Marketing Your Art | Part One “…the price?”
November 2, 2018 / Mary Kee
Years ago you decided that art have a permanent place in your life and in your heart. After experimenting with a variety of medium and focused studies you’ve likely accumulated a group of paints that have the potential for a sale. You’re now ready to take the next step towards professional art marketing, but where and how do artists begin this course and which type of plan will work best for you?
- “Remember that the success of an accomplished artist can’t be measured solely in economic terms, but instead by the contribution and quality of a lasting, creative impression.”
Today, and for the first time in the art market, there are hundreds of opportunities to sell original paintings, photos and sculptures. New art websites springing up weekly have the potential to approach a national forum of online collectors or the occasional shopper.
Enter group Exhibitions and Calls for Artists
Possibly the easiest and least expensive option to test an art market is to participate in ‘Calls for Entry and Artists.’ It’s simple, art communities and galleries in your area offer year round open calls for works in both specific categories and general interests. There’s a small fee to cover insurance and a donation, so be prepared to pay for each entry and consider the juror selection process.
At no cost, Art Guide posts the largest online listing of Calls for Artists. These announcements offer hundreds of opportunities and can be organized by state, gallery or title simply by clicking the header down arrow. The posted art requests focus on intermediate and professional works for galleries, business organizations and permanent town displays. Updated hourly, Art Guide’s Call for Entry is a useful tool, be sure to browse through the titles in your area.
- “Art is not an investment. Art is something you buy because you are financially solvent enough to give yourself a pleasure of living with great works rather than having to just see them in museums. People who buy art at the bottom of the financial market as a future investment – miss the joy.” Arne Glimcher
Dollars to Brushstroke – a Pricing Formula
Possibly the first step, even before you decide to hunt for a sales venue, is to plan a pricing system that’s realistic and competitive to your location. A well-defined sales plan can lead to many future prospects and set you apart as an art authority in your community.
- “The wise artists should have money in their head, but not in their heart.”
Planning a value for your artwork is separate from the intuition used to create it; pricing is an analytical estimate. For a moment, math and numbers have to step onto the scene and steal the creative spot light. Using a strategic approach a seller who recognizes the value of your hard work can get it priced for a sale by you personally or a venue. Remember that forces within the art market are elastic and often influenced by stock market trends that dictate the public’s comfort in purchase of luxury items.
Actual pricing of your creative masterpiece, dollars to brush stroke can be tough, if not emotional. However, like any other commodity, art can be assessed according to specific guidelines. Agents, appraisers, dealers, auction houses and galleries use a system to create a value for art works based on public demand. You may have a personal bias, however a seller will likely set a different standard to attract new buyers and create an interest in your work. To complicate the method an artist will sometimes intentionally overprice art in an effort to impress viewers and as a hope to give their work value. This may work, but only with a naive buyer.
Eliminate the guess work in pricing your artwork:
- Creating a sell-able work can take days or even years of experience and learning. Decide on the approximate hours it took to create a specific piece, not the entire learning process.
- An analytical reference point to consider is the US Dept. of Labor hourly rate for “Fine Artist” wages of $25.67 per hour and multiply by the time you’ve invested.
- Add to that hourly rate the cost for materials and possibly even utilities used during the development. Pottery, metalwork and glasswork happen at a hefty production cost.
- Keep the price that you decide on the same in both studio and gallery; it adds a distinct professionalism to your method that buyers respect.
- Last, take emotion out of the equation and have the confidence to stand by your set price. If you don’t have conviction in your work and pricing method, buyers will quickly move on. I once watched a professional artist in LA drop the price of a painting by less than half the set amount to make a sale, it was dishonorable to his painting process.
Don’t miss next week’s blog, we take a look at specific locations for creating a public awareness and interest in your work or gallery event!
Contributing writer Helen Kachur.