Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Price Artwork and Make a Dollar

I often get asked about how I price my artwork. This is usually asked by other artists. I also get asked how much my paintings are. This is hopefully asked by future clients. For both of these questions, I go to my son Nicolas and try to get a perspective on worth and value. He is a good judge of value considering he is seven and thinks we get money by going to stores. Actually from his vantage point at about 38 inches above the ground, it is pretty simple. We pick up something from the store, stand in line, hand the cashier a single bill and in return we get a bunch of bills back plus some shiny coins. We end up walking out of the store with "more money" and stuff. I love this concept but I had to explain that it was a "large" bill and I received back smaller denominations of that bill called change. He didn't really care, he just wanted "one" which happened to be a dollar.

Now that Nicolas has a dollar, he is happy. All you have to do is price your work so you are happy. It is really simple math, yes math not psychology! This is not pricing because it has more meaning or because it is a "better painting". (They should all be better paintings or they should not be for sale.) Math is about square inches or square feet. Take a painting and be realistic about how much it would take, after paying for your materials, to part with it. How much would it cost someone to pay you to learn, grow and do what you love? Now you have a price. Divide that by the square inches of the painting and now you have a formula. Take your most common size and make that your base. As you get bigger, take 10% off and as you get smaller, add 10%. Now see if it works and whether the market will bear it.

This brings me back to Nicolas, who wants my change every time we go to a store. I told him that I do work for this money and he should too. So, to my surprise, I find him doing dishes one evening. I had my fatherly proud smile on and was pleased that he took the initiative to do a chore without being asked. Only, I later found out I was being conned by a seven year old. After he had finished washing, drying and putting away the dishes, he asked, "Ok, can I have my money now?" To myself, I thought why should I, but before I could even form the words, he was explaining, "You said if I do work, I can get money." granted, I had said that but I wasn't about to get into the difference between chores and jobs. So, I humored him and asked him how much  he should get for the dishes. I have to admit, he knows where the moon is, he told me $100. I thought it was a bit much so he came back with $99. I almost thought I had a deal but I wanted a bargain. He quickly came down to $10 and I countered with $5. We settled on $1. Know your audience, know your market and what they are willing to pay. 

Here is another opportunity to see what else my son will do for $1 at our local sushi restaurant. That's Wasabi!


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  2. This is such a great post! Answers everything and LOL too. Your son should invoice you for a one time fee as a marketing spokesperson and probably royalties too for helping you make your point so well.

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