Art Pricing Tips

"Village People," detail, by Elliot Appel (elliotpaints.com). Acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 20″. Copyright © Elliot Appel. Used with permission of the artist.

There is no need to struggle when setting prices for your art. You can easily avoid the pain and frustration by using methods that are based on business ethics, accounting methods and experience. The following tips will help you develop a reliable and secure system for a long time to come.

This article includes excerpts from “Rules For Pricing Art” that appears here.

Research the art market.

Increase your knowledge by visiting galleries, art fairs, auction houses and art websites. Do a comparative study between your work and others in the same style, media, subject matter, complexity and detail, technical ability, professional experience, education and talent. Ask for the advice of respected dealers, collectors, consultants, fellow artists and agents. On an ongoing basis, collect résumés, brochures and price lists of art at all levels to keep as future reference as your career grows.

Keep detailed records of your costs.

Maintain records of the time you spend creating your artwork and working on business-related activities. Keep a record of your fixed and variable expenses such as rent, utilities, legal and accounting fees, material costs, framing, printing, photographer’s fees, travel and transportation, website maintenance, postage and shipping, etc. Divide this total number by the number of works you make in a year. That will give you the average cost for each work.

Price your art with consistency.

The method that makes the most sense to prospective buyers and is used by most dealers is to price your art according to size. Obtain your square inch price by multiplying length times width and dividing your selling price by the total number of square inches. For example, a 12″ x 16″ painting that you sell for $400 will cost $2.08 per square inch. Subsequently, your 24” x 36″ painting will be $2.08 x 864 square inches = $1,797. Round up the price to $1,800.

Keep in mind prices vary according to medium. Drawings on paper by the same artist will be priced at a lower number per square inch than paintings on canvas.

Increase the value of your art.

Continuously strengthen your credentials. Awards from prestigious organizations, publicity in art magazines, one-person shows and getting your art into important collections all increase the value of your art. These accomplishments will build your confidence muscles, sales skills and will provide justification of your price increases to current and potential buyers as well as galleries.

Build a recognizable art style and reputation.

Strive to produce a cohesive signature style and become known for it by the general public as well as by your peers. Build a reputation and sales by exhibiting where most people will respond favorably to your art. Develop your niche market. Promote your art to international audiences via social media, alternative spaces, online galleries and arts organizations.

Don’t sell your art at discount prices.

Avoid the reputation of offering “bargain” and “discount” prices in your studio while your exhibition and gallery prices are publicly listed at full cost. Word travels fast. Your reputation will suffer and you will not only risk losing the gallery for doing this, you will also lose the respect of your buyers.

Keep your prices consistent.

Whether your art customers are in New York, Chicago or London, they should pay the same price for the same work of art. The retail price should be consistent whether you sell it direct locally or in a gallery across the country or world.

Don’t price your art emotionally.

If you are attached to a piece and don’t want to sell it yet, remove it from the market rather than fixing an unreasonably high price on it. You can also mark it “sold” or “in the artist’s private collection.” Then, when the value of your artwork increases, you can reintroduce it to potential buyers at the price you want.


Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their highest potential through personalized consultations, coaching, articles and free email newsletter on Renee-Phillips.com. She is founder of Manhattan Arts International, where she features articles about art and artists and runs a curated Featured Artists Program to reward artistic excellence.