While I'm painting my mind is usually whirring with previous conversations. Last week I was part of a panel with LevellingUp and we discussed the challenges of pricing artwork, especially when starting out. I've been doing this for over 20 years and I still question the pricing. Fortunately I've been given a lot of assistance by galleries, though they have often pushed the fees a little higher than I feel comfortable with as my goal has always been to make sure that original art is accessible, plus I'm quite prolific in my work so I love to see it move into new homes. Pricing is difficult because there are so many things to take into consideration such as technical skills, difficulty & time required to create a piece, tools & materials used, local market, demand and more.
The biggest thing I've learned about everything in the art world is that everything requires a lot of research. When I began, there was no real internet or personal computers so research meant visiting galleries and community art sales. The things I learned that were important were to look at the materials other artists were using and, since I'm an acrylic artist, at the time acrylic paintings were placed in a lower market than oils though that is changing. I paint on stretched canvas with a bit of a preference for gallery depth (1.5 to 2 inches) and paint around the edges so the work doesn't need the work framed, though some patrons of my work do have them framed after purchase. When viewing other artists' work, I had to keep in mind they're training and experience while trying to find something similar to mine. Many of my previous galleries only took 30-40% commission though now galleries take up to 60% so those costs along with my time and material costs have always had to be taken into consideration. My husband is an accountant so he helped me to create a spreadsheet where I could change numbers to check on the final income, just to make sure the final price made some kind of sense.
One of the other things we discussed last week were commissioned paintings...many people charge more for them and ask for a 50% deposit though I don't as I tend to lean towards commissions where I'm given more leeway to create what I'm compelled to create plus I want everyone who owns a piece of my work to have it because they absolutely love it. If things don't work out (which is rare), I often list any with a gallery or use it as a donation.
A third topic that came up was pricing the same type of work in different environments (ie. selling through a different gallery, through an art show or from your studio). The three of us agreed that the prices should be the same everywhere for the galleries and for the collectors sakes.
Finally, sales were also discussed. I don't hold them often, but on occasion I do offer pieces that are part of a new body of work for me at a lower price until I have increased my skill set. I also occasionally offer sales on older works in order to support a good cause, such as our local Food Bank as I think it is extremely important to give back as an artist.
In the past year I have had to let go of working large due to issues with adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) that has plagued me for several years. This may mean that the prices of my small to midsize paintings may need to be reconsidered as that is where my focus will now lie. My work is priced per square inch and I do try to keep smalls (ie. 4x4 or 6x6 inches) at a lower price point as I had received wonderful advice years ago that many collectors will purchase something small at an accessible price and then, over time, may purchase larger works as their budgets increase. I have definitely found that to be true as many of the people who have purchased my work through the years have collected a number of pieces. I feel very privileged and grateful for that.