How To Price Your Paintings and Market Your Art

How To Price Your Paintings and Market Your Art

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How To Price Your Paintings and Market Your Art. in this video Stefan Baumann Host of The Grand View a PBS show on painting in the national parks, talks to his class on pricing your paintings for sale privately or in a gallery. to get a free book on painting

we were talking last night about pricing your paintings and I have always been kind of at a place when it comes to selling artwork where you have feelings for your work and you don't want to sell them a lot of you have those but there are a lot of shows and galleries that say if you want to show your work you've got to sell your work getting a price structure that works is very important and it's not even so much for you but it's for the people that are actually acquiring your work that there's some consistency and when I was younger there used to be some apps and applications for the computer some of them were like artist business artists thing and you put in the computer and everything was done by the square inch and so I always thought that that was kind of cold and harsh and besides some of my paintings I really liked a lot and some of my paintings I'm willing to give away bring in the truck now remember if you go into a show you'll see a paintings and they'll have them all priced you'll go oh my god this artist is making a lot of money but most artists know that for every painting that's up on the wall there's a whole garage full of paintings that didn't make it and I always found it interesting with the IRS there was like well how many paintings did you complete this year and it's like I don't know are they completed yeah what point you wouldn't when do they actually become a product and since we're so attached to a lot of our products is that something that we list with the IRS we're special category and if and if we it's like then you have to pay taxes on it it's really strange so it is see like if I was going to make a widget yeah I watch like Restaurant Impossible so they bring in a steak and the state cost them two dollars and then the potato costs them a dollar and something else so it's like four dollars and then he goes then you call you double that and you sell it for eight dollars okay for steak and then you're making money all day long everything's like making money if you produce a widget of some kind or a cup that cup costs you ten cents you sell it for 20 cents it's really like a business but when you're producing fine art how do you price that and how do you work with the IRS so that you know it might be a painting that's not for sale or it might be a higher price mean you know so it gets really kind of confusing and I always thought selling a painting by the square inch was really kind of an artist like I have some paintings that I think really should be selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars because I love them so much and yet I've got paintings that I will give away so what how do you work that and the thing is if we're going into the marketplace how do we consistently work at increasing our price to show value because while artists want to do is show to a client that your work has some value and that value is generated somehow and for a lot of artists they just pull numbers out of a hat and when somebody says well how come this painting here which I love the most is ten dollars and this painting over here that's the same size that I don't like is twenty dollars and yet they're the same price obviously they're going to go for the cheaper one and yet you'll have somebody else prefer the more expensive one and think that they're over pain because they could buy one of your paintings for a half price so you have to kind of watch out what you do if people find out that you're selling painting for half off somewhere else you can get in trouble and it gets really confusing because then you have galleries involved and so if I if I saw a painting to somebody for $100 but yet I put my paintings into a gallery I still should get that hundred dollars so they're going to put $200 on it because most galleries now take 50% or they double the price now back in the day back when I was starting painting getting a gallery was everything you'd have a gallery and you'd have a gallery relationship gallery owners were there were patrons of the art they would look for their artists they would have a stable of artists they would look for artists that they admired they look for artists that seemed like they had a story and galleries would promote galleries which make showings galleries would do advertising galleries would do brochures galleries would do all the things that you that an artisan be burdened with all the galleries wanted want you to do is to go and paint and I had a relationship like that with several of my galleries back in the 80s where I just got a stipend every month and I just produced paintings and I didn't have to worry about anything and they they found the clients they did advertising they got me on the cover of Southwest art they contacted People magazine I would be flying to all these different places they would spend a three thousand four thousand dollars to buy a cover of a magazine that was their job you know so galleries would take an artist and they would promote them and back then they would take 30% or 40% now galleries take 50% or 60% and they do nothing in fact when you go to a gallery now they want to know what kind of social marketing you have they want to know what kind of marketing you have they want to see your ideas and they'll steal your ideas they want your clients they'll steal your clients and yet if they sell a painting they are not going to tell you who you're who the painting is sold to so when you leave that gallery you leave empty-handed so now galleries don't give you anything they put the paintings up and you're lucky if you get 50% some artists are getting 40% galleries are taking 60% and what I love the argument is well we have overhead really overhead like the dress the dress shop next door same streets same corner except everything in that dress shop the people who own the dress shop have to buy they don't get any free merchandise for the walls and if it doesn't sell they have to discount it because if people need to recoup their money that dress shop over there also has employees