All things are relative. That’s the first point of reference, I find, when it comes to putting a price to a piece of art. It ISN’T about supply and demand either, as many marketers would have you believe. It’s about concept and connections. Many pieces of mediocre art are sold at astronomical prices because the artist or artwork itself, has generated some controversy, fame or following – not because of the scarcity of the work (limited edition prints for example) or physical output of original work by the artist.
Coming to a point where an artist can accurately gauge the hard currency value of his or her piece of work, rests solely on historical feedback and constant manipulation of the selling price. There is no magic formula. Pricing a work cheaply, does not guarantee that it will sell – in fact, it can very often have the opposite effect and actually result in work being perceived as sub-standard or below par; or that the artist is naïve and does not understand the intrinsic value of his or her work. Under-valuing a work of art, I believe, is the single biggest mistake that emergent artists make but how do you avoid this pitfall? Yes, you can assign some crazy value to that oil you just did (that took you all of ten minutes to create) in the hope that someone with tons of money will walk past and offload the cash in your direction – you are very lucky indeed if that happens! Or you can sit down, carefully and examine:
- How much your materials cost.
- The length of time it took you to produce the work.
- Comment from your peers, as to the work’s artistic merit, originality and individuality of the artist’s voice.
- Feedback you may have received since the work’s creation, from interested parties – such as galleries or private collectors.
The first two points above are relatively easy to put a value on. Especially, if you have a clear idea of how much you want to earn as a professional artist on a monthly basis, then you can reasonably calculate what your hourly rate is. So adding up the values of the first two items on the above list, will give you your base line, your ‘cost of sale’. Assigning a value to the mystical ‘artistic’ worth of a painting is where you hit the big problems.
It is sometimes valuable to look at work that is being marketed at local galleries (if you are hoping to attract interest from your neighbourhood gallery owner) but that can be a constraint in itself. Just because Joe Soap’s Gallery down the road markets abstract works of a similar size to your pieces at 20 to 100 pounds a painting, doesn’t mean that this price range applies to your work. So how do you (the new artist on the block) come to a realistic selling price for an original piece of art?
I decided to do something a bit daft on this blog and put a picture below of one of my recent works and ask commentators/followers/ visitors to this site to give me an idea what they believed the work was worth – not what they’d pay for it, what they believed it was worth (these are two entirely different values :)) So please would you participate for a bit of fun? You can be entirely anonymous in your comment.
Acrylics, collage (silk material), effect paints on stretched canvas.
24″ x 18″