Marketing Artwork | Eliminate the Pricing Guess Work

January 29, 2020 / suspiro

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 does an artist begin marketing 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 possibly for the first time in the history of art marketing, there are hundreds of opportunities to sell original paintings, photographs and sculptural creations. New art websites springing up weekly can approach a national forum of online collectors and the occasional shopper.

Enter group Exhibitions and Calls for Artists

Possibly the easiest and least expensive opportunity to test the art  market in your area is to participate in ‘Calls for Entry /Artists.’ It’s simple, art communities and galleries offer year round open calls for works in both specific categories and general interests. There’s a small fee to cover insurance with a donation, so be prepared to pay for each submission 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 formula 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 brief moment, math and numbers have to step onto the scene and steal the creative spot light. However, with a proper strategy, approaching a seller who recognizes the value of your hard work can begin realistic gallery sales and encourage new collectors. It’s part of a journey that will bring valued original works of art to the public and professional venues.

Dollars to brushstrokes; the actual pricing of your creative masterpiece 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 that amount by the time you’ve invested.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.



Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! :)

Feb 16, 2020


I paint with a local artist community, they should all offer the occasional free exhibition, otherwise find a new group, there are many!

Jan 23, 2020


I've approached a few galleries, need to have a full collection in one series, yikes!

Jan 16, 2020

Leave a Comments