This subject comes up time and again: pricing your art.
Here’s a simple, easy way to figure out if you are charging too much or too little. Does the matting, framing, and glazing cost more than the art? If so, you are charging way too little.
PRICING ORIGINAL ART
This is, by far, the toughest pricing for new artists to calculate. Do you go by the time it took you to create it? Do you go by how much you like it? Well, I suppose it all depends on where you are going as an artist. Are you strictly a “hobby” painter or are you trying to make a living at this? Are you painting the same scene over and over, doing one in an hour…fifteen minutes? Are you pouring your love and care into the work?
Simply put: If you value what you do, charge accordingly.
HOW TO CALCULATE A GOOD “BASE PRICE”
To get a good base price, start with “overhead and operating costs,” add in “resources,” including time and effort. Add in creativity and “how many are produced in one year.”
Overhead and operating costs are the costs of:
- the room where you work,
- including the utilities it takes to keep that room habitable.
Resources, not including human resources:
- the supplies to create the work, times two,
- the gas, travel expenses, server fees, and any other expenses associated with making, marketing, and selling the work.
- the number of hours it takes to produce that art,
- the number of hours it takes to sell the work.
And the Base Price is:
Calculate how many works you create in one year, how much it costs you to produce those works (operating expenses, overhead, resources, and marketing expenses), plus how much you value a year’s worth of your time and effort (labor). Divide the number of works into that total. That’s your base price.
That’s the minimum that the original piece is worth, less copyright.
Now, add in the aesthetic value of the work and the rank you hold as an artist (how famous and successful you are).
When you sell the original work, don’t sell the copyright, unless you can figure out how much copies of that work will generate over the work’s lifetime.
OPEN EDITION PRINTS
Let’s take that work of art and make an excellent digital copy of it for sale as prints. Are you going to sell these copies as open editions or limited editions? Lets talk open editions sold through a POD, since that’s what the majority of you are doing. (Word to the wise: Use a POD that lets you set your own markup.)
Price your open edition print so that it is at least twice the COGS, or “cost of goods sold”, and certainly more than it costs to frame, mat, and glaze it. What are the COGS? It means the cost of producing and marketing the print.
- How much does the POD charge to produce the work? 8.99 on the cheapest paper and $189.00 for canvas? Set your price at least double that.
- How much do you pay a year for space and marketing these prints. Divide by 100, and add that into your price.
Next, calculate what it will cost the customer to frame, mat, and glaze the work.
- For non-archival paper, work from the “cheap end” when pricing framing for the low end print. Figure your local Wal-Mart frame, mat, and glass are going to cost the customer somewhere between $7 and $99, depending on the size.
- Work from the “high end” for museum quality. If it is a museum print quality on archival paper or canvas, the framing and matting should be “high end” conservation materials with museum glass (UV and non-glare) or UV protection Plexiglas®. This means, of course, that the framing, matting, and glazing are going to start around $100 for a small print and go up from there.
Your open edition print should cost at least double its COGS, 1% of your marketing fees and subscriptions, and definitely more than it costs to frame, mat, and glaze that print.