Help me price my art.
May 16, 2013 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I've always wanted to be able to paint so over the last year I've taken a couple of oil painting courses. It seems now that I can paint well enough that people are asking about buying my work and one person wants to try to get me into galleries he knows. Wow! That's where I get stuck. How on earth do I come up with a price? Do I ask them to make me an offer? Are there resources for this kind of thing? Has anyone on here done this? What did you charge?
posted by merocet to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: that's what the gallery is shouldn't be setting your own prices, it's impossible to be will either go too low and starve, or too high, sell nothing, and starve. That being said, you have to discuss it with them as well to make sure you're on the same page.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with sexyrobot- a good gallery owner will know your market value.
posted by myselfasme at 5:34 PM on May 16, 2013

You might want to use etsy as a resource; find paintings in a similar vein to your own and see what the market looks like. You can even look at what sells well by looking through the sold work.

When I was selling my art, I sold to individuals at about 75% of what the gallery was pricing them, which was a win for both me and the buyer.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 5:44 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The wetcanvas forums have many of these questions asked and answered and offer a lot of good advice. Do a search around there.

Also seconding what Nickel Pickle says about using etsy to gauge prices. Remember to also search within your locale because the market for art can vary hugely depending on where you live.

I disagree with underselling your gallery. If they find out they will be undoubtedly pissed and may refuse to show any more of your work in the future.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 5:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Protip-don't be afraid to price it where it needs to be as underpriced art is a bit harder to sell. Srsly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi, I gradu-amated from Art School (tm)

Be wary of people that put the yummy carrot of, "art gallery" in your way. Think of it this way, some person wants to do you a favor of putting your work up for consignment, and get roughly a 50% cut? Wowee, thanks for the favor. What *else* do you get out of it? What sort of contacts does this person how? Clients that have money simply flowing from their pocket books? Friendly galleries in other cities? Good drugs? Sexy models to hang out with, what?

Pricing art is very simple. Set (whatever hourly wage you want TIMES amount you worked for) PLUS (whatever it cost you to make the painting) - art supplies, rent, gas money to buy supplies. Bump that up, if you're figuring in things like taxes.

So a painting that took $100 of supplies, and cost you 10 hours to paint and you want $10/hour is now a $200 painting. Add taxes? Add 30% (lovely to be self-employed, eh?) Selling at a gallery? double your price. You're going to have a hard time living on $10/hour, so the price of your painting is most likely going to be higher. Start making sales, and start investing in your own self to make more sales, and your prices will have to go higher still, to pay for all that marketing. etc, etc, etc.

Now, say you have a gallery show, you make 10 paintings, and you've priced them at $1,000 dollars each, using the formula I put up there. You sell ONE painting, and the gallery well, the gallery doesn't want you anymore, because you sell 1/10 of what you produce in say, a year. You know have $9,000 of dead stock and you made $0 in total - you actually lost a lot of money. A lot. Of money. Tax writeoff? Whatcha gonna write off? That's right, your supplies (and gas, rent, things like that). If you're lucky, as there's limits.

Welcome to the art world! Hope the drugs and the models were worth it.
posted by alex_skazat at 6:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]

Best answer: There are good galleries and then there are the other galleries. Good galleries work for you, and work to sell your pieces. They work for their 40-50% commission. Good gallerists create enthusiasm & desirability for your work, offer shows (music, food, bevs =$), invite clients to see your fresh work, do the PR, discuss your work with consultants and other buyers, etc etc. They're totally worth it if you're in it for the long haul and you are serious about the quality of your work. However it's not easy to find good galleries who will take a chance on hobby artists who lack consistent sales histories.

And might I suggest you read the articles written over at Alan knows his stuff.

Oh I make art, I'm no gallerist.
posted by artdrectr at 11:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with using etsy as a pricing guide. Most people on etsy consistently underprice. There are a lot of people on etsy who are so thrilled that someone would buy their "art" that they don't care if they make money, and they frequently sell things for less than the cost of the supplies to make it. (This has been the subject of many heated arguments in the etsy forums.)
St. Alia of the Bunnies, alex_skazat, and artdrectr have good advice above.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:30 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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