsup:

07-19-2007, 06:35 PM
Kathryn, that is exciting to hear that you sold three (or maybe four) of the paintings. Way to go.

07-20-2007, 06:41 AM
Woohoo! That's wonderful, Kathryn. I love your work and am not at all surprised that you made this sale. I'm glad you got a good price too: your work is outstanding. Someday you'll be collected.

Dayle Ann

Kathryn Wilson
07-20-2007, 06:56 AM
You guys are the best and what Wet Canvas is all about - support and friendship - things I value very highly.

07-26-2007, 07:18 AM
Hi Kat,
Wonderful!!!!! You did the right thing -- the per square inch!

Hope they get the other one.

07-27-2007, 09:19 PM

I've come up with a formula that I think it's an honest one, although it does not take care of the «wow» factor of a work. I guess that's something that one has to add accordingly.
You can see my pricing on my site's menu.
Of course that my values have in account the country I live in.
Good luck !

Kind regards,


Dot Hoffman
07-28-2007, 09:32 AM
Hi Kat,
wonderful news that you made the sale!!!! Congratulations!!

07-28-2007, 10:24 AM
I know we can use formulas for pricing - in my art club artists often use a multiple of the frame price, but isn't the bottom line what the public will be prepared to pay for the work - the market value? Where I live many local churches have discovered that they can fund-raise by holding art exhibitions and charging exhibitors large hanging fees (and 25% commission). This means that if they exhibit 300 paintings they make a lot of money even if if none are sold. With so many paintings about it gets harder to sell at art club exhibitions, so many of us have had to lower our prices. I don't worry too much about selling paintings until they are framed - then I don't want them taking up space around my small apartment!

nana b
07-28-2007, 02:54 PM
I'm probably going to start something here by commenting on this pricing question especially since I'm not selling anything yet( I haven't wanted or tried to sell yet as I'm trying to get enough good paintings to show next May at a festival).
I'm going to set my prices by how good I think it is it is plus my framing and other cost. Size will enter into it but not decided wholly because of it. I know that sounds contrite but it is art we're talking about not a house builder who charges by the foot. The fact that I'm unknown will be factored in of course. I think size should matter to some extent but you could have a jewell of a small painting that is special and could be worth more because of it. I could be wrong about this but I think art is more an emotion of the heart than a business that is determined by the inch or foot.
Go ahead and yell at me.... I have misspoken before but I feel this to be the way I will go. As far as people wanting to know why the smaller is more costly than a bigger work, well I will tell them to think of it as diamonds or precious jewells and the more pure it is the more it is worth.:heart:

I hope I get a lot of comments to this idea both for and against:)
I don't want them counting the inches on my art:eek:

nana b

Kathryn Wilson
07-28-2007, 03:03 PM
Nana - won't yell :)

I think your opinion has its merits too - I also questioned if I thought a painting was better than some of the others, whether I should charge more. For me, the pricing by the square inch was a starting point - somewhere to get a consistency, but also some flexibility came into play for me too. If I thought the painting had more merit than others - I did add on to the price.

This pricing question is not easily answered and each of us will have to come up with a plan that we feel comfortable with.

07-28-2007, 04:52 PM
Hi again,

I suddenly had an idea that will solve your pricing issues.
On the night of December the 24th, get a big red bag and place all your paintings inside it.
Then sneakly (sp?) place them aside the Xmas trees of your neighbourhood (I sweated to type this word).
That will make you feel like Santa:angel:

Kind regards,


nana b
07-28-2007, 05:13 PM
Bringer, surely you jest:eek:

nana b

Kathryn Wilson
07-28-2007, 05:18 PM
And, Bringer, would you do the same? :evil: :p

07-28-2007, 11:22 PM
Just happened onto this great thread! Kat, that's wonderful about the sales. Having a painting in a law office is an added bonus, too, because it will be seen by lots of people.

07-31-2007, 12:00 PM
Interesting thread. I have always felt the price per inch system is way too formal and complicated. Doesn't work with art, but with buying fabric by the yard or something.
I DO, however, price the same sized paintings the same price. But I base the price (and I find this hugely difficult and I am not selling in galleries so take my word with loads of grains of salt) on how I compare to other artists and what they charge. I look at other artist's prices endlessly and see how they fit in their market and then set my prices.

Congrats on the sales. I need to get more lawyers in my house....

07-31-2007, 03:36 PM
Congratulations Kathryn! You certainly do deserve this sale. Hope the 4th one comes through too. Thanks for starting this thread. I think it opened people up to thinking about this more and it certainly helped me.