Are You Under or Over-Pricing Your Art?

by  Carolyn Edlund

How can you set prices for your art correctly, without over or underestimating the value?


Art show in Boquete, Panama


What is the correct price for your art? That will largely depend on your sales history. For seasoned artists, finding the “sweet spot” where your art sells well is key. Over time, you can gradually increase your prices based on what the market will bear.

If you’re just starting out, it is best to learn where your work fits into the marketplace by doing some research. Take note of the average prices set by peers with similar experience and mediums. This will give you a starting point for pricing your own work.

Underpricing is a common problem which may arise out of a fear of not being able to sell. Other times, artists may be under the false perception that collectors always prefer lower-priced work. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that low pricing or giving discounts is the way to gain collectors. Instead, work to increase the perceived value of your art. Check out this article which offers specific strategies to do just that.

Overpricing can be a problem for artists who price their work emotionally. Is a particular painting, sculpture, or other piece really important to you? Do you feel that it’s worth more for that reason? Your art may be quite valuable to you personally, and it might evoke memories, or have a lot of love and care put into it. But don’t let those factors influence your price. The correct price for your art is what a customer will pay you for it, not your own emotional attachment. If you have pieces of your art that you are extremely attached to, then don’t sell them. Instead, keep them in the collection of the artist.

It’s important to get started with base prices for your work which are in the correct range. Prices for your art should go up, not down, so you don’t want to start at the high end. Use common sense to establish your prices, so that you can have confidence in and be able to defend those prices to others. This is useful when speaking with a gallery owner, a collector or anyone else who asks why your prices are set as they are.

Once you have established appropriate prices for your work and you are beginning to sell art consistently, you may wonder when the right time is to increase those prices. A price increase is in order when you have experienced a consistent degree of success with sales over at least a six-month period. And, if the demand for your work exceeds your ability to make it, you are probably due for an increase.

As sales of your artwork continue to grow and you see a consistent demand, in general you can plan on making price increases of 10-25% per year. Be cautious, however. Don’t increase prices just because you “feel” they are too low, or because you have had a flurry of sales. Look at your sales figures carefully so that you know you can justify an increase based on regular, sustained sales.

As you build your CV with exhibitions, commissions, additional gallery representation, installations and so forth, you are earning credentials which will carry weight with your collectors. Your reputation and visibility have a bearing on the demand for your work, which in turn will lead to the need for increased prices.



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