Hello! I’ve just joined this great community and am excited to learn from so many experienced artists here. I’ve just been invited to do my first art fair here in MI in September and I’m excited but feeling a little unprepared. I have no idea how to price my work, I’ve sold a few pieces over time but am at a point now where I need to find confidence in this area. I have quite a bit of education and years of making art on and off (I’m 38) but never consistently. I feel like I’m making more quality work now than I have before but it’s been so long since I’ve been part of a community or gotten much feedback on my art and I’m trying to gauge where to price things.  I feel completely lost and could use any help, advice or suggestions. Again, lack of consistency doesn’t help I know, as I tend to make various sizes of work and different subject matter. I’d say, in general, my paintings tend to fall between 10x10” to 18x24”. It am starting to work on larger pieces to try to fill in. Can anyone give me a range that sounds fitting? I’m attaching photos of recent pieces. I dont want to keep pricing myself wrong, usually too low I think. Thank you and looking forward to joining the club!




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  • I have been doing shows for over 20 years and I cruise them as a buyer too. I like what I see and would be willing to pay mid hundreds for the small pieces and up to low thousands for larger pieces. But, I am not a painter, just a saddle maker with some money sometimes. I like Larry's analysis.

    • Thank you, Cindy and Richard.  Great to hear from people who have had experience and willing to share. Your numbers gave me a much needed basis too for what seems fair currently. I figured I was low but with the responses I feel like I wasn’t helping myself at all. Gives me a lot of confidence and direction. 

      • Perceived value is another thing to consider, Larry seems to be covering some of that in his post. 

  • Pricing is one of the most difficult areas an artist must face. You must be careful to not under price your work. It is very difficult to increase your price point once your reputation (pricing) has been established. 

    I will now contradict myself and tell you how I keep my price point very simple and easy to establish. Let's first establish some ground rules.

    1. You should care less about what other artists charge

    2. It doesn't make any difference whether you are a talented artist or not

    How much do you want (need) to make per year. If your working full time now at another job, what is your annual salary now. Is that enough to pay your bills with some extra money for retirement, savings, and entertainment. Use this number if you want to replace your job and start doing art full time. If your just thinking part time, what do you "realistically" need to make in order to continue this endeavor and be motivated to continue.

    Once that number is established, add to it what it cost you to make your art on an annual basis. (Paint, brushes, canvas, etc) Now add to that what is the cost your to get your art to the public. Whether its art shows, fairs, or markets., I.E. booth fees, gasoline to get there, hotel, food, tires, oil changes, etc)

    How many pieces do you expect to sell per annum. Not how many you want to sell, but how many are you going to sell. Just quantity, not sizes. After you've been doing this for a year or two, your numbers will start to balance out.

    Now the easy part: As an example, if you need to make 50K per year salary and it cost you 2500 in materials, that's 52,500. Let's assume you're doing an art show nearly every other weekend and you anticipate selling 2 paintings per show. That's 4 per month, or 48 per year.

    Divide 52,500 by 48 and you get $1094. So you must sell each piece at $1100 to make what you need to live on. And don't forget, that's gross, taxes must still get paid. And that's per piece, (irrelevant of size). Is now easy to figure what the square inch price would be to accomplish your goals by getting the average of sold pieces.

    If you sell to galleries, I charge them what I need for the piece. They they can sell it for whatever price they want. I don't give them 40-60% commission.

    As I said at the beginning, it doesn't matter whether you're good or bad. If you're not making your numbers, its time to go back to the corporate world. If you're beating your numbers, it may be time for a salary increase. If you're neighbors prices are higher or lower than yours, that's OK because they aren't paying your bills.

    And by the way, your work is great!! Price it so you can live with a decent salary and continue painting...

    • Thank you so much, Larry...this post is a huge help! I’m sure this question gets brought up often so I appreciate you taking the time to give me such a thorough response and breaking things down. I’m motivated to make sure I can make this work for me. Thank you for the kind and practical feedback!

    • >> 1. You should care less about what other artists charge <<

      This can be a game changer for lots of us who get caught up in the comparison game.  I need to remember this.  I can't really compare what I charge to what others charge for similar products and skill level.  I don't know what their materials cost them.  I don't know what figure they use for their labor costs.

      BTW, I am not a canvas artist but make benches from vintage headboards, make wood risers/trays, and flip/repurpose home décor, especially in the vintage area.  In this field there is lots of comparisons (skill, supply brands, pricing, etc.).  I am nearing the point of where I don't care what others charge.  They don't work for me, nor are they paying my bills.  As a friend of mine is fond to say ... not my circus, not my monkeys.  :D

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