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View Full Version : How to price for a show - HELP


Shari
01-20-2008, 09:11 PM
Help!! I have a show coming up and I am stuck on pricing. The gallery is taking 30%. Is it psychologically more effective to have a price of say $800 even as opposed to $795? What works better when pricing art, even or odd numbers? I am not very well known in my area and I have only sold about 6 pieces so far. The last piece I sold was for $450 and it was a 9 x 12 framed without a mat but using Tru-vu AR glass. I would have to add 30% to that amount in the gallery but that seems too high for a 9 x 12. Any suggestions?

PeggyB
01-20-2008, 09:55 PM
Shari, you say you aren't well known in your area. I'd guess you want to get work into the hands of clients so you may become more well known. Raising prices to accomodate a gallery or competition commission is generally not held to be a good idea. In the case of a gallery, should they want to take you as a permanent client, they would be most unhappy to learn you are selling out of your studio for less than you do through the gallery. It is better to set your price in the first place with a possible commission factor of anywhere from 30% to 50% (depending upon the "going" commissions in your area - competitions are often 50% though). That way you will not make the gallery unhappy, and should you sell from your studio you'll make even more profit.

You will have to decide for yourself what you can live with as a selling price. Advice I was given back in the days of dinosaurs was to be satisfied with a lower profit margin in the beginning. One shouldn't expect to make more than minimum wages many times when you first begin. Of course you want to add all framing expenses to the price, and be sure those expenses are covered even if the commission is 50%. It is the time spent painting and framing that you will never recover money wise in the beginning - and oft times many years later! That's what is meant by not earning "minimum wage". The whole idea making more sales. More sales make you more well known, and then you can raise the prices say once a year by about 10% - 20%. The 20% raise was given to me as a guideline to use if I also had honors by getting into major national shows, winning awards in the shows, earning signature memberships in art organizations, being published, getting a corporate sponsor/buyer, etc.

What are other less well known artists in your area selling their work for? Is their work selling? Can you ask the gallery owner what they might advise you to do? How about asking your mentor/teacher Richard McKinley?

I hate to say it, but it appears we are heading into a down economy, and under those circumstances art is one of the first things that people will do without. Sales become very difficult, and galleries begin to close. This happened in about 2001, and it wasn't "pretty". One way to help is to keep your prices lower for now so they may be raised later. It is never a good idea to price high and then lower later. Anyone who purchased your work at the higher price has a tendency to think they were cheated.

As for even or uneven prices. Here's the advise I've heard from more than one gallery owner. Price your work in incurments of $100, and absolutely do not price it in numbers ending in 95 or 98 - that's "retail" pricing, not fine art priceing. They also said if someone was able to buy a painting at $250 they are able to buy it at $300. Of course these were Northwest gallery owners, and I don't know what the rest of the country advises.

I hope this helps you a bit, and congratulations on being in a show.

Peggy

Donna A
01-20-2008, 10:18 PM
Hi, Shari! Peggy is absolutely right on!!! Great advice from her! You don't want to get a bad reputation with galleries as being a 'Price du Jour" artist! You need to have an established price and sell similar-sized works for the same price anywhere. And since you are not well-known in the area, this gives you a lovely opportunity to get your work out there at your current price and then---if you sell out---or near to that---consider raising your price. And Peggy is right about this being a (to paraphrase) a softer economy for art! Better to get pieces out there and into collections than having 100% of not much, but most all your paintings---and possibly a negative reputation with gallery owners!

Whenever something is priced like $795---I DO know that it's $800---but it does seem to be a factor somewhere deep down in our psyches---so---go for an elegant way of "taking the edge off the painting's price." It evidently does fool some folks into thinking of it as a lower price! According to the experts. (Goodness!)

Very, very best wishes for a very successful show! Donna ;-}

Shari
01-20-2008, 10:47 PM
Peggy and Donna - Thank you so much, this really helps. I will price them fairly low and recover my costs plus a little. The mixed media pieces are on gallery wrap canvas and so I don't have framing costs and will keep those around $500. The pastels will have to be a little more as I spent a lot of framing and using the AR glass. I will try going for even numbers, it makes sense. I just thought people might think they are getting a deal if something is an uneven number.

nana b
01-21-2008, 12:35 AM
Shari, I looked at you web site and your art is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
Lots of luck at your show and let us know how it comes out and what your conclusion is on the prices. I am going to be facing the pricing game here before long and would like all the insight I can get! Thanks Peggy and Donna for being there for us:heart:

nana

Shari
01-21-2008, 01:37 AM
Thanks so much Phyllis. This is the part of art I really don't like. I just want to paint!!! Hanging a show and all the framing and pricing drives me nuts!! I want to price things so people can buy them, but I don't want to paint for nothing so it's really a conundrum! Sometimes I think I should just give my paintings away or save them for my kids.

PeggyB
01-21-2008, 01:54 PM
Thanks so much Phyllis. This is the part of art I really don't like. I just want to paint!!! Hanging a show and all the framing and pricing drives me nuts!! I want to price things so people can buy them, but I don't want to paint for nothing so it's really a conundrum! Sometimes I think I should just give my paintings away or save them for my kids.

Oh Shari I so understand this feeling! When the gallery I most preferred to deal with went out of business three years ago (after 26 years in business), I just couldn't bring myself to go out and "schlep" my work to other galleries. I still don't have permanent representation in this area - and I don't care! OK, sales are nice - infact very nice - but at this stage of life I'm happy painting what I want, when I want to, and not feel guilty for making only me feel good about it. Ocassionally a former client will ask for something new or a student will want to buy something, but I'm really not "pushing" my paintings. I enjoy competitions and participate in those, and once a year participate in the art center's seasonal sale or last summer in an invitational sale, but that's been it for 3 years. I may have to change my "tune" in a short while because my favorite "patron" is getting ready to retire. Having him home all the time just might be the "push" I need to get out and find representation! :lol:

Peggy

Shari
01-21-2008, 02:54 PM
I have had a few retired husbands tell me that their wife is now supporting them with her art!! I am thinking I should join the Oregon Pastel Society so I can get into that show once a year. I still have my day job, even though I am only working part time but at this point in life, I like part time so I have time to take classes and paint! I will keep you posted on how things go.

PeggyB
01-21-2008, 03:56 PM
I have had a few retired husbands tell me that their wife is now supporting them with her art!! I am thinking I should join the Oregon Pastel Society so I can get into that show once a year. I still have my day job, even though I am only working part time but at this point in life, I like part time so I have time to take classes and paint! I will keep you posted on how things go.

Oh please do join PSO Shari. You live so close to them, and I think you'd not only like the competitions, but also they have great workshops from well known artists, and each summer they have a wonderfully fun paint-out somewhere in Oregon. Three years ago it was the Crater Lake area (an historic town named Prospect), two years ago it was on the coast (Florence area), and last year it was a butterfly preserve. I had to miss that one last year, but I understand it was great fun and the area beautiful. I don't know what is planned for this year. You can download a membership application from the Pastel Society of Oregon website. Don't worry about not being accepted. They ask you to send 3 slides for "review", and that's exactly what they do - "review" them. As you know, Roseburg Oregon isn't exactly a huge community, and those who live there like to see what other artists are doing. This is one way they can do that. You'll get your slides back along with a welcome letter, and the dues are only $25 a year - which reminds me, I need to send mine! :)

Peggy