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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

I've been painting for over two years but still consider myself a beginner. I did my first art fair in September and my second (and most recent) today (December 2). The first time I sold several paintings, today I only sold one. I never know what to price my artwork at. I am posting a close-up of one of my favorite paintings. What are your thoughts?

Views: 659

Comment by Christina L. Towell on December 4, 2017 at 9:14am

Hi Amy,

Welcome!  What are you asking for it now?  What are the dimensions?  I'm a fiber artist but I'm sure that some of the painters in our online community will want to weigh in on this...best of luck to you!

Comment by Cindy Welch on December 4, 2017 at 9:50am

Amy I am not a canvas artist so I am no help with pricing.  However, I also experience the struggle of pricing!  Just wanted to let you know you are not alone in this struggle.

Comment by Amy Black on December 4, 2017 at 9:51am
At the moment, $30. It's 24X30.
Comment by Christina L. Towell on December 4, 2017 at 9:59am

Wow, that seems really low...you need to factor in your time and the cost of materials, $30 doesn't seem like it would even cover that.

Comment by Britt Hallowell on December 4, 2017 at 10:01am

No one can tell you how to price your art. And there is no magic formula for pricing.  And you can do killer a show and then the next year absolutely bomb. Not selling originals isn't necessarily about price. It's just if the right people are there and like your work. You have to be unique.  Why would they buy from an artist if he looks just like the artist down the row.  You need to have your own brand.  I can usually walk a show and recognize most artists by their artwork because it's their own particular unique style.

That said, you've only been painting 2 years, so you can't price your work like you've been a master painter for 20 years (I have no idea your pricepoint).   Looks like you work on pretty thin canvas without a substrate, so you can't price them as if you're working on 3 inch deep gallery quality canvas or handmade wood frames with lots of money in different mediums.  Again, i have no idea what youre trying to sell your art for.

I can tell you how I do mine.  I calculate in materials and at least double that or triple that.  Obviously you'll spend more on Golden Artist paints than Liquitex Basics, etc.  Then I add in my time.  I "charge" per hour what I made when I actually had a real professional salary.  And then I adjust accordingly to my personal love for the painting lol.  So my paintings that I spend 2 weeks painting obviously cost a good bit more than those I spend 3 days.  But if I have one I just loooove and don't care to part with, I'll price it more too.

You should also factor in that you're probably not selling in galleries. Right now you're probably just selling to direct people.  If you sold in galleries youd have to mark everything up again because the gallery will take about 50% fee.  I personally don't think it's fair to charge as if you're selling in galleries when you're not.  It's my personal preference to just sell as if its a wholesale price to clients. They appreciate that they can come direct to the artist and get a fair price.  

Here's an example = my 24x36 paintings range from $450 to $999 usually depending on amount of work.  If I were to sell in a gallery I'd probably double that but come out with the same profit anyway. 

About me and my art, I've don't art shows professionally going into my 8th year.  I paint on handmade wood frames.  I use acrylics and plaster as well as a metal based paint that I make actually rust and patina to create different colors. 

Comment by Cindy Welch on December 4, 2017 at 10:12am

Christina, I had the same reaction initially but did not have any canvas artist experience to back it up.

The way I price my art/craft is to factor in what it cost me to obtain it, IOW the purchase price.  Then after I paint, distress, and age it, I tend to have a gut factor that helps figure the price.  I know there is an upper limit to what people will spend.  I also can look online at various online selling locations to see what similar pieces are selling for.  When doing this I tend to follow the real estate comp model ... get 5 prices, then throw out the highest and the lowest.  Then arrive at an average of the 3 middle ones.  Of course this is not an exact science so this does not always work with what I do.  Sometimes it is hard to find a similar piece and, in fact, I don't know what they have spent on their upcycled piece or their paint, wax, etc.

Comment by Richard Eskin on December 4, 2017 at 10:54am

Just a few thoughts to add to Britt's comments.  In addition to supplies, add in travel, lodging and booth fee costs (the federal mileage reimbursement is about $0.535 per mile or you can estimate your costs directly based on miles per gallon and fuel costs). Do this on an expected annual average, because you won't change your prices from show to show.  Then -

What do you want to (need to) earn on an hourly basis to make ends meet?  Multiply your desired  hourly wage by the number of  hours you worked on painting.

Putting aside the cost travel etc., let's assume you spent $10 for canvas and paint, and spent 8 hours painting that image.  $30 - 10 = $20 is your wages.  $20/8 hours of work is $2.50.  Are you really satisfied making $2.50 per hour?  I would suggest not less than $10 per hour.  This is just a ball park to get you started.  Then perhaps followup on Cindy's approach to see how you compare to the market.  Art pricing is not objective or easy, but can make some practical estimates to set minimum prices that will at least cover your costs.  If you have access to a spread sheet (Open Office is free and provides a word processor as well) put your numbers in a spreadsheet so you can readily explore the pricing based on changes in material costs, wages, travel.  Good luck!

PS:  Track your costs and income for tax purposes and to assess and continually reassess your own business practices.

Comment by Amy Black on December 4, 2017 at 11:22am
Thank you everyone. I had this and others like it at $30. Materials are on the less expensive side because I can't afford more. I'd love to get there eventually.
Comment by Britt Hallowell on December 4, 2017 at 11:28am

What size is it?

Comment by Amy Black on December 4, 2017 at 11:31am
Oh, 30X24

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