It must be something in the air. Pricing art has been on the minds of a number of my clients in the last few weeks. Almost all are interested in raising their prices and almost all of them should raise their prices.
Raising prices isn’t something I take lightly or recommend frequently. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was at an exhibit and was aghast at the high prices on one emerging artist’s work. Increasing your prices happens only after you’ve taken into account a number of factors. Here are six to consider.
1. You did the math and it just didn’t add up.
You finally sat down with a pencil and paper and figured out that you’re paying yourself $1.50 an hour. Stop that!
2. You compared apples to apples and yours is the rotten one.
When you compare prices, look for similarities in style, sizes, and medium by artists who are at a comparable point in their careers. Also (and this is often overlooked), make sure their art is actually selling! Prices don’t mean a thing if the work hasn’t been selling. If you go through this exercise and find out that your art is the cheapest, consider it a wake-up call. Being the cheapest is not necessarily a good thing.
3. You can’t keep up with the demand for your art.
Helloooooooo. If you can’t make enough work to fulfill commissions and orders and maintain inventory to show at galleries or art festivals, you need to raise your prices. It’s the law of supply and demand. (Hey, I remember something from my econ classes!)
4. You discover uneven pricing.
If you look at one of your price sheets and notice that there isn’t enough difference between two sizes or two disparate media, consider raising the prices of those that seem too low.
5. You have or have added work that requires more effort.
Some artists have art that they consider easier. It’s faster to make and might even be formulaic. These are on the low end of your pricing scale. Then there might be another line that requires more research and attention to detail. You would charge more for this work. Ditto for commissions. Whenever a project requires that you create sketches, maquettes, or make a client happy, charge more!
6. You’re dejected.
You know you aren’t getting paid for what your art is worth. You’ve earned your stripes selling art over the years, and you’re tired of hearing how “affordable” the work is. It turns your stomach to sell your art so cheaply. When you no longer enjoy making or selling art, it’s time to make changes.
FINAL WORD: Pricing is one of the most difficult decisions for artists to make. While raising prices in tough economic times seems counter intuitive, you always want to be sure you are being paid what you’re worth.
Enjoy this week's podcast–an audio version of the above post.