There are few hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing artwork to sell. Why you ask? Well for one there are many variables that go into determining the cost of the artwork. It’s for that very reason that many artists (including myself in the past) sell themselves tremendously short. Another reason we as artists feel our palms getting sweaty when someone asks for a price to an artwork is because we feel as though we’re not being true artists if we accept money for our work. No, no no. Listen, I can tell you from experience that the “starving artist” lifestyle is waaaay less glamorous than it sounds when your pantry is bare for reals. There is absolutely nothing shameful about getting paid for honest work, so don’t try to make yourself feel guilty or ashamed of turning a profit. On the other hand, artists fall into the mire of not even knowing how to price individual artworks. This confusion only gets worse when you look at the price tags in galleries or check out Sotheby’s.
Today I’m going to give you a few tools to get started!
What’s your time worth?
You know that saying, “if you don’t value your time no one else will?” It will serve you well when it comes to pricing your artwork, especially if you are a craftsperson, or if you are making non-tangible things (digital artwork, design work, or writing) to start off with an hourly wage for yourself. Be reasonable, and by reasonable I don’t mean starting at whatever your state’s minimum wage is. For example, let’s say you set your hourly rate at $15 and create an artwork that you spent 20 hours on how much do you charge? I know, I know I can hear you all now, “ damnit, Xadrea! You know artists are bad at math!!” Just pull out the calculator and get on with it. Your earnings with those hypothetical numbers would be $300 (wage x time = cost).
Regardless of what anyone tells you what we as artists do does in fact matter. We are legit, we are professionals, we are important, and we deserve to be paid.
What’s your stuff worth?
For those of us making tangible artwork, it’s incredibly important that we know what our materials cost. Now, in no way am I discounting the fact that you must spend money in order to make it. The fact of the matter is if you’re spending more than you’re making, you’ve got a problem. This is one of the ways it’s so easy for artists to sell themselves short. Let’s say you make a painting and your materials cost you $30. Modify upon the previous equation to this: wage x time + materials = cost. Your earnings would then be $330.
If your work is 2D (paintings, drawings, and the like) you may want to base your charges on the scale of the artwork. You can do this by charging by square inch (height x width) or by linear inch (height + width). With both you would need a multiplier, essentially what you want to charge per square or linear inch. Let’s say you choose a multiplier of $1 per square inch. The equation you would use for an 11x14 painting charging by the square inch would be the following: height x width x 1 = cost ($154). If you used the same scaled painting to charge by the linear inch with a multiplier of $10 your equation would be the following: height + width x 10 = cost ($151). This method of charging will help you establish consistent prices for similarly sized artworks. Whether you decide to charge for labor is entirely up to you.
Selling on dA for points
Many of you folks sell your artwork on dA which is great! There are plenty of opportunities to sell through the prints shop or to sell content. I realize that many of you accept points as payment, and there are some things you should know about going that avenue. The first thing you should have a complete understanding of if you accept points as payment is their monetary value. 100 points sounds like a lot doesn’t it? 100 points is equal to $1.25. Know your conversions to $ when you set points prices. Also, be smart about what you decide to sell. Remember, if you choose to sell Premium Content through dA (as opposed to charging points yourself) you will be subject to a 20% tax (so you keep 80% of your earnings). Stop wrinkling your nose, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere else online or in real life for that matter. I’ve shown at galleries that require up to 60% of whatever the artist sells in artwork. Refer to this handy journal ayame-kenoshi.deviantart.com/j… to learn more about selling premium content. Refer to this handy points calculator by charfade to get quick and accurate conversions of points to $USD.
You set the prices, so don’t sell yourself short
This last point goes back the first point: value your time. Often times we as artists feel uncomfortable putting a price tag on what we make because we somehow feel unworthy to do so. What ultimately happens at that point is some serious undercharging. Stand firm on whatever prices you choose to sell your work, and market yourself accordingly. If you charge too low you’re not only losing sales, you’re cheapening your artwork and losing potential collectors and clients as well as other artists. Do not do it.
For more handy ideas on how to start selling your artwork check out these articles!
Venues, Exposure, How to Sell Your Art - Part 1I've got mixed feelings about "exposure." By exposure, I mean how you, fellow artists, get your work out into the world so people can enjoy it and possibly even remunerate you for it.
Ways and means are:
1. Art Galleries
2. Public Venues
3. Charity Auctions
4. Festivals and Events
5. Online Websites and Communities
I'm going to talk about the first three here and what has or hasn't worked for me.
1. Art Galleries
This is the big one. Everyone wants to have *Gallery Representation* < /Awed Voice > because isn't that how art is sold? Traditionally, yes; the channel, for centuries, has been artists-->galleries-->collectors.
So how do you get a gallery to represent you? New artists often face the same paradox as new graduates do when trying to get a job where no one will hire you if you don't have experience but you can't get experience unless you have a job. So galleries won't pay attention to you unless you've already been represented by galleries.
We all start somewhere. I stand
Venues, Exposure, How to Sell Your Art - Part 2In a previous entry, I discussed galleries, public venues, and charity auctions as potential sales channels for art. Now I'll share my experiences with festivals and online websites.
4. Festivals and Events
By "festivals", I mean art-themed events like art walks and organized open studio tours. These are, by far, the best opportunity for sales. Here is a comparison of my best and worst experiences.
My least successful event was a one night mega-gala featuring visual art, body painting, and a popular local entertainer at a large venue. Artists were juried by the promoter and then charged a $200 nonrefundable entry fee. Tickets to the event were $60. The artists were asked to sell tickets to their friends and customer base for a commission. The event was positioned as a fundraiser for an arts foundation that I didn't recognize, but a brief internet search revealed that this foundation was run by the promoter.