The Cost of Art

When artists venture in to the world of selling their artwork, the most challenging aspect of business is establishing price points. This is extremely difficult because, A) there is no standard and prices fluctuate depending on demand, experience and popularity; and B) there are many costs to making art that can be difficult to quantify.

When a potential client sees a price for a piece of art, one will make assumptions about the value. The art will be seen as affordable, expensive, or “worth it”. However, how is this value established? If the viewer is in a position to collect art and resonates with a particular piece, yet does not make a purchase, what prevents this transaction? Typically, it will come down to price.

In order to price my art, I consider the cost of the materials for that piece, but then I also must consider my time and my hourly wage. In addition to these factors, there are numerous costs that are not visible to the buyer and can be a burden to an artist when starting out. Examples of such costs include:

  • Website fees

  • PayPal fees

  • Bulk materials: painting surfaces, brushes, paints, solvents, mediums

  • Printer (s)

  • Print paper

  • Frames

  • Packing materials: boxes, bubble wrap, archival paper, plastic sheeting, cardboard layers

  • Easel and/or desk

  • Studio space

  • Marketing materials: business cards, thank-you cards, social media adverts

  • Photography: hiring a professional, or investing in the equipment to do so yourself

  • Application fees to art festivals and events

  • Booth setup: tent, walls for displaying art, table, signs, packaging

  • Time taken in sourcing materials and placing orders

  • Time taken in packaging art and travel to and from the post office for shipment

In my first year of painting full-time I had to spend a substantial amount in order to set up a studio and be prepared to ship my art within a week of a purchase. I sold some paintings in that year, but it was not until the following year that I finally broke even, barely making a profit.

Even though I have now sold 50+ paintings, I have little to show for it financially. This is a difficult position for a creative; when trying to create a viable business, but also in being valued for all the time and emotion that goes into each, individual work of art.

I am currently in my third year of painting full-time and I’m reevaluating my processes and prices. I have learned a lot from my previous years of making and selling, and from observing the experiences of successful artists.

Because of this, I will be making changes to increase the perceived value of my work.

  1. I will focus less on quantity, and focus more on quality and limited bodies of work.

  2. I will no longer offer discounts on future original art in order to be fair to all collectors and to preserve the integrity of my work.

  3. I will no longer be including shipping fees and will charge according to weight and location.

  4. I will focus on consistency in subject matter and style.

As always, thank you for joining me in this journey and for your support.

Building an Art Career

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember, but it's only in the past few years that I have made the effort to start selling my work. I hope to not only sell my art, but to one day make a living from selling art full-time. 

Up until 2015 I have been working in careers that always left me feeling like my life was on hold. I enjoyed teaching and helping young minds develop their creativity, however the energy required to teach and know the names of over 100 different pupils meant there was very little energy left for me.

Since leaving a full-time job I have been able to dedicate my time to painting, building a website, developing a social media presence, and finally, selling my art. it's not easy and it takes a lot of work. My audience is still small but growth is steady and I hope that with continued effort I will be able to find the right clientele for my work. 

With this blog I will share the things that I have learned and the steps that I am taking in order to make my dream come true. Hopefully I may provide information to one day help other artists in achieving their creative visions and in not succumbing to the "starving artist" trope.