Setting Prices for Your Artwork
|8 min read
Recommended Journals
Introduction to setting up your store
Shameless plug: Use this referral link when opening up your Etsy store and get 40 free listings (and you'll get me 40 free listings too! Thanks!). Introduction to setting up your store I have been there, deciding to sell your work is a scary decision. What do I do? How do I sell? How do I accept money? What do I do so that I don't lose money? What if no one buys my work? I went through every emotion and scary thought before I began. Three years after I opened my store I finally feel comfortable giving advice about it. This is a huge topic and I could write tons of info about it, so I'll begin with this introduction and build up on future ar
PE: Tips for Blending with Markers
Artists Toolbox Introduction This article is to give some handy tips and tricks for blending with alcohol based markers (Copic, Pantone, Tria, etc). The majority of the article is demonstrated using Copic markers, but the techniques used can be applied to the different marker types. Papers Marker papers come in many shapes and sizes. The common ones are: Bleedproof / Bleedfree Marker Paper - 70 gsm paper which is thin and has a right side and a 'wrong' side, often comes in pads of 50 sheets and is quite cheap. Manga Drawing Pad - 250gsm paper which is thick and textured, often comes in pads of 10-20 or as single sheets, can be expensive. Jap
Personal Projects and Small Collaboration Ideas
Community Week Introduction Art block and the lack ideas is a very common thing for an artist, there are many ideas and ways to help over come art block such as this fantastic article PE: Your Worst Enemy. This article will be listing some ideas to start your own personal project and ideas for small collaborations. Personal Projects What is a Personal Project? A personal project is something undertaken by an individual to achieve a goal. A series of art pieces (visual or written) that are part of a theme or goal can tell a story. (Example: PE: Telling Stories with your Art). Equally a series of artworks or a theme can do the same. Some comm
Xadrea's avatar
By Xadrea   |   Watch
179 43 53K (3 Today)
Published: January 19, 2015

There are few hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing artwork to sell. Why you ask? Well for one there are many variables that go into determining the cost of the artwork. It’s for that very reason that many artists (including myself in the past) sell themselves tremendously short. Another reason we as artists feel our palms getting sweaty when someone asks for a price to an artwork is because we feel as though we’re not being true artists if we accept money for our work. No, no no. Listen, I can tell you from experience that the “starving artist” lifestyle is waaaay less glamorous than it sounds when your pantry is bare for reals. There is absolutely nothing shameful about getting paid for honest work, so don’t try to make yourself feel guilty or ashamed of turning a profit. On the other hand, artists fall into the mire of not even knowing how to price individual artworks. This confusion only gets worse when you look at the price tags in galleries or check out Sotheby’s.

Today I’m going to give you a few tools to get started! 

What’s your time worth?

You know that saying, “if you don’t value your time no one else will?” It will serve you well when it comes to pricing your artwork, especially if you are a craftsperson, or if you are making non-tangible things (digital artwork, design work, or writing) to start off with an hourly wage for yourself. Be reasonable, and by reasonable I don’t mean starting at whatever your state’s minimum wage is. For example, let’s say you set your hourly rate at $15 and create an artwork that you spent 20 hours on how much do you charge? I know, I know I can hear you all now, “ damnit, Xadrea! You know artists are bad at math!!” Just pull out the calculator and get on with it. Your earnings with those hypothetical numbers would be $300 (wage x time = cost).

Regardless of what anyone tells you what we as artists do does in fact matter. We are legit, we are professionals, we are important, and we deserve to be paid.

What’s your stuff worth?

For those of us making tangible artwork, it’s incredibly important that we know what our materials cost. Now, in no way am I discounting the fact that you must spend money in order to make it. The fact of the matter is if you’re spending more than you’re making, you’ve got a problem. This is one of the ways it’s so easy for artists to sell themselves short. Let’s say you make a painting and your materials cost you $30. Modify upon the previous equation to this: wage x time + materials = cost. Your earnings would then be $330.

If your work is 2D (paintings, drawings, and the like) you may want to base your charges on the scale of the artwork. You can do this by charging by square inch (height x width) or by linear inch (height + width). With both you would need a multiplier, essentially what you want to charge per square or linear inch. Let’s say you choose a multiplier of $1 per square inch. The equation you would use for an 11x14 painting charging by the square inch would be the following:  height x width x 1 = cost ($154). If you used the same scaled painting to charge by the linear inch with a multiplier of $10 your equation would be the following:  height + width x 10 = cost ($151).  This method of charging will help you establish consistent prices for similarly sized artworks. Whether you decide to charge for labor is entirely up to you.

