How to price your artwork – Episode 123


Pricing your own artwork (Podcast transcription)

In this mini episode, art business expert, appraisal, and curator Ruth Crnkovich answers the question on how to price your own artwork. This is an excerpt from my previous interview with Ruth. If you want to listen to the full conversation just go back to the archives and look for Podcast episode number 10.

Ruth Crnkovich: “One of the easiest ways that I’ve come up with for establishing a base price for artwork for the beginning artists, and for people who really haven’t sold their art work, but are looking to get a value on it, Is to basically pay yourself a respectable hourly wage, and then maybe double that and that would be your asking price.

If you spent 80 hours on a painting and you pay yourself $15 or $20 an hour, there’s a good starting point. Then there comes in the factor of the per square inch. I don’t necessarily believe in charging strictly per square inch, but there is some reason for considering this. You may put as much work into a 12″ by 12″ painting as you put into a 3 foot by 3 foot painting.

One square foot or three square feet, it’s spent the same amount of work for you. However, for the consumer they’re looking at how much space is it going to cover? You need to keep that in mind. Typically if it’s smaller no matter how much you love it and how many hours you slaved over it, and how many nights sleep you lost. That really doesn’t necessarily come in to play when it comes to valuing or pricing. I should say pricing the artwork.

What I typically do is have artists look at– Once they establish their fair price for most of their work, and let’s say, the artwork selling between $1200 and $1500 regularly, regular being at least once one painting a month I think. Then you know that that’s a good starting price, and as demand for your work goes up, then your prices should reflect that as well. As you get a gallery, then your prices should reflect that commission as well.

To go too high in the beginning and then have to cut your price, what that does is created a depreciating market for your work. Art should not have to go on sale to be sold, it should be priced right. You should leave room for negotiating if necessary, but to price it too high, and mark it down is a big mistake that I see artists make. I recommend to start a little lower. If you don’t know where to start, start with an hourly wage and go from there.

Then when you start selling multiple sizes, let’s say you have a 12 inch by a 12 inch, and a 3 foot by 3 foot, and a 6 foot by 5 foot painting, and you’re trying to figure out some pricing structure for these. That’s when I typically call in a per square inch, and then I come up– I don’t go strictly by the inch, but it gives me a ballpark. I know if a 12 by 12 is $1500, and so we’re charging X amount per square inch. Then when we go up to the per square inch with the six by six.

If that goes up too high or it doesn’t go up high enough, at least I can get in the ballpark, so it might be $12,000 instead $11,057, or it might be 15,000 instead of 28,000 because it just doesn’t make any sense to price yourself out of the market. But at least it’s a place to start the process and give you an idea about how the buyer is looking at your artwork too, because sometimes you have to put yourself in their place.”


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