How I Price My Artwork.


This has to be one of the trickiest aspects of starting out as an artist: deciding how much to charge. The problem is that if the price is too high it will put off potential buyers, but if it is too low, the artist ends up working for practically nothing and the art profession is devalued.

Having a background in Mathematics I have a tendency to work with numbers, although I do allow the artist in me to peep through at times and modify what I have calculated. So let's have a look at my calculations (don't worry, if you normally shy away from maths based problems there's nothing too tricky here).

The first question I asked is - just as you would do with a lot of jobs - what is my hourly rate? Being at the start of my art career I want to keep this relatively low. The Living Wage in the UK is £8.25. So I took this as my minimum figure for the range that I'm going to consider. Looking at some other services for ideas, in particular ones that require college or university courses, I came up with an upper figure of £45 an hour (a physiotherapist charges about £50 an hour where I live and a counsellor could expect to be paid £35 to £45). Although I didn't study art at university, I have spent many hours of my life practising and reading about art to the point where I consider my art worthy of being sold. So where to go between those two figures? In the end, I plumped for a figure of £15 an hour.

Now, that is £15 an hour if I sell all of the limited edition prints and originals. If I don't then my final rate is lower. Which is always a possibility. Plus, if I offer free delivery (which I do in the UK) or discounts, it will also impact on this figure. Given that, this seemed a reasonable place to start. (Sadly, due to the high cost of shipping I have to make a small charge for customers outside of the UK.)

The next stage was to work out how much to charge for each print size and the original itself. On my larger paintings I spend approximately 260 hours planning and painting them. Add to this the time it takes me to scan it into the computer and do all of the work required to put in on the internet and it roughly comes to 270 hours. (This may be underestimating a tad.)

270 hours at the hourly rate of £15 comes to a grand total of £4050. This figure has then got be split into the price of the original, the profit on the large print and the profit on the small print.

This is where the art side of me comes through as I do this process on gut instinct: what feels like the right price for each item. It takes a while to get the correct balance between the prices.

Taking into account the cost of having the prints made, art materials, national insurance, business insurance and other bits and bobs it worked out as £2000 for the original, £50 for the large limited edition prints and £35 for the small limited edition prints.

The final stage for me was to show the originals and actual prints to family and friends and ask them what they thought of the prices. In general people thought they were fair, if a bit on the low side.

So, what do you think of this process? Do the prices seem fair? Or have I under or over-priced them? I'd like to read your comments.



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