So you want to sell your art, but don't know how much to ask?I recently had a question from another artist who wanted my opinion on what price she should put on a particular painting. It took me a few days to get back to her because I didn't have any ready answer to her question. The short answer is, "It depends."
What is it worth to you?
The long answer is complicated, and might not tell you what you want to hear. There are a lot of variables that can go into the pricing factor. If you're new to selling work, and you have no other examples of size/quality/price from any sales you've already made, than the simplest way to go is to ask yourself what is it worth to you? Make sure you are getting a return on your supplies and your time, and then add a bit more for how good you feel this one is compared to other work you've done.
What's the size?
Once you have a few sales under your belt, you can begin to price on size. For example: You sell an 8x10 acrylic on canvas for $200. Then any other similar paintings (genre, level of detail, etc) in 8x10 will be $200. You can then set your other price sizes based on this price per square inch ($2.50.) When demand begins to exceed your production, you can raise your prices a bit.
What's the Venue?
It can also depend on the selling venue, and what other artist's paintings are selling for in that same venue. For example: If you are in an art festival or gallery where the average painting in your genre/size is selling for $800 to $1200, then your $200 8x10 is at the risk of being viewed as inferior by the collectors shopping there, because most collectors at a certain level believe that artwork is worth what they pay for it, and they'll think you must not value your work if you price it too low, and that there must be something wrong with it. (This mentality took me YEARS to finally "get"!)
On the other end, if you're in some small town crafts fair where the range of merchandise price points is between $10 to $75, then $200 for an 8x10 panting might be out of the customers' price range. However, that wouldn't necessarily mean you couldn't still have the $200 price tag on an 8x10 original there, but you'd do better selling simple, small paintings, and prints in the lower price ranges.
If you're not selling in any venue that includes other artists, it becomes more subjective. For instance, if you're just selling to a friend, you need to weigh your need for an income with how close is this friend, and how much can they afford? In my experience, friends and family usually want a really good deal* (*i.e.: free.) In essence, you'd need to weigh the value of the friendship against the value of the painting. Some fortunate artists have wealthy friends who appreciate the value of the artwork. ;)
What about Online?
If you're selling online, the venue (some kind of art-selling site? Or just off your own blog? Facebook?) can sometimes have an impact on price, but not so much I don't think, because of the sheer volume of public out there that can have access to your art if they know where to find it. Online art buying does tend to be lower priced than other more traditional outlets (gallery, art festival, brick-and-mortar art show). Usually because of the high level of competition that artists face on the internet, and the low overhead (almost all of the sale price goes to the artist, except for payment fees, like paypal, site fees if listed on a subscription-based site like DailyPaintworks, etc, and any other brokerage type fees, if in a web-show that takes a cut, for example.)
How to price your art on the web, if you haven't sold your work before?I would recommend one of two methods:
1) Fast method: What did the materials cost you? How much time did it take? Consider materials plus $20 - $50 / hour depending on how fast you work. Then round to the nearest "easy amount". Example: the 8x10 canvas was $6. You bought the paints for $60, but expect to get a lot more use out of them, so maybe just factor in $3 of paint. You put a $50 frame on it. The painting took you 4 hours. So that's $80 - $125, plus supplies is $139 - $184, which you can round to $150 - $185.
2) Time-consuming method: Research! Look around online at other artists work that is similar to yours in genre, medium, style... When you find artwork that has prices listed, read up on the artist's website to determine their level of experience. Collectors might also be looking at this data to determine whether this artist's work is a good value. Artists with more experience, awards, shows, commendations, gallery representation, etc, will have a higher perceived value. When you have come up a list of artists who's work is similar to yours, and have noted their prices for certain sizes of work, you can make an estimation of value for your own work, comparing to your experience level to theirs.
Perhaps this method will leave you more confused and unsure than ever. I've not done any research like this online, but can imagine, especially having seen sites like DailyPaintworks.com, which has pretty huge pricing variations between artists, and an endless variety of artists from beginner through professional. (That site might be a good place to start a research actually. Many of the member artists have their own websites as well.) Just know that for a beginner, you have to start somewhere, and it's easiest to start low, and increase your prices as your experience, quality, and clientele increase.
A place to start..I've just touched upon these pricing concepts from my own viewpoint, but hopefully have given you a place to start. There are more aspects to be considered, such as when to increase your prices, how to be flexible and still be consistent, and pricing commission work. You can read more thoughts about these topics and more concise info on pricing at these great sites below:
Read more about pricing artwork per square inch on this good blog post I found on artistrunwebsite.com.
And this post on artworkarchive.com explains about three good formulas for pricing your art.