Pricing your artwork for an exhibition can be quite a complex endeavor. Today’s collectors and art buyers are more price conscious than ever, and the competition can be quite stiff, making proper pricing all the more important. Emotion-based pricing isn’t a good strategy, as subjective qualities such as emotive value and originality can vary from one viewer to the next, and collectors rarely see themselves as having only one choice when selecting art, no matter how unique the content or style. This is why developing a consistent (and competitive) pricing structure is so important. This way, you will always be able to explain to potential buyers how and why you set your price. Whether your exhibition is going to be held in a gallery, at an art fair, or a in more informal setting such as a library, here are some general guidelines on how to go about pricing your art.
Pricing Your Art Realistically
The best way to ensure that your art remains competitive is to take the emotion out of the pricing process and objectively evaluate the quality and significance of your art as it compares to other art within the same market. If you are just starting out and haven’t sold very much yet, the best approach is to price each piece based on time, labor, and cost of materials. Here, you can set yourself a reasonable hourly rate and add in the cost of materials to establish an asking price. Another option is to price by size (or square inches). However, this isn’t always the best approach, as small paintings can take just as long to complete as large ones. Regardless, don’t forget to add in the cost of the frame as well.
Aligning Your Price Point with Your Market
Whether you are exhibiting for the first time or have already established a sales history makes a big difference when it comes to pricing your art. If you are new to the market, then you will need to price your art based on comparable pieces in the market. If you have already been selling, then you can price your work based on documented accomplishments. Either way, it’s important to take the particular venue you’ll be exhibiting in into consideration, as this will determine your target audience. For instance, a high-end gallery is going to bring in clientele who are willing to spend a bit more than other venues. If you are not sure, a good rule of thumb is to broaden your appeal and try to offer works at various price points – though not too varied!
The Big Picture
Remember, by staying aware of the big picture and how your art relates to the overall market (in terms of what artists are creating and how that work is being priced and marketed), you will make your art much more relevant, competitive, and appealing. In addition, you will come across as a seasoned professional who understands the market and your own place in it. The goal is to create a pricing structure that’s fair and that makes sense within the context of the overall art community, as this will make it much more tempting to potential buyers.