Selling on dA for points

Many of you folks sell your artwork on dA which is great! There are plenty of opportunities to sell through the prints shop or to sell content. I realize that many of you accept points as payment, and there are some things you should know about going that avenue. The first thing you should have a complete understanding of if you accept points as payment is their monetary value. 100 points sounds like a lot doesn’t it? 100 points is equal to $1.25. Know your conversions to $ when you set points prices. Also, be smart about what you decide to sell. Remember, if you choose to sell Premium Content through dA (as opposed to charging points yourself) you will be subject to a 20% tax (so you keep 80% of your earnings). Stop wrinkling your nose, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere else online or in real life for that matter. I’ve shown at galleries that require up to 60% of whatever the artist sells in artwork. Refer to this handy journal ayame-kenoshi.deviantart.com/j… to learn more about selling premium content. Refer to this handy points calculator by charfade to get quick and accurate conversions of points to $USD.

DeviantArt Point Calculator by charfade

You set the prices, so don’t sell yourself short

This last point goes back the first point: value your time. Often times we as artists feel uncomfortable putting a price tag on what we make because we somehow feel unworthy to do so. What ultimately happens at that point is some serious undercharging. Stand firm on whatever prices you choose to sell your work, and market yourself accordingly. If you charge too low you’re not only losing sales, you’re cheapening your artwork and losing potential collectors and clients as well as other artists. Do not do it.

For more handy ideas on how to start selling your artwork check out these articles!

F-ING BEE. HOW TO BE A FREELANCE ILLUSTRATOR by alexiuss Venues, Exposure, How to Sell Your Art - Part 1I've got mixed feelings about "exposure." By exposure, I mean how you, fellow artists, get your work out into the world so people can enjoy it and possibly even remunerate you for it.
Ways and means are:
1. Art Galleries
2. Public Venues
3. Charity Auctions
4. Festivals and Events
5. Online Websites and Communities
I'm going to talk about the first three here and what has or hasn't worked for me.
1. Art Galleries
This is the big one. Everyone wants to have *Gallery Representation* < /Awed Voice > because isn't that how art is sold? Traditionally, yes; the channel, for centuries, has been artists-->galleries-->collectors.
So how do you get a gallery to represent you? New artists often face the same paradox as new graduates do when trying to get a job where no one will hire you if you don't have experience but you can't get experience unless you have a job. So galleries won't pay attention to you unless you've already been represented by galleries.
We all start somewhere. I stand
Venues, Exposure, How to Sell Your Art - Part 2In a previous entry, I discussed galleries, public venues, and charity auctions as potential sales channels for art. Now I'll share my experiences with festivals and online websites.
4. Festivals and Events
By "festivals", I mean art-themed events like art walks and organized open studio tours. These are, by far, the best opportunity for sales.  Here is a comparison of my best and worst experiences.
My least successful event was a one night mega-gala featuring visual art, body painting, and a popular local entertainer at a large venue. Artists were juried by the promoter and then charged a $200 nonrefundable entry fee. Tickets to the event were $60. The artists were asked to sell tickets to their friends and customer base for a commission. The event was positioned as a fundraiser for an arts foundation that I didn't recognize, but a brief internet search revealed that this foundation was run by the promoter.  
No one
Making Money From Your Art by Eman333

 

:heart:Xadrea

Recommended Journals
Introduction to setting up your store
Shameless plug: Use this referral link when opening up your Etsy store and get 40 free listings (and you'll get me 40 free listings too! Thanks!). Introduction to setting up your store I have been there, deciding to sell your work is a scary decision. What do I do? How do I sell? How do I accept money? What do I do so that I don't lose money? What if no one buys my work? I went through every emotion and scary thought before I began. Three years after I opened my store I finally feel comfortable giving advice about it. This is a huge topic and I could write tons of info about it, so I'll begin with this introduction and build up on future ar
PE: Tips for Blending with Markers
Artists Toolbox Introduction This article is to give some handy tips and tricks for blending with alcohol based markers (Copic, Pantone, Tria, etc). The majority of the article is demonstrated using Copic markers, but the techniques used can be applied to the different marker types. Papers Marker papers come in many shapes and sizes. The common ones are: Bleedproof / Bleedfree Marker Paper - 70 gsm paper which is thin and has a right side and a 'wrong' side, often comes in pads of 50 sheets and is quite cheap. Manga Drawing Pad - 250gsm paper which is thick and textured, often comes in pads of 10-20 or as single sheets, can be expensive. Jap
Personal Projects and Small Collaboration Ideas
Community Week Introduction Art block and the lack ideas is a very common thing for an artist, there are many ideas and ways to help over come art block such as this fantastic article PE: Your Worst Enemy. This article will be listing some ideas to start your own personal project and ideas for small collaborations. Personal Projects What is a Personal Project? A personal project is something undertaken by an individual to achieve a goal. A series of art pieces (visual or written) that are part of a theme or goal can tell a story. (Example: PE: Telling Stories with your Art). Equally a series of artworks or a theme can do the same. Some comm
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
Comments (40)
LianSalistli's avatar
LianSalistli| General Artist
Thank you for your guide! Any advive or link about how to write an invoice or contract? like a pdf for showing your clients... Thank you!
Reply  ·  
Aerite's avatar
Aerite|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for this guide! Even though I'm not doing commissions, I think this will be handy for the future. :D
Reply  ·  
GumboAssassin's avatar
GumboAssassin|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Big time read for me....I usually would price to low since I'm not an elite artist, or I would draw stuff as a favor.  Those have been two of three issues for me.  The other would be not having fanancial knowledge of the trade.  Thankfully I've been charging around the recomendations these past few months.  ( 3 peices..... what ever. lol ).   Def. trying to make a living off my trade...This helps.
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
Glad to help! Remember: this is just a guideline to help you out, you set your final prices (and remember to stick to them!)
Reply  ·  
Jack-Hoo's avatar
Jack-Hoo|Student General Artist
thanks :)
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
you're welcome!
Reply  ·  
delaronde's avatar
delaronde|Professional Filmographer
awesome! Thanks for writing this :D
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
you're welcome!
Reply  ·  
Lokiev's avatar
Lokiev|Professional Interface Designer
My friend advised me that your freelancing prices should be 3 times what you're paid on your usual day to day designing job per hour.

