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WHY ART SELLS AT THE PRICES THEY DO!

Fri Aug 19, 2016, 5:37 PM
Seeing as lately there have been quite a few people confused on why some art sells for considered "high prices", designs especially, let me try my best to explain why it does and give a bit of insight to the people who dont understand as to why things do sell for what they do.

Artists are Underpricing Themselves

For a very long time, society has conditioned us to believe that everything has to be dirt cheap, art is also included as being perceived as a cheap product and that artists should be treated as cheap commodities. It is a sad reality that many artists have to face when they want to make a career out of their profession, but that doesnt mean we should accept this conditioning, if an artist wishes to price their work high, then they should have every right to. Not only does it take decades for an artist to hone their skills, it takes days, months or even years to finish one piece of work depending on the artistic profession, an artist should be able to get their money's worth for the work that they do. This goes for any kind of work too, whether it is a beautifully rendered piece of work, or even a designed character, all of it should be worth the work put into them, so if an artist prices something high, then remember that they have put a lot of effort and time into their piece, please respect that!

Supply & Demand  

Alot of the time when an artist becomes famous and gains a very large following, their worth and art value goes up. This can be applied to a lot of situations, for example, A piece from van gogh ranging in the millions, a brand of clothing gaining popularity for their work, or more locally, grems gaining a very high demand because of popularity, giving it the price that it has today. In order to meet the demand and popularity quota, prices need to be raised in order for the artist to successfully live off their work without being burnt out and taken advantage of by their customers. Through out time, the more popular something becomes, the higher the demand it has, and the higher the demand, the higher the price. This is how anything works, ranging from art to businesses today. Both physical and digital, all of it exists because of demand.

This is a Luxury!!!

This one is slightly irrelevant, but people become extremely entitled to something that does not belong to them, treating it as if they CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT THIS DESIGN. We need to keep in mind that people buy these designs and pieces of work as a luxury to simply make them feel good, just like how buying designer pants are a luxury, or buying digital items in a videogame are a luxury. Depending on the demand, luxuries are bought for very high prices all the time, this counts for both physical and digital too, just because it's not in your hands, does not mean that it has zero worth, it depends on the context of the situation. 

luxuries are also not mandatory in your life, you do not need it, and if other people want to buy these things to make them happy, then let them buy it! If you do not want to buy it because of the price, then peacefully move on and let people have fun and let the artist live off of what they love. 


Im hoping that my summarized journal helps people who do not understand why things are priced the way they are, I realize that there are alot of people who are ignorant to the pricing of art, and that isnt a bad thing aslong as you are open to learning why and want do your best to understand and accept the concept. Its okay if you do not understand something, just ask politely and people will explain politely! 

if anyone has anything to add on to this, feel free to leave a comment below so people can read.







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:iconasukki-chan:
Asukki-chan Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2016   General Artist
You have no idea how much this speaks to me. We all try our best to hustle, to get our work out there. However, particularly around here, it seems charging work at $1 is perfectly acceptable while going by "industry-fare rates" is considered "too high" or a "ripoff." Nevermind that if you start interacting with other pros, you'll learn that those "pricey pieces" aren't as pricey as you'd think.

Thank you so much for laying out some tough but genuine truths.
Reply
:icontrickythesylveon:
TrickyTheSylveon Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Wow, very informative.
Reply
:iconvergera:
Vergera Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016
Thank you for writing this, when i saw the prices of commisions i was always surprised by the height of them. You've made me realise that making art takes way more than it seems sometimes and that the prices aren't too high, but more often too low. So again, thank you for reminding me of that!
Reply
:iconessencia-de-ambar:
Essencia-de-Ambar Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
Very informative. Love how you compare to other kinds of commercial things the art itself. I vow to you. People should read this more often so they don't complain they want specific commissions for 10 or 20 points without the knowledge that artists should be paid first by the hours spent on every drawing and its quality
Reply
:iconraccoonxwolf:
raccoonxwolf Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
my friend got offered a green long and blue long wrist for a masterpiece but she declined. probably a troll.
Reply
:iconcometstruck:
Cometstruck Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Very nice journal!  ^^
Reply
:iconiluvwinxandrandycunn:
IluvWinxandRandyCunn Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
*Preaches*

tbh the only reason one of my comms is like $40.00 is because that one can take me about a max of 5 tries and 3 hours,,, that and the largest of that variety was like 9 inches.

