Have you ever created a body of work just so you could sell at lower prices? If so, you might have created a problem for yourself.
Do any of the following ring true for you?
- You are afraid that people won’t buy your art if you charge what it’s worth.
- You believe that the people in your geographical region buy only cheaper art.
- You’ve started making smaller pieces because they’re less expensive.
- You have signed up for a service like Fine Art America to begin offering multiples of your art, even though the originals aren’t selling.
If you have created lower-priced work for any of these reasons, you might be lowering the bar along with your prices.
Let’s face it: selling lower-priced art is safer. There are many more people in your pool of prospective buyers at the low end.
But I can’t believe that your goal is to appeal to the masses. You, like my clients, surely have big dreams, and that means selling big art at fair prices.
So I have to ask … Are you running to this safer place of inexpensive art because you’ve been inconsistent with your studio practice, marketing, exhibitions, and networking? In other words, are you producing “more affordable” art because you don’t want to do the work required to sell your best work?
Have you given up on selling at that higher price because you believe it’s too difficult? Maybe the cheaper stuff will be easier to sell, you might think.
I have no objections with making art in a variety of sizes or offering reproductions of your art, especially if you’re selling a lot of work and can’t keep up with demand.
What I object to is your playing small and safe.
I object to your not taking risks because you have placed a limit on what you think you can achieve. I object to your not putting forth your best effort. I object to your giving up.
It's safer to stay on the low end when you know you can sell less expensive items. But playing it small and safe rarely results in dreams fulfilled.
My objections aside, the big problem with lower price points for your art is, ironically, that you need to work much harder to reach your goals.
Do The Math
Selling a lot of low-priced work requires more effort than selling a single high-priced piece of art. It’s simple math.
Let’s say you have $50 reproductions on the low end and $2500 originals on the high end.
You would have to sell fifty $50 items to equal a single $2500 sale! That means that if you want to make $2500, you need to sell one piece to 50 different people rather than one piece to a single person.
A. Single. Person.
Unless you have an enormous list and can sell out of an edition with one email, common sense says that you have to do a lot more work to sell 50 pieces.
Now it’s time for you to object. I can hear it: I don’t know of anyone who will pay $2500 for my art.
Fine. Find a new audience. I mean it!
Just because you don’t know them now doesn’t mean they’re not out there. You can find them and nurture relationships with them.
Yes, this will take effort in the beginning, but the long-term payoffs are much greater, unless your goal is to sell a lot of low-end art. I have nothing against this as a goal, but you need to understand what it will take to achieve it.
Just because you sell higher-end art doesn’t mean you can’t also offer lower-priced work, but be cautious of where you put your effort. Otherwise, you have a problem.
The bulk of your effort should be in getting the higher-priced work in front of the right people: your ideal collectors. Be very clear on who they are and create a path to reach them.
I’ve Been There
A couple of years ago, you might have landed on the Art Biz Coach site and found any number (15? 20?) of low-priced audio interviews. You would have also come across low-priced online classes that I rotated throughout the year.
I was trying to appeal to everyone and ended up alienating my ideal clients. The sheer number of items offered on my site confused people.
When I got really clear on the value of what I had to offer, the type of artist I wanted to serve, and how I wanted to serve them, I was able to focus my offerings. Now I attract amazing and ambitious artists that I can support at the highest level.
You can do the same for your art.
Get very clear on what your goals are, and if your current practices are supporting those goals.
Wouldn’t you rather sell one $2500 piece than try to find 50 people to purchase a $50 piece?
Has your low-priced work become a distraction?
Are you working harder to sell the low-end stuff or the high-end work?