Let's say I'm paid $10/hour. My freelancing prices would be $30/hour.

What do you guys think? Would this be a reasonable way to set prices?
Reply  ·  
Huckleseed's avatar
Huckleseed|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your friend is definitely giving some good advice. I'll use the U.S. as an example, but the key reason for doing this is to cover the taxes and costs that you are legally responsible for and to account for the benefits that are typically subsidized by an employer. So you need to charge based off of being self-employed, not what you would get paid by an employer.
So if you get paid $10 an hour by an employer, they have to pay a portion of the social security and medicare taxes attributed to your tax account. Let's take a look at a hypothetical sale. We will call it a 5 hour project @ $10 per hour for a sale of $50.

Okay, so we start with $50 in your pocket. Out of the $50 comes the following:

$10.20 for federal income tax
$5.00 for state income (some are more, some are less or zero, but for this exercise)
$6.20 for Social Security (w/ self employment)
$1.45 for Medicare (w/ self employment)

That leaves you with $27.15 after taxes, medicare, and social security. But we are not done yet. We have not yet added in the cost for an individual to pay for their own Medical, Dental, Vision, Life insurance, and Retirement account. We also have not calculated business insurance in case you get sued for some business related reason. (Didn't notice that you used toxic lead paint? To the courthouse!)
Also, because you calculated this based upon an hourly labor wage, the expenses are not yet taken out as well. 

I am going to put the non-expense related costs of benefits and insurance at around $10.00 of this $50 and that isn't a guess. It is a fairly conservative estimate of those costs based off of an expected yearly salary of around $100k per year. Salary ranges below that it would actually be a greater percentage of the sale since benefits are more of a fixed cost. (ex: if you earned 50k instead, double that benefits and insurance deduction from this $50 to $20, leaving $7.15)

So we have you at $17.15 in your pocket after that sale to live off of. And note that the expenses for your business are not yet deducted. Your materials, advertising, fees, travel costs for attending shows, etc. all add up. And they come out of that $17.15. But we will just simply overlook all of that reality check stuff. And I do admit that I made sure that you have good healthcare, dental, vision, a 401k with 5% plus matching employer contribution, and insurance protection for life and business. But don't you deserve the same as the corporate business world gets? Of course you do.

So now divide that $17.15 by the 5 hours you worked and we arrive at an in-pocket pay rate of $3.43 per hour. In other words, in order to actually get that $10 per hour into your pocket, you need to roughly triple the amount that you charge for freelancing or $30 per hour as your friend suggests.

