This post is about how I have decided to price my artwork, based on two very helpful articles that came out on top of my Google search:
A Simple Formula For Pricing Artwork by Lori Woodward
How To Price A Painting by Jake Gafner
I combined elements from both articles to come up with a pricing scheme that worked with my own local context and artistic status.
I was pushed to formalise my pricing strategy after I have completed a large piece and was at a loss on how much to sell it, especially after inquiries began to pour in. I was both pleased and surprised, and then I panicked.
I started out by looking at Etsy, which has items closest to my kind of work. I narrowed my research to watercolour florals in their original forms, not prints. I found that the prices swing too wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other, and thus did not help me very much except make me feel bad about how much I have been undercharging. (One painting cost $489 and another of the same size cost $127 and still another of same size cost $25 -- all cost more than a piece of my work in the same size.)
Then I looked at the shops of my favourite artists who do similar work and thought I could maybe charge half of what they do. But being already well-established and quite popular, their price ranges, even at half, still seemed too high for a start-up like me. And it just did not feel good to say I'll charge a quarter of what they charge -- I simply started feeling too small.
So I finally Googled for articles -- which I did not do first because most articles were from the US, and the dollar conversions tended to really drive up my prices when compared to local prices. But this time I was lucky with the search results. There was a computation in one, and an acceptable price range in the other. I mixed and matched, and this is what I ended up with.
I price by square inch, but with adjustments when the piece is small (less than 80 square inches) and when the piece is big (more than 108 square inches).
I used the lowest price in the price range which is $0.25, translating to about Php12. For reference, a well-established artist like Lori Woodward (who wrote one of the articles) charges $6 per square inch. If we use that as a basis it becomes clear that I am being very reasonable.
But I used the Php12 (about $0.25) as my upper limit, which I apply to my smaller works. Smaller pieces get a slightly higher price per square inch because the small size tends to pull down the price too low, and yet a smaller piece gets as much attention, effort, and skill as a big piece.
My regular rate is Php10 (about $0.20) per square inch which I apply to my most common artwork size, which is 9 x 12 (108 square inches). Minimum size for the regular rate is 80 square inches (or 8x 10 inch paper or canvas).
For larger pieces, those more than 9 x 12 or 108 square inches, my rate is Php8 (about $0.17). Larger sizes tend to bloat the price because of the size numbers so to balance this, the rate is reduced.
The total I get then comprises my fee for the artwork -- my skills, imagination, idea, creativity, technique -- basically all the intangibles that make my art a piece of art, what makes it beautiful, what makes it resonate, what makes it capable of evoking emotions or pleasure.
Then I add to the total a percentage to cover materials:
+ 10% for pieces that use watercolours and regular inks
+ 15% for pieces that use watercolours and special inks; also for those made on canvas because canvas cost a lot more than paper
+ 20% for pieces that use mixed media (paints, inks, ephemera, beads, etc.)
I actually may lose a bit on the materials side especially for those on canvas and those in mixed media, but at this point I am not particular about it. As long as I am fairly compensated on my skills, I can write off the extra cost in materials.
When I tested the formula I came up with rates that were slightly higher than what I have been charging since I opened the shop. But still within reasonable range, now that the calculations behind them are clear.
What I will do now is keep my current prices for artworks already posted in the shop. But I will use the new prices for new pieces -- particularly for the pieces that I will put in the Enchanted Section.
I have also devised a separate rate for my simpler pieces, which, I admit, were easier and faster to do. So factoring in the time consumed in making, I am able to have an art series that are, for lack of a more glamorous word, affordable. My rates here are from Php5 to Php7 per square inch (about $0.10 to $0.14), maximum of 108 square inches. New pieces will reflect this pricing. For the simpler pieces I have waived charging for materials.
I am just starting out so I do have plans of adjusting those rates as my artwork becomes more in demand or gains more "market value". But until then, I hope this post will at least settle some wondering and questions on why art cost the way it does -- more specifically, why my art costs the way it does.
Questions or comments? Let me know your thoughts. ^_^