It can be tricky to know how to price your art. Here’s a quick guide to setting your prices as an artist.
This is such a hot topic for so many artists because it keeps us really stuck. The issue is most artists undervalue and underprice their work. The old way of working out how to price your art used to be based on (and some people obviously still do this, that’s fine) how much experience you have, how many galleries are you in? How many awards have you won, how many solo shows have you done? All of these things are brilliant, and obviously give you a lot more prestige.
But there is a problem with pricing based on experience. This may upset people. That’s not my intention, but this is just my opinion. Hear me out! You can have somebody with 30 years experience, has had solo shows, that has been around a while and they are represented in galleries. But perhaps their art isn’t as relevant or not as desirable. There could be somebody who is an emerging artist, they’ve just come out. They’re maybe self taught, their art is really fresh, it’s very of the moment and it’s very in demand.
You couldn’t say to the second artist “hang on a minute, you can’t price your art at that price, because this person here next year has been doing it 30 years, and they have a lot more experience”.
For me, it’s about the price that somebody is willing to pay for artwork.
If the newer artist has fresher work, it’s more appealing, more desirable, then they should be able to achieve a good price for it and exhibit next to somebody who has that experience. I’m not denying experience accounts for anything. Of course it does. I’m just saying, I don’t like pricing models that work that way.
Another issue is that a lot of artists are told to look around, check out the market and price your work accordingly to the rest of the market. If you do that, you can be basing your prices on somebody else’s. They might have their own money blocks and pricing issues.
That’s where a lot of the pricing concerns and worries and anxiety comes from with artists. There’s a real lack of self belief that we can’t charge for something because we really enjoy it. Who are we to ask for X amount for something? It’s that kind of it’s those limiting beliefs and self doubt that lead to pricing issues.
Now, there are three basic pricing models that people use, and I go into these in more detail in Passion Into Profit. There’s one in particular that is my favourite and it keeps it consistent. Whatever pricing model you choose, it has to be consistent.
You can test it and you can tweak it by all means. Obviously, if you are selling very well then look at raising your prices once a year. Make sure you have based your pricing on something concrete and make sure it’s consistent.
Also – really importantly – price for profit.
Let’s say your financial target per month is £3,000 a month. So you might think you need to sell £3,000 worth of art because that’s what you need to live on. However, it’s too easy to overlook some of the hidden costs. You might take into account materials, your time, things like that but it’s too easy to forget things like shipping and packing materials, taxes, heat and light in the studio or home or wherever you work. There are lots of hidden costs to consider.
Tax alone can be 20% of your earnings, depending on where in the country you are and what tax bracket you’re in. Take 20% off your £3,000 target and you’re down to £2,400. You take off your materials (for example that might be £400). So you’re down to £2,000. You take off your heat, your light, your packaging, your posting etc and you might now be down to £1,700 from that £3,000. So if you needed £3,000 to live on, then all of a sudden you’ve only got £1,700.
Okay, so we need to take into account our financial goals and pay ourselves a proper living wage as an artist.
Don’t undercharge. By the time you’ve paid your tax, your shipping your packaging, you’re posting, how much will you have left to live on? If you’re left with about £25, think about how long the piece took you. If it took 10 hours, woul you be happy earning £2.50 per hour? That’s not even a quarter of the Minimum Wage! Be realistic. Factor in a wage for yourself that you can live on.
A great way of doing things when you are a bit further down the line is to decide what you need to live on. Let’s say it’s £2,000 or £3,000? That’s your baseline. What are your costs? Add your costs on top of that, so that might end up being suddenly £4,200, for example. So you can set your goal at £4,500 per month. Decide how you’re going to do that – will you sell x number of originals, or x number of prints each month to be able to reach your goal? Reverse engineer, and work backwards from your goals and figure out how you’re going to achieve them. You’ll be able to create a plan for your art business to grow.
How to price your artwork is a really delicate subject. Please make sure you price for profit. Make sure you stand confidently behind your prices. Be consistent with them. Do check how it relates to everything else out there, but don’t be swayed by that – test and tweak when necessary.
I hope this blog post was some help when it came to deciding how to price your art. I do also have a free masterclass on how to make consistent art sales – come join us!