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What Price Beauty?

This is a post about how to price your artwork. How do I determine the price of my artwork, you ask? Good God Almighty! I do not know! That is my answer.

I have struggled with pricing for as long as I have been selling artwork. First, it was found-object assemblages, and I felt I was starting from scratch in setting a price on each piece. There were few assemblages, either on Etsy or locally, I could use as a gauge. I would do rough estimates on the materials—bits and pieces gathered at flea markets, mostly. I would keep track of the time I spent creating each piece. And I would charge accordingly, following advice on how much I should pay myself for my time and creative expression. It was a guess all the way, and I found myself lowering and raising prices as time went on.

At local markets, people would stop and ask about what I was selling, these oddities, and they would move on, only purchasing a few of the less expensive pieces. Finally, I found my people on Etsy and sold nearly everything I ever made. Some of the lesser quality pieces didn’t make the move to Florida, and I am thankfully not left with a stock of goods.

As I began pricing my paintings, I did have other artists in my area to use as guides, and a local gallery owner helped me price my work according to what sells in central Ohio. I quickly learned my work would sell at one price in my town, but if I lived/worked/sold in a more metropolitan area farther north, I could raise my prices because people there put a higher value on art.

I could stalk a few painters on Etsy to see how they priced their work as well, and stalk I did. The problem is, people who have been painting for some time will price their work higher than people who are newer to the medium they work with, and when you’re new to the scene you can’t put yourself on the same plane as more experienced artists.

Moving to an upscale area in Florida where people expect to pay more for art, I have been chatting with local artists who have been here a while and have asked for advice on pricing as if I’m starting over. I have since raised my prices on pieces sold locally as well as on Etsy because, as I have become more experienced and have developed more confidence as an artist, I have begun to recognize the value of my work without apology.

So, how do you price your work? Still, I say I do not know. But I can offer this much advice—talk to other artists in your area, find out what sells and what doesn’t where you are and where your work is available, have reasonable expectations of what is valued—would people rather spend money on sports ball than on a painting?—and most importantly, do not, and I mean DO NOT undervalue your time, your creativity, and the uniqueness of your work.

This is probably no help at all, but it’s all I got.

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