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Old 11-13-2019, 11:13 AM
budigart budigart is offline
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Sounds like you are trying to enter a profession closely related to the twilight zone. Why does Daniel Greene get $30,000 for a 16X20 head and shoulders portrait, and I get $300 ON A GOOD DAY? Talent, ability, style, flourish and a zillion other things figure into this mysterious thing of art pricing.

In fact, it was Dan Greene who said one way to find your price limits for art was to start by charging so little they would have to buy. Then, start inching it upwards until you met resistance. After that, move it up as your ability grows.

Frankly, pricing art -- especially for beginners -- is like catching a fart and painting it blue.
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:54 PM
Anthony Correa Anthony Correa is offline
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Ive been hanging around with other colored pencil pet portrait artists on the Facebook group 'Colored Pencils for Beginners and Beyond', and it seems the going rate (for colored pencil pet portraiture), is loosely 3-4 dollars per square inch, depending on difficulty of the subject and experience of the artist, etc etc.
That might be a good place to start. But definitely don't undersell! Be mindful of the work, education and struggle that got you to where you are; that's worth a lot more than you'd think
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Old 11-28-2019, 11:30 AM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by contumacious
My minimum hourly rate is $60 / hour if I am doing contract work which is a bargain for my customers considering that plumbers here charge $90-$120 / hour, my mechanic charges $85 / hour, and my lawyer friend charges $450 / hour.

I have discovered that this is a really good way to look at the problem.
I have tried to manually capture the hours that I actually work on a project (sculpture) but can only guestimate. Problems arise like what about R
&D time? Studying the model? Going on field trips to view the model?

So I really come up with a theoretical number.

What I have done is to somewhat undervalue [?] because I work in series or editions. But then I do not work (or want to work) in a one-off "original work" world.

I know how much it costs to make a mold for my sculpture by my self. I don't work so large, (a yard by a yard is about the largest to date). A mold costs me whatever the molding material costs, because I do not pay myself. It is not as though you sit in a chair and work "one hour." You do a little and then wait for it to set, which is like 4 hours at least. So you might be able to put on 3 or 4 different "layers" over the course of 24 hours. That might mean you actually worked for 15 minutes.

Recently I discovered that this "time" has a value because if I sent it to a professional, I would find that my cost (maybe 200$ in materials) is 1800$ if I paid them to do it for me.

Other costs that I have not taken into account are things like trips to art shows, or galleries or other places where I might have sales -- but they are not a sure thing.

So in the end, my hourly wage is just a part of the calculation.
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Old 11-28-2019, 05:43 PM
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theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

My method is to determine the LEAST amount I'm willing to accept for a painting. Then add some room for negotiating and adjustment for the type of venue. From that number, I determine a per sq. inch rate. (notice I said what I would accept, not what I think it's worth.)

I don't have enough of a sales record yet to decide if I'm undervaluing my work. If I'm over evaluating it doesn't matter because I'm not willing to sell for less.

Depending on one's goals and situation that might not work, for me with my goals and situation it's the best method I've come up with so far.
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Old 11-29-2019, 10:26 AM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Bongolian

I think that a lot of people who do art do it the wrong way. I have stated that many times in the years I have belonged to this forum.

I also think that artists choose their audience (buyers) by the pictures (or 3-d) they produce. That is only logical.

You have to choose your audience before you even start painting (or doing your other work). That will lead to sales. That is actually a part of marketing.

I think that the artist who started this post is very good. The skill is there. The money for the skill is there. The subject and size (physical configuration) are not there yet. The artist needs to go out and view contemporary 5000 to 10000 paintings to see what the difference between her/his (sorry forgot), and theirs is. Some people extrapolate that the difference will be that one artist has been with Gallery X for 20 years and thus the paintings are expensive-- well, that is not always the case. I knew an artist who stumbled into a painting style and was making 4000 per large panel within 4 years. She also had the gift of relentless self-promotion and thought she deserved it and although I do not believe in magical thinking, in this case, I did.