gallery employees for the most part work on Commission so now galleries all they have to do is walk in flip a switch their commission staff come in walk around back and forth most of them don't know how to sell anything the gallery owner doesn't care to teach them how to sell anything because sell a couple of paintings by gosh by golly there's no there's no money that needs to be given back to the gallery except for the rent and maybe the owners Mercedes and if your pinions don't sell they call you up and say hey get your paintings out of here and usually it's at your expense it's your expense for shipping to go in your expenses for shipping going out and if the frames or paintings are damaged or stolen you just go tough there's a lot of artists out there that want to be in a gallery if you don't like it I don't care so that's basically the climate and they wonder why artists are starting to sell online so artists now we're selling more work online than in galleries galleries have a purpose but the thing is they're like a showroom for artists who are really good at marketing to get the people to go there to show their work because a lot of you don't have a space that you can set up in your house that you can show your pain as well sure what is good if you're going to set up your business because it is a business you have to determine a price structure you have to determine a price structure that's in line for all of these circumstances you have to set up a price structure that you can sell your work in the gallery and have your painting sell also at home at that price you do make a integrity agreement with yourself that you do not sell around the gallery so if you have a gallery in Wyoming and you live in Wyoming and somebody calls you up and says hey I just saw your paintings in the gallery in Wyoming I wanted to know if I could come by your studio and see if I can get a discount you do not want to do that there like a needed necessity but you've got to learn how to price your structures accordingly and unfortunately the way that I figured out that you get some handle on this because you can't shock on your prices anymore is that you have to sell it by the square inch so what you'll want to do is that you'll want to take the vertical measurement of any given painting and then the horizontal measurement of any painting and you want to multiply those two numbers together you get the square inch now I suggest any artist any artist started $2 a square inch if you are just absolutely at the very beginning I think every artist in the world should not sell their painting for less than $2 a square inch it will change the art market as soon as everybody gets together and comes up with a certain price now early on I used to love to go down to Arizona and when I was down in Arizona I would buy black pottery and it used to be all over you used to be able to buy it all over you used to be able to go onto the reservations and buy and beautiful black pot that Navajo black pot $6 $8 yeah no problem a couple years go by I go back down there all of a sudden all of this black pottery is up into five six seven hundred thousand fifteen hundred dollar price range and was like got a couple of years ago you could buy this stuff and bring it home in a shoebox it doesn't matter well apparently they got together and they said we are not under selling our work anymore and in order to buy Navajo black pottery you're going to have to pay if every artist in the world would say artwork handmade artwork done by artists cannot sell for less than two dollars a square inch then people would get used to paying more to actually think that something that is handmade they'd be given away is crazy that artists do it all the time artists are so desperate to sell their work and there's so many artists out there that I would like really really think about how you're going to price your paintings so if you're going to price your paintings at the bare minimum of $2 a square inch the way that you would do that is like a sixteen by twenty you want to get your calculator out real quick a sixteen by twenty is how many square inches 320 okay so 320 square inches times two six hundred and forty dollars so that's your base price for a sixteen by twenty canvas is six hundred and forty dollars six hundred and forty dollars that goes on top so the canvas by itself with the painting is six hundred and forty dollars that's it I should never see any of your work anywhere for less than six hundred and forty dollars that is like the bare minimum then what you do is you go and get a frame and you put the frame on it now the amount of time that you spend looking for a frame the amount of decisions and a lot of you have spent a lot of time learning how to frame your work in fact I would say most artists are experts in framing you know where to get them you know how to buy them you know how to buy them inexpensively that is worth something so if you find let's say a hundred dollar frame and you put it on to your 305 600 M what is it six hundred and forty dollar and you buy a hundred dollar frame and put it on there you need to get paid back for your time you need to get back it's a business so if you pick up a frame at Aaron Brothers or have a custom frame you double the price so a hundred dollar frame is now $200 Frank no exception if you pull out a frame out of your garage because you think it's the perfect frame you you give it a value like this frame here looks like it came out of a garage you give it a value of what it is on the market and if the market value of that frame you think you could replace for $60 then you charge a hundred and twenty you make profit on your frame then on top of that consider you also have to take images of your work some people take professional images those costs should be added to the price – so you're starting off with six hundred and forty dollars plus a hundred two hundred dollars for a hundred dollar frame plus any other expense that you may have on top of that that is your base price that is your base price that's your base price now let's say you're going to take that painting to a gallery the gallery is going to double that amount so let's say you're at $700 the gallery is going to put fourteen hundred dollars on that pane at fourteen hundred dollars they're doubling it at fourteen hundred dollars they're making their Commission you're clear of your expense plus you're