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Open question about pricing?

July 2, 2020

Lately I’ve been thinking about what will happen after the pandemic.

You know, assuming that’s going to happen. The Spanish flu lasted three years so, you never know.

Still – I’m hoping in a few months I’ll be able to return to gallery-seeking behavior.

(I’m still looking for representation for my oil paintings.)

But in the mean time, I’ve been selling a few online. Mostly my smaller works, the 10×10” sized pieces.

They’re very practical for shipping, and of course, the smaller the work, the more affordable they can be – and frankly that seems to be important for online sales? – But – I could be wrong!

These happen to be my favorite pieces. I actually prefer to them to the larger work, because the scale of the impasto is more dramatic, and the ‘gallery wall effect’ – when you stand back and see the image resolve at a distance – is easer to experience in a typical living space.

My favorite place to hang these is in the dining room, so I can look up from the breakfast table and chose which landscape to mentally visit that morning :)

So – here’s my question! To anyone who feels like responding!

What do you think is a fair price for these 10×10” oil paintings on 2″ deep gallery panels?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d really like to know!

Thanks,

~m

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2020 9:23 PM

    I have a similar dilemma, but am way behind you! I need to set up website as I am getting asked for sales. Interested to know why you went for Etsy shop rather than from your website I do know that Mark Daniel Nelson said you should never sell work below $300-I’m guessing that’s US$….

    • July 9, 2020 2:39 PM

      Hey Caroline – good question! Really – It’s a matter of convenience. Etsy is very easy to use. Especially for someone like me that would rather be painting instead of maintaining my website. Yes – I have to give Etsy a cut – amounts to around 10% after all is said and done – but I don’t have to deal with billing, returns, currency conversion, tax in every possible destination (!) and there is the confidence boost buyers get from working with a professional go-between. Possibly it’s leaving some money on the table for me? But I thought I’d give it a try with these new works and see how it goes.

    • marcelle permalink
      July 10, 2020 12:56 PM

      You can always go to https://www.saatchiart.com/paintings and see what others are selling for.

      • July 10, 2020 3:41 PM

        True True – Good point Marcelle. I guess I should have asked ‘What are you willing to pay?’ – instead of ‘what is fair?’. Maybe I should have worded that more directly :) I mean, I don’t mind o=if people honestly say, ‘I’m sorry but I wouldn’t pay anything for a painting. I don’t buy art.’ I mean – that’s a perfectly good answer if it’s the truth isn’t it?

  2. July 2, 2020 9:39 PM

    Well I am terrible at placing worth and it’s even harder on my own things. What I can tell you is these are beautiful.

    Sorry I’m no help with pricing. Good luck.

  3. July 2, 2020 11:18 PM

    Price by the square inch….i.e. 100 square inches x $2 = $200, or $3 x 100 square inches = $300. Just my thoughts.

  4. Janet M Catmull permalink
    July 2, 2020 11:53 PM

    In determining how to price an artwork, I look at similarly skilled artists’ work that has been sold or is for sale, then figure out what they cost per square inch. That will give you a range that should be fair.

  5. July 3, 2020 3:18 AM

    Hello Marc, I can totally relate to what you say about the “gallery wall effect”! On top of that there are so much more potential clients for smaller work as relatively few have big white walls to hang larger work.
    When I started selling (gallery + studio, same prices for both obviously) about 5 years ago I first got my prices by square cm which didn´t work out at all because I had to lower it for the large pieces otherwise they felt totally out of a reasonable range. I´have adjusted the prices slightly every 1,5-2y what seems reasonable for me as my work improves and I get more professional on all the other art biz related aspects. Some months ago I had a conversation with a very experienced artist I admire very much and she mentioned that she makes her prices by [width + hight] · x … obviously this x ist different for every artist but I found that all my prices were in line: Personally I charge 4.1 in general and 4.6 for pieces I consider very special and have a hard time parting with them. (Based on your etsy prices yours would be about 9.2.) This is for Spain, I know these prices to be rather low in comparison to my German and British mates but southern Europe has a very different living expenses then the northern part. So I think advice from artists of your area/country (and the US probably) would be the most useful for you! And in the end one has always to decide what feels “right” for him or herself!
    Wish you both a lovely weekend!

  6. Peer permalink
    July 3, 2020 6:17 AM

    500 USD? Just my first thought.

    • July 7, 2020 10:36 AM

      Sometimes the ‘gut’ is the best – this is coming out, from all the advice, to be a good spot!

