Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

Often the hardest part of the creative process can be putting a price on your artwork. It can be a real challenge to put a nominal figure on your creative endeavours, especially as the artist default setting seems to err on the side of modesty. With many of you preparing to welcome visitors for Open Studios 2015, it is a good time to consider how you will arrive at a price for your work.

A quick browse on Google will result in a variety of price calculators and formulas which offer a pragmatic solution to what can often be an emotional problem. We invest so much of ourselves in the work we produce, it can be very difficult to place a ‘value’ on our creative endeavours.

The Etsy Blog suggests the following simple formula for pricing your work. This obviously won’t work for everybody, but it can offer a starting point for considering how realistic your prices are when realistically considering your costs.

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

This is just one example of the type of factors that are typically taken into account when pricing your artwork. 7 Ways to price a painting (depending on your personality) also offers some useful ways of thinking about putting a figure on your work if you really feel overwhelmed by the task.

Melissa Dinwiddie is convinced that ‘pricing is the hardest thing I do as an artist’. In her article, Help! How do I Price my Paintings?  she shares her experiences and offers some really practical advice, from explaining her calculations to issues of confidence when people enquire about pricing.

Another article worth a read considers 6 Art Pricing Mistakes to Avoid. Aletta de Wal lists some common mistakes, from the tendency to confuse value with price to avoiding the temptation to have different prices for different places. ‘The trick is that in order to sell, we need to bridge the gap between the value we put on our art, and the amount that someone else is willing to pay. And however you decide to bridge that gap is your pricing strategy.’

Finally, have you considered the consequence that underpricing your work can have not just on you, but your fellow artists as a whole? In The 50/50 Method for Pricing Your Artwork, Courtney Mahaney addresses the myth that lowering prices will result in a quick sale. ‘By artificially lowering the price to accommodate a market,’ she explains, ‘an artist actually devalues their own work—as well as the works of every other artist in the area, and possibly even the galleries representing them.’