I have been involved in putting together a wonderful art show called “Above and Beyond”. My first task after the jurors selected artwork was to put together a list of values for insurance purposes. As I looked over the wide range of what artists thought their entry was worth, I realized how tough it is for artists to figure out value.
Value can be assessed by sales.
Compare artwork in a similar style, size, media and quality selling in your area. If you are an artist that sells on a regular basis then your customers are helping you determine the correct value. Ask too much and your art sits in inventory. Ask too little and it fly’s off the shelf. Demand is the key factor, so you price accordingly.
Value can be assessed by a third party appraiser.
An appraisal determines the potential market value not what the work of art will sell for today. An appraiser is an expert in the field and they will charge a fee for their service. The appraised value does not take account any aesthetic considerations. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the image is or how well the composition works. I would use for this service is for insurance purposes. (Imagine my studio going up in flames)
My preferred method for pricing is a simple formula:
materials + labor=price.
*If I am selling at a gallery or had to pay for an entry fee, I add those costs into the sales price.
Don’t sweat figuring out the cost of materials.You are an artist, not a CPA. I use ball park figures compiled twice a year. Have a list of supplies on hand for art that will be sold and a few credit card receipts. Keep it simple.
Since I work with fabric, I use a ballpark estimate of the number of yards I will use for each art quilt. I add in the cost of a spool of thread (no I don’t use a whole spool for each art quilt, but I but at least one new color when I start a project! ). A single charge for brushes, paints and other mediums covers the expense of keeping those items on hand.
Example 1: I keep 5 packs of markers, 20 paint brushes, 2 sets of water colors and 12 bottles of paint which I will use up over a 2 year period. I will complete a project a month. Add the approximate cost of these supplies together and divide by 24.
Another method is look at what you spend on an average for supplies and how often. So if you are working on a major project once a month and adding to your supplies every 4 months; divide your average cost of supplies by 4.
(Good news: This will help keep you away from those impulse purchases!)
The price for materials remains constant for large work.
For smaller work I divide the cost by half or less.
Until I found a program called TOGGL keeping track on the time spent in my studio was a pain. Now it’s easy by TOGGL ‘s time tracking software. The program is free for single users. Learning how to use the program takes very little time. Before I start working on a new idea I create a project in toggle to log my time. At first I numbered my projects, but I found using a working title helps. I also use different color code to identify the type of project I am working on.
When I enter my studio I log into TOGGL, click on the project and start a task. I found it helpful to set up specific tasks related to my process. My first task is making small studies to develop an idea. (DESIGN) The second task is using computer software to create fabric. (IMAGE) When the fabric arrives I paint (PAINT) then I quilt. (QUILT) When I am done I finish the edges and mount the work to canvas with a hanging sleeve. (FINISH) The last step is to photograph.
When I am done with the project TOGGL provides me with documentation of all the hours spent on this project. I now have a system to price my artwork that fully explains to my buyer why I assigned this value. As I get more customers and I improve the quality of my work I can give myself a raise.
There have been some big “A Ha’s” when I started using this process.
- After I have developed an image to work with, I can make small versions quickly. This means I price them at a rate that will attract more buyers.
- Larger work takes more time in the design stage than I thought, but completion once the idea is fully formed is actually pretty quick. Working a series shortens the design time.
- I waste time when I my equipment and materials are not organized, clean, serviced and ready to go. Be fully prepared to work makes a big difference.
Try logging studio time and see if this helps you figure out a reasonable price for your art.
Until next time……….
ps. I used TOGGL to log the time it took me to write this post, do a little edit, find and upload images. 3 hours.