How Should I Price My Artwork?
by Ashley Garner
Studio Assistant, Tribeca Printworks
How much should I charge for my artwork? This is one of the most mystifying questions in the art market and there are so many answers. When you begin selling your work, your instincts might direct you to put a large price tag on your work, but that is not the right way to start if you are new on the scene. Of course you want to be taken seriously and valued like a Banksy, Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, or Picasso, but these artists didn’t start out famous, and they certainly didn’t start off selling their work for hundreds of thousands (and for some, millions) of dollars. They started out with modest numbers, they gave work away for free and traded with their contemporaries. Over time as their careers grew, their prices grew, and that is how you will want to start out, too.
The most important things to consider when determining your price structure are production and labor costs, who is the intended purchasing audience of your work, and where the work is being sold. If you are selling prints as opposed to original works, you will first and foremost want to determine your printing process and production costs.
What is your production cost? After having worked for art fairs, in galleries, for blue-chip artists, and selling work myself I have developed a formula to help determine how to best price your artwork when you are first starting out. Production cost is the first factor to consider when valuing your work. Add up your production costs (print/material costs + hourly rate spent on piece), take that number and multiply by 3. For painters or illustrators think about what your rate would be if you were charging by the hour. If you’re a photographer, calculate and incorporate time spent taking the photo and editing time into your pricing structure. This will determine the bare minimum you should be charging for the work.
Limited-editioned print work should also be charged based off of this formula. Depending on the size of the edition (1/100 vs. 1/5) you will want to have that reflect in the price of your work. The more limited the edition, the more exclusive and therefore valuable your print edition becomes.
If you are selling your work at or through a gallery, remember that there will most likely be a commission involved and you should adjust pricing accordingly to make sure you come out ahead. If you feel that the numbers are getting too high or too low for your audience then you can adjust it from there, but this is a great starting point to cover your costs and make a fair profit margin.
Who is your audience? Maybe you are selling your work in galleries and art fairs where people are used to spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on original artwork. Or is your audience mostly online through Instagram and other media platforms where your audience is more likely to only spend $50-$100 on a print? This is another important factor to consider when determining how to charge for your work. You don’t want to over price your work and then end up not selling anything!
Think about what you would pay for a piece of art, and then think about what your friends would pay. Taking your own spending habits on art into consideration and using that to gauge how you think others would realistically spend is a great way to figure out how to price your work. Just because you think your work is worth $5,000 doesn’t mean someone is actually going to buy it at that price. Sometimes you need to start small and grow bigger over time.
People buy art for many reasons. Some buy art because they enjoy it and others buy art because it is an investment. As your career grows, your name, and art, will become more valuable and collectors will feel confident purchasing your work at higher price points. When starting out, you don’t need to worry under-valuing your work because 1) you are an emerging artist so you aren’t as valuable in the market yet, and 2) just because your piece sold for $50 today doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be worth $50,000 tomorrow.
Interested in selling prints of your work? Contact us or visit us in our SoHo Studio today for a consultation. We are here to guide you through the process of determining what fine art printing and framing treatments are right for you and your work!
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