Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Problems with Pricing

Just how do you price your work? It's a seriously thorny issue, and although many artists would consider their work to be worth beyond the price of rubies, there really does need to be a sensible price tag on it. Although I have had work in a couple of exhibitions before, I didn't really know if what I was doing was realistic. I have since had the advice that I had perhaps priced my work too low. For my first SBA exhibition, I really wanted to get the balance right. So, how do you go about it?

What price on this one?
One month of research and drawing
Three weeks painting
Framing and scanning
Materials
Size

After reading a number of articles, there appears to be a number ways to go about pricing, but for most the time it takes to complete a piece, and the size of it seem to be the main areas of focus. If you start to take into account itemised materials, you really are on a hiding to nothing. How do you itemise a size 0 paintbrush and a squirt of Indanthrene Blue exactly? Tricky one that, so what about size? Some botanical artists are working on large scale pieces and currently, 'the bigger the better' appears to be the order of the day. Of course, working bigger means lots of everything being used to produce the pieces. More paint, more brushwork and bigger paper, not to mention more time. Everything is up scaled when you, well, erm up the scale! Pricing for specific sizes may help here with the price going up according to the size, which reflects in itself the extra time taken.

After much discussion and conversation on this hot topic, my view is that as artists, we should be pricing our work to reflect our own confidence and professionalism in it, but not how emotionally attached we are to it. After all, for many this is our sole living and art is a business after all. We should be using every opportunity to the full, and exhibitions are a great opportunity to get our work to a wider, targeted audience. A collector will travel a long way for a good piece of art, and often it is the subject matter and quality that is more of a consideration than the size or the time it has taken. Quality is always rewarded, but often an exhibition is just a showcase for our work with few sales. The value here is that the work is on public view where collectors, buyers and the movers and shakers can see it. Price beyond rubies? I should say so, the exposure and ability to make new connections alone is priceless. And, you may just find your email inbox getting a little busier.

For what it's worth, my own work tends to be on A3 just now, which seems about average when looking at other artists work. Each piece can have many layers and washes of paint and can take a month to complete, not including the preparatory work and research. For me, pricing is generally dependant on size, (including the amount of detail in the piece and subject matter), the complexity of the subject and, to some degree how long it has taken to complete. A complex mixed piece or a subject with large amounts of detail will of course be more expensive than a smaller, simpler study of maybe one subject such as a flower head. Of course, I often get input from fellow artists working in the same field who are generous in sharing their own experiences and considerations. This helps enormously, so you should never be afraid to ask questions of fellow artists about pricing.  

Robert Genn's Ten Commandments of Art Pricing

Thou shalt start out cheap.

Thou shalt publish thy prices.

Thou shalt raise thy prices regularly and a little.

Thou shalt not lower thy prices.
Thou shalt not have one price for Sam and another for Joe.
Thou shalt not price by talent or time taken, but by size.
Thou shalt not easily discount thy prices.
Thou shalt lay control on thy agents and dealers.
Thou shalt deal with those who will honour thee.
Thou shalt end up expensive.



Ah, good to see I am on the right track then. Perhaps I ought to have these writ large on the wall.


The following link is a great resource for pricing artwork, and I have found Katherine's knowledge extremely useful and valuable many times with this issue. 

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