The reality is that what you produce has to be what people who have money want to pay. In a way, it needs to fulfill a certain social role as a physical manifestation of some characteristic of the person or organization.

Among the most important:
Look at me I'm rich
Look at my building's lobby, I'm rich
Look at me, I am a Texas oilman with a mansion
Or a Doctor with a great lobby
I have enough money to waste on objects that do not cook pancakes

Too many artists "fail to launch" because they choose to do art which does not appeal to the wants and needs of people who have money. So when you ask how much money is my actual skill worth, it is all relative. Are you producing pictures that appeal to people who can pay 50$ or people who can pay 10,000$?

That is how much your skill is worth.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:53 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

I think too many artists fail to launch because they all want to be selling to those who can pay $10,000 and/or are buying for investment or to flaunt their wealth. Some artists have the magic combo perfect storm of skill, timing, personality, marketing, geography, trends, etc. to do it.

But it's a scant few and shrinking all the time. And are one bad auction away from their value to investors from plummeting to oblivion. And those investing and/or flaunting are usually not buying the first pieces of an artist just because the price is set so high.

And, again, that is not the only path to a satisfying and decently paid way to make a living in art.

Last edited by RobinZ : 11-29-2019 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 11-29-2019, 02:51 PM
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theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Robin - well said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Use Her Name
Bongolian
...I also think that artists choose their audience (buyers) by the pictures (or 3-d) they produce. That is only logical. You have to choose your audience before you even start painting (or doing your other work). That will lead to sales. That is actually a part of marketing.....Too many artists "fail to launch" because they choose to do art which does not appeal to the wants and needs of people who have money.
Very logical. But art (more) often defies logic. Basquiat, Haring, Fairey, etc. did not make art for rich people. Basquiat started by selling postcard sized art for 50cents to people riding the subway. Last piece sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s. Targeting art to what you perceive is the taste of rich people is imo a losing proposition.

Artists don't come out of the same starting blocks. I don't mean just skill but, ambition, access to market, connections, social skills, time, money, age, location, education, situation, friends, influence, and on and on. So trying to propose a general road to success is problematic to put it gently. I think the most you can say is "this is what I did, or this is what I do"...your results may vary.
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Old 11-29-2019, 11:19 PM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Okay, I am wrong again. Everything I say is wrong.

Whatever. You guys are not worth the argument.
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:04 AM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Katy I don't think you're wrong - but imo there need be a few caveats.

If "targeting your work" means adjusting your art to gain entry to high-end galleries where rich people buy art then yes that could work but success with that approach is imo extremly rare and I think statistics would bear that out.

You summed things up with" "Too many artists "fail to launch" because they choose to do art which does not appeal to the wants and needs of people who have money.."

I don't think one can know what rich people want, but something I"ve done is look at magazines like "Interiors" and see what kind of paintings are hanging on mansion walls, then image what I might put there if that were my house. I could be way off, but if you believe in your esthetic, in your taste and judgment then that gives you a place to start.

I do NOT think everyone is different. I think there are people like me. And I think some of those people are rich and have homes like the ones in Interior magazine.. I would target that guy, not the rich in aggregate.
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Last edited by theBongolian : 11-30-2019 at 03:07 AM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 09:34 AM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by contumacious
My minimum hourly rate is $60 / hour if I am doing contract work which is a bargain for my customers considering that plumbers here charge $90-$120 / hour, my mechanic charges $85 / hour, and my lawyer friend charges $450 / hour.

It takes me at least 10 hours to finish a 9x12 oil painting in the studio. A plein air study usually takes me 4 hours. I sell my 9x12 studio oils for $695 and my plein air study pieces for $450. The net profit after commissions, framing and material costs are deducted is about $300 for the studio piece and $200 for the study. So it looks like my hourly rate for studio work is about $30 / hour and for plein air studies about $50 / hour - IF it sells. Cut that hourly rate in half if I only sell half of my paintings..
I'm alarmed and amused both by this.

Alarmed, as I consider selling my art how little one gets for the quality if one sells at all.

I'm amused because I am apparently a fast painter and time on a piece would be totally meaningless, as I would need to charge more per hour than your lawyer friend.

