It can be hard for fine artists to get a handle on where their prices should be – and when they should increase.
Most artists actually start out by underpricing their work. This can stem from fear of not selling, or being under the false perception that collectors always prefer lower-priced work. Although you must know where your work fits into the marketplace and how to set prices given your peer group, do not fall into the trap of thinking that low pricing or giving discounts is the way to gain collectors. If you run into potential customers who are always trying to haggle over price, you most likely are selling in the wrong venues.
Overpricing can be a problem for artists who price their work emotionally. Is a particular painting, sculpture, or other piece really important to you? Do you feel that it is worth more for that reason? Your art may be quite valuable to you personally – it might evoke memories, or have a lot of love and care put into it. But don’t let those factors influence your price. The correct price for your art is what a customer will pay you for it, not your own emotional attachment. If you have pieces of your art that you are extremely attached to, simply don’t sell them – keep them in “the collection of the artist.”
It’s important to get started with base prices for your work which are in the correct range. Prices for your art should go up, not down. Use common sense to establish your prices, and then remain confident with them. You must have confidence in and be able to defend your prices – whether you are speaking with a gallery owner, a collector or anyone else.
Once you have established appropriate prices for your work and you are beginning to sell art consistently, you might wonder when the right time is to increase those prices.
A price increase is in order when you have experienced a consistent degree of success with sales over at least a six-month period. If the demand for your work exceeds your ability to make it, you are probably due for an increase.
If sales of your artwork continue and there is a significant demand, you can plan on price increases of 10-25% per year. Be cautious, however. Don’t increase prices just because you “feel” they are too low, or because you have had a flurry of sales. Look at your sales figures and be able to justify an increase based on regular, sustained sales.
As you build your CV with exhibitions, commissions, additional gallery representation, installations and so forth, you are earning credentials which will carry weight with your collectors. Your reputation and visibility have a bearing on the demand for your work, which in turn will lead to the need for increased prices.