Consistent pricing is key for successful art sales. But, how do you put a price on your efforts and artwork? How do you decide on a logical approach?
The best solution for many artists is to select a pricing formula that works well for your art form and is a good fit for the stage of your career. A formula can simplify your life, plus makes it easier to explain your prices to potential buyers.
Consider one of these 3 straightforward formulas for pricing your work:
FORMULA 1: Square Inch × Dollar Amount
Artist Daily contributor and professional artist, Lori Woodward multiplies the size of her painting - in square inches - by an appropriate dollar amount. Art consultant Maria Brophy and her husband, artist Drew Brophy, use Lori’s technique to price his work. To get the square inches of a painting, multiply the width of the work by the length. Next, multiply this number by a dollar amount that makes sense for your reputation and credentials. Then round to the nearest hundred. Finally, double the cost of your materials and add it to the square inch dollar amount. This accounts for the 50% commission galleries usually take to sell your work. But, if you don’t sell from galleries, don’t account for gallery commission.
Emerging artists should consider pricing their art at more affordable rates, while established artists can charge higher rates. Lori charges $6 per square inch. She started off with a $2-$3 range when she was selling at outdoor art festivals and increased the dollar amount once she started working with galleries. Make sure to not outprice your buyers, though. With larger paintings, Lori uses a smaller dollar multiplier.
Example for a painting with a width of 18 inches, a length of 24 inches, a square inch multiplier of $4, and a material cost of $100:
(18 in × 24 in) = 432 square inches
432 square inches × $4 = $1,728
Rounded to $1,700
$100 × 2 = $200
$1700 + $200 = $1,900
FORMULA 2: (Hourly Wage × Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials
Your price should reflect the money and time you put into creating it. This formula ensures you are being paid for each hour you work and are covering the cost of your materials. It is an especially good formula for artists who are just starting out. When deciding on an hourly rate, look to see what comparable artists are charging for their art. If you use this formula and your price is much higher than theirs, consider lowering your hourly rate.
Example for an artist who charges $20 an hour, works for 15 hours to complete a piece, and spends $100 on materials:
$20 × 15 hours = $300
$300 + $100 = $400
FORMULA 3: (Height + Width) × Multiplier
Melissa Dinwiddie, an artist and author of the blog Living A Creative Life, recommends linear inch pricing if you have paintings of many different sizes. On a guest post for The Abundant Artist, she explains that it’s a good approach because it’s very simple for buyers to understand. Square inch pricing can be confusing with a range of sizes. For instance using a multiplier of $2.50 per square inch, your smallest painting (4 × 4 inches) will be $40 and your largest painting (32 × 32) will be $2,560. That can be hard to explain to a potential buyer and could put them off. Linear inch pricing is a lot simpler to follow.
Example for a 4 × 4-inch painting at $20 per linear inch:
4 + 4 = 8 linear inches
8 linear inches × $20 = $160
Example for a 32 × 32-inch painting at $20 per linear inch:
32 + 32 = 64 linear inches
64 linear inches × $20 = $1,280
Pricing Your Art Consistently Pays Off
Pricing your work consistently comes with a wealth of benefits. It allows you to build credibility and establish an excellent reputation among buyers and collectors. Buyers like understanding how art is priced. It will also keep you in your gallery’s good books.
Want to Know More? Check out Why it Pays to Price Consistently.