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Author Topic: Pricing Your Paintings  (Read 4722 times)


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on: July 12, 2010, 07:30:11 AM
Part 1

There are two questions that I find very difficult to answer:
1. How long did it take you to paint this painting? and
2. How much must I ask for this painting of mine?

On the first question I find most people have not the faintest idea that to paint fast and accurately takes many years of practice. As I am a relatively fast painter I find it very embarrassing to answer such a question. The reason being the questioner most times thinks I am taking them for a ride. How can I charge R3000 for a painting that took me only 3 hours to paint? I normally answer: "3 hours and 57 years." You see, I started drawing in 1944 and painting during 1946! That is why I tell my students, "Go slow now, for speed later." We live in an "Instant Age" which, unfortunately, make people very impatient. What most forget is that they pay for experience, skilled knowledge, expensive equipment, etc., without which quality is unachievable. That is why specialists, etc., in whatever field they are in, charge a lot for their services. This brings me to the next question:

How much must I ask for this painting of mine?

This is a very personal question. It all boils down to supply and demand. The more you are in demand, the more you are entitled to charge for your work. If you are a beginner this question can be a headache for you. I suggest that you visit all the various exhibitions, galleries, etc., and compare your work to those similar to yours, especially those of new artists. Note the range of prices of pieces of similar size. After that check which works are of well-known artists and which works are of relatively unknown artists. You will find a great disparity. Why? Each person looks at a painting through different eyes, different needs, different wants.

Another point to remember is that different geological areas have different ideas of and on art. One area may be very wildlife conscious, another area may go mostly for ethnic paintings, another just abstract or semi-abstract. A point to remember is that the prices at galleries, etc., are not the prices the artist receives. The galleries add their profit margins and some can be as much as 50% or more. When you first start selling your work it is very difficult to fix a price. You have to do quite a bit of market research in order to come up with even a poor estimate of what your painting will be worth to others. Why do I say that? Because each person (buyer) has his/her own perception of what a painting is worth to THEM, not what it is worth to YOU. It is very important to remember this.

In South Africa the advice from experienced artist to beginners is this: Take the price of the frame and double the amount, eg., if the frame cost you R200 then you will put a price of R400 to your painting. This is a good start. Until you start selling you will never know what the public are prepared to pay for your works.
You are what you THINK about - Napoleon Hill


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Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 07:30:46 AM
Part 2
Here are a few important criteria on pricing your work. They are by no means the least as each artist has differing circumstances and situations:

1. Material costs. While they may be very small compared to the actual price asked they nevertheless have to be taken into consideration. A 20" X 30" prepared hardboard is cheaper than a canvas board and very much cheaper than stretched canvas. One make of oil paints may be very much cheaper than another make. Artist's Quality paints are more expensive than student quality. I suggest that you NEVER use student quality paints in paintings for sale.

2. Marketing Costs. If you are staging an exhibition then most certainly there will be hall renting costs, printing of pamphlets, refreshments, etc. If you want to make profit from sales then these have to be taken into account.

3. Running Costs. If you are a professional painter, ie. earning your living from painting, then you have to take your time into consideration. Time = money!! You will most certainly will have consumed electricity and water, paid insurance on your equipment (if you take stock and work out replacement values to all your equipment, books, computer, etc., you will be surprised at just what your studio is worth!). Just work out what others you have. (Petrol? Car licence? ..........)

4. Your experience. If you are a long-time artist then you have, or should have, built up a certain reputation. The more well-known you are, the more you can, or may, charge for your work. You have only so many hours in the day to produce paintings. If you are in demand then you will have to up your prices (more on this later).

5. Technical Qualification(s) and Skills. For the discussion click on

6. Exhibiting. Where and how you exhibit will all affect you pricing. You may have beautiful paintings but if you do not present them properly and at the right place then you stand the chance of losing sales to another artist who has taken the trouble to make time and effort in promoting his works. The only quick advice I can give here is to study how successful artists exhibit their paintings and then try to emulate them.

If you price too cheaply the prospective buyer will think you have no confidence in yourself. He will never buy your work for investment value. On the other hand, if you overprice yourself, you run the risk of not selling at all! Only YOU can find the happy medium, and this comes from experience and studying the buying public. One man's meat is another man's poison.

If you are earning your living by painting then you have another way of pricing your paintings.

Let's assume you paint 5 days week and 1 day for purchasing stock, etc, that gives you 6 working days. In the 5 days you can only paint 4 paintings. That means in a 4 week month you have painted 16 paintings. If you are prepared to earn say R15 000 gross(including framing costs) per month then each painting should be sold at( R15 000 divided by 16) R937.50 each, assuming they are all the same size and subject.

This discussion on pricing is by no means all there is to know. If I have set you on the right road to pricing your works then I am more than happy.

P.S. Be sure your framing is of the highest quality, especially the joins and the corners. Protect the corners and be particularly careful during transportation as the frames are easily damaged, and are expensive to replace.
You are what you THINK about - Napoleon Hill


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Reply #2 on: March 02, 2015, 01:25:38 AM
This is ever so true
"Never stop Dreaming" 


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Reply #3 on: April 21, 2015, 06:28:45 PM
Thank you for the great info Dennis!!
"Art is the collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."   Andre Gide


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Reply #4 on: April 21, 2015, 06:58:01 PM
valuable info Dennis.   :thankyou:


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Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 02:15:36 PM
 :thankyou:  dennis for your time in giving this informtion O0


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