Blog Post

How to price your artwork

Need help with how to price your artwork? I've written a post and a checklist to help you work out the best price for you.

So you want to sell your artwork but don't know how much to charge. Here are a few helpful tips which will help you calculate how to price your artwork.

You should consider the following

  1. Look up artists who are at a similar skill level, have the same subject and medium as you. Find at least 4 and find the average price for similar sizes. These prices are not a set value for you to use but more of a guide to know whether or not you are in the right range.
  2. Materials - Your artwork should never be sold for less than the cost of the materials. So many artists underestimate how much the materials cost, you need to know! You need to work out prices for each size you offer. Don't forget to include postage, mounts, frames.
  3. How experienced you are and what level is your artist reputation at? Are you just starting out and not made many sales? You will probably be reluctant to charge much as you 'are just starting out'. This does not mean your skill level is poor so you must charge at least a reasonable price but as you gain sales and experience you must increase your prices. You would never expect to work in the same day job for years without a pay rise! Your materials at the very least will cost more each year so don't work for the same rate you charged 10 years ago! Give yourself an annual wage rise!
  4. Do you have training? Have you been to art school? Have you taken lessons? All of these things have sharpened your skills and improved your techniques. The cost of training and education is not a cost you need to absorb, you should be reclaiming these costs through your prices or consider them expenses for tax purposes.
  5. Never fluctuate your prices, keep them consistent. Don't confuse your customers. Charge pro rata for sizes, everyone knows where they stand then.
  6. Offer different price points. Not everyone can afford your most expensive piece but rather than barter or drop your price, offer different sizes or even different mediums to accommodate as many as possible.
  7. Some people will think you are too expensive. Please note not everyone earns the same wage nor has the same ideas about art - it can be seen as a luxury by some, others see it as an investment. If someone tells you your prices are too expensive, they would never be your ideal customer, they would be unlikely to buy from you anyway so walk away and find those people who think you are worth every penny you charge. Don't barter, if someone is interested but doesn't want to pay the price, offer them a smaller size or a different medium - if that isn't enough to make the sale tell them this is your price and they don't have to buy it. Some people just can't help but try for a bargain, they are already less than your ideal customer and likely would be hard work as a customer. There are buyers at every price point, stick to your guns with pricing but find your customers which means showing up everywhere - social media, blogs, leaflets, shows etc. Your ideal customer then has chance to find you.
  8. Be consistent with your prices, in other words wherever your prices are displayed, make them all the same. Don't have a lower price one place or a higher price elsewhere because it costs more to advertise there. If people see you selling art at a lower price than what they have paid, they'll never be your biggest fan. Word of mouth is a great advert so be consistent.
  9. If you are overwhelmed with commission work you need to raise your prices, you can then earn the same amount for doing less work. You may worry you'll get less sales but that is exactly the point, do less work for the same amount of money. It also sorts the wheat from the chaff and those who really love your artwork will be the ones you'll end up working with and will pay what you ask.
  10. If you feel a customer is going to be awkward then simply walk away. Working for yourself is hard enough but it still needs to be enjoyable, if you deal with difficult customers often it will take the joy out of the work and you will feel it's a battle.
  11. Never reduce your prices. You skill doesn't diminish over time, the cost of materials won't go down. It also looks unprofessional. If you struggle for sales and need a cash injection offer a flash sale or make a one off special offer for an event (it's your birthday, tiger day, international dog day etc). This will bring in a cash injection and help you get back to earning.
  12. I see people selling original artwork for £20 - £30 because they are just starting out. This is no way to make money, in fact it's probably less than the cost of materials but also less than it would cost to have that very same artwork printed, that's never right. Prints require much less work than the original, why should they end up costing the same or even more than the original!

FREE Pricing Checklist, calculate your prices easily and consistently

Some factors for pricing would be:

Materials cost - Paints, pencils, paper, sharpener, mounts, frames

Packaging - Card, sleeves, wrapping, mailing bags, marketing materials

Postage - Are you insuring the delivery? First/second class, signed for, overseas, export fees

Time - Every piece takes a different length of time to complete, it's hard to give a price before you begin if you are charging by the hour. I would suggest timing how long a few take you to complete. You don't need to time every piece but this will give you an average time. If something takes 20 hours, you should at the very least be getting minimum wage per hour (I strongly believe you should charge more) but you would never sit at a day job for 20 hours and ask for just costs such as fuel to get there!!!

An example of an 8x12 inch piece could be

Materials

  • Sheet of specialist paper = £2.00
  • 8 pencils at £3.45 each = £27.60 (yes it really can be that much!)
  • Mount and backing board = £2.40

Packaging

  • Card for posting to ensure the artwork stays safe = £1.20
  • Glassine sheet = £0.30
  • Brown paper wrapping = £0.50
  • Mailing bag = £0.70

Postage 

  • First class with tracking and signed for = £7.50

So before you even begin to think about an hourly rate this particular piece will cost £42.20. Please note these may not be the costs you are dealing with but if you are just guessing you'll never get it right, do spend time working out your costs before anything else.

Additional costs

  • Adverts, shows, signage, insurance memberships, training. You do not give these away. Costs for these things need to be added into your prices or put down to expenses otherwise you'll never make a living as an artist.

Time

  • In the UK the minimum wage is £8.91. If you feel unable to charge this then you need to get a day job where no one bats an eyelid and expects to earn this much per hour without any training or skill. I will point out highly skilled people also earn this wage too. Why should your hourly rate for art be less? The reason a lot of people think it should be less is because lots of artists are simply too frightened to ask for more. Be the one who asks a fair wage for yourself. If you want to make money, you can't treat it as a hobby.
  • Work out how long it takes you to complete a few 8x12 inch pieces, apply the living wage to it and add your materials, costs, packaging and postage. THIS IS THE LEAST YOU SHOULD EVER CHARGE otherwise you are losing money and it's not viable.

Annual Wage Rise

  • As mentioned you need to give yourself a wage rise however don't forget you should also re-time a few of your pieces as time passes. As you become more skilled I can guarantee you, you'll be spending more hours on a piece and you'll end up actually earning less per hour as your skills improve if you don't up your prices. Don't fall into that trap and in effect end up taking a wage cut!



  • So a quick recap

    Include all of your actual costs, materials, postage etc.

    Work out how long your pieces take for a set size, you can then use this info to work out a price per inch, apply it to smaller and larger sizes.

    Eg 8x12 inches

    Costs = Materials = £42.20

    Time = 8 hours at £8.91 = £71.28 = £0.75 per inch. (71.28/(12x8)

    Postage = £7.50 (maybe fuel to go to the post office)

    So a minimum of £120.98 for this size before you even consider your training, society fees etc.

    It's surprising to many how much they should actually be charging. Don't be one of those who undervalues their skills and costs. It shouldn't cost you money to be a professional artist. Once you've worked out your price per inch, scale it up or down for your other sizes and for original non commission work. These figures are just examples so to work out your own pricing you must work out how much it costs you in time and materials, this is the most important part of working out your prices. Don't short change yourself.


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