Question of the Day? How do you price your artwork?
Last week, an artist who is new to working with galleries asked me how to set up pricing for her new body of work. There are many ways to price artwork, but the one that makes the most sense to me is by the square inch, and then add your other expenses onto that amount.
For Example: A 16x20 oil on linen is priced at $5/square inch (remember this person is just entering the gallery world). That comes to $1600. Then take the cost of the framing (which should be purchased wholesale) and double that cost: So let's say the frame is $100. Double that and add $200... now the price is $1800.
Savvy artists know they have to pay for their canvas, brushes, paint and sometime even studio space, so in order to make a decent profit, they must recoup those costs too. Here's where 10 to 20% is tacked on. I am really bad at math, so let me ask my calculator (I'm even bad at math with a calc)
$1800 plus 10% = $1980 add 20% and you get $2160 you can round it down to $2100.
Smaller works take just as much effort to paint, so increase those works (smaller than 9x12) to $6/square inch.
The example above is for someone who is working with a gallery that takes 50% commission. For artists who sell exclusively on their own, the price per sq inch can be much lower. However, if the artist sells through galleries AND on their own, they must price for the gallery and sell their work at exactly the same retail price.
Never undercut the gallery!
Hope that helps. Oh and please don't email me today with specific questions. I have to get an article done for Watercolor Magazine this week. At this time, I don't have time to respond or set up personal consultations as my plate is rather full. Hope you understand and also hope this post has been useful.
Step by step demo in WC magazine
Last month, Clint Watson, owner of http://faso.com and I talked extensively about my taking on extra duties for the company. My first reaction was that these new responsibilities would be fun, and I'd most likely do a good job with them.
But during the month of September, I felt overwhelmed with the variety of work on my plate - which led to my re-evaluating taking on additional projects. When I was younger, I worked for a computer company, and did very little artwork while there. Although I enjoyed that job and got paid very well for it, I admit that I was just putting in the required hours while my creative side was suffering. Working for the computer company was a job, not a calling.
It's been 20 years since I quit working on testing PC software and began my career as a painter. While I'd like to say that being a professional artist is easier than working with computer software, it isn't - not by a long shot. Running my own business is extremely hard work. But the good part about being an artist -- I get to nurture my God given gifts, which in turn feeds my soul. Performing tasks for "the company" wasn't nearly as satisfying.
At the present, I've embarked on a new creative career - that satisfies me even more than being a full time artist. With the Internet and blogging, I'm able to share everything I've learned from my mentors and business coaches with my fellow artists, and this work is my true calling. Those of you who know me personally, understand how essential it is that I interact with people, and although I do love to paint, spending 40 hours alone in the studio is difficult for me. Many of my professional artist friends have no trouble spending days and weeks alone, but that is not my personality has been designed.
Getting back to the work Clint and I discussed... which much thought, prayer and asking my friends' advice, I've come to the conclusion that I would be sacrificing my true calling in order to take on additional online work. Yes, I'd make good money and probably do an excellent job at it, but would I be happy?
There's only so many hours in the day, and only God knows how many days I have on this earth, so I need to consider carefully how to spend those days. It's true that if my husband lost his job, I'd have to take on some kind of daily work. For now, I put out my best quality writing and painting when I have a lot of flexibility. It's definitely difficult to be flexible and let new ideas flow when there's no time left for pondering them.
So, dear artists - when you take on work that is not related to your true calling, be aware of what you're sacrificing. No, I'm not saying to quit your day job if you need to have regular income. Once when I was giving an art marketing workshop, one of the attendees informed me shortly thereafter that he quit his job to pursue art full time. I never told him to do that! But it worked out to be the right decision for him - I'm so relieved!
By taking the time to analyze my gifts, how I truly love to spend my time and what the most important paybacks are, I've come to live a more rewarding life. When I'm not careful, I easily get sidetracked into taking on responsibilities that take time away from my calling. If these opportunities pay well, I get sidetracked sooner.
When I share info and thereby help others, I feel truly satisfied. Yeah, I know that not everything I write is helpful to everyone, but that's just the way it is. The important thing for me to keep in mind is that I must try.