Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to Price Your Art

How to price your art!

As you become better known, the price and perceived value of your work can go up.Making art is one creative endeavor, pric­ing it for sale is another, and there’s a bit of magic involved with both. It’s not as easy as pricing apples, for example, where you know what you paid for them and what your markup should be. Plus, everyone’s selling apples for about the same price so you can act accordingly. Pric­ing art is a differ­ent game.

To get some insight into the process I talked with Robert Cafazzo, artist and co-owner of Two Graces Plaza Gallery. He has experience pric­ing his own work and that of oth­ers, and he was kind enough to share his process. Are there guidelines?

"Walking Buffalo" (Private Collection) 40"x40"

“The price of art is all over the place, and there’s no common formu­la on how to actually price artwork,” he said. “Some would say they take into account their education, years being an artist, cost of materials, time it takes, résumé, where they’re exhib­iting, and sales history. Exhibiting in a café is a very different showcase from a high-end gallery in Taos or Santa Fe. Where and how your art is presented should be a factor in its pricing.”

Cafazzo also said that knowing your customer base is key. “If a cus­tomer is thinking about purchasing your work versus another artist, price­point does become a factor, so offer­ing a 10 percent discount may make a difference. There are many options here in Taos (and Santa Fe) and you need to price your art comparably and competitively to your peers.”

"Grey & Green Deer Walking" (Private Collection) 36"x48"

You can take the discount or sale idea even further to good effect. “There was a local artist who had extraordinarily high prices at his gal­lery, who was known to discount up to 80 percent of that price!” he said. “Recently, someone came by telling me they’d just purchased a work of art for $3,000, and they’d bought it for half price. Even at half price, that’s a lot of money. An artist couple in Taos was making similar work to one another, yet she always priced hers a bit lower than his, and hers always sold quickly.” This system made the Husband madder than a Hornet!

Two Graces Plaza Gallery, photo by Lynne Robinson

You can consider the piece’s size in terms of pricing, but that doesn’t always work. “I’ve tried figuring out a set price for a set size, and then factor­ing the per-square-inch price, using that as my base price for every vari­able size, but the problem is I work just as hard on a 10-by-10 inch paint­ing as I do on a 36-by-40 painting.”

"Deer on Gray Walking" (Private Collection) 36'x48"

You could also figure the hourly cost of creating a piece and go from there, but it’s likely that also wouldn’t get you a competitive or realistic price.

And your prices will change over time. “When I first started my price point on a 16-by-20 inch painting was $500. Today, my price for this size is a little over double,” Cafazzo said. “If you’re sell­ing more than 30 percent of your out­put per year a price increase of 10-15 percent is standard, with average out­put being 40-50 paintings per year.”

"Trotting Deer, California Wildfires" 16"x20"

He also pointed out that as you become better known, the price and perceived value of your work goes up. But, his personal philosophy is “to price art for someone like yourself or use your dad (or aunt) as your model customer, and what they would be willing to pay, what fits their budget.”

There’s also something to be said for being easy to buy from, and Cafaz­zo pointed out that giving prices right up front — with no need to ask for them — generates trust with potential buyers. “It’s intimidating and off-put­ting to a consumer when there isn’t a readily available price. The assump­tion is you may be sizing them up to what you think they can afford.”

"Georgia O'Keeffe Personage" 5"x7"

He also said not to worry about other people’s claims about what sells.

"Taos Turquoise Trader for the DeYoung Museum" 5"x7"

“You may hear it’s either investment art ($20,000 and up) or impulse sou­venir art (under $200), with few sales in the midrange,” Cafazzo said. “Yet there are regular people just like you that appreciate and would like to own art. The purchase of original artwork will mean something to that customer, valued by them for its beauty and the experience they had. Some people spend thousands of dollars per year on eating in restaurants, clothes shop­ping, furniture, or music. Those same people may enjoy purchasing art on a regular basis if they are shown that most art isn’t priced beyond their means.”

From time to time I am asked to work on a commission for someone. This involves selection of Color, Selection of Animal, Color of Animal, Design/Style of Animal, Direction of Animal, and Size. Pricing is standardized, and a 50% deposit is required. As the work progresses I email photographs of each step to the collector, over a 3-4 week time frame.

Cafazzo had these last wise words to offer: “Be honest with yourself and your consumer.”

"Leaping Deer for Paris" (Private Collection) 36"x40"

*This article was from a single emailed question from Deonne Kahler, asking: "How do you price your Artwork?" the quotes and the 'he saids' were added by the person working for the paper which it was published in. As someone who now writes for the weekly Taos News 'Tempo' Art & Entertainment section of this same paper, I personally would not approach someone to write my stories for me, nor is emailing questions my way of interviewing someone. I prefer to do interviews one on one and am prepared with up to 50 questions for any particular assignment. Occasionally some people have time constraints and ask for questions to be sent and/or ask that they email their answers soon after one on one interviews in order to clarify their own answers. Everyone wants to sound intelligent and not get tripped up in person.