making at least two dollars per square inch now somebody can call you up and say hey I saw that painting in the gallery for fourteen hundred dollars would you consider selling that painting for seven hundred because no no you honor the new market price period period if you want there are so many artists out there you never undercut a gallery you might say I can give you ten percent off of that if you want to come over to my studio I happen to have two other 16 by 20s and if you come over and you buy two I'll give you 10% off but you do not undercut the gallery what's nice though is if they go you got a deal now you're selling instead of $700 paintings you're selling them for $1400 the same gallery price and guess what you now are making pure money you're making an extra $700 in your pocket the client already knows that your paintings at $1,400 you can give them a slight discount not piss off the gallery in the process because it's hard to turn down that money I know you know we're galleries get upset is if you're selling paintings for $700 and they're selling for 14 but if there's just a little leeway in that price wage they can't they can't upset you now if somebody goes into a gallery and purchases once let's say they get your name and then they go onto Google and this is the big fear that art galleries have if they see your name and they think oh I'm going to Google this artist we're here in Taos and this is a Tallis artist so we could probably go to a studio if they google your name and then they call you up and they say hey we just saw your paintings and this is the key we saw your paintings at the gallery we'd like to come over to your studio and see if you have any others for sale you say sure no problem whatever come on over and they come in and they go I want that 16 by 20 there how much is that well we just figured out it's $1,500 because that's what the gallery price has it but I'll give you 10% off I'll give you it to you for I'm going to do the math so you do that and then what you do is you mmediately pick up the phone and you call your gallery and you say you know that person that just bought that came over that was interested in my work well they came to my studio and they bought one of my paintings from my studio for the $1,200 on 10% off of what you sell I'm going to come down and cut you a check for 20% so you give that kick back to the gallery if you if they send somebody or if they if the person that comes in says that they saw your paintings at the gallery and they're coming in it's their client if it wasn't for that gallery do you they wouldn't have come to look for you and you need to honor your relationship with the gallery and so if you can you know kick back 20% back to the gallery you're going to form a wonderful relationship because what will happen is that the gallery will actually be very comfortable with saying hey the artist lives up the street if you don't like this one in blue I know he's got a red one you just need to go back there and if you're an artist that has the integrity that you will give a commission a finder's fee you will have an awesome relationship with that gallery the kind of relationship where a gallery might put in some money for a show so that's what they're fearful of because over the years they put money in advertising they put money in brochures they put money into artists to build their career and as soon as they got built up the artist left so you can kind of see why a lot of galleries are upset it's not cheap to campaign an artist but if you have a working relationship with the gallery that's great yeah then what you want to do is you want to every year every January even if your paintings are not selling you want to go up twenty-five cents so if you start off at $2 a square inch this year the following year it's 225 or 250 if you had a good year maybe $3 yeah okay go through the whole year $3 the following year go 350 50 Cent's goes up in value a lot when you're dealing with square inches every year you go up anything that you do paintings that are old I have people that are auction houses and they ask me what's the value of this painting and I go what's the size and I'll go like 40 by 60 I say well take the take the vertical times the length and multiply it times 8 well I'm at $8 a square inch and now my new paintings that I'm doing which are the wildlife paintings probably about $13 a square inch and there are large pieces you know last year my painting was 1200 this year's 1400 next year 1600 you want to make sure that you are constantly showing that you don't want to compete with your galleries you don't undercut your galleries you let your galleries know you're sold work here's 20% I don't think you need to give them more because that's enough that just shows that just shows that you're not trying to work around them and you don't undercut their prices except for maybe 10% which they would probably do anyway to make a sale so now you have an actual base for you to start looking at the possibility of what kind of money you can make if there are pieces that you dig out that are your masterpieces that you think are the best paintings ever they are truly the golden child while you're alive you still sell them for your price you don't put in your favorites and double that otherwise your prices are all over the place you have a consistent marketing price you always make sure that you double your frame price to get that make sure that you are covering your shipping costs there and back again make sure that if you put name plates on your paintings that you reimburse the double on that too I have special name plates made they cost me 60 to $100 apiece so I double that because I know a client would love to have a gold-plated handmade nameplate you know so they have to pay for it but if every artist would just follow this rule if every artist in this country would say I'm not selling a painting for less than $300 maybe we can get rid of the idea that there's starving artists maybe people won't be looking around for a cheaper deal just like just like those just like those pots in Arizona where they got together and they say we are no longer giving these pots away to our American tourists artists need to make a stand and it's not your business to try to paint something that they can afford if they can't afford it let them go let them go somewhere else let's stay firm on your prices any questions you

