How to Price Your Original Artwork to Create Security

By Jessica Craddock | Marketing 101

There are several popular methods for pricing original art, but none of them work for everyone. While you are gaining popularity prices should be lower to start making sales & creating a following. Established artists will be able to charge enough to make a comfortable living if they have set up their business properly.

Quite possibly the most important part of the modern day art business is growing your email list. Having a list of fans that want to hear about an event you are involved in or new artwork for sale is invaluable. 

Imagine being a girl scout who wants to sell the most cookies. You could knock on every door in the neighborhood hoping whoever opens the door is hungry for cookies, or you could make a list of homes that buy every year and make sure to catch them while they are home. If you expanded neighborhoods every year while adding names to your list of probable buyers, soon you would best cookie salesgirl in the area. 

For this reason, I have added the number of email subscribers you should have to when your prices should increase. More on how to setup your email list in the next lesson...

LEVEL 1: BEGINNER

While you are here: 0 paintings sold + 0 email subscribers

Charge this: ​Look at other artists in your area that are approximately at the same skill level as you who are making sales. What are they charging? There is a good possibility you will not be getting paid what you are worth, but at this point we are focusing on gaining a following + fan base. 

Estimate: $75 - $250/each​

LEVEL 2: GAINING A FOLLOWING

When you get here: Sold 20 Paintings + 100 email subscribers

Charge this: (A fair hourly wage x number of hours to create the piece) + material costs

Example: ($20 x 20 hours) + $100 in materials = $500/each

Estimate: $400 - $600/each​

LEVEL 3: MADE A NAME

When you get here: Sell 50 paintings + 500 email subscribers

Charge this: (Cost of living + cost of business) / Number of paintings you expect to sell ​that year = cost per painting

Example​: ($45,000 + $10,000) / 20 = $2750/each

Estimate: ​$1800​ - $3600/each

HOW TO CHARGE BY SIZE

(USE WITH ANY LEVEL)

If you wish to charge by size, you can take a median cost. This works better than an average in case you have any extreme highs or lows. 

Do this:

Cost of painting #1 / square inches = cost per square inch.

Cost of painting #2 / square inches = cost per square inch.​

Cost of painting #3 / square inches = cost per square inch.​

...Continue for 11 paintings total.​

​Line up the cost per square inch in order from smallest to greatest:

$0.21,​ $1.22, $3.43, $3.46, $4.12, $4.48, $5.55, $8.97, $10.67, $12.45, $18.93

Count to the sixth number in the row and use that as your price per square inch.

$0.21,​ $1.22, $3.43, $3.46, $4.12, $4.48, $5.55, $8.97, $10.67, $12.45, $18.93​

Example: A painting is 24x24" (or 576" squared). Using the numbers above, your median cost per square inch is $4.48.

576" x $4.48= $2580.48

If you are selling in a gallery or other place that takes a commission, you will need to increase your price​. If you want to sell a piece for $300, but the gallery takes 50%, you will have to charge more to get that same $300.

GALLERY COMMISSION FORMULA

Ex: The gallery will take 40% (so you will get 60%). You want $300 to be your cut.

  • ​Divide 100 by the percentage you will get (100/60=1.6667)
  • Multiply what you want your cut to be by the answer from the above equation. ($300x1.6667=$500)​

You need the gallery (who takes a 40% commission) to charge $500 if you want to take home $300​.

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  • Karen Trepte

    That is true dedication Jessica and a sign of a real entrepreneur. Your clients are so lucky to have you as their mentor and leader and the rest of the world is so lucky to have the art and beauty that is entering their homes.

  • Tracy Weiss

    I’ve found that pricing per linear inch is a much more rational pricing method compared to pricing per square inch. More consistent pricing if you have small and large sizes. Check out this article: https://theabundantartist.com/pricing/

    • Thanks, Tracy! I like it!

      • Tracy Weiss

        The liner inch way made the most sense to me out of all the different ways I’ve seen suggested.