they're not my first commissions, but they're my first real commissions and I'm honestly wondering if they're overpriced, even after a week.
Reply
:iconthepoeticpaladin:
ThePoeticPaladin Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2016  Professional Artist
From looking at the examples you've posted, I'd say trust your gut. If no one's clamoring to pay your prices and your gut says they're too high... Your gut is probably telling you the truth.
Reply
:iconfantelle:
Fantelle Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2016  Student Digital Artist
p r e a c h
Reply
:iconhau:
hau Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
*ovation*
Reply
:iconrexsadio:
RexSadio Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm currently taking my first commisions! I don't want my first commisions to be "overpriced" because this is my first time, and I don't really know what to expect from people's reactions on the pieces that I'll be doing for them. It's a bit painful in the heart considering that the work that I do costs more than the current price I'm taking, but I hope I get recognized so I can climb my self out there! If you guys want to help me do my first commissions, just go ahead and visit my deviant page, there will be a commission picture there.
Reply
:iconizagar:
Izagar Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Your prices are good there. Mine are anywhere between $5 USD to $55 and that's underselling myself right now.
Reply
:iconrexsadio:
RexSadio Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm thinking of reducing my full art from $50 to $40-45 for a couple comissions just so I could get a taste of what it's like to work on full art for somebody lol! You can tell how bad I really wanna try 😂
Reply
:iconizagar:
Izagar Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
You can if you want, but don't be fooled by people who won't pay for 20 points a commission (which is like .16 cents or something).
Reply
:iconlaurajessamine:
laurajessamine Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
yeah, blame society. ignore the fact that people are buying paintings of rocks for millions of dollars. 
Reply
:iconserenityroseart:
SerenityRoseArt Featured By Owner Edited Aug 21, 2016  Professional General Artist
Thank you for this. A lot of people just don't understand the time and effort it can take to create something. 
Reply
:iconrythurmorn:
Rythurmorn Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hnnn I like this journal a lot. It's very well worded and consise, and explains things in a polite and positive manner. I am sure this will be helpful to many!
I'm actually gonna share it I think, or at least pocket it in my faves and share it with anyone I run into that don't seem to understand how pricing works the way it does.
Thank you for this little gem~
Reply
:iconsuejin:
SueJin Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a much-needed journal for those who buy art to see ^^ I totally agree with you, and it's simply angering at times when people say art is overpriced, because personally, I know it takes hours to finish a piece ^^ It's also, of course, the artist's decision whether or not their art is pricey or not.

Thank you so much for this journal ^^
Reply
:icontalikira:
talikira Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
A very good journal!!

One quote I remember from one of my art professors when confronted about art being an "easy" job, he said,
"Hand them a blank piece of paper and say, 'make a living.'"

There's something magical about making something from nothing. :')
Reply
:iconserenityroseart:
SerenityRoseArt Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional General Artist
I like that! I'm making a compilation of quotes that I like. Mind if I include that one?
Reply
:icontalikira:
talikira Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Go right ahead! I'm sure it's not quite the exact words but it was from Ken Dewar if you want to include a name. :}
Reply
:iconserenityroseart:
SerenityRoseArt Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2016  Professional General Artist
Thanks! And yes I'd like to include the name. Thank you for that. ^_^ 
Reply
:iconrossomimi:
rossomimi Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
This is so true! Thank you for pointing this out
Reply
:iconj3fk4:
j3fk4 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 20, 2016
While I do agree that you, as an artist, are entitled to price your art any amount you want, I don't agree that you are entitled to be paid a hefty amount of money for the thing you are passionate about. If you are passionate about one thing, either you are  paid big or not -heck-, either you are paid or not, shouldn't change your passion for that thing.
If the fact that you are not entitled to be paid big for your passion angers/irritates/frustrates you, then may be it is not your passion or you are just confused.
When you are aiming to get paid big, you are not passionate about it anymore. Your passion has become...err......business? You might want to find some high paying works, instead of doing some "passion work".
Reply
:iconanjona:
Anjona Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
So if you, say, are passionate about engineering or IT means that you... shouldn't take money for the work you do? Also you can work as an artist with zero passion, just skills (though that rarely happens, but it's possible). I think that the author doesn't complain about not being paid for their passion, but not being paid for the effects of their work, the goods they produce.

Also, if you work in other job, that takes time and energy you could spend on perfecting your drawing craft. You probably won't develop as fast or as far as if you were drawing, not to mention you won't be doing something you love as often as you'd like to.

What I take from your comment is 'If you love your job you should probably quit', because making art IS a job, and not an easy one. And a job should be paid for, frankly. And by 'paid for' I mean enough to put a meal on your table, or more if you're really good at it.

