Pricing Your Art

Pricing Your Art

One of the most difficult things to do as an artist is to develop a baseline for your pricing when you begin selling your work. There is no magic formula for pricing, but I include here a two-step process for getting an accurate baseline for pricing.

The most basic part of pricing if you're a painter, is a per square inch pricing method. This is a universally accepted method for pricing art on a substrate (as opposed to sculpture or ceramics). You simply multiple the height of the painting in inches by the width of the painting in inches to get the square inches of the painting. To these square inches you will multiply a number that can be determined by the two-step method outlined below.

The first step is determine where your pricing falls within your locale. You need to seek out work by painters with a similar experience level and quality level to you. Be as objective as possible regarding the quality of your work. Ask a trusted friend to help if needed.

The reason we begin locally is that is where you will begin selling your work. Most likely your first sales will be to friends or family. You won't start selling your first paintings in a high end gallery in New York City.

You must go to local art shows and/or join a local arts organization to get a sense of what others are pricing their work - those that have a similar quality level and experience level to you. Note the price and size of the pieces and write them down for reference. Once you have collected lots of data, list them all out from high to low. Then choose a per square inch number in the middle of the pack as a baseline number for you. Then you will move to step two to verify your pricing number.

Step two is to determine the material, labor and margin costs for your work and compare it to the number you have for step one. Take a common size painting for you and determine the cost of the materials it takes to make the piece: canvas, paint, etc.

In the same way determine how long it takes to paint the piece. Be careful if you're a real slow painter, because adding in lots of time will significantly increase the costs, that may go beyond your experience level. You'll need to determine an hourly rate if possible. This hourly rate will need to come from a bigger picture of your income goals for the year.

Total your material and labor for the painting-this is your base cost on the painting to break even if it sells. You'll need to add a little money for a profit margin, maybe a percentage of the cost. The profit margin is the part of your money that goes into the bank to pay your general business expenses. Once you determine that number add it to the labor and materials rate and determine the cost per square inch for the painting.

Now take that number and compare it to the number you came up with in step one. Hopefully they are close. If the numbers are far apart, you may need to re-evaluate some of the work in steps one and two.

Remember not to price too high at first - this is a common pitfall for MANY artists. It's better to have them be a good value and get them into the hands of folks who love them rather than having them sit in your studio because they are priced too high. You can increase your prices each year as your sales increase.

If you'd like to learn to more about abstract painting and art business, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2018 workshops HERE)

  • July 27-29 Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, CO. To register contact Haley Van Camp:
  • August 8-10 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here.
  • August 23-25 Franciscan Life Process Center, Lowell, MI. For more information and registration Click Here.
  • September 6-8 Live Your Art Studio, Carlsbad, CA. For more information and registration Click Here.
  • September 10-12 Merced Art Center, Merced, CA. To register contact Bo Petty 209-388-1090.

As always, thanks so much for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn how to paint abstracts in the comfort of your home or studio, Abstract Painting Academy is my online course:

Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop event. You can find out more by Clicking Here.





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