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We all know that art is a difficult thing to price. It’s hard to put a value on something so subjective, and we want people who buy our work to feel like they’re getting the best deal possible. As an artist it can be tough when you are pricing your artwork because what one person might think is just right for their budget could be too expensive for someone else. That’s why we’ve compiled this step-by-step guide on how to price your artwork and help you sell more pieces of art!
How to Price Your Art Using A Formula
Let’s tackle pricing your art with a formula first. There are a few different ways to go about this by using formulas to price your art. We have used a few basic art pricing formulas which were put together on the Artwork Archive which is a great resource for artists and designers.
FORMULA 1: Square Inch × Dollar Amount
Example for a painting with a width of 18 inches, a length of 24 inches, a square inch multiplier of £4 (This rate can be determined by your skill level, more on this below), and a material cost of £100:
- (18 in × 24 in) = 432 square inches
- 432 square inches × £4 = £1,728
- Rounded to £1,700
- £100 × 2 = £200 (Double material cost to make a profit)
- Sale Price – £1700 + £200 = £1,900
FORMULA 2: (Hourly Wage × Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials
Example for an artist who charges £20 an hour, works for 15 hours to complete a piece, and spends £100 on materials:
- £20 × 15 hours = £300
- £300 + £100 = £400
FORMULA 3: (Height + Width) × Multiplier
Example for a 4 × 4-inch painting at £20 per linear inch:
- 4 + 4 = 8 linear inches
- 8 linear inches × £20 = £160
Example for a 32 × 32-inch painting at £20 per linear inch:
- 32 + 32 = 64 linear inches
- 64 linear inches × £20 = £1,280
As you can see with these 3 formulas you get varying results which are not consistent, which is one of the problems with using a formula to price art. We prefer to use formula 2 as this will ensure your base costs are covered, if you ensure all of your bills are covered with your hourly cost and materials you can then apply a markup % on top which will determine the profit you make, we have an art pricing calculator to help with this. It’s good to know your costs of producing art to make sure you are profiting, formulas 1 & 2 do not account for this. Some tips to account for when pricing art:
- What does it cost you? If there was no time or materials involved in making an item and it was just your time, how much would you charge for it?
- What is the minimum wage in your area?
- Do a google search of what other people are charging for similar items.
We have also included a great video that talks about why formulas don’t work by Dries Kestels.
Determine your artist skill level to help price artwork
This section covers using your skill level to help determine your base rates, we took inspiration from Messy Ever After who has written a great guide on pricing artwork. You can use your artist skill level to help determine how much you want to charge for your artwork. If you are a beginner, charge less for your pieces of art to help you grow an audience and get feedback on what people think about your work.
More skilled artists can charge more because they have built up their skills over time and have experience creating quality pieces of art that are worth the price tag attached to it. You can check out a more detailed breakdown below, remember these are only guide prices/markups you can increase the markups to what you think is best.
Beginners are not expected to have a lot of experience, and they may be less confident than other artists. They might also not know how much their work is worth. Pricing for beginner’s artworks should reflect the effort that went into making them – you can price low because it was relatively easy to make or just because you’re newer to the business. Just make sure you cover the costs of materials, your bills and maybe a x1.5 markup ontop of the base costs. For example you spend £15 on materials, charge £15 per hour and want a x1.5 markup.
- (£15 + £15) x 1.5 = £45 sale price
Intermediates have more experience than beginners, and they are usually more confident with their art. Intermediates also know how much their work is worth and what it takes for them to produce high quality pieces of artwork. Pricing should reflect this as well – intermediate artists may charge higher prices because they’ve built up a reputation and experience in the industry. You can use this as a multiplier for when you add onto the costs of your artwork, such as a x2 markup on the base costs.
Professional artists have mastered their craft, which is why they often charge more than intermediates for items that are of higher quality or take longer to produce. Professionals also have well-established customer bases who know what kind of prices to expect from them when it comes to artwork purchases.
If you’re a well-established artist, it’s not hard to set your prices because customers are already aware of what they’ll need to pay.
A simple way to use your skill level and determine the markup to be used as the multiplier or monetary value in the formulas above.
- Beginner – x1.5 > x3 or £1 > £3
- Intermediate – x2 > x5 or £2 > £5
- Professional – x4 > x7 or £4 > £7
- Established – x6 > x9 or £6 > £9
The key is finding the right balance between pricing at a level that will allow for long-term success and one that might benefit from more exposure in the form of a higher price point.
Pricing for exposure
If you want to try and grow your customer base, pricing a bit lower than what is typical may help attract more buyers who are unfamiliar with the prices of artwork in that medium or genre.
This strategy can work well when promoting new artworks on websites like Etsy — just be aware that it may not be a sustainable pricing strategy in the long-term.
Pricing for value
If you want to set your prices lower, it’s important to understand who your target customer base is and what they’re willing to pay. If you have loyal customers who’ve been with you since day one, understanding their budget can help determine how much you should charge for your art.
Some customers will be willing to pay more, you may end up getting less sales, but the value of the sale will be higher meaning you can output better quality work rather than churning out multiple lower quality artworks. Having higher quality works will also lead to you becoming known as a skilled artist.
Other Things to Consider When Pricing Art
Consider pricing artwork higher
If the project is a commissioned piece, it may be best to price your artwork at what the person or company commissioning the work thinks is fair. It’s important that both parties feel satisfied with how much was charged and that there are no hidden fees before any money changes hands.
Consider pricing lower
If you’re trying to start an artist career, it’s smart to price your art at a cheaper rate. This can help make customers feel like they’re getting more for the money and may be persuaded into buying something that would otherwise seem too expensive.
Add the cost of materials in your arts sale price
Understand how much profit margin should be included in the cost of your piece: depending on what type of artwork is being sold, there are certain margins needed in order to cover expenses such as supplies and marketing costs.
What percentage will customers pay? Artwork is generally sold at a markup between two or three times as the artist determines what they feel like it’s worth and also needs to cover expenses such as marketing costs, supplies, etc., although this may vary depending on the type of artwork being sold.
For example, outdoor art that requires installation fees may need higher markups than small pieces without these added expenditures; however there are no hard-and-fast rules when deciding which prices correspond with different types of work so artists can use their own judgement here.
Remember this is only a rough guide and you should value your artwork to what you feel is best, never undersell yourself! All art is subjective and the price will be determined by the buyer’s tastes.