I'm not saying that artists don't burn out, I'm sure it happens, often even. Some of them decide to switch jobs, some decide to do occasional commissions on the side of other work et cetera, and these choices are theirs to make.

Some people do what they love for a living, some don't have this luck. But that doesn't mean that the work of those who do is worth less.
Reply
:iconcyniikal:
Cyniikal Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2016
Bless this comment. 
Reply
:iconanjona:
Anjona Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hug 
Reply
:iconj3fk4:
j3fk4 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 22, 2016
You miss my point.
I have never said :"If you are passionate about A, you should not take money for A".

You are passionate about engineering or IT and you want to charge big money for it? Go for it. It's up to you.
You are passionate about engineering or IT and you will not charge any money for it? Go for it. It's up to you.
You are passionate about engineering or IT and you are entitled to hefty sum of money because of your passion? That's when it gets wrong.

If you are passionate about art, you should aim being good (and the best of the best) at art; not being good at making hefty sum of money. It's two different stories. You may ASK for that big money, but that big money is not ENTITLED to you just because you are passionate about something.

If the amount of money you are entitled to affects your passion for something, then may be you are not that passionate about it....
Reply
:iconanjona:
Anjona Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh, I see. Though I'm not sure if I got your point now too. I don't exactly see the difference between 'charging big money' and 'being entitled to hefty sum'. If you charge an amount of money then you feel entitled to it, right? As in you'll preferably not work for less.

Well anyway, what I think is that we shouldn't let our passion destroy or starve us. I mean if I took commissions then of course I'd be less passionate about them than I'd be about personal projects (except when the client would commission something I enjoy too). Knowing that I'll have a payoff for putting my time and effort into something maybe not so exciting would definitely help. Being passionate about drawing doesn't equate being passionate about drawing anything. I guess making your passion your professional career can be tricky.

I think I can sort of see your point, even though I've never seen someone being demanding of money because of their passion specifically, so maybe that's why the concept is sort of abstract to me. :shrug:
Reply
:iconarenirart:
arenirart Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
>either you are  paid big or not -heck-, either you are paid or not, shouldn't change your passion for that thing. 
But don't tell it to the clients, please!
Reply
:iconbinkyt11:
Binkyt11 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! This is amazingly done! Although can I ask you something? Where do see it as crossing the line with fair pricing? Where an artist makes their art overpriced.
Reply
:iconnatapew:
natapew Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016   Digital Artist
Artists cant overprice.
Reply
:iconbinkyt11:
Binkyt11 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, it's hard to find artists who overprice. Since everybody is different, it's rare to find any, but it can be very much possible. For example, some commissioners who have little regard of how the work comes out. I've seen someone who had genuinely good art, but with comms. they don't really care because just they have some good looking art.
Reply
:iconnatapew:
natapew Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016   Digital Artist
but still, they can't overprice. yes, their work can be expensive, and might not be good, but if it's a valid price for them, people should respect it. art prices are overly underrated, and most people underprice themselves. but yeah, art can't be overpriced.
Reply
:iconkesterdraconis:
KesterDraconis Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016
Art can be over priced. This little journal talks about supply and demand, and as art being a luxury, and that hits the nail on the head.

Art can sometimes be a luxury, an unnecessary luxury, and when its too expensive for the artist to sell it to people who simply don't care for it at that price, then it is overpriced. This is the actual reason that "art is also included as being perceived as a cheap product", primarily because, at the end of the day, every buyer can walk away. Many will if the price isn't right, because by no means do they actually need what is being offered, at all. 

