Wednesday 5 May 2010

More Thoughts on Pricing Art

My previous blog which touched on pricing has elicited one or two comments which have spurred me on to add a post script on the subject.  This can be a tricky issue for a lot of artists and for anyone reading this blog who is not a creative, it may be interesting to understand how we arrive at a value for our work.

The first two comments I have had come from two very different artists.
Painter Angela Canada Hopkins has an approach that I haven’t come across before – she prices by the square inch which she says « keeps her consistent ».
Ann Brauer who makes beautiful contemporary quilts believes that «  each piece has its price and its owner”.
I price according to my perception of its worth to me to let it go (see previous blog).
Some artists will price according to time spent and cost of materials, but whilst this obviously works from a commercial standpoint, I don’t feel it takes account of the quality of the work.

Then there are those who compare their work with their peers and fix a price accordingly.

It is also true to say that work may need to be priced according to the venue in which it is displayed – price it too low in a good gallery and the work will not sell.  I read a good article recently by Eric Rhodes who referred to an extremely successful artist who had failed to sell a piece at a low price and a few years later had shown the same piece at a price many times higher than the original one and sold it straight away!

So what conclusions should we reach? Fundamently, the artist must have faith in their own work – not always an easy one for the creative. (Given the title of this blog, I try to price mine on the days the roller coaster is at the top of the track!).

At the end of the day, for the art buyer I would say – remember the huge amount of work – both physical and emotional that usually goes into creating a piece and in my opinion – don’t try to negotiate. To other artists, if you have used another method of pricing it would be interesting to hear from you here.   


  1. Actually Annie, I think we have a similar method of pricing. For me it is also a gut reaction based on my feelings about the work and my willingness to wait for the right buyer.

    For instance I just sold a wonderful piece I had made a few years ago. I had not changed the price--I knew it would find a home. And indeed the right person saw it last week-end and bought it without hesitation.

    And yes, I have been known to raise my prices sometimes. That being said I do try to keep prices for similar items consistent so I don't confuse myself.

    I may follow through with a separate post on my blog--interesting topic.

  2. Hi Annie,

    This is a very interesting topic. Although I have sold very few paintings, I do agree with the "don't negotiate" rule. I also think the venue has much to do with the prices. My work has never been in a gallery, but I watch what other artists do over the different venues they sell in. There are so many variables and it's interesting to watch. Another thing that seems to come into play is how well the artist's work is known. I am pretty sure that when I get my Etsy or ArtFire store up and running, my prices will have to be that of a newcomer. I'd love to think otherwise, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

    I'll be watching the comments you get, for more good advice. Thanks for starting this conversation.

  3. I have read the other comments and at the moment price my work by the square inch, as i have discussed it with another fellow Batik artist who prices accordingly. the only problem with that is that the prices are lower than I want, so I put in a fudge factor(Did it win an award, has it been in a juried show) that add value to the piece. I agree that some pieces sell when they are ready to leave for the right home-It's happened to me, too!