The beginning of a new year and a need to focus on what matters. I’ve decided this is the year to concentrate less on everything else and more on my art and the marketing thereof. Like so many artist I shrink at the mention of marketing as if it were a dirty grubby necessity like wiping your bottom that is just best done quickly and never mentioned in good company.
So while trying to embark on what must be done I set my studio in order hoping it would get me motivated to be a bit more businesslike when dealing with my paintings and trying to make a living of it. First to set on going back and making sure each piece is well documented and photographed. Then the dirty business of pricing each work.
This was the formula I was taught while studying art, and the one that I will apply. Base amount is what it cost you in materials including the rent of the atelier and the costs to advertise your existence (business cards, telephone number), add the hourly wage of a highly skilled crafts person (you could use a plumber or master carpenter as a guide) and multiply that by the number of years you have been shown in galleries, – years no one has shown your work do not count unless you have sold a work in that year.
so if: It cost you $100.00 in materials, and took 10 hours to complete at $25 hourly, making it total $350.00, and in your career you have been shown for 10 years (including any years you have sold a piece of art/commissions) you can charge $3,500 for a painting.
The same artist in her first year should charge $350 for the same painting and so on. This means the price should never be less than $350, and if you live to be 120, your painting will be priced at $35,000. If it is a gallery selling it, they will take 50 to 70% of the price of the painting as a commission, bearing that in mind the artist in the first year should, if the painting is sold in a gallery, double the price if the commission is going to be 50% ($350.00) and so on in that fashion.
One additional factor is size. Now the average work of art which you sell is 16×20” comes to 320 square inches, if by the above formula, materials at 50 dollars, 10 hours at 25, total 300, and shown or sold in seven years, equals 2100 divide that by 320 square inches makes the painting approximately 6.5 dollars per square inch. so a smaller painting of say 10×10” using those figures equals $650. a Large work of say 12×48” then comes to $3744.00.
On the point of never dropping the price just to sell, I agree, this is a frightful idea. I have sometimes dropped the price bartering for something I want from them, so in effect part cash, part barter, as long as in total you are receiving the same value for your painting.
I find it helps to have a formula such as this to refer to. Collectors sometimes forget that they are paying not for well placed paint on a canvas but for your time, materials, knowledge, experience. Picasso doodled on a napkin and the waiter asked if he might have it. Sure said Pablo, for $25,000. The waiter looked in amazement and said but it is just a doodle. Pablo replied no sir it is my life’s experience on a napkin. The doodle took no more or less than any of his other artwork.
I still get queesy when I ask for money. That is who I am, but I resent people taking advantage of that. Unfortunately this world now demands we promote ourselves more than ever before, no art agents or gallery representation to count on. Our worst enemy is a population who think buying a reproduction at IKEA is art, or oil paintings done by an assembly line of “starving artists” selling cheap canvases t a holiday in. One artist does nothing but birch trees another does pine and yet another all the log cabins, and yet another clouds and water, they are paid low wages by the hour and are not allowed to get creative. This is not art, just assembly-line reproduction. It is a tragedy such a thing exists. Real art is a one of a kind visceral experience when man meets painting or sculpture, not unlike love. Art should never be judged on whether or not it matches the couch or the drapes. The people selling assembly line oil paintings advertise couch size, it sickens me.
Plenty or artists buy art of their contemporaries even if they skip meals and save for years to do so. Artists fall in love easily and often. Probably because they have been around superb works and whether through education or just wanting to know and experience all they can – art appreciation. It used to be taught in all schools now just expensive private schools. Galleries/museums are expensive and not within everyone’s reach so without art appreciation being taught to everyone , where are our customers going to come from? I would hate to think it will be only something to show off at ritzy parties, here is my yacht and here is my new painting, the artist is the one in the corner eating all the cheese.
Hopefully art on the Internet, with its easy access to the masses will enable new crops of appreciative educated art lovers. People who would happily pay for a painting rather than an IKEA print even if it means it doesn’t match the couch. Become eclectic. Those of us given the talent to create these works of art will be able to continue doing so, if we can earn enough to eat, live and create more art.
— Aletta Mes
Originally Posted: 2013-02-04 02:05
Your Two Cents, Please.
1.About 10 years ago a painting struck me and I bought it from the tv. Two years ago a letter arrives asking me if I would like to enter the lawsuit about non authentic paintings sold on this show. I would have to give up the painting. I knew it was a reproduction when I bought it, I just liked it, so I kept it. Picasso’s Mother and Child.
The link above is to my most recent novel