Pricing Artwork

Since poor Canucklehead seems so distraught that he might win the auction of The Planets for a mere $5 USD, I thought this might be a good time to talk about how I come up with prices for my artwork.

(And yes, Canucklehead is getting a VERY good deal… so bid him up.  There’s nothing sadder than a morose and guilty Canuck!)

I’ve been a member of Worldwide Women Artists for about a year and a half now, and this topic is a perennial favorite.  A new member will ask the question, “How should I price my art?” every couple of months.  I’ll just mention the process I go through.

First, I want to cover the cost of materials.  Since I’m a packrat and a bit anal-retentive (or a lot anal-retentive, depending on who you ask), I keep my receipts and enter all the price information in a database.  (Oh yes!  A database… not a wimpy little spreadsheet!  On top of everything else, I’m also a geek… and a database fanatic.) Actually arriving at a true cost isn’t as easy as it sounds, even with technology in my corner.  How much of the cadmium orange did I use?  How much of the cerulean blue?  The orange is definitely more expensive than the blue, no matter where I bought it.  I’ve taken to doodling a lot more and those India ink pens I use are stupidly expensive.  (But wow!  They’re worth it!  I love them!)  After I have my cost of materials, I have to round it up to the nearest dollar because dealing with decimals is a pain.

Next, I factor in my time.  How long did it take to create this particular work of art?  Some pieces don’t take much time at all… others seem to take forever.  Multiply the time by an hourly rate, add that to the cost of materials.  Round up again to the nearest dollar.

(A bit about the hourly rate… yes, I’m under-valuing my time.  And yes, I know I’m doing it.  It’s higher than minimum wage in NYS but less (far less) than what I get at my day job.  When I’m famous, that will change.  LOL)

At this point, I have the “wholesale” price… the lowest price for which I’ll sell the item.

Lastly, I take into consideration where I’m selling the art.  Is it online?  Some online sites have higher fees than others.  Should I factor in the cost of postage, or make that an added fee?  Is it at a local art or craft show?  Those fees also vary widely, as do transportation costs and amount of time I get to stand around in the burning sun or pouring rain.  (Ah!  Thank goodness for my tent!)  Am I selling to one of my friends or coworkers who just happen to see my art in my cubicle and develop a burning desire to own it?  How willing am I to actually let someone else have that piece of art?  Depending on these factors, I’ll adjust the price to a “retail” price.  Yes, it’s rather subjective.  I do, however, try to keep similarly sized or similarly themed pieces at the same price.

I put The Planets in the auction at less than what I’d sell it for elsewhere, but more than wholesale… because it’s an auction, after all, and half the fun is watching the bids creep up.  (You guys are failing to provide me with fun!  I will now weep.)  I’ll also pay postage for sending the piece to the winner.

So yes… Canucklehead will get a real steal here if you let him win the auction for a mere $5.  Heck, postage to Canada is about $1000 now.  (No hand delivery options to Canada yet… my passport hasn’t arrived.)