In theory, art is priceless. In reality, it’s not. It’s hard to attach numbers to your work. In order to have success in your art, start by reviewing the sales of previous work. This can begin to establish your prices.
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That figure is bolstered when it is echoed by similar prices for comparable examples of your work offered through dealers or in consignment agreements.
Look at concrete, not emotional facts. What does it cost you to make your art?
Consider all your business related costs, like studio space and materials. Having an overall picture of your expenditures gives you a solid place to begin.??Next, consider rarity. Unique pieces are priced higher than multiples and anything that’s part of an edition and a photograph in an edition of five, for instance, can be priced higher than one in an edition of 100.
Consider individual objects from an installation as multiples.
Permanence should also weigh into your pricing. Paintings on canvas generally are priced higher than works on paper.
Look at price lists when you visit galleries, and keep up to date on prices in the market. Look at work that is roughly the same style, size and media as your own. Compare your prices to those of artists who have similar years of experience.
Remember that galleries take between 40% – 50% commission. If your prices are higher, do you have talking points ready to explain why? Are you ready to defend the numbers you attach to your work?
When selling out of your studio, stick to one set of prices. Those prices should mirror what someone would pay in a gallery exhibition. If collectors are buying your work as an investment, they certainly don’t want to see is your work being sold for cheaper than what they paid for it.
To be fair to your clients and to protect the value of your work and their investments, don’t treat prices as arbitrary numbers and the last thing a gallery director wants to see are people getting deals by circumventing their shop.
If you are working with commercial galleries, be certain to have a conversation with them about how to approach sales outside the gallery. If you are just starting out, don’t get frustrated by how low you have to price your work.
In almost any profession, the person who has more experience and has paid more dues along the way gets a higher salary. It’s not all about raw talent.
Just as an employee of a company asks for raises over time, you also have to work towards gradual price increases.
Your work and your reputation are constantly evolving and hopefully for the best. Let prices reflect that over time.
Don’t be shy about getting paid. An honest and direct approach about money is your best bet with clients and galleries.
Late payments are usually due to ineptness, not malice, so get comfortable with following up.