How to Price Your Art

Pricing your artwork can be tricky business.  You want to quote a price that makes all the hard work that you put into your artwork worth it, yet you want to name a price that will result in a sale.  Although there are art collectors out there that will pay loads of money for artwork, the reality is most people aren’t art collectors.  So how do you price your artwork?  Well, here are some suggestions…

First, determine what kind of artist are you.  Are you creating artwork to exhibit in a gallery with hopes of a sale, or are looking for commission work?  Or are you an illustrator or designer, whose work will be reproduced?

Galleries– Galleries make money off of your artwork.  They take a percentage of the price of the artwork, sometimes as high as 50%.  Therefore, you should consider this when you price your artwork for a gallery.  If, for example, you want to make $300 on a work of artwork and the gallery demands a 50% commission, you should price the artwork at $600.  You then need to ask yourself, “Will this artwork sell for $600?”.  If the answer is “no”, you may need to lower your take home expectations, change galleries, or look into other options.   Some artists are turned off by the idea of a gallery, because of the commissions they have to pay;  but galleries can help an artist gain respect, find buyers, and expose an artist to region.

Commissions– Once an artist has gained some notoriety they may be able to create artwork on a commission basis.  In this case, a buyer may approach the artist about creating a specific artwork for purchase.  In this case the artist may give the buyer an estimate of the final price.  The artist may require that a portion of the agreed price be paid in advance of the completion of the commission.   Upon the completion of the artwork, the remainder of the balance is paid.

Illustrations– Art that is sold in order to be reproduced could be considered illustration.  Illustration work could be handled as a commission or the artist may require the rights of the work to be purchased.  Because illustration work  can be complicated, a contract is often involved.  Most illustration work is considered freelance, where an artist will create one work for a specific project.  If your artwork falls under this category, it would be best to arrange a contractual agreement between yourself and the buyer to ensure a mutually beneficial arrangement.

So how much do you charge?  Well, that question can only be answered by you.  For myself, I like to consider the amount of hours put into a project.  I decide how much an hour of my work is worth.  Right now, I would consider my rate a bargain.  I charge $35 a hour for commission work.  That means if an artwork will take me 10 hours, I should expect $350 for the art.  Most of the work I complete is created on a commission basis.  Therefore, I don’t have to worry about a gallery taking a cut.  I give the buyer an estimate and then stick to it.  In other words, if I estimate that a work will take me 5 hours and charge $175.  The final price will be $175, even if it ends up taking me longer.  I feel like this is the right thing to do.  When  I am creating illustrations, I work on a contractual agreement and this varies from project to project.  However, I still consider my time and what it is worth to me when drawing up these contracts.

Bottom line is that you should charge what you think is fair.  Some artists charge too much and seldom make a sale, others charge too low and are overworked and underpaid.  The key lies in finding the happy medium.

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