35 thoughts on “How To Price Your Paintings and Market Your Art

  1. Now, you say "Alll PAINTINGS" shouldn't be sold for less than $2 per sq. in. But what about drawings or skcthes, or charcoal, etc.?? Should those be $2 per sq. in, too? I just can't imagine, even though I'm no pro by far, but I'm a decent amateur artist, I'd say, I couldnt imagine charging that much. MAYBE half that lol for my charcoal or pastel pictures :/

  2. There is so much I agree with and so much I don't. I am here to learn, so I do submit to being a student in this situation. But I also am quit knowledgeable in economics. When those ceramic pieces were selling at a shoebox price you mentioned buying them. When they were at 1500 dollars or more you stopped your story short of saying you bought any, and continued to dialogue about how you questioned the price. The individuals that got together and made the new standard may not have considered the market clearing price. If you don't sell a 1500 dollar piece of art you aren't making any money from it. And the longer is sits in a gallery or store the higher it's cost to sell is for you. Also if EVERY artist got together and sold art at nothing less than 2 dollars a sq inch then you have now made the new 0 dollar mark 2 dollars. Also you illuminated any artist from the market who wants to sell something at less than 2 a sq inch. Unionized prices are frowned upon in most markets. Cellphones and cable is a good example of oligopoly style pricing that eventually harms the demand and the consumer. You must treat your demanding population with respect. Additionally you should only give a gallery what they are worth. If the gallery had you in a dark corner in the back and never mention you I'd probably not given them 20% of my sells. You have good advice about how to determine sq inch pricing based on labor and cost. But saying that you should fix your prices to a standard other than market clearing price is absurd and will not help you consistently sell art.

  3. $2 an inch . your dreaming . artists need to eat and many need drugs so that is a unrealistic pipe dream . maybe for you because you have money to live but most artists are broke ass mental patients (myself included ) . i sell my landscape art 24×20 like this . i show them the painting and i create a positive story around it . i ask people what they want to pay and if it's a day where i need money i will try and push them for more but i am happy to make a deal . as long as i can buy another canvas and some paint and make a few bucks profit , i am happy .

    Now for all you artists that are as broke as i am remember this : there is only 1 place to buy ur supplies . any and everything in the art world . THE BEST AND CHEAPEST PLACE IS "BLICK" ONLINE . even EBAY used supplies are more expensive than buying new brand name art stuff from Blick .
    you can sell ur art anywhere by yourself . flea markets , farmers markets . yard sales , out of the trunk of ur car in the gas station , craigslist . ive made up flyers with the painting's picture and tabs with my phone number . post picts on facebook , any event like tailgate parties where there are some females because they love to buy material items ANYWHERE !! FACT !! especially when you say 1/2 off and give them a sob story like "i need money , my electric is cut off , my loss is ur gain ". THIS IS AMERICA AND YOU CAN DO ANY FCK'N THING THAT YOU WANT TO EARN MONEY AND IF A PSYCHO PATH LIKE ME CAN MAKE MONEY WITH MY ART , ANYONE CAN DO IT !! I hope this comment inspires you because you are your own boss and your art should be done with passion ; AND DONT EVEN THINK ABOUT $$$ WHEN YOUR PAINTING OR YOUR VISION WILL BE CLOUDED !!