I usually finish an acrylic en plein air in 1.5 hours on average. Watercolors in 30 - 45 minutes. Pastels somewhere in the hour range. And one of my painting companions will finish 3 - 4 acrylics in the 2.5 or so hours we're out actually producing work! So if either of us charged by the hour, you can see we'd go broke.... (He does sell and he gets a reasonable price, clearly not priced on time spent.)

I'm not making fun of this discussion. I'm seriously perplexed by art marketing. So far I've reserved my art for my own pleasure (and gifts to friends who want them sincerely.) But considering in the past 6 months what I might want to charge if I actually tried to sell them has been quite an eye opener in a market that makes zero sense to me.

I tried pricing 4 acrylics in the $450 range with one at $550 that was the "star" of an exhibition. None of them sold, though a colleague would have bought one. In that show with lots of excellent pieces of all sizes, only a couple sold and those were in the $300 and under range, so clearly the buyers weren't going for the quality, IMHO. Then I gave one to a charity auction, a little fast watercolor that was OK, and it sold for $300.

At this point, I'm thankful that I don't need to depend on my art for a living, frankly. It's a luxury compared with my professional colleagues who do need to sell and teach to eat.

But if I ever could retire, I might want to get something appreciable for my paintings, and at this point I have not a clue as to how to deal with this.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:12 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

I could never charge for my paintings by the hour, because at least half the time I spend on art is not painting but reading artist bios, art history, looking for decent info on technique, pigments, brushes, paper, doing test paintings, reading reviews of various tools, etc. So I try to use the square inch method, with modifications. I do spend a good chunk of each day painting, from 2-4 hours/day every day, but I still have a couple of day jobs.

Recently I got the itch to paint larger and would like to enter some watercolor competitions, where big is apparently important if you want to win an award. But big at even my square-inch pricing puts those paintings right out of reach for the collectors I do have. So I am going to also do small ones that I sell off my site and that I won't try to enter into competitions. Some even quite small, like 5 x 7". But these for me will be very quick. My most recent painting took about 15 hours to do because it has a lot of detail, but I don't think I am going to be putting that kind of detail into a small work. More like experiments with color/pigments/techniques.

I don't sell a lot. I calculated that this year I made $250/mo from selling paintings. I sold more when I was painting a different type of subject--$400/mo. But I decided a while ago that I would paint only what I wanted to. Life is too short.

I do think it's important to remember that art buyers are not a monolith. There are a lot of different markets in art out there. For me this was brought home especially last year when I did a surreal painting that got no interest in a local show but was purchased as soon as the show ended by someone who saw it online and lives in another state--for the same price as it was listed for in the show. They even bought the frame.

In fact, the last few shows I entered at a local collaborative gallery, I think maybe 3 paintings sold out of 150 on display. I didn't think these paintings were good. I decided that was not a good market for my work. Maybe it's not a good market for anyone's work.

IMO, it's important to experiment with selling and not conclude that because you are not selling in one venue--or ten venues--that your work is not worth anything or the art public is stupid. You have just not found the right venue. I always remember what Stephen King has to say about selling writing. Don't get upset if your writing is rejected by a publisher. If it is rejected by 100 publishers, maybe consider that it needs to be modified a bit.

Last edited by Harold Roth : 12-05-2019 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:43 AM
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

That's the point I was trying to make, Harold. That there are many art markets out there and many ways to sell art.

bartc, your assumption that anything that sells under $300 isn't quality just isn't so. Overpricing doesn't equal a better painting.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:14 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: How much is my skill alone worth per hour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinZ
That's the point I was trying to make, Harold. That there are many art markets out there and many ways to sell art.
There sure are! A business coach I trust calls them orbits and recommends a seller (of anything) have various orbits associated with their business. So an artist could have small prints, large limited edition prints, small paintings, studies, mid-sized paintings (I think of them as something that would work well in someone's study), and fireplace/sofa paintings, as well as different subjects that appeal to different groups. I haven't gotten that far, but I have been experimenting with different sizes for a few years now.
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