The #1 Way to Price Your Paintings

Do you feel too  embarrassed to talk about the price of your paintings with a client?

When someone is interested in one of your paintings and ask the price do you fumble with your words and end up saying… Oh, I don’t know, what about $300?  You know what happens next.

I bet this is when you think…” Perhaps I was charging too much”.

Actually, you were charging too little.  When your prices are too low people question its value.

With the quality of your work and its impeccable presentation the future collector expects more.

In coaching Artists, I find there are 5 common reasons why artists are afraid to discuss the price of their paintings.

  • Afraid to take the risk of being rejected
  • Think your prices may be too high
  • Question whether you are qualified to charge that much
  • If the future buyer questions your price you fear you won’t know how to answer.
  • Money makes you uncomfortable so you best price your work low so you won’t have to talk about money.

I grew up in the South and talking about money was taboo. It was as if it was a dirty little secret….and guess what…that made money emotionally dirty.

Pricing your work is an overwhelming rollercoaster for most artists.  Questions fill your mind…

  • Where do I begin?
  • Is my painting worth what I am asking?
  • Will people pay my price?
  • What if I never sell anything because of my price?
  • Should my prices be consistent?
  • Do I do it by the square inch, emotion or by size?

These are questions every artist asks.

So, what is the best way to price your paintings?

Here is what I do and I find it to be an easy way to keep everything simple.

I do it by size.  How do I determine what to charge by size?  I do the price by inch first….knowing that the smallest paintings will end up being way too inexpensive and the large paintings way too expensive.

I then take the average price and decide what to charge by size.  For example, my 12×12 paintings are $1200 in a gallery.  When a collector asks the price, I know because of the size. Simple.

Now comes the question…”But what if it is the absolute best painting I have ever done”…do I charge more?  The answer is NO!

If a 16 x 20 painting is priced different than another 16 x 20 it confuses the buyer and a confused buyer never buys!

How do you price your paintings…do you find it easy or hard?

Add your comment below.

What do you think? Comment below:

  • Mary Kinzelberg

    Thank you Gwen. As always you are the most intelligent artist and clearest. Much gratitude for your art, lessons, and I Loved the class I took with you in Palm Springs!!

    • gwen fox

      Mary….hurrah!… I always love hearing from you. I will be back in Palm Springs in February so I hope to see you then.

  • Elaine Hartman

    I’m fairly new to this, but I knew from the beginning that I had to have some sort of concrete structure so I could explain my pricing. I price by the linear inch. (L+W) x $ amount. This also makes it easy to increase my prices incrementally.

  • mia pratt

    Thank you Gwen, this is a very helpful article for pricing artwork. I use the same model, but with a slightly different method due to the varying levels of detail I use in my work. I take into consideration the level of detail and time it took to create the work, and then evaluate again by the square foot. From there, I make sure that a work of a given size, fits into a “sliding scale” – that is, a 36 x 48 has a price range for that size – less work is at the bottom of the price range, more work is at the top of that price range. Over the years I have arrived at the decision to never explain my pricing to a buyer – I don’t ask an accountant how he arrived at his price, or the plumber, or anyone else; I either pay their price, or go elsewhere. I feel we deserve the same respect. When one buyer kept pushing me hard, I explained that I take the years of study and practice that it took me to learn how to paint this kind of work, and divide it by the width of my imagination, then multiply it by the sum of originality in the piece, add in the cost of materials and labor…and that’s the price. That shut him up, with a smile, hahaha<:}

If you found this article helpful, we’d love you to share it!

Sign up for our newsletter
Share this with a friend