In continuing on with my ‘Artist Life’ blog series I thought I would write about one of the things that can be very challenging for an artist, especially when 1st starting out. Yes, I mean PRICING (dun dun dunnn). When I first decided to start selling my work back in 2007 I had NO idea how much to charge for my work. I was full of all kinds of self doubts like ‘no one would pay that for MY painting’, ‘people will laugh when they see THAT price’.
As an artist who has been around for a little while now (though really still at the beginning of my journey with a long and exciting road ahead) I thought I would share with you how I have developed the pricing for my work. I want to share this for 2 reasons: 1) Help other artist 2) help my customers understand my pricing.
The 1st time I sold my work for profit was in 2007 at Blighty’s Bistro in Victoria. The owner liked my work, which at the time a created as a hobby, and asked me to hang some for sale in her restaurant. She asked me how much I wanted to charge and I replied with a very low price (ridiculous when I look back now). She refused to price them so low and said she would price them for me. I was relieved to have someone do it for me! She priced all the paintings way higher then I was comfortable with and I thought ‘”no one in their right mind would pay those prices for MY work!” I felt thankful, since I didn’t work at the restaurant, that I didnt have to be there to watch customers faces when they looked at the price tags in shock. Much to MY shock my paintings sold very well at these prices (yeah!) and gave me the confidence to going selling my paintings.
I used these prices as a bit of a base line and also did my own research to see what other artists with similar experience , medium and sizes were selling their work for and priced from there. I think this is a great place for artists to start. The trick of course is to find the sweet spot where the price is not to high that customers will not buy and not too low that people wont value your work.
One major mistake I made when starting out was ‘pricing from the heart’ meaning if I really liked a particular painting I would price it higher then others. I have learned that just because I may like a certain painting more doesn’t mean my customers like it more and often times the ones I like a little less are the ones my customers like a little more (funny how that works) so its best to keep my heart out of my pricing.
Some things I consider when pricing are of course materials used. ie: I charge 20-30% more for my paintings that incorporate metal to cover the cost of materials and my husbands time in creating that metal pieces (if you have ever seen his metal leaves each are really a work of art in themselves!)
Some people would say that time should be a factor in pricing. Here is my issue with that. Take for example my signature trees with twisting roots. When I first started painting them they took me a lot longer then then do now. Because I have painted so many of the them I have increased my skill and efficiency in creating them. If I were to price these paintings based on time since my trees now take less time to paint I would actually be charging less instead of more them. Why should I be paid less because I have become more efficient at it. Thats is like saying a surgeon deserves less money the more experienced and efficient he/she becomes at it… silly right?
How I price my work now
So then.. how DO I figure out how to price my work? I adopted a square footage fee a few years ago and it made my life SO much easier! If a customer asks me ‘How much would something that size cost’ and I can have a quick and easy answer. My square footage fee is a little higher for commissioned work to compensate for the back and forth communication and the custom nature of the work. Sure, some paintings might take me a little longer or be more of a struggle but why should my customers pay more for a painting because I am less efficient at painting say a car then I am a tree?
My theory on getting paid in general is that you work harder for some dollars then others no matter what job you do and in the end it all come out in the wash. Reflecting back to when I was Nursing in the hospital there were some awful days when I would be run off my feet while other days were a bit more cruisey.. in the end I made the same dollars.. some were just harder earned.
On getting a raise
Like any trade I believe artists deserve to get raises. I give myself a raise every February on the anniversary of when I officially started my ‘Yapes Paints’ business. ( coming up!) This means my square footage fee (currently $160 per sq/ft) will go up. Why should I not be rewarded for my increase in skill, experience and knowledge like in any job? Increasing my prices on a scheduled basis also ensures the value of my work continues to go up which gives piece of mind to my collectors who have purchased and continue to purchase my original work.
What about you?
Artist- please comment and let me know how you price your work?
Art fans- What do you think? I would love to hear your comments about this post.
Until next time- Happy Creating!
April aka Yapes