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How to Set a Price For a Painting

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Migraine by Peg Lattinville

Migraine by Peg Lattinville

Setting a price for a painting is hard. If you overprice your work, you may not sell anything but, conversely, if you under-price it you may not recoup your costs or get taken seriously.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: Some

Here's How:

  1. Research the market to find out what other artists are charging in your area. Prices will be more in big cities such as New York or London. Price for your local market.
  2. Remember the price in a gallery isn't what the artist receives; the gallery takes a lot of commission. Check how much it is.
  3. Work out how much you spent making the painting excluding time. This isn't only materials such as canvas, paint and brushes but also overheads such as electricity, rent of studio space or a model.
  4. Keep a record of how long it took to make a painting – time also costs money though initially you may not get much for it.
  5. Add something for your experience and reputation. If you're only setting out, you obviously can't expect as much as an artist with an established reputation.
  6. If you're spent money marketing an exhibition or promoting an open-studio day, add something for this too.
  7. Look at your final price and compare it again with local prices. Is it realistic given the market and your reputation? You can always increase your prices next time.

Tips:

  1. It's a harsh fact that oil paintings still generally command higher prices than other mediums. If you can't live with this, switch to oils.
  2. Don't price your work too low. If you don't value it, why should a potential buyer?
  3. Only sell your best work. Initially because you're trying to establish a reputation and later on because you're trying to maintain it.
  4. If you want to include a painting in an exhibition because of it's one of your best but don't really want to sell it, don't be tempted to price it high in the hope it won't. What if it does?
  5. It's risky significantly undercutting the price set in a gallery through a later private sale. You risk alienating the gallery owner who displayed your work in the first place.
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