by Shalene Valenzuela
“Deciding on pricing is not one of those enjoyable parts of being an artist. Even after many years, I sometimes get stumped if I make something completely different. I know some people have a mathematical breakdown of total hours spent, etc, to calculate a “price”. However, my process of making work is not so cut and dry that I can use that method.
My advice to people wondering how to price work is to consider the following:
What level are you at in your career? Most likely if you are seeking the advice on how to price work, it’s pretty early in your budding practice. Look at what others with similar work at the same “career” level are charging. One great thing about the internet is the amount of stealth research one can do in regards to looking at various sites (individual and gallery) to see how much people are charging for work. You can use that as a good gauge for fair market value.
I also use my recent past work as a guide to help price new items…is the new piece similar in size and complexity to something else I have out there already priced and selling?
Once you set a price for a particular piece, be consistent! One thing I have witnessed in the past are individuals changing their prices based on the percentage a gallery takes. If you decide a particular cup is $45, it should be that price no matter where you sell it. Galleries do not like being undercut. Why would someone buy one of your cups from a gallery if you advertise that you charge $25 in your studio or on Etsy? And if a gallery knows people will go to your studio to get it half price, what is their incentive in spending time to promote and sell your work?
I heard a great talk by Sandy Besser once in regards to collecting work from the collector’s point of view. One thing he mentioned about pricing for the student artist is to never price work too high. It is better for it to be in a collection rather than sitting in your mom’s basement. And of course, as your career grows, raise your prices accordingly.”