There are no hard and fast rules for pricing your fine artwork. Most artists and galleries base prices on market value – what the buying public is currently paying for similar work. Learn the market value by visiting galleries and checking prices of works similar to yours. When you are starting out don’t compare your prices to established artists, but to emerging talent in your region. Consider these when determining price:
•Medium. Oil and acrylics cost more than watercolors by the same artist. Price painting higher than drawings.
•Expense of materials. Charge more for work done on expensive paper than for work of a similar size on a lesser grade paper.
•Size. Though a large work isn’t necessarily better than small one, as a rule of thumb you can charge more for the large work.
•Scarcity. Charge more for one-of-a-kind works like paintings and drawings, than for limited editions such as lithographs and woodcuts.
•Status of artist. Established artists can charge more than lesser-known artists.
•Status of gallery. It may not be fair, but prestigious galleries can charge higher prices.
•Region. Works usually sell for more in larger cities like New York and Chicago.
•Gallery commission. The gallery will charge from 30 to 50 percent commission. Your cut must cover the cost of materials, studio space, taxes and perhaps shipping and insurance, and enough extra to make a profit. It materials for a painting cost $25; matting, framing cost $37; and you spent five hours working on it, make sure you get at least the cost of material and labor back before the gallery takes their share. Once you set your price, stick to the same price structure wherever you show your work. A $500 painting by you should cost $500 whether it is bought in a gallery or directly from you. To do otherwise is not fair to the gallery and devalues your work.
As you establish a reputation, begin to raise your prices – but do so cautiously. Each time you “graduate” to a new price level, you will not be able to come back down.