Fair pricing is when the artist can sell their art and make reasonable money while simultaneously satisfying the buyer. Its not "how many hours go into it" or "how much heart passion and giggles" go into it, or anything else, it is simply how much both parties in a deal can be satisfied.
Reply
:iconamourinette:
Amourinette Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional General Artist
So true that art prices are mostly  underrated, which makes most people think that art suppose to be cheap. It is such a sad thing. BUT, art CAN be overprice, depending on the product. However you want to call it of the style or theme, do you know there's a canvas painted with just blue, and a cross or square of red paint? Do you know there's a large photo of someone? And those pieces got sold from 5 MILLION dollars to 40 MILLION dollars? Which is... insane, I would say it. Thing is, some rich people buy art not because of the art itself but for infestations. 
Reply
:iconnatapew:
natapew Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016   Digital Artist
Yeah, i understand, but that wasn't really what i meant. i should've said it in a different way. of course, for a really simple drawing (or a really bad one), 100$+ is WAY too much.
But i'm talking about fairly good art. and THAT is underpriced (most of it anyway).
Reply
:iconamourinette:
Amourinette Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Professional General Artist
Ohh ok ahaha, I thought you were making a statement that art pretty much can't ever be overpriced lol. Yeah, I totally get you! 
Reply
:iconnatapew:
natapew Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016   Digital Artist
yeah, i should've said it in another way lol. but glad you agree !!
Reply
:iconjacarius:
JACARIUS Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016
Clear and concise- this helped me so much, thank you! You've put words to something I'd been confused about for a long time.
Reply
:icontipsycircus:
tipsycircus Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You explained the reason perfectly! I hope people who don't understand why artist's prices are high sees this. 
Reply
:iconhuchzermeierm:
huchzermeierm Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh, you're right! How foolish of me to think that someone selling a COPYRIGHTED CHARACTER FROM A SHOW AS A DOG for $100+ was ridiculous! I guess I should treat all STOLEN DESIGNS as highly valuable stuff that should go for $100+!
Reply
:iconanjona:
Anjona Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
That's... not really what this journal is about.
Reply
:icondrakynwyrm:
DrakynWyrm Featured By Owner Edited Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's different. The journal refers to original designs and artwork (you don't see Grems based off copyrighted characters, do you?).

I agree, though. Rip-offs of character designs should not be tolerated and should be treated as the theft it is, but honestly, it's worth paying hundreds for unique and creative designs. Especially when the supply and demand is so vigorous.
Reply
:iconmrgremble:
MrGremble Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016
pretty sure youre taking the wrong impression from this
this isnt meant to protect people who steal, its to simply explain hard work made by original artists and not from thieves
Reply
:iconprincess-coco-154:
Princess-CoCo-154 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very helpful indeed, especially the first point, I think we, artists, need to stop underpricing ourselves, and I'm mostly saying this little advice to myself :D
Reply
:iconjaegar19ultima:
Jaegar19Ultima Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2016
I agree, good art, and not just something you can whip up in 10 minutes takes time and that time comes with skill. It takes weeks for an animator to create a 4-10 minute movie having to draw and paint every frame.

An artist I occasionally commission has a backlog because she almost does art full time. For a single piece or two depending it can take her at least a week or a week and a half. If she's not backlogged it takes her normally four days for a mid level detailed work. Her art is reasonably priced between 20-60 bucks for a single character. The way I see it, if I am to get back to art and work my way up in skill I would charge around the same prices the artist I commission does. When people complain about the cost they don't always understand that no art worth it's price takes thirty minutes to an hour (no one's that good without doing it for years as a specific trade skill like the ten minute painters or characature artists in major cities do) We live in a day and age where prices are higher and costs of living need to be taken in effect.
Reply
:iconkesterdraconis:
KesterDraconis Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016
Cost of living is a thing, but you've also got to remember its different everywhere. 50$ in some places may last you less than a day in terms of bills, food, etc. 50$ in other places may last you a good week. It just depends on where you are. 
Reply
:iconjaegar19ultima:
Jaegar19Ultima Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016
Well yeah but i'm speaking on grounds that I (personally) already have a 40+ hour job I currently work at and I occasionally practice with my art. My tablets (I bought a 12x19 intuos 3 and recently a wacom 12wx Cintiq) with my money that I saved up or received from taxes. I understand that for people it's a different situation.
Reply
:iconkesterdraconis:
KesterDraconis Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016
Yeah, I think the biggest problem on Deviantart honestly, that causes so many people this frustration over art prices, is that there are so many artists and so few people on this site capable of...well...buying. I'm a chemical engineering student right now. Once I finish my degree and land a job, I'll be (hopefully lol, I think I'll make it!) making somewhere in the 35$ to 40$ and hour range. Then, I could easily go and purchase tons of all the art I want for my characters or creative ideas/thoughts, without so much as a second thought to a price of $40-$120. That would at worst be a good afternoons work for someone in that position, maybe less in some cases. 

Here is the thing though. I'm a chemical engineering STUDENT right now.  $75-$100 is a ton of money for me on a single art commission. Its not that the work doesn't potentially deserve that much, its that I simply can't pay it and won't, I mean, I ate a couple cheap egg rolls for dinner because its all I could afford even though I really wanted more.

So then, here is the question. How many $35-$40 an hour engineers do you think are on this site? Now how many broke artists, writers, students, immature kids, and others in financially incapable situations, are on this site?  That, I think, sums up the problem a lot of artists here have been having recently with their art and pricing. (and hence the journals like this that I see often). 
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