The artwork pricing challenge
When you’re starting to sell your artwork, it can be really hard to know what to charge. There is no hard and fast rule but having a pricing formula will help you set a consistent price.
How to calculate a pricing formula
Many artists use a square inch formula, others use a linear inch formula. Here’s how to calculate each.
Calculate the square inch by multiplying the height x width, then multiplying the total by the rate.
height × width × rate = price
Calculate the linear inch by adding the height + width, then multiply the total by the rate.
height + width × rate = price
Why I use the linear inch formula
There is no right or wrong formula. Many artists use a square inch pricing structure but I like the linear inch formula. The reason for this is that with a square inch pricing formula there’s a dramatic jump from smaller to larger paintings, a linear inch pricing structure results in a more gradual price increase.
My Artwork Pricing & Inventory Spreadsheet
At the top of my spreadsheet is the rate. This amount is multiplied by the linear inch for the total in column 8. Changing this rate will change all the prices throughout the table.
- Image: A thumbnail image of your painting will make it visually easier to locate the painting – tip (store your images in Google Docs or Dropbox)
- Inventory Number: Makes it easier to keep track of paintings beyond titles. Write the inventory number on the back of the painting.
- Title: In the first column of my spreadsheet, I start with the title of the painting. Each painting, even if they are the same size, may be different when I get to the finished price.
- Medium: My work is either encaustic on panel or encaustic monotypes on Japanese Paper. These I priced differently. Paintings on paper tend to sell for less than paintings on panel.
- The Year: Pieces created earlier may have a lower price than recent work.
- Depth: Is the work on Gallery depth or on a Regular depth panel
- Linear Inch formula: is calculated
- Total: Linear Inch x Rate is calculated
- Cost of Frame: Some paintings aren’t framed and some have more expensive frames than others. I want to recoup this expense when I sell my work.
- Panel and Materials: Make sure that you’re factoring in the cost of your supplies when you figure out your pricing structure. Here I include the cost of the panel and I may add an extra materials charge.
- Total: This column totals columns 8-10
- Rounded Total: Here I enter in the Price rounding up or down to a nice number.
Artwork Pricing Tips
1. Give yourself room for Growth
Emerging artists will price their art at more affordable rates, while established artists can expect to command higher rates. Your pricing gets to change over time but start lower and if you’re getting consistent sales, increase your prices. If you start off too high, you’ll be tempted to lower your prices and that will alienate collectors who paid the higher price.
“It’s always a better business move to raise your prices than to lower them, so leave yourself some room for growth.” source
2. But, don’t undercharge
If you aren’t covering the costs of your materials then you’re undercharging! The pricing table will help ensure that you’ve recouped your material costs.
This post by Alyson Stanfield Why You Should Raise the Prices of Your Art and How to Do It is worth reading.
“Artists who price their work too low are making things difficult for other artists who are pricing their work appropriately for the market and who need to make a living from sales.”
3. And, don’t undercut the Gallery
Don’t offer one price to direct sales and another price through a gallery. I’ve overheard artists at art openings telling their collectors to wait till after the show to buy directly from them. Galleries work hard promoting their artists and organizing and hanging shows – the percentage they take is well earned. My price is my price no matter where I’m selling.
4. Don’t apologize for your price
Kick your inner critic off your shoulder and state your rate! When you arrive at your price – be confident.
Add your thoughts
This is just one artist’s opinion. I would love to hear from you — what’s your formula? Do you have any tips? Please chime in with comments below.
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