Establishing the price of an art piece is difficult when you’re starting as an artist! I’ve seen people set the price according to the time it takes to make the piece, the materials involved , the result … etc. In a class with the amazing Peter Chan (@peterchanart … I met him at the artistic residence of @schoolism … great !!!), he shared a super simple formula to put a price on traditional art. He ALSO explained the reasons and ways to use it …
You can figure out price for you traditional art with this formula, in 3 steps:
(Height + width) * art multiplier = price of the piece
That is to say:
1. Measure the length and width of your work. Pretty simple right? Just grab a measuring tape and go.
2. Add the two numbers, length and width. If we use the images’s example, it gives us: 60 + 40= 100
3. Multiply the previous number by your art multiplier . Voila, there you have the price !
Ah, but what is the art multiplier (from now on AM) It is a RANDOM AMOUNT in your national currency, which will give the value to your art. To start with, Peter told us that for artists who are just beginning, a good AM market good value (Canadian) is 14 USD. (I’ll tell you how much MY AM turned out to be in a couple of lines!).
So, for example, if your AM is 14 USD, and your piece is 60*40 inches, the value of the work in the example would (60+40)*14=1400
Basically, what the AM does is i put a price per square inch on your art. The idea is that your AM will increase over time.
Thousands of questions assailed me and my classmates! A summary:
1. What happens if I don’t know which number to choose as AM or if the suggested one (14) seems very high to us?
Peter suggested to take a piece that we had already sold, and work the formula in reverse, to know which was the AM we had used.
For example. I was working on a piece, which measures 9*12 inch and according to me, in Chile the piece would sell for about 50 usd (35,000 Chilean pesos):
So I added the sides: 9+12=21
and then I DIVIDED the result by the intended selling price = 21/50 = 0.42
So my AM for that piece was is 0.42 cents. Ehh … mmm … Peter said that price was “insane.” I told him that in Chile I don’t dare to sell it for more … he suggested me to sell it in internet to a global market.
2. And what happens with pieces that take more or less time to make, does the AM vary?
Peter suggested the time you invest in a piece of art work is not a factor to take into account, because the client might not understand it. The same goes for the cost of the materials. The advantage of this formula is that it is constant.
3. What about pieces that you “appreciate” or “love” more? Do you set a higher price (worth parting with your piece)?
Peter told us about his experience, based on direct sales and gallery exhibitions. He told us that it would look very bad for a client to buy a work of 60* 60 in 500USD, and then for another client to buy another piece of the same size in 300 USD. Just as the time invested, clients will not (and aren’t required too) understand this difference and might feel ripped off.
- The customer who paid the most may feel cheated.
- The customer who paid less may feel that his work is little more than a sketch.
- The galleries generally increase the prices of an artist’s pieces gradually. The idea is not to “go back” on the price scale. Thus, your name and your art have a constant monetary progression, which might get investors or collectors interested.
4. What makes the AM rise?
- Improvements to your resume (such as exhibitions, awards, books, etc.)
- Improvements to your artistic level
- Courses or teaching work
4. General recommendations:
- Keep your prices with a constant AM, and increase it little by little.
- If you cannot put a price on your work, consider an art curator’s opinion, or peer’s ones.
- Your AM has to consider that the gallery will charge a sales commission to the piece. (In Canada and the USA the galleries keep 50% of the selling price) I finally gave the painting I was making (to my parents … :D) But I’m finishing another one of 40* 40 inch and I plan to price it with an AM of 6 (40+40) * 6 = 480 usd, that is 336,000 Chilean pesos. Let’s see what happens! Hope one day I get to sell my art at a price that is not “insane” … what do you think?