View Full Version : The Difficult Question ... Money
12-13-2010, 06:02 AM
I recently took up an invitation to spend the weekend painting at a local art group's open studio ... which was very enjoyable. Or at least it was until first one then more members of the visiting public wanted to buy some of the paintings I had on show. The attention was very flattering but I felt utterly unprofessional when it came to the question of pricing.
Honestly spoken, I hadn't planned or expected to sell anything but I still felt like an idiot for being so unprepared.
So, help please. I don't need to sell art to avoid starving ... yet. That said, the extra income would help offset my more extravagent visits to the art supply shop and pay for more lessons. However, I do recognise that many working artists are dependent on the income from sales and I wouldn't want to underprice the market because that doesn't help anyone.
Does anyone have a good formula for pricing ? A typical 16" x 20" glazed still-life will take me about 40 hours - 60 hours (I know, I'm a slow worker). My overheads are non-existent except for a bit of gas for my studio heater and materials.
I'd better get my act together because my customers are coming back next week for another viewing ... gah !
12-13-2010, 06:31 AM
I believe there's no formula to use for pricing a painting.Surely not how much time you spent on the painting.Personally,however much money I get for a painting I sell never compensates for the void that parting with that painting leaves in my heart.
Just make sure you never start a painting while thinking of the money it might bring.
12-13-2010, 06:35 AM
This is a difficult issue, because affected by so many factors: as a general rule, maintain your prices affordable but not too low: this would depreciate your work.
12-13-2010, 06:55 AM
Have a look over in Art Business, there are a lot of suggestions for pricing there...so many, in fact, that it quickly becomes clear there *is* no "answer", though there are reasonably good suggestions depending on your situation. Mostly I would suggest having a look at your *local market* and figuring accordingly. If you're involved in an art group, then it should be reasonably easy to fix your prices alongside theirs.
For my own opinion, I don't think you ought to figure by time it takes (though that *is* a consideration, of course--you don't want to devalue your time, but...it's not like art work is worth so many Euros per hour, there are so many other things involved in creating art than the actual time of brush-to-canvas).
Oh, and congratulations on the interest!!
12-13-2010, 07:24 AM
Thanks Carey, Eduardo and Musequest ... there's food for thought there. What's really surprised me about the whole experience is that the stuff that has attracted the most interest is the very personal stuff that I was reluctant to show let alone sell. I guess that proves that buyers want a piece of you not a piece of canvas.
12-13-2010, 07:32 AM
As formulaic as it may sound, I believe most gallery artists are selling by the square inch. From what I've read you shouldn't go much below $5 per square inch - though I probably will suffer from a lack of courage, and start out at less than that.
12-13-2010, 08:43 AM
interesting question,i found this on youtube might give an example
12-13-2010, 11:00 AM
it's not hard atall to find your worth and the value to put on your works !!
the easiest way is to go to view local art exhibitions where local artists sell thier work !!
art shops are usualy unrealistic as they are usualy known artists to a degree and very expensive !!
our local art gallery has an exhibition roughly every six months where local artists sell thier paintings
the paintings are all priced up for sale
so i go round and judge the nearest quality to my own work and estimate and adjust accordingly to that
i adjust price according to size and complexity
as you say it is no good under charging for a large complex work that took many hours
it is better to take it home than give it away !!
12-13-2010, 03:56 PM
What a wonderful dilemma. You are wise not to undervalue your work, especially since they are personal paintings. Setting too low a price also hurts other artists, as you said. Original art is unique; the owner has something no on else has.
The advice to price comparable works is good. You might want to determine gallery mark-up rates if you are comparing paintings there and deduct that from your price.
I'm happy for you. Best wishes with your sales.
12-13-2010, 04:12 PM
I wouldn't go less than $20 an hour. If you are spending a lot of time on a work, it probably shows in quality and detail and you should not be shy about pricing accordingly.
12-13-2010, 05:21 PM
I think charging by the hour is way too commercial. I used to have to charge $25 an hour for my fashion illustrations at the newspaper, and that kind of marketing doesn't call for much soul. I have a friend who charges by the inch, but I charge by how much it's worth to me. When I'm commissioned to do a portrait or painting, I need to have a price so that I can arrange proper payments, but if I have an offer for something I painted with some of my heart mixed in, I try to think in advance how much I would pay for it if I had to buy it. That way, nobody ends up feeling cheated!
The only time I would price something by the inch or by the length of time it took me would be for one of my copies of the masters. You can put some of yourself into it, but most of what you want when you make a master copy is to feel that master's emotion and thought in it.
I assume that you've put a lot of effort and time into your paintings if you mostly do layered paintings and glazes, so I think even your smallest works should fetch a decent price. That price is something you will need to work out by both the market and by your feeling of worthiness.
I know of one example of an artist who started low and didn't sell in New York City. He doubled the price when he took it to Los Angeles, and it didn't sell. He kept raising his prices at every new venue across the U.S., and finally, here in Oklahoma City, he sold it for something like $24,000. I think he started at $240. That's a great example of how to think of yourself, with both humility and a well-established sense of self-worth. Try to avoid the extremes.
