If there is one question that artists ask me all the time, it’s “How much should I charge for my artwork?” In our seminars on Art Marketing, and from emails and phone calls from artists, I can hear the frustration in their voices. It’s as though just knowing the answer to that question will solve all their marketing problems. They are not alone. We have all done the mental art math at some point in our careers, especially at the beginning….someone comes up with some formula for setting a price, determining how long it takes, how many we can do in a day, multiplied by a week, a month….we should all be rich by now, right? But there is a problem with that formula because these artists are all focusing on the wrong thing.
Selling your art is NOT just about putting a price on your artwork. It’s about creating an entire package where you and your art, combined, are more than just a number! And your job is to make it a unique package.
You need to present the “whole package” to your client. A professional looking artist with a professional looking studio and with a professional attitude can command a far higher price from the get-go than artists simply intent on concentrating on the price of their artwork and who ignore everything else about their marketing package!
Let’s take it step by step.
1. Determine who is or will be buying your art.
What are you creating and who is buying it now? This group is your target market. This is the group to whom you will most focus on when presenting your art package.
Never sold anything? Not to worry. In your mind is some idea of who would buy your art so narrow it down. Would your market be children? Young families? 30-something executives? NASCAR fans? Dog owners? Concentrate on the people who are most likely to buy your art.
You are not your target market. Most people value what you do far more than you value what you do.
2. Focus on one art area initially.
There is no rule that says that if you start off selling your pottery that you cannot switch over to landscape painting. But you need to focus on one area initially. You cannot be everything to everybody. Many artists have “bread and butter” art products and expand into other areas as the time, money, desire or need arises. Concentrating in one area, initially, allows you to build your art marketing skills both with your art product and your customers.
3. Determine your Unique Selling Feature
If all things are perceived as equal, then price becomes the major factor. So you need to educate your prospects so they know what’s “unique” about you. What is special about you and your art? What makes your 11 x 14 oil landscape different from another artist’s 11 x 14 oil landscape? So having said that, we learned that you do not hand out “price sheets.” When a prospect compares your 11 x 14 art product to another artist’s 11 x 14 product through a price sheet alone, you do not have an opportunity to share what is special and unique about you and your art!
4. Work on your confidence
A huge part of what we do is to essentially give artists permission to sell their art! Most have been taught nothing about what is necessary to represent themselves and their art product. Feeling good about selling your art starts with the premise of “I’m good at what I do and the prices on my artwork reflect that.” The “Price/Value Relationship” in human psychology says that to most people, the more you charge, the better you are. But you have to believe it AND have the skills to share that positive attitude with your clients!
So, forget about formulas and special charts to price your artwork. Most of it is common sense. If people are buying everything you put out, you are not charging enough. If people have bought nothing from you, it may not be the pricing but how you are presenting it!
Remember, it’s not the price you charge that matters, it’s how you present the price, your package, that makes all the difference. So rather than keep your art prices really low and not be a good salesperson of your work, put your prices higher, and learn how to present them.
by M. Theresa Brown
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