The Business of Art, Part 2: “How Do I Price My Art?”
Welcome back to my Business of Art miniseries!
In this series, I answer some of your most pressing questions about starting an art business and making a living at what you love. I’m joined by my wife, Andrea, who is the business brain behind ColorByFeliks!
Creating simply for the joy of creating is the most important thing as an artist, and not everyone has to make a business out of their art.
That being said, if you feel called to earn a living doing what inspires you, then I’ve got you!
I’m going to spend this week’s blog answering your questions about pricing your original artwork, so let’s dive in!
“What kinds of things do you consider when pricing your art?”
Everyone prices their art differently, so there is no one right answer. I’ll just tell you how we do it, and you can adjust our formula to suit your own needs.
The most important thing when pricing your art is to not be arbitrary.
You want to create a system so that you have a reason and formula behind your prices and you aren’t just pulling them out of thin air.
Our system is to price my art based on two things: SIZE and EXPERIENCE. Size is an easy one.
Just pick a price per square inch of canvas, or if you’re in another medium like sculpting, just figure out a way to roughly measure the size of each work. Maybe you define an artwork as either small, medium, or large, and charge accordingly.
I measure experience by how many years I’d been painting at the time of each painting. Since I’m always creating (and you should be too if you’re serious about making this a career 😊), I’m always getting practice and improving my skills.
That means that each year, my paintings get a little better on the canvas, and my prices should reflect that.
Another thing to consider when pricing paintings for sale is effort. Some of your art will require much more time, detail, or creative energy to create.
For example, I’ve been painting landscapes for a long time, so they come relatively easily to me. They also come from a real-world reference, so they don’t require as much time or creative energy to paint.
When I’m working on my fine art pieces like my abstract series, however, I have to pull heavily from my imagination and my process is much more time-consuming.
Therefore, I charge a little more for those. I charge $2 more per square inch, but you can find a system that works for you when it comes to pricing for effort.
The last thing to consider when pricing your art for sale is demand. In my early days, I charged much less per square inch because I was less known and also didn’t have the skills I have now.
There is no way to measure the demand for your art until you start selling it. Even if the demand is low to start, don’t lose heart!
As your skills and your ability to market yourself increase, so too will the demand for your art, and then you can charge more!
“How do I gain confidence in my pricing?”
Even though I mentioned above how to create measurements for your pricing, it can still seem scary and confusing to pick an actual price when selling your art. I promise that the more time and practice you put into your art, the more confident you’ll become with your pricing.
Also, just putting your art out there for any price will give you an idea if people are willing to pay that price, and you can re-adjust.
If you’re not confident, start with very reasonable prices and you can always raise them later once you start selling more.
“I’d like to do commissions, but I’m scared that people won’t be willing to pay for my art. Advice?”
Unfortunately, everyone feels that fear. That’s also the fortunate part because you’re not alone! We’ve literally all had to make that leap from uncertainty to action, and the fastest (and only) path to your dreams, is through that fear!
So I strongly encourage you to just make the decision to open your doors for business. The worst that can happen is that you don’t make any sales at first. It’s not like you’ll be publicly ridiculed 😉!
Once you make the jump, the fear gets smaller every time. Life is short, and what if people absolutely love your work?
Literally, the only way to find out is to put it out there for sale or to open your door for commissions.
Remember why you’re doing art in the first place: it’s about the process, not the outcome!
An important note on selling art and commissions:
When I started out, I relied heavily on selling original work and commissions to make money. What I found as I went on, however, was that some of my commission customers were very picky.
I did not like being restricted by commissions into working in someone else’s creative box. I wanted more freedom than that.
It may be different for you, and there are plenty of amazing artists that work on commission.
I realized that I only wanted customers for my paintings who truly understood my creative vision and wanted to support it.
I didn’t want to just be chasing money and having to make creative compromises to feed myself off my art.
That kind of decision comes with a price, however. You may not sell as many paintings if you’re unwilling to creatively compromise, and you have to be prepared for that.
That is why it’s so important to not rely on painting sales and commissions for 100% of your income.
Up to this point in the series, I’ve focused on your questions about selling original works and commissions, because there were A LOT of those questions.
As I briefly mentioned in the last blog, however, there are actually lots of other ways to make a living with your art in 2021, thanks to social media!
If you’re making money in multiple ways, that gives you the freedom to make fewer compromises in your work.
You can feel the joy of making more art that inspires you and less art that’s just to make a quick buck.
I no longer do commissions and the prices on my originals are firm. I have the freedom to do that because I’m not relying on individual painting sales for my income.
You don’t need a following the size of mine to do this!
You can start right now building an art business model that will make it so you don’t have to rely on painting sales, and instead, the painting sales will just be the cherry on top 🍒, not something you depend on.
Andrea and I are going to show you guys exactly how you can create multiple streams of income as an artist online in our 📚upcoming art business course📚.
We’ll walk you through exactly how we did it and show you that it really is possible for anyone - no matter how many followers you have.
If you’re interested in signing up to be notified about our art business course, sign up for the waiting list here: https://learn.colorbyfeliks.com/pl/2147536588
Next week, Andrea and I will talk more about the nitty-gritty of actually starting to promote and run your online art business.
We want to give you tons of free advice, but if you’re ready to truly go deep and learn the step-by-step details of succeeding at art business in the social media age, our upcoming course is hands-down the best way to do that.
We’re sharing all our secrets for the first time ever. So click below to get on the waiting list; you won’t want to miss this!