  4. Sell your Art for a high Price if you want to be a Popular Artist, why? Because if you sell your Art for a low price the Customer don’t care about your name…… so SELL YOU ART FOR A HIGH PRICE 1,000 and up or more. In my case 5,000 or 10,000 up until one day can be MILLIONS 🙂 Dale!

  5. No work of art has an intrinsic value. The value to the artist is in the creation itself, and the time, blood, sweat & tears required to create it. The value to the consumer is merely what they want to pay – either because they fall in love with the creation, or because they see a financial investment. There are times when an artist can sweat blood for years, only to be offered a slightly-used turnip, and other times when a few casual, throwaway brush strokes will earn "half my kingdom, and my daughter's hand in marriage"…

  6. I don't know if this varries according to medium or not. But I ran some numbers in a couple ways. Using a base size of 8×12 for a painting. 2$ an inch gets you about 192 for the work, if you instead simply said you put 13 hours into the painting and got a 15$ an hour wage you would come out to about the same price. The other way somebody told me to price in the past was to ask me "How many of this exact type of painting do you want to paint this month?" 'I could imagine doing 3 or four.' "Then price them so that you will only have four people willing to pay for your paintings this month."… which frankly makes a certain amount of sense to me. but there is that sense that I want people to enjoy my artworks and not to make it unattainable by a fan just because they don't have a spare 500-2000. But then that's what getting prints and even simple posters made can be for, and frankly you can sell the same painting 700 times in poster form and it may bring in more than the original ever will, so do that too. If you want to make it special for the buyer of a poster sign it to them personally. all is good. I know this intellectually but it's so hard to hear prices like 2000 a painting and think about being so bold as to ask that price. It's something I have to get over.

  7. Pricing by the inch is tacky because some paintings will be more complex in their subject matter and therefore will take longer. Pricing by the amount of time is also foolish because it usually will take less time to paint the subject as you progress as an artist. Look at the market as to what work like yours is selling for and how much exposure you have as an artist in your market and how many paintings you are in selling in the market, this may be good indicators to pricing.

  8. This is very good information. My paintings use to be sold for far less than that but the I was visited by an art collector and he asked why am I selling my pieces so cheap are you a hungry artist or an aspiring artist? He asked. Now my paintings are being sold at a much better price. You see you have to value your work, if you can't do that no one will do it for you. The time you invest in a painting is very important and just as costly as the material you use to produce the art work.

  9. Thank you so much for a clear concise answer! I have been Building a collection and I’m about to start doing art shows I have been searching for over a year and this is the first time I’ve ever heard a CLEAR answer to this question directly! Thank you so much! Jennifer Parris

  10. Math always feel cold to Right-brain Creative Individuals.
    But it heps – *Maintain Consistent Fair Pricing for the Client*.

    This is the bisiness side of Art and Art Sales – (A fair and Compresive Pricing Structure is Necessary for Sales, Reputation, Managing the Sales – Data, Growth, Variance – this tells the Artist when its time to apply an increase.

    It is the cold facts and functional necessities necessary to managing the "Professional Artist Business"

    Sell your own Art – in a small studio – on eBay – Amazon – Facebook Page – Website.

    Avoid Galleries – unless its an Event that is focused on You – your of Art Style.

    It is a clean and easy method (Sq Inch) plus a standard supplies fee and (a second fee -for those pieces that exceptionally speak to you – add a % on a scale of 1 – 10 – to add to the total cost, This allows a few pieces to be adjusted up e/o interfering with standard sales and allows for growth in pricing.

  11. The book writing industry is much the same. Writers used to have ongoing relationships with agents, editors, and publishers, and they used to be able to focus on their work. The agents and editors did the non-writing functions, and the writers could be writers. Now publishing houses essentially do nothing, and they are interested in signing with writers who already have "platforms" from which to sell their work. That's why the self-publishing industry has exploded in the past decade or so. The sad thing is that with this change the focus is on marketing and not on the quality of the writing. The result is a lot of crappy books and the repeated reprinting and repackaging of so-called classics.

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