Jul
18
2010

The REAL KEYS to PRICING YOUR ART by M Theresa Brown

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On one of our several nationwide art marketing forums recently, the question posed was,
"Theresa, I'm in the dark as to how to price the pet portraits. I don't know anyone around here who does pet portraits to see what they are charging. After you figure the cost of the surface (canvas or panel) and the paint (not much) do you charge by the square inch or by the hour? If it takes me 5 hours to do an 8"X10" at $10.00/hour plus the panel thats $55.00 or should I charge much more than that? I know that it is an investment for the purchaser but I'm still in the dark as to where to start."


This was a great question and although I have addressed it before in a Splatter Blog,  "Help Me Sell my Art!"  the answer is important to all artists.  Most of the replies to this post mentioned coming up with the "formula" method that many artists use or try to use. And although you cannot price your art to sell, neither can you accurately base a price on a formula of just time and materials the way everyone was doing.  My fellow marketing  artist and husband, Steve Filarsky had the best logical reply to the question of pricing and "paying yourself by the hour."


He replied,
" I don't advocate pricing by time and materials, price is so much a part of the perceived value of art and that has to be taken into account. But if you decide to go that way you need to take into account all expenses and time.. You need to know how much it costs to pay someone $10 an hour.  


FIRST: If you are figuring it takes me so long, at such a price per hour, and materials are this much, you are pricing the cost of manufacturing. So double that for the final price. (This is what you would give to a gallery etc to market, advertise and sell your work.) If you are doing this, you will need to get paid.


SECOND: Your overhead; studio rent, utilities, heat and ac , phone and internet. (Even if your studio is in your house, you will be spending money to light and heat and cool it when working there which you wouldn't if you were out working somewhere else) and equipment depreciation. You will have to replace that computer, those brushes, upgrade software ,  Vehicle, cost of use and insurance etc. Insurance, health insurance. (No one has offered me free insurance yet). PO Box rent. the list goes on. Paper for the printer, postage and envelopes.


THIRD:  Time, how much time is spent working but not creating, Bookwork, research, picking up supplies. Delivering work. If you are doing commissions, you can include meeting the client under marketing markup, but time photographing clients, sorting photos, time spent cleaning your studio. Janitors get paid too. Answering phone calls. etc etc.


FOURTH: Downtime: Don't forget the days that you get sick or can't work...You need to bring in enough when you are working to cover when you can't........


So 10 hours at the easel with a twenty five dollar canvas and ten dollars of paint doesn't add up to the price of creating your piece of artwork."


Steve's summarization takes in all the factors of coming up with a "real" price for what you create.  Don't randomly paste a price on your artwork based on vague factors such as "5 hours of time and $8.00 worth of canvas and paint" or "$3.00 per square inch should do it."  Proudly acknowledge to yourself  TWO things when you establish a due diligence price for your artwork.


You and your art are worth every dollar of the price you establish!

You will recognize an actual (not guesswork)  profit on the art you sell!

 

 

Jul
7
2010

The Refreshing Art of Entrepreneurship by M Theresa Brown

They started early in the morning, long before most of the tourists were up and about. From the balcony of my sixth floor room I saw the sellers park in the distant empty lot by the ocean and trudge through the sand with their goods. A few had  umbrellas. They needed the umbrellas on this beautiful but hot sandy strip of shoreline where the  Sea of Cortez mingled with the distant Pacific Ocean.


Cabo San Lucas resorts in Mexico are justly proud of their pristine beaches and go to unusual means to keep them beautiful, clean and safe for the huge tourist industry. There was a low rope stretched across the entire length of the beachfront property with guards posted at either end to keep the sellers from harassing the tourists. But of course if the tourists stepped over the ropes and went to the sellers, well, what could one do?


Virtually anything they thought that tourists would want from Mexico was being offered for sale. Wood carvings, scarves, woven textiles, straw hats, jewelry...some was souvenir junk.  But some of the sellers were the artists  and they had some beautiful silver jewelry and painted carvings. They would sit patiently all day behind the rope barrier and wait for curious tourists to come to them. Some would walk the beach holding up their goods and waving them to catch the attention of diners on the terraces.


When I stepped over the ropes, I was in their territory and they all saw, with certainty that I was indeed a buyer.  Their initial prices were high but they had learned that what was "too much" for one buyer, was nothing to another. They had nothing to lose so why not start high? Everything was negotiable. What I found myself admiring was not so much what they were selling, it was the persistence and perseverance that I admired.  I knew that this scene was being played out virtually everywhere, someplace, in the world. People and artists who needed the money and would tackle the public every day in the hopes of bringing in a steady income.  No embarrassment, no excuses. They all gathered around me because it was just possible that after I bought from one, I would buy from another. They did not sit quietly hoping to be noticed. They made sure that I knew they were there! The transactions were energizing, flat out fun and an inspiration to reticent artists everywhere.


There is a direct correlation between need and motivation. None of these artists had motivational issues.   Excuses did not enter into this picture. They had families to feed,  bills to pay and they were delighted to have buyers.  None of them pondered the academic world of artist angst. None of them wondered if they were "one with their art" or if they were feeding their souls or growing in their art.  They created their art. They sold their art. The sales paid their bills.....and for them, that meant life was good.


So why do we, as "educated" or trained artists, make the whole process so introspective and complicated?

 

Art Career Experts

 

Jul
5
2010

No Painting is Safe! by Deb Bartos

No painting of mine is safe, that is, until its hanging on someone else’s wall. There are just a few, actually, that are sacred, for personal reasons, and I will never touch again.
However, there are quite a few of them that go in the “gosh, there is just something not quite right with that work” pile and with time, I see what it is. The biggest factor, I think, is in learning more problem-solving skills that help me to get past whatever block I had the first go-around. The eye-connection learns faster than brush-connection. Vincent Van Gogh said at one point, “I no longer stand helpless before nature.” I have remembered that since the beginning of my struggles to get something I like on canvas. I think the best advice is “keep on painting.” It really does solve a number of problems. The more you paint, the better paintings you create. And you really can salvage stuff that has been waiting for you for years! Here are some before-after photos with discussion.

 

 

It was not enough color for me in version 1, even though the flowers really were white.

The orange/yellow seemed zingier, and I may even add more deep red. I changed them to roses.

 

 

This one of the little shepherdess was competing with the background. I love fall colors, and yet it seemed way too busy and unbalanced. I changed the scene to a greener cast, and the background seemed to recede more, as cool colors do. I wanted the shepherdess and the sheep to take the interest first, and not the foliage. Sometimes, I think, “it was better before I started to mess with it again,” and that is always the risk you take. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the collector likes work from my “not quite right pile” just the way it is and gives me a new perspective.

It’s interesting that art (and life) is so subjective, but the satisfaction of problem solving with a more experienced brush is very rewarding. I have heard of several famous artists (you would recognize the last name alone) who have come to their shows before the opening with brush and paint in hand for final revisions. This makes me feel better, as validity of my processes is always appreciated. So, keep on painting, (and sometimes re-painting!)

Deb

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