by Carolyn Edlund
Many artist websites show artwork without prices. Is this a good idea or a losing proposition?
Since e-commerce became popular, this question has been argued, and it still rages on. I come down firmly on the side of the “Yes” vote under most circumstances, and here’s why:
Prices really matter.
Do you intend to sell your art? The internet is like the biggest store in the world, and if you won’t list prices, you won’t be making many sales.
Will your website visitors send an email or call you to find out how much you’re charging for your art? Not very likely. How many people who could afford your work are seeing it and loving it – and then moving on, to purchase from another artist who does list their prices?
Failing to set prices withholds vital information, and a lack of information never inspired anyone to buy. Shoppers who are confused or feel uninformed won’t be pulling out their credit cards any time soon. This is a major reason why some artists never seem to get any action from their website.
At the very least, you should give a range of prices for your art, such as “prices for originals are $1,000 – $5,000 depending upon size, and reproductions are $250 – $400.” This lets the reader know where they stand, considering their budget and their intention to buy. They can “self opt-out” if you are not a match, which saves both of you the time and hassle of discussing it.
It also lets the shopper know if you are a fit. And you definitely want to make that initial sale, because gaining a collector means that they may become a repeat customer, too – thereby starting that beautiful relationship where you are selling more and more of your work to people who love and appreciate it.
When shouldn’t you show prices?
If you have an agreement with a gallery that represents you specifically precluding you from listing prices or selling from your website, respect that contract. But do put active links on your site directing the visitor to the gallery’s website. (I suggest you link directly to the page on their site that shows your work, rather than to their Home page.)
Some things can’t always easily be priced, like special commissions, but again you could give a range. You might mention that commissions generally run 10% higher than your regular prices, and invite website visitors to contact you to discuss their needs.
And what if the work really isn’t for sale? You may want to show images of work that is already sold, that you are saving for a show or exhibition, or that you truly love and don’t want to part with at all. Mark them NFS or “collection of the artist”. Then, list your prices on work that is for sale.
Precautions to take.
This is a basic, but can’t be stressed enough: never undercut your galleries or retailers on price. I often tell artists who wholesale that it actually behooves you to sell at a slightly higher price than your retailers’ typical mark up. That will make your work seem like a “bargain” from the retailer, which can only enhance your relationship. And in business, relationships are everything.
Lastly, I think that some artists don’t list prices because they simply don’t know what to charge for their work. If this is your situation, do some research before you list any prices on your art. It’s essential that you become informed on how to price your work so that you can do it correctly. Here is an excellent article on that subject.
Do you list prices on your own art website? Why or why not?