I was at a meeting of artists last weekend and the subject of pricing came up, as it does often among artists. When I got home that evening I had an email from another artist asking me about my thoughts on pricing artwork.
My friend Sharon Kyle-Kuhn just sent me a link to this Art-Tistics post about pricing artwork. I've written about the subject before, too. And Alyson Stanfield has written about it on her Art Biz Blog several times...
The Art-Tistics author discusses the need to have consistent pricing everywhere - every gallery that sells your work, regardless of region, and even your own studio.
"But artists must be consistent in their pricing and accept the fact that if they are going to work with an art gallery or art dealer or both, then they can’t have them competing with each other and also with the artist, because a good art dealer’s job is to protect both the artist and the collector."
I know for some artists, a 50% commission (which is standard) seems really steep. But the gallery (if it's a good gallery, doing its job) will earn that amount. They will learn all they can about your work and your process and share that information with their customers. They will promote your work in the press. They will contact collectors who have purchased your work in the past. They are salespeople. They want to sell your work as much as you do, and they'll work hard to make sure that happens.
And if you don't believe in galleries and you have the energy and enthusiasm and skills to market and sell your own work, then that's great. If that's the case, the author states, "... you control prices and can do whatever you want, and hopefully won’t be having art 'sales' where you’ll be 'discounting' the work that you sold to collectors a week earlier for a specific price, to a much lower price."
So if your work is in several galleries and you sell work from your studio, please be consistent with your pricing!
Thanks for this post. As I am building a body of work to eventually sell, I find this information very helpful.
This info is very true.
Consistent pricing is so important. I am just now coming around (in the last year or two) to really be firm on this. I think the pitfall is the fact that because we factor in galleries' commissions, many of us feel somehow "overpriced" when dealing with someone directly. And many buyers do indeed often skip the gallery in hopes of "catching a break". But we really do a great disservice to the galleries by not being consistent. We can't have it both ways and also be fair.
Thanks for the food for thought. I’ve had difficulties pricing my work (I’m only selling on etsy right now) and I think I may have to revisit what I am selling the pieces for. It seems to be a constant struggle for me since I am still emerging and I’m selling but not as much as I would like. Of course all of these articles make me reconsider the sale I’m having right now as well. Any which way I’m defiantly going to be consistent once I do expand into galleries etc. So thank you! I’m going to keep all of this in mind in the upcoming year. -Elisa
Great thoughts, Deanna. "Just say no" to underselling galleries, or to pricing below your established sales, ever.
I'm in negotiations with a second gallery interested in representing me. (I have a "primary gallery" I've worked with for some years.
In their consignment agreement there is a stipulation that work be priced consistently with this gallery and any other where the work is shown. So even from the "other side"--the perspective of the gallery, the issue of consistent pricing is important.
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