How Do New Artists Price Their Work?

Pricing your artwork is one of the most complicated and even stressful decisions facing emerging artists. When you are working with galleries and on marketplaces for the first time, it can be tough to know what your art is worth. 

In this guide, we look at some of the mistakes new artists make when pricing their work and provide a simple formula to make objective price tags. 

Don’t price your art with emotions

One mistake that people make is to price their art using their emotions. For example, you may feel somewhat guilty that a collector has to pay a lot of money for your work and end up underselling your piece because you’re simply a good-hearted person. 

The opposite of this would be to overprice your work in the hope it makes it seem better quality and attract more attention. Of course, this may sometimes work when dealing with naïve or inexperienced collectors.  

Use this simple formula instead

A much better and more objective way for new and emerging artists to price their work is to use a stringent formula. The idea is to make a small profit from your work when just starting out. Don’t settle for breaking even because you have worked hard on your piece, and remember that galleries and other marketplaces may be taking a cut. 

A simple but effective formula to price your work as a new artist is:

  1. Calculate the painting’s total size in square inches – this is done by multiplying the width by the length. For example, a painting of 7 inches by 6 inches will have a surface area of 42 inches. Multiply the number of inches by a set figure based on your reputation – for new artists who do not have a significant reputation, it is recommended to use between $2 and $4. For this example, we will split the difference and use $3, totalling $126 ($3 x 42). 
  2. Add the canvas, materials and frame costs – you should then add the canvas, paint and frame costs to the total price by doubling the actual cost you paid. This is to cover some of the commission taken by the gallery. So, if your canvas and frame cost around $100 then you should charge $200 for these materials. In our example, the new total would be $326 ($126 + $200).
  3. Round the price – you may want to round the price up or down. In our example, you may decide to round it to $320 or $325. 
  4. Work out commission and final profits – you should then double-check that you will make a small profit from your work after the commission is taken. Most galleries will take a commission between 20-50%.

New artists can sell their work on VZOW

Remember that you can also sell your work through VZOW without gallery-high commission charges. Submit an artist joining form today! 

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