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The Ten Commandments of Art Pricing

Tips on pricing your art work when you start selling.

By Robert Genn

10 Commandments on Art Pricing

Pricing your art can be stressful!

© Marion Boddy-Evans

How to price your art is one of those topics where everyone's got a passionate opinion. Should you price your work low so it sells or should you price your work high so people don't think you undervalue your art?

I've read lots of advice and tips on pricing your art, and have written on the subject myself, but I don't believe anything will easily beat Robert Genn's 10 Commandments on Art Pricing for succinctness (or sound advice), which are listed below.

Take your time considering each, then print it out and stick it up in your studio where you can reread them regularly. Remember, as Robert says: "Art, particularly rare and hand-made art, doesn't price out in the same way as donuts. It needs to be somewhat inflationary, have the slight patina of investment, and yet have perceived value for the type of art and the life-station of the artist."

Where you are in your career as a fine artist does have an influence on the prices you can command for your work. So, even if you do believe your art is better than a lot of the stuff you see in galleries, if you're just beginning to sell your work, you need to be realistic about pricing your art.

Another thing to ponder if whether you'll benefit more from putting your energy into your painting rather than the selling of it. (And this includes maintaining a website showcasing your art yourself, rather than getting someone else to do it.)

Robert believes artists "need to distance themselves from daily commerce" and that's why "you need to be able to reward dealers who can share your magic with the greater world." (Which if course raises that other perennial topic, how to get a gallery to represent you!)

Robert Genn's Ten Commandments of Art Pricing

  • Thou shalt start out cheap.
  • Thou shalt publish thy prices.
  • Thou shalt raise thy prices regularly and a little.
  • Thou shalt not lower thy prices.
  • Thou shalt not have one price for Sam and another for Joe.
  • Thou shalt not price by talent or time taken, but by size.
  • Thou shalt not easily discount thy prices.
  • Thou shalt lay control on thy agents and dealers.
  • Thou shalt deal with those who will honour thee.
  • Thou shalt end up expensive.

Thanks to Robert Genn for permission to reprint his "Ten Commandments of Art Pricing", which originally appeared as one of his inspirational art newsletters, The Painter's Keys.

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