We have covered a lot of ground when it comes to marketing to galleries. We have also been talking about pricing issues. Today I want to wrap up pricing. But I will always return to pricing, because it is so important. If you have missed any of the previous Marketing Tips for Artists please catch up on them in the archives.
I just started visiting http://wetcanvas.com and I participate in their art business forum. Often the issue is pricing. Some artists price their originals based on the square inch. Others by the cost of materials and the time they spent creating the painting. Some artists take their local market and competition into consideration, and others base their pricing on the feedback that they get from prospective customers.
I don’t know of any creator of a product who is as focused on selling their one and only original as an artist. A writer thinks about how many books might sell, a musician dreams about how many records will be made and sold from the master recording. Most artists think in terms of selling their original painting, and then paint another one.
“People thought my work was too expensive” I have been hearing this a lot lately, usually related to the pricing of original work. I cringe because I once had a boss who based important policy decisions based on what the last person said to him.
I hope you are not making pricing policy decisions based on what the last person said about your art or on what people in general think. Let me remind you that less than 5 % of the total American population has the discretionary income to purchase fine art originals. Less than 20% of the population has the discretionary income to purchase quality prints.
You would expect 95% of Americans to find your original work too expensive. No big surprise here. If you are selling prints, you should expect 80% of people who pass by to find your work out of their price range. Expect it!
One artist admitted that she has a tendency to price things too low because she, herself would not pay that much for a painting. She has something in common with the 95% of the population that wouldn’t pay much for a fine original piece of art.
So what do we do? Some try to price original work so more people can afford it. I call this the EBay approach. You tell me what you can afford and I will sell it to you. The only problem is that you lose the top 5% who might otherwise consider you a serious artist.
The pressures forcing your prices downward are very strong. Don’t succumb to those pressures. There are thousands of artists who are painting for minimum wage – don’t be one of them.
Position yourself and your art for that 5% / 20% who can comfortably buy fine art or fine art prints. Offer only your best, priced accordingly. Concentrate on people who can afford to buy it. It’s a lot easier than making your art and prices fit people who either don’t have the desire to own fine art or the ability to pay for it.