How to Price Artwork

Is there a right way to price artwork? One of the most discussed topics I find with artists is how to price their artwork. As both an artist and accounting major, I was more than curious as to if there was a "right" way to price artwork.

The answer is there is no one way to price artwork. I find that as long as you can logically explain your pricing to a collector then it is acceptable. Below I will go through two of the most common ways to price your work.

First I am going to go through how I price my artwork. I price my work by the square inch on a sliding scale. This way I take my opinion of a single piece out of the pricing equation. It becomes very logical and easily explained to a collector. The mathematical equation would be (height x width x $/sq in), now lets see how it would play out in real life. For simplicity lets us $2.00 on pieces 12 x 12 and under, $1.50 for pieces larger than 12 x 12 but less than 24 x 24, pieces larger than 24 x 24 will be priced at $1.00 per square inch. There for a 12 x 12 piece would be (12x12x2) or $288.00. A 24 x 24 piece would be (24x24x1.5) $864.00, and a 36 x 36 would be (36x36x1) or $1296.00.

The second way of pricing artwork that I have found to be successful is to use actual cost per piece. In this method, you would take actual costs that goes into a piece to price the artwork. This method is much more detailed than the first. You would start by taking the actual supply that went into creating the piece this would include: surface (canvas, panel, paper, etc...), medium (paint, clay, leaf, mediums, etc..) and another other cost directly related to the creation of the artwork. Next you would work on the costs it takes to create a piece of work such as: studio rent, utilities, mileage of traveling to exhibitions etc.... You will then have to find out these costs on an annual basis and allocate it equally to each hour to get your labor cost per hour. I would use an average of the amount of hours you spend in your studio annually to get an accurate denominator. Once you have your hourly labor rate, you can multiply it by the numbers of hours that you spent on the piece. Then you would all the actual supply costs to your actual labor costs. This would give you your break even point on the piece. I would then double it. This will give your wholesale price. Then double it again and you will have your retail price.


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