How to Price Your Artwork with Emily Costello

How much would you pay? (guitar by Martin Moreno)

One of the most common questions we get at the galeria from emerging artists is “How do I figure out what prices to sell my artwork for?” To help us out with that, I asked one of our established artists, Emily Costello, to answer some questions about how artists determine the price of art. And remember to look out for Emily’s art in our next exhibition: “Reach Within” starting January 27th.

1.       How did you learn to price artwork when you started as an artist?

I did a lot of research.  I asked those most interested in my art, including other artists, how much they thought it should sell for.  I looked at prices of similiar (size, medium, style) work in local galleries I’d like to show in, and made note of the pieces that sold.  I spoke to gallery owners and asked them for pricing advice.  I took their opinions into consideration and factored in the “formula” below.  My goal was to sell my art but not to make it so inexpensive that people wouldn’t take it seriously.  Once a good percentage of my art was selling regularly, I increased my hourly wage price.   

2.       What do you think about when pricing art (size, cost of materials…)?  

I stick with a formula and it works well for me. By following this formula, I hope to avoid under-pricing a piece just because I’m unsure if it will sell.   On the other hand, I also try to avoid over-pricing just because I’m emotionally attached to it.  For my formula I add up the money I’ve spent on materials; including paints, brushes, canvas, even the cost of gas, gallery percentage, etc.  I also have an “time to create/labor wage” that I add in to the final price to make a profit.  Finally, I consider the prices my previous art has sold for.  I’m always researching the current market because the more aware I am of the big picture; of what other artists are creating, how it’s being priced and marketed, and who’s buying what for how much and why, the better prepared I am to price my art at a price that is fair.

3.       Do you have a system for pricing your art or do you go by feelings?  

I try to price my art with my brain, not with my heart.  I feel that art is subjective and being able to evaluate your art from a detached standpoint  is necessary in order for your price structure to make sense in the marketplace. I use my “formula” because being clear and consistent when pricing your art gives you credibility.    

I feel it is very important to know where your work fits in, keeping in mind that even though you feel like your art is unique, experienced art people like gallery owners, collectors, and agents make price comparisons from artist to artist all the time. An important thing to me is not to insult a previous buyer or a gallery owner who agrees to show and market your work. My prices are never lowered.  I don’t want to insult anyone who has bought my work.