Thoughts on How to Price Art
by Clint Watson on 7/29/2009 8:35:40 AM
A few days ago, I came across a discussion about an art gallery who had changed the price on an artist's painting. The gallery felt that one of the larger paintings was priced too high, although they felt the artist's smaller works were priced correctly. So they simply lowered the price on the larger painting.
There are probably a million ways to price art.
In this case, I think the gallery was wrong to change the price without the artist's input, but they were right to question it. The final decision on how to price the art should have been up to the artist, reached by mutual respectful discussion with the gallery.
The problem was that the artist choose to price art according to a simple per-square-inch formula.
While I certainly can't tell you exactly how to price art, I discovered in my gallery director days that pricing art by square inch only generally doesn't work. It either makes the small ones too cheap or the big ones too expensive. A better strategy is to have a "base" price that applies to all sizes. The theory being that every painting requires a "base" amount of setup time, composition, and a base amount of work no matter how small it is. So, say your small pieces (ie 6 x 8) start at $300 and that represents a "base" amount of work. Then you ADD square inch pricing as the sizes get bigger. So an 18x24 would be $300 PLUS some square inch multiplier.
It was extremely rare that I ever saw a selling artist whose prices were equal on a square inch basis when comparing large and small pieces. Larger paintings are almost always less per square inch than small ones.
Think about this when deciding how to price your art.
I'm curious what other methods you guys utilize when deciding how to price art? Please share in the comments.
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