Pricing, the subject so many artists and creative want to avoid. Are you one of those that cringes with the idea and thought of figuring our pricing for your artwork? Do you just slap a number on it and call it a day? As creatives we are not to fond of working with numbers because our brains want to take ideas and concepts and express them through our medium.
I have heard from many artists, "I just create for fun." or "I don't care about the price, I like sharing my work." or "It's just a hobby." No matter if it's a hobby or you are seeking to turn this into a profession you still need to know what your costs are and how to ensure you are covering them. Otherwise your hobby has turned into a money pit and you won't be able to support it as a hobby either!
It is so important to grab a piece of paper and start writing down your costs. You need to log the cost of all your supplies it takes to create one piece of work. Things that should be included in this list include cost of: canvas, paper, paints, cradle boards, brushes, sealant, framing, packaging and shipping costs. Of course this is only an example and you will base this off of what you use to create on of your artworks. Everyone's process and supplies are different. Start with a standard size you use often such as 8x10 inches.
Have you ever kept track of how long it takes for you to create one of your standard sized works? Let's go back to the 8x10 inch piece. Do this easy step. Grab your cell phone and before you sit down to start creating a piece turn on the timer. If you do not finish the work in one sitting then log the date and time you worked. Repeat this until you have a final count on the number of hours it took you. Many artists are shocked to learn how long it took them to create one piece of work! When you space it out and don't keep track of time it's easy to loose track.
This will help you decide if you prefer to pay yourself an hourly rate.
Are you getting out and going to gallery and museum openings? You need to be part of the art community to learn what is happening, what is being shown and what pricing other artists are placing on their work. When doing this look for comparable pieces. You can not compare a sculpture to an oil painting. Seek out similar artwork regarding medium, style and framing. Get an idea of what an 8x10 inch framed landscape oil painting is being priced at in a gallery and museum setting. Use this only as a guideline and not an absolute. You do not know if they are taking the time to figure out all of this back end information like you are but you will start to see and recognize artists who are underpricing their work, which the majority of them do.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make it to not keep your pricing consistent across different platforms. So if you have a website with your artwork on it and pricing then it should be the same as if the artwork was hanging in a gallery exhibit. From social media to art events, it should always be the same. You want to avoid creating customer confusion. You don't go to a Starbucks near your house and order a Vente Latte for $6.00 only to drive to another one and find out the same thing is $4.00!
The above tip ties directly into this one. Artist often complain, "But the commission fee a gallery takes means I have to raise my pricing!" Well if you are not making a profit off of the commission fee then your artwork is priced too low! It means you haven't crunched all the numbers to ensure you are earning a profit on your artwork, no matter where you sell it!
If you don't understand why a gallery takes a commission fee, stay tuned for another blog post about all they do and how that fee is actually supporting your art.
So hopefully you have taking the time to add up some numbers. Let's say the 8x10inch painting costs you a total of $100 in supplies to make. Then you figured out you that it took you 4 hours to complete (include framing & any finishing touches you do if you do that yourself). If you decide you want to earn $25 an hour (hourly rate is also based off of your experience) then that is $100 you would like to earn. Now your 8x10 work is at $200 but this doesn't account for if you show your artwork primarily in galleries. So if the commission is 50/50% then you are back to only earning $100 and are only covering your costs. So that same piece now needs to be at $400 to make sure you are earning your $100. Make sense? The other option is pricing by square inch, we will talk about that option another time.
So with all of that information once you feel good about the numbers use those for 6month to a year. Then after a year go back and see if anything has changed. As we are currently experiencing costs of supplies has increased. You need to make sure you are adjusting to those things as well. Each year raise your pricing to reflect more experience and a stronger skill set within your medium.
Good luck! Don't over think it, keep it simple and stick to a formula that works for you!
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