Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to Price Artwork

There are actually many factors to consider when pricing your artwork. A lot of artists have this question and while there really is no great formula I think the article below is a good starting point. Also as a general rule, you want to price your work in a range that it will sell well and after it has been selling at that point consistently for 6 months or so you can move the price up.

How to Price Art

From EHow

By Jennifer Walker

It's a validating experience, for an artist, the first time a stranger asks "How much?" for a piece of her work. Unless, of course, she doesn't have an answer. Art, while tangible, tends to be personal and equating a piece with dollars and cents may seem impossible. This is even more difficult on the spot so it makes sense to stop and give the matter some thought now if you haven't already.

  1. Step 1

    Know your costs. By this I mean your actual material investment into the piece. Paints, canvas, kiln or forge time. The actual bits and pieces you put into your work should always be the basis for pricing.

  2. Step 2

    Determine an hourly wage. Make it a living wage, if possible, and definitely above minimum wage. Multiply your rate by the number of hours that went into the piece. Add this to your material costs and you have a break-even price.

  3. Step 3

    Double that amount. This is your retail price. At this price you will have covered production costs plus an hourly wage for yourself. Since most galleries or representatives take a 50 percent commission you will not lose money if you sell through a gallery.

  4. Step 4

    Price by square inches. This method comes in handy when asked to give a quote on a commissioned piece as well as to stabilize your rates. Once you know your average retail, divide it by the number of square inches in an average piece for your price per inch. For sculpture, metalwork and other three-dimensional pieces you could translate it into a per pound or ounce price based on your chosen medium.

  5. Step 5

    Comparison price. Check out local galleries and note what sells at what price. This will give you an idea of what buyers in your area are willing to pay. Look at your prices again. You want to remain competitive, not the lowest or highest price in your region. Remember to look at the medium you work in, since oil paints will price differently than watercolors, metal different glass, porcelain different from earthenware.

  6. Step 6

    Leave emotions out of it. While creating art may be an emotional process, the pricing should not reflect this. When you inflate the price of a piece over an otherwise similar one, you are telling the prospective buyer that your other pieces are less valuable, less worthy. Either exhibit those pieces as 'sold' or keep them in your studio until your market will bear the price you want for it.


  1. Great article! Thank you for the tips, especially the idea of translating the price to square inches for future pricing.