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Readers Respond: How Do You Price Your Paintings?

Responses: 16

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How do you decide on what price to put on a painting? Do you have a formula that's based on the cost of materials and time, or do you work it out by the square inch? Share your tips on pricing your paintings here.

I think the Capitalist Approach is Fair

I think the capitalist approach is the fair one. Selling too low is suspicious, tagging paintings too high may turn off potential buyer. Going with the flow and be aware what other similar paintings sell for is better approach.
—Guest Veny

I let the Customer Decide

I paint because I wanna, what happens to the work afterwards is of less importance. I am flattered when someone wants it enough to pay me for it. When asked if this or that is for sale I say "sure, wanna make an offer?" Potential customers are always shocked; they say they know nothing about pricing and do not want to insult me, "Ok, so make an offer you think is fair!" On the other hand there have been people who really wanted a painting but would not be able to afford it if I priced it "fairly". At this time in my life, I don't really need to make a lot of money, I always let the customer decide, if the price were insulting I could simply say "uh, no" but that has yet to happen. I have always been pleasantly surprised by the amounts offered.
—Guest pricing paintings

Minimum Price Per Painting

I've worked it out that the minimum cost of a painting these days should be £300, regardless of work effort, type of work, use of materials and who you're selling it to. This is because the minimum take-home pay these days is roughly £200 per week. It has to be remembered that whatever the painting you do has to be treated like a working week, bearing in mind weekly bills, food etc that you have to pay for. Many people of course won't pay that much for a painting whether or not they realise these facts. That's why the affluent sector is such an easy target when it comes to marketing.
—Guest Mike Reed

How I Price

I take a lot of factors into consideration, my target audience, the effort it takes to do the painting, not necessarily the time, the size, what paintings go for in my area. I also factor in the cost of art materials, and whether or not the place I am exhibiting in charges a commission. That can really cut into what you get. I keep in mind that this is art, it's not a commodity, but a subjective thing. I also sell my work privately. We usually agree on a price, and I'm happy with that. If a painting sells, fine, if not, then that's fine too.
—Guest Anne

Pricing by the Hour

I charge by the hour like any professional. If my time is worth $200 an hour and it took me five hours that's what I charge.
—barre2bb

Pricing Paintings

My method is a combination of the suggestions: I start with the price by size, then take into consideration the quality/difficulty of the work, not necessarily the time it took to do it.
—Guest pegbead

Pricing Tricky, Material Input Bad Guide

I believe as artists we convert basic paint, canvas, brushes to create visually appealing work -- it is this process of conversion that should guide the pricing. That is, how much do we value our "appeal creation". Time spent is also not appropriate. My most expensive painting I did within an hour!
—Guest Jimi Munowenyu

A Practical Approach

We all begin by deciding whether we want a given piece to represent our skills to the world. If it makes that cut it must justify our time and materials in this and other less successful work, then it must be rated for quality by the artist, keeping in mind the market value of paintings of equal or similar quality. Then there is the absolute last thought "Would I rather have this painting or $X?" Your choice will dictate the advisability of your chosen price. There is also the problem of presentation - adding the price of the framing and the gallery fee plus any shipping costs to your total. That's how I do it.
—jrjarvis

Pricing - and Associated Problems

I sell at two galleries and try not to sell privately, but it does happen. I don't give private buyers a price break over gallery prices. My gallery prices are generally similar size, same price. My main gallery is also a framing house. They take 5% less commission if they have framed the painting (however, I still consider it double-dipping as they already made their profit on the frame, and will do so again). If a painting is framed I add that price on to the basic price I was intending for that size. I try to not frame as often, instead nicely finish gallery wrap supports and let the client choose a frame since they are already in a framing shop. My problem comes when I know a painting will not being presented at its best without a frame -- then I do upfront framing. For the past year sales have not been wonderful, so I did not do my usual slight increase pricing. I'm not a consistent size or shape user and must frame show items, so framed pricing generally wins.
—stillpainting

Pricing Art for Market

I price my art for the area I live in and that the economy has to take front set. If I expect to sell my artwork I have to be realistic. Internet is quite different due to shipping and handling. I take into consideration the size first, then the ground on which I paint it, I price according to how many colors the painting need. For instance: a 5x7" canvas board, monotone painting though smaller does take skill I find takes even more skill than a larger piece. Though the painting only has two colors really one, the price reflects it, depends on price of that color paint. I can easily sell this for 25 to 50. 4x4" canvas board can easily sell for the same price though has many colors, due to the intense work put into it. For the stretched canvas of 16x20" I start out at 100 depending on detail and amount of color used. I honestly do not price according my time put into it. Anything larger is higher in price. Economy, area, materials, and detail determine my prices.
—S.Haley

Pricing Work Fairly

As a professional artist of 18 years pricing my work has been a job. The first thing I did was to find a painting of the same calibre, medium and size as mine and did the math, dividing the inches into the price. Then I made a price scale per size. I looked at each piece of my work that fell in the size range and adjusted it according to the quality of each painting. Every year I add in inflation, new experience, supply and demand, as will as new gallery commissions. An important thing to my is not to insult a previous buyer. My prices NEVER are lowered. Some years they increase in value more than others. Per one constant buyer, he felt my prices have increased fairly. I feel it is very important to know where your work fits in, your talent and your personal commitment to your craft. Being honest with yourself is the first step in knowing what your art is worth. I feel it takes experience to understand the pricing process. Be patient with yourself and time will show you the best way.
—Guest shosho

Pricing

I price by size, but try to give each client a little story with the painting to make it more personal.
—Guest Elizabeth

Price My Paintings by Size

I price my paintings by putting their sizes into consideration. Small sizes mean less work while large sizes takes more time and work.
—Guest Wallace Ejoh

My Pricing Tips

When I price my art work, I take into account the cost of materials, time taken, size, target audience (depending on the cost of paintings in the country where I am exhibiting). Prices vary not only country to country but also city to city. I do a little research before pricing my art work. After completing a painting I ask my wife for her opinion. Over the years she has developed a sharp eye. When she says she likes a painting and would like to keep it for our house I add 25 to 40% to the price I had in mind. You may not believe me but they have always been bought before the rest.
—Guest mohan kodange

Price by Time Spent

While some 'genius' can be expressed in seconds, most of my work takes time, and that's my most valued commodity these days... so I often combine time spent with sense of 'success' (whatever that means) - I suppose whether I am pleased with the work. As a Miniaturist, I definitely would not price according to size.
—Guest Richard William Haynes

Proportional

I scale prices proportionally from small to big, so I guess that's based on square inches. Not quite twice the price for twice the size though.
—Josh

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