Through the course of my career as an artist (I still feel excited every time I say those words even though its been three years now) I am often asked by other artists how to price a painting. I've heard that line which is now over used about how long it took to painting this painting and how that plays into the valuation of a paintings price. You know the line: someone asks you how long this painting took and you quote your age and say "it took 50 years". I have used that line before but since it's worn out now I like to say the actual hours plus the experience required to do this painting. This leads me to how I price my paintings.
The first factor is certainly the actual hours put into creating the piece. If that were all that contributed to the price then Doctors would only rightly be able to bill you based on the time you spend in their office. Actually, for a doctor to be able to help you they must have spent 7, 8, 9 maybe ten years plus in training for the job. Even at that point they are still practicing so they're hourly value increases with years of experience gained.
The same could be said for teachers, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, coaches, etc, etc.
There fore an artist has the reasonable right to infuse his experience gained into his pricing model.
Another factor is supply and demand. When I began selling my paintings under very humble conditions, and the paintings were very simple as well, I would very comfortably charge 2, 3 or maybe as high as $400.00 for even large sized works. As demand increased over months and now years, and supply became harder and harder to provide (after all, these paintings are not produced on a press) I gradually raised my prices. Demand continued and my prices continued to rise, and still do. Many paintings of mine have now sold for tens of thousands of dollars and rising. This is the cause and effect of only being able to produce paintings at a certain pace.
Another factor becomes apparent as ones artist career begins to mature. It is the mere fact that if you are producing too many paintings it is likely that you are also not spending so much time on each one as could be. So as an artists work matures he likely will be able to increase the amount of time spent on each piece if prices have reached a respectable level, and thus better and more detailed paintings will emerge. This will attract more buyers and continue to graduate prices. One would expect that if an artist is not making an effort to improve that prices will begin to slide because demand will slow.
Let me say here and now that this artist believes in putting in a full work day just as if I were still employed at the bank. Start time, break times, lunch breaks, no super extended holidays (just because I don't "feel" like painting today), such work ethic is critical to steady producing of quality work. Bottom line here is more attention to detail produces better paintings and attracts more appreciative buyers.
I believe strongly that these main elements are what contribute to effective and appropriate pricing of an artists work. I believe, experience, hard work, always striving to do your best, letting your heart dictate your product, and supply and demand are the ruling factors when considering your paintings prices. The bottom line though, is always this: If you are not selling and you know your work is good you likely have to introduce lower pricing even if for a short time. Liquidity always goes a long ways to keep your children fed and the mortgage paid. So flexibility in pricing is needed. Buyers who are accustomed to your higher range of prices will quickly recognize your lower prices as bargains and will snap them up quickly. and when your prices have recovered and demand is up again those who bought at the lower end will have been rewarded for their opportunity realized.
I always wonder if I will ever sell another painting again. I always always think this sale might be the last one. It keeps my feet on the ground and my heart humble. I never assume things will always be rosy. Most of all I thank God above for his blessings both in each new piece I paint and in each new sale I receive.
There are many minor factors involved in pricing but this sums it all up into a tidy nutshell.
I invite your questions and comments on this subject.
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The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
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This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.