How To Price Your Art

Posted by: Lyra Pappin
As an artist, after spending hours, days, weeks, maybe even months, on a piece of art, it can be incredibly difficult deciding how to price your work. Aside from the emotional investment in a piece, there are the practicalities of equipment and material that factor into the complex equation.

The best way to determine the value of your art is to set ego and emotions aside and focus on the creating a practical equation that is also beneficial to you and reflects the quality of your work.

There is a variety of ways to approach how to price your work, so feel free to combine and utilize whichever options work best for you.

The first way to assess the value of your work is to give yourself an hourly rate and track how long you spent on a piece. This includes preparing and purchasing material as well as the actual time spent painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. You should also factor in the cost of the materials you are using.

It can be difficult to determine your own hourly rate, so feel free to work with different numbers until you find one that feels reasonable to you. You might want to do an online search for those working in artistic fields to get an idea of what a typical hourly rate might be.

Another option is to work based on the size of your canvas. If you predetermine the value of a square inch, for example, you can base your fee on this. This structure is simple and straightforward, as you don’t have to attempt some kind of adjustment of your own based on the size of your work.

You can even simplify this canvas-centered method, by predetermining a price for all works within a certain size. If you decide that a 20x20 piece is $200, for instance, stick with that and base each canvas on that alone. This helps remove personal attachment to your work or a preference for one piece over another.

Another thing to keep in mind when pricing your work is that shipping and handling fees can weigh into someone’s decision. If you are shipping the material yourself, always make sure to find a reasonable method of doing so, which saves money for both you and the prospective buyer.

Whichever method you choose to price your work, it is also important to be consistent and fair in your dealings. Although you might feel tempted to raise your price if your work is selling well, this is not advisable. It’s best to be happy that your work is selling and attribute it to a reasonable pricing system, rather than consider yourself “ripped off”. If you upgrade to a higher quality set of tools, or make other changes to your material, you can reassess your selling structure.

It’s impossible to base your rate of pay on ambiguous things like originality or artistic value, so make sure that you at least begin by being exceptionally practical about your prices. It certainly can't hurt if you gain a reputation for being not only a great artist, but trustworthy and fair. Let your audience build until you are able to work within a higher range or begin showing pieces privately. Also, the last thing you want to do as an artist is be bogged down by boring arguments and battles over something as abstract as the value of art. Stick with a simple structure and allow yourself more time for doing what you really want to do: create!

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Lyra Pappin
Toronto, ON, Canada

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