12-13-2010, 05:51 PM
I think her video was informative for the most part, however I think style makes a huuuge difference in value... her style is loose and folkie and maybe priced right.. but my 1 inch likely takes about the same time as her finished product... I generally sell my stuff say a 6by6 for 100, 9 by 12 framed for 500, a 18 by 24 framed for 12-1500, and if its a commission a bit more. Again that is all based on having buyers, economy, reproductions, and the amount of work behind the product... can you post pics of the work to give an idea of skill level and complexity of the art? It can also make a huge difference on the sale when you are using different grades of paint and medium, canvas and frame..etc... You start getting into good gallery situations I have been asked what brands of paint I use as the would not accept anything that wasnt professional grade...
12-13-2010, 10:34 PM
First, I believe you should establish the average length of time you would spend on any particular painting, regardless of its complexity, or subject matter. Do this by adding up the times you spent upon several paintings of the same dimensions, such as 16" x 20", and divide by the number of paintings you included in your group. Select paintings that required both long times, and those that required extremely short times, so as to make the "average" truly representative of your labor.
Then, decide how much you believe you should receive per hour for doing such paintings. After you have decided upon your tentative "price per hour", then break that down to a "price per square inch". This, then, becomes the price you charge the customer for each
For example, if I have 5, 16" x 20" paintings that took me 30 hours, 60 hours, 20 hours, 70 hours, and 40 hours, respectively, I total up those times, and that comes to a total of 220 hours.
If I wish to receive $15.00 per hour for my labor, multiplying that by 220 hours, comes to $3,300.
$3,300 divided by the number of paintings, equals $3,300 divided by 5, or $550. This means that in order to receive approximately $15 per hour, for creating a 16" x 20" painting, on average, I will need to receive $550 from the buyer for a 16" x 20" painting.
Now, a 16 x 20 comes to a total of $550 (price of a typical, 16" x 20" painting, divided by 320 (total square inches of the painting), equals about $1.71 per square inch.
This $1.71 price per square inch becomes my standard then, for any sized painting I wish to paint, or are called upon to paint, when doing a commission. These prices can be flexible, of course, based upon a dozen different factors, including gallery or show commission, complexity, desire to make some sales, and therefore some sale prices, portrait vs. double-portrait, etc., etc.
Taking that price-per-square-inch factor as a standard, I would price the following, standard sized paintings as follows:
8 x 10 (80 sq. in).............$136.80
9 x 12 (108 sq. in)...........$184.68
11 x 14 (154 sq. in).........$263.34
16 x 20 (320 sq. in).........$547.20
18 x 24 (432 sq. in).........$738.72
20 x 24 (480 sq. in).........$825.60
Of course, to create a more "professional-appearing" price, I typically round those prices up, or down, to a more reasonable amount.
For, example, the $738.72 price could be rounded up to $750, or down to $730, if I were to realize that it had actually taken me a bit less time than "normal".
The $825.60 price could be rounded up to $830, or $850, if I were very pleased with the painting, of rounded down to even $800, if I were looking for a better possibility of a sale.
Well, that's how I do it. The "value" that you place upon your earnings-per-hour for this calculation can be established over time, based upon what you may have received for works of yours in the past, coupled with what the market is likely to dictate, based upon what other art comparable to yours is receiving in your area.
12-14-2010, 06:44 AM
...buyers want a piece of you not a piece of canvas.
From my experience, the situation is a bit sadder: the general buyer (not all of them, luckily, but the majority) really wants something (in this case a canvas and an artist's name) that could be considered a piece of themselves.
Strange, but the painter that sells a lot is not only a good painter, but also a good interpreter of the general, average feelings of the potential clients; in other words, a good vendor. Here comes the question, if being so interested in the "general, average feelings" makes her/him a better artist (not just painter, but artist: communicator of emotions), but this is another story.
Van Gogh was a bad vendor...
12-14-2010, 07:15 AM
Well I'm a happy bunny ... I sold my nice still-life for €350 last night which seemed like a fair price considering it was a relatively uncomplicated piece. I did learn a few useful lessons from the experience.
Firstly, price was much less of an issue than I thought and anything affordable and realistic was going to be ok. Secondly, I took the piece round to the "client's" home (doesn't that sound strange) which meant they got to see it in situ (no going back from there) and I got a much better idea what they might buy in the future. Thirdly, there will be at least two occasions where the client (I'm getting used to it now) will be back in the next 9 months. Firstly, when they return the tatty old studio frame I lent them until they get it framed and secondly when they return it for a final varnish.
Still it's a strange feeling, something like seeing a grown-up child leave home, a mixture of pride and sadness. That said, it does look super on their wall and I hope they get us much pleasure from looking at it as I had painting it.
Many thanks for all the great advice and keep showering us newbies with pearls of wisdom
12-14-2010, 09:51 AM
I say price it at the minimum amount you would be willing to accept for your time. That way if it doesn't sell, you know that you priced it as best as you could. Yeah, you could try to put a higher pricetag on it, but how much more do you think you could reasonably get out of it? And if you were confident it could sell at any price you set, then you wouldn't be ambivalent about how much to sell it for.
12-14-2010, 02:31 PM
In my area - artists charge by the square inch - not usually below $1 per square inch and usually up to $4 - Very well known artists sometimes charge more than that and some artists will charge more if they've used paints that are very expensive to help defray some of the costs. Hope this helps!
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