Pricing is a challenging topic for artists and one that is frequently discussed. First and foremost is that the artist does want to sell the work. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing your work has found an appreciative home. That being said, here are some of the factors that you may not know are considered in pricing artwork.
Cost of materials-
A single tube of blue paint can cost over $20. Most canvases use many colors.
Quality colored pencils can easily cost $1 each. Many works use dozens of colors.
To have a photograph archivally printed or mounted can cost anywhere from $30-$100+ depending on the finishing and mounting chosen
Some work begs to be framed by a professional. The average cost for this is $100.
Adding all the tools needed for various works can also give one pause
Canvas, paper, wood- these structural materials must be considered
Protecting the finished work with bubble wrap, clean wrapping paper and other items can mount up
If cards, magnets or other reproductions are made of work, they are generally printed by a commercial establishment, adding to the overall cost.
Rent-Is there a studio involved? Some artists work from home while others pay rent for a larger dedicated space to create their work. Space, electricity, heat and water- often factors.
Fees and Consignment- Many galleries and venues charge either a fee for showing, or take a percentage of the artwork(often 35%) or both. this helps to cover their costs of their business, it’s understandable but takes a big chunk out of final pricing.
Marketing- Business Cards, Websites, brochures, postcards, posters, all of these items that are generally given away cost money to produce. Individual shows may have not only hand out materials but also purchase ads to promote the show.
What the artist does-
In creating the artwork the artist generally puts a lot of time and thought into the piece- that’s the intellectual property. Technically the work cannot be copied. If the artist places the work on the Internet they run the risk that someone will use the image for their own purposes. A case in point- a gallery owner chatted with a visitor taking pictures of the worksa at the gallery. The picture taker said he was going to make notecards from the images and sell them! Needless to say, he took no more pictures!
There is no guarantee that the artist will sell the original work of art, or their cards or any part of the work for many years. The artist can invest a great deal of money hoping he/she has chosen the right venue to reach the customer he/she hopes for.
So when you look at a work of art, and it speaks to you, whether it is an original or a reproduction, keep in mind that what you are looking at is a relative bargain, and it needs a home. As an art maker and an art buyer I know the works I have in my home will give pleasure for generations.