  7. July 3, 2020 11:27 AM

    Art and its value are subjective, thus formulas based on size or time spent are not the best. There is also the challenge that value is often influenced by the price we ask. Add to that the discomfort many artists struggle with thinking that “they” are not that good. One major barrier is the feeling that we have to somehow justify what we are charging, nope. Art is not like a construction project – materials cost + labor = price. Most of the value is your experience and that intangible thing called creativity and inspiration. Remember some basic economics, supply and demand. One reason some artists draw high $$$ is not that their work is any better than yours or mine, it is that they have a following, they have a name. Artists tend to frequently view marketing, self-promotion, as somehow a dirty thing. If we do not tell people what we have to sell how will they know we have it available? So we go back to the first point, charge what people will pay. I sell some small things for $20 bucks, they take me 15minutes to do and it lets people buy. The big buck sales are nice, but usually not as frequent, unless you are named Marc :) I learned much of this from selling myself as a seminar speaker, i found that if I charged too little people assumed I was not very good if that was all i could get, when i raised my prices I actually got more business. With art, i will put a higher price on something, then offer a friends and family discount, people like that. I could go longer, sorry, it is the consultant part of me coming out, now back to the travelsketching book i am working on. Thanks Marc for asking the question

  8. July 3, 2020 1:20 PM

    Hi Marc- Similar to Terry, I come from a consulting background (marketing strategy), so my lens is pricing as a strategic business question, not from the perspective of the artist, per se. I’ll add my 2 cents, I hope it is helpful.

    The potential customer/client for your work will likely have a price range in mind for an original oil 10×10 – you should know that range, because your work will be evaluated against it. It will be a wide range, known names, unknown, complexity, etc. but it is a start – and a piece of information you’ll use to set your own price. I agree on the danger of pricing too low. There is a technique in research that asks 4 questions in an attempt to define the too low and too high ends of a range (the Van Westendorp questions). One of the questions is something like “at what price is [x] so low that you would question the quality?” You could do some mother-in-law research and ask a bunch of people just this one question, so you know where the low-bar is.

    With that as background, the advice I would give a client on pricing is:

    1) Competitive: what is the price range for similar work? This is the ‘sandbox’ you’re competing in.

    2) Time required to create: how long did it take to paint each piece? Not that you’ll price that way, but it is a good way to check your pricing-logic, perhaps a painting that took you 2x the time (i.e., high complexity) will warrant (or be able to command) a higher price.

    3) Customer/client mindset: Often in marketing a goal is to reduce the perceived risk (to the customer) of buying. I’d hypothesize there is greater perceived risk to buying online vs in-person – you have not seen the work in-person. What if the colors are different? It is not as vibrant? etc. A lower price will reduce the perceived risk.

    4) Your sales goal: Do you want to create some momentum now? If so you might sell at a lower price. This, in turn, might help with your gallery conversations – you’ll be able to talk about your sales in other channels – this demonstrates there is demand for your work. And remember – just because you price at $x now does not mean it stays at $x forever.

    Let me know if you have questions – I’m happy to discuss. I was on the 30×30 crit call on Tuesday (@7 pm PT), and you gave me some helpful advice about painting with a looser look, I would view helping you the return of a favor. : )

    • July 7, 2020 10:33 AM

      Thanks for this complex answer! What a great discussion – it’s always fascinating to find out the background of the people in the ‘art world’ online :)

      • Renee Cameron permalink
        July 7, 2020 12:44 PM

        Hi Marc- Pricing is one of those subjects where “it depends” is part of the answer. But that is a crappy answer so I wanted to share what it depends ON. There is no right answer, go with your gut.

  9. July 5, 2020 1:08 PM

    Hi! I taught economics at the college and high school level for 16 years. I studied this question extensively. (By the way, so did Tyler Cowen from George Mason University). I believe that the price people are willing to pay is a function of relative goods, their utility function, income, and future expectations. I would suggest having a customer bid on the work since they know more about the utility, income, and relative goods than you do. So can always make a counter offer if the customer’s offer is to lower to capture the consumer’s surplus. you can also say “no.”

    i didn’t post anything, but i completed a painting a day. you’ve renewed by spirit. thanks.

    • July 7, 2020 10:33 AM

      This is an interesting answer – sort of the concept behind eBay bidding no? I had not considered that route, but it’s not a bad idea.

  10. July 5, 2020 8:35 PM

    I too, sometimes struggle with pricing work. I’ve come up with a tentative price list for smaller works, and do compare my artwork prices with artists who are at a similar level of expertise. I find that the location has an effect on what people will pay for an art piece. As I live in the suburbs of Vancouver, Canada, I find that locals are looking for lesser priced items, such as art cards or tiny originals to buy, while those in Vancouver are more likely to purchase larger, more expensive pieces, especially from galleries and artist studios. I sometimes sell demo paintings that I’ve done teaching a class, as students know the artist. I don’t think your pricing is out of line at all. Friends and family are always a good place to start when first selling work.

    • July 5, 2020 9:15 PM

      I am also in a tourist area and find that smaller pieces are more accessible and larger for galleries and cities. I am looking at online, which is then global! Can I ask what your small and large sizes are, and their approx pricing?😉. I find $300 smaller then jumps $800++ larger. Many thanks in advance! 👌

  11. Harry permalink
    July 9, 2020 5:22 PM

    I would not go with Etsy – it comes across as a hobbyist type selling forum, so sets a cheaper pricing expectation. Use your own, professional, website.

  12. October 9, 2020 2:10 PM

    A very good question. If someone shows interest in your work, speak up. Thank them for their interest. Share your interest in them. “I would love for you to take this painting home.” Ask the question. Would you care to make me an offer?” A gentle persuasion to open a door for negotiation. Good luck!

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