Laura Kesselring: Juried Show Venue
back to table of Contents

Subject: The Juried Show Venue:
Pricing Your Art For Sale
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 21:00:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Laura A. Kesselring" <paintgirl74@yahoo.com>

Part 7 in an approximately 12-Part Series

As you submit your work to be juried for an exhibition, you will usually be asked for a sales price up front with the rest of your information. This is not [theoretically] a factor in the jurying processÖthey just want a price for their records so that you can't inflate it later based on your acceptance or a buyer's interest in acquiring your work. Some shows will let you enter art that is NFS (not for sale), but not all - check the prospectus carefully. Deciding on a price is a complex process-there are many factors to consider as well as your personal attachments to your work.

There are various ways artists go about deciding how much their art is worth, such as: -figuring out an hourly wage for themselves multiplied by how long it took them to complete the work -compiling cost of materials plus a percentage (10%, 20%, 25%) for their profit -converting emotional attachment or lifestyle disruption to a dollar value

I personally decide on a price based on the last option. My art is very personal to me, so I attach a monetary value by thinking "What amount of money would it take for me to sell this piece and never see it again? This piece not only represents a certain time span of my life spent creating it, but also represents a part of me, something intangible inside me that I have materialized into a physical object-what is it worth to me to give that up?" This is again a very individual determination, much more so than figuring out a flat rate per hour or adding up all the receipts you spent on materials; the latter methods might work better for you. The main idea is not to undersell yourself - your work is very valuable, even if only *you* believe it sometimes. On the other hand, if you realistically want to sell your work, you won't be able to price it exorbitantly, especially as an emerging artist - potential buyers will feel insulted and you will never sell anything. The idea is to find a good middle ground. I tend to price my work a little high because my attitude is, if it doesn't sell, I haven't really lost out because I get my piece back, and I also retain the opportunity for further exposure by being able to enter it in future shows.

Other factors you should take into consideration include size and media. In the art market, works on paper (especially multiples, like prints and photographs) are usually lower-priced than more physically substantial works (like paintings on canvas/wood and sculpture). Also, smaller works are usually, but not necessarily, lower-priced than larger ones. Size and media come into play when you are submitting several pieces that are the same size and media - instead of deciding on an individual "emotional attachment" for each piece, it is easier for you (and for Joe Artbuyer to understand) if you price all of these pieces the same. In this case, you would decide your "I could live without it if someone gave me this much money" price for one (or for the whole set, if they are a series) and then apply it to each individual piece in the group.

Another important consideration is the commission taken by the gallery or venue sponsoring the exhibition. This commission is taken because the gallery/venue is providing opportunity and exposure for your piece--for it to be shown in the first place so that people will see it and possibly buy it. When the gallery/venue asks you for a price up front, that price (called the retail price) usually must *include* the commission--so that if you list $500 and the commission is 25%, then you will receive $375 if the piece sells and the gallery will keep the other $125 for the part they play in that acquisition. Make sure you work the commission into your price so that you are getting paid the amount you want after the commission is taken out.

Finally, remember to anticipate any framing or shipping costs, and include these in your retail price (I will go into this in more detail in upcoming columns). Your "profit" at selling your artwork will be zero or even negative if you don't think about shipping or framing ahead of time, and you'll end up spending it all on those expenses. If someone buys your beautifully framed art, they are also purchasing the frame (whether or not they like it or decide to replace it after the purchase), so definitely include this cost.

Here is a real-life example based on one of my pieces. -4" x 6" gouache on paper: I would like $300 profit after expenses (ideally) -framing costs about $125 (professional framing, mat,& mounting at FastFrame) -shipping costs about $25 (loosely based on 3-day delivery FedEx, cardboard box with bubble wrap) -commission taken by gallery is 20% -FINAL RETAIL PRICE: $550 -if I sold this piece at the above price, I would receive $440 after the commission is subtracted, and after subtracting framing and shipping ($150 combined), my profit would be $290. I would consider this an acceptable compromise between what I want to get paid and how the retail price will affect the artbuying decision of Joe Artbuyer (will he think it is too expensive, can he afford it, is it a realistic value based on my experience and the work's size and media?)

Up Next: "Waiting to Hear"
Coming Soon: "Shipping Your Masterpiece"


Juried Show Venue: Table of Contents
Become an artiwu columnist!

 
welcome | discussions | profiles | history | links | bookstore | contact | news | jobs

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License 1998-2002.
Connecting Illinois Wesleyan University art students and art alumni.

Any questions, comments, inquiries, corrections, and additional information can be sent to grand papa webmasta: artiwu@spudart.org