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How Much is That Painting in the Window?

Pricing Your Art to Sell

Estimated Reading time: 2 minutes.

Artists often tell me that pricing their work is one of the hardest things to do. When I ask why, they offer reasons like these:

  • Because original art is not a commodity and there are no "rules."
  • Because they just started and they don’t think they have the right to ask for much.
  • Because they’ve been doing this for 30 years and they deserve to be paid for that experience.
  • Because the economy is bad and no one is spending. 
  • Because the economy is good and there’s a lot of competition.

I’m sure there are more answers that I haven’t listed. 

But having a complete list is not the point 

In fact, it’s beside the point.

The point is that you need a pricing system based on your choice of many factors. Michele Sirois-Silver discovered that her larger works were selling more slowly. Here’s how she handled that problem.

“A couple of years ago I asked a successful investment broker how he identified his target market and maintained his success. His response made me rethink my attitude about lower price works. There are many individuals who would like to become collectors, but the reality is they have a restricted budget to work with. Each collector has a starting point and over time, as their income increases, so does their buying power. 

"Around the same time I took two workshops with visual artist, Jason Pollen. Jason talked about approaching your work with intent, even if it’s only a workshop sample. This really resonated with me. Small works have become an integrated part of my art practice as the place where I experiment with materials and techniques, and try out designs and concepts. Each small work is created and completed with the same attention to detail that I give my larger works.”  

Don’t make the mistake of aligning your prices with the overall economy but instead focus on your personal economy, what you are willing to invest in your work and and the money your audience is willing to invest in your art.

“1. Maintain your prices--increasingly prove the investment value of your work and honor those customers who have invested in you in the past. 
2. Continue to make first-rate work. In recessions, the bottom end can fall out completely. If anything, aim to improve quality and try to produce more important and challenging work. There will always be collectors of quality work. 
3. If you can afford it, grab any opportunities to improve.”
Robert Genn

When you do the work to price your art and act with confidence, your prices WILL be received favorably. It’s not necessarily a simple task but if art is your career, then it’s definitely worth working at. Let me know if you could use a few pointers.


I understand the challenges of pricing your art– just one of many kinds that we face as artists and members of the human race. Let me know how I can help you get your art and life going in the direction you want to go at your pace. The first 15 minutes is on me. 

PS. If you mention this blog post, I’ll give you the preferred member price for my workbook “Pricing Your Art to Sell.” Just send me an e-mail to 

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Reader Comments (1)

Another great article. I am struggling with how to price my sculptures. On a whim a potential buyer asked me the price of one of my sculptures and I struggled for a clear answer.

June 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarryl Edward

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