(These numbers are based roughly off of existing taxes and benefits costs and can be debated endlessly, but for the sake of this question, I stick by them) 
Reply  ·  
Lokiev's avatar
Lokiev|Professional Interface Designer
Thanks so much for that! It really does make things a lot clearer as to that pricing. I don't live in the U.S., but we still have similar costs, so I can definitely take those into consideration as well.
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
That's not a bad idea, but be sure to feel out the market you're in to get an idea of what would be a "reasonable" price to set for hourly work. Honestly, that's a pretty decent idea :) 
Reply  ·  
Lokiev's avatar
Lokiev|Professional Interface Designer
I've actually looked around, and it seems like a decent way of charging, but I've also read elsewhere and saw that people were charging around $10-$20 per hour, so I was wondering. Thanks for the reply!
Reply  ·  
glittermiilk's avatar
glittermiilk| Digital Artist
it sucks that the general price for original artwork is so low, unless youre a really famous artist haha
i think most of the reason is because the majority of the people that use dA are teens or young adults that dont have hundreds of dollars to throw at anything lol;;; that and the fact that there are so many artists on here that everyones bound to undercut each other : p 
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
That's true! But remember, dA is not the only place to sell your artwork. Personally, I haven't had much success selling through dA for that very reason. Although a large part of the community are what we would consider "adults" the most active members are much younger and don't have the resources to become collectors. 
Reply  ·  
glittermiilk's avatar
glittermiilk| Digital Artist
Aha yeah that's true ;0; I think also its easy to get drowned out on dA lol with everyone selling :p I think you just have to get really lucky xD
Reply  ·  
Syst2m's avatar
Syst2m|Hobbyist General Artist
This is really great, and so informative.:la: It's helped me a lot. I've always struggled with pricing my artwork, but this gives me an idea of establishing a base cost for my work at least.:aww: 
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
Glad to help you out! I know you can feel kind of helpless when it comes to setting prices for work :giggle: It gets easier over time and as long as you're firm and consistent you should be a-ok!
Reply  ·  
NekoWashu's avatar
Do you have any advice for finding your target customers? I paint both digitally and traditionally, and have set prices for my artwork, (damn low prices) and I have for many years now. However, I don't have any customers. I use social media and post regularly and have online shopping options. I feel like I'm doing everything I can but still not having any luck.
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
It takes time to find who you'd like to "target" and that largely depends upon what kind of artwork you produce. This journal fav.me/d4fzna7 should help give you ideas about how to gain exposure and begin building an audience of followers. Social media is incredibly helpful nowadays, but first hand interactions are always the best way to start. 
Reply  ·  
CottonConfection's avatar
CottonConfection|Hobbyist General Artist
lovely! thanks for sharing! :) 
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
You're welcome! thanks for reading!
Reply  ·  
Huckleseed's avatar
Huckleseed|Hobbyist Digital Artist
An excellent journal entry, as usual Xadrea ;)

I've noticed in the comments that some people (including myself) still have a tendency to struggle with actually asking for the price that the time, materials, and efforts demand for a piece of artwork. I think that the struggle may stem from a lack of esteem where the work an artist produces is concerned. "Do I really deserve the standard wage for what I do?" To that I say, labor is labor, and whether you think that you can achieve a certain quality or not, you deserve the pay for that labor. When someone pays that price, they are agreeing with this common idea. When you charge by the size of a piece, I think that this is especially fair. This is the cost for this size, no matter how long it took you to create it. If you are inefficient, the increase in cost in number of hours is absorbed by the artist. If you are efficient, you take fewer hours, thus you end up being paid more per hour and essentially a higher rate than someone who takes longer.

But it becomes a bit more hazy when you are charging by the hour. In this case, if you take longer to create a piece no matter the size; you are asking the client to pay for the "additional" hours. "Additional compared to what?", you might ask. If you are creating an original work, there is no "additional hours". You are the only one who can make that work because it is an original. So there are no additional hours being added on. That is the cost for that piece, period.

Now if in your heart you know that you wasted a lot of time creating that work, that may be a slightly different story. Sure, you may have spent 10 hours of 1 day to make it. But you spent 2 hours blogging on DA or browsing for inspiration, another hour chatting with a friend, and 2 more hours eating, bathroom, dancing, etc, etc. So in that case maybe it is more honest to say that you spent 5 hours on it and not 10. If you are doing logged time on a work for a client, then it is professionally more honest to log the time that you actually worked on the project, and not how far the clock hand moved from when you first looked at the canvas and the time you called it done. Still, when you make that honest assessment, then charge an honest wage and don't undercut yourself. And honest doesn't mean minimum wage. Charge what a professional with your skills, experience, and talent level deserves.
Reply  ·  
Xadrea's avatar
Xadrea|Professional Traditional Artist
Honesty is part of the entire venture of selling your artwork :) You're expected to be honest when you punch in on a time clock at any other job, the same rule applies here. Honestly, when I'm commissioned for a piece I sit down and paint it without breaks or interruptions (and make time for such an event in my schedule to do so). If I have to stretch it over a period of days I'll do 3-5 hour sessions uninterrupted until it's done. Studio discipline and time management all go into it. If you work from home, you have to be adult enough to say "ok this is work time, not surf on FB time, not snack time, not Flappy Bird on my phone time." Professional artists are exactly the same as any other profession. 

Original artwork is generally hard to price simply because it's one of a kind (and that goes for hand pulled prints too even if they are in an edition which makes them that much more valuable). Charging by the hour is good for commissions, portraits, crafts, digital or design work. It's less helpful for pieces that already exist (because who is going to remember how many hours they put in on a painting over 3 years ago) or longterm projects which will require a budget. 
Reply  ·  
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
©2019 DeviantArt
All Rights reserved