05 September 2008

dollars and cents

So I actually have decided to use this post to pick all your brains out there about a topic that, personally, makes me twitch: pricing artwork.

I've often been asked why I don't sell my work on a regular basis. The number one reason is that I don't produce enough to be able to do that. I'm not able to really build up a good stash of work to put up for sale so I tend to not really advertise that I do, from time to time, let a piece go.

But one of the most horrid things for me to try to figure out is how to price the devils.

I've heard a lot of opinions on how to about attaching a price tag to artwork but I have issues with a lot of them.

The one that I totally do not agree with is that you should have a set formula no matter how long it took or how expensive the materials were. I guess this train of thought doesn't make sense to me because, as a consumer, I expect to pay more for something made from silk then from commercial cotton. I also expect to pay more for something that took 100 hours to complete versus 2 hours. Just seems logical to me.

But then I look at my own work, that is hand stitched 95% of the time and consist of hand dyed fabric and (now) surface design and I can't apply the same logic as above...I kind of sit there and stare at it and don't know quite what to do about it.

I have some work going out to a gallery exhibit and one of the requirements for being in the show is that the work must be for sale. I'm good with that part but that means I actually have to make a decision about how much to charge for it.

So my questions to you, dear readers, is how do you go about pricing your artwork? Do you have a set of guidelines or do you just wing it?


m said...

This will not help you, sorry, but my personal formula is: if I love it enough to keep/want it in my home, I price it high. If I want someone who loves it and wants to take it home, I low ball it. Everything in between... whatever. michele

Anonymous said...

That is one of the most difficult things for me/us to determine, also. I usually try to compare like items; even going to sites such as ETSY to see what the market seems to allow. There are some things that have taken an inordinate amount of time you could NEVER get a 'fair' and others the opposite is true. Guess I haven't helped much, but usually going with what you would pay helps. tt

Gisela Towner said...

That's a tough one.

With my paintings, I mainly use size as a guide in setting prices. Since I've been painting for so very many years, I know that similar sized pieces,(regardless of what type of paint) will take a similar amount of time. I NEVER lower my prices on paintings, but if something took me longer, because I wasn't familiar with a technique or medium, that's on me --I don't charge more. I use top grade materials when I paint and they're all expensive, so which painting medium really doesn't change my pricing.

With jewelry, my prices vary greatly, depending, both on the materials, and time spent. Silver costs way more than copper, semi-precious gemstones more than glass beads (sometimes), but I also do very intricate pieces that take many, many hours. Even though there may only be $20 worth of glass seed beads in a piece, if it took 100 hours to commplete it, I WILL charge accordingly.

I haven't sold any art quilts yet, but I think that the method I use for jewelry, a combination of time and materials, would be the best. I think that would especially apply to your case, with so much of your work done by hand. It's becoming a lost art and that also adds value. (IMNSHO)

The other factor that's important in setting prices is the recognition factor. When I finally started selling my paintings, about 15 years ago, I was totally unknown. My prices were low. As sales (and quality, no doubt) went up, I gradualy raised my prices.

I also don't go by what other artists are charging. IMO each person's art is too unique for that to be a reasonable gauge. Heck, we're not selling cars or appliances...LOL