I’m in several art groups throughout different social media platforms. A common question I’ve seen regardless of medium, is “HOW do I price my work”?? Pricing your art is a very subjective question. There are SOOO many different things to take into consideration.
- Are you skilled in your craft?
- Have you been creating for more than five years? 10? Or are you a newbie just starting out?
- What is your market? Are you in a rural setting and plan to sell at local shops? Or are you braving the interwebs and throwing yourself into the world wide market?
- What is your technique? Is it unique and different than what the market is saturated with?
- Do you plan on gaining gallery representation?
- Are you going to sell wholesale and/or consignment?
- What is the cost of materials?
- How much do you value your time?
These last two points made from the list above are most important when you first start pricing your art. You need to make sure that your bare minimum price – your WHOLESALE price, covers your material cost and that you pay yourself. I know many budding artists start themselves out at only $5/hour for the time spent creating their work. At today’s rates, that’s lower than minimum wage. If you undercut and under value yourself, so will your audience; the perceived value of your work will also suffer as a result. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should a future collector? At the very least, you need to pay yourself minimum wage.
Now that you’ve accounted for material costs – ALL materials including a rough estimate on paint/glue/glaze used – and put a value on your time; you now have your wholesale price. This is the lowest price you should ever sell your work. Even with discounts/commissions. If you plan on trying to sell your art in galleries, you need to keep in mind that they take on average 50% commission. Some only take 40% while others will take 60%. But how does that figure into determining your retail price?
With the gallery keeping 50%, that’s 50% of the retail price. So if you want your take home pay to be the wholesale price you established earlier, you actually need to double your wholesale price to get your retail price. So your basic formula(s) will look something like this:
(time) x (hourly wage) = (labor)
(material cost) + (labor) = (wholesale)
(wholesale) x 2 = (retail)
(10 hr) x ($10/hr) = ($100)
($25) + ($100) = ($125)
($125) x (2) = ($250)
This is a very simple formula to get you started thinking about pricing your work. Maybe you have foundry costs is you’re casting a sculpture in bronze. Or printing costs if you produce giclee prints or photographs. Or maybe you’re a wildlife sculptor who takes safari trips to get actual pictures of the animals you’ll be creating and need to take into account those expenses. There are dozens of ways to customize this formula to more accurately reflect the value of your art. But hopefully, this is a start.
Shawna is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. She is a teaching artist and a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. To support her endeavors, consider subscribing to her members-only group! There are a variety of subscription levels starting at just $5/mo