The Colour of Money

How I price my prints.

When it comes to my prints, I feel pretty much the same as Quentin Crisp: ‘there’s no greater sign of love than somebody prepared to pay money’. He may have other things in mind, but it’s a valid thought. I know we are, as artists, supposed to live for higher things than cash (which would be nice if we could also be spared boring details like broken boilers, council tax and the need to eat), but the fact a stranger can be so delighted by the way I have arranged ink on paper that they’ll happily give me their money does tend to do it for me.

Pricing art is a really difficult one; there are all sorts of methods out there ranging from complicated algorithms to a price per inch guide for painters. I try to keep my work at a price that reflects the size of the work and the complexity of production, while remaining affordable. Gauging the affordable bit I do in food: the price of a curry, pizza and coke for the family, anniversary meal, anniversary meal when you’ve forgotten the anniversary etc. The public don’t always see it that way: nearly every artist has a show story where their prices have been questioned by Joe Public only too happy to blow almost the same amount in lunch, beer and ice cream in the next tent (not that we’re bitter…).

So, having decided on keeping my prices affordable, the other hurdle is the difference between selling work myself and selling it through galleries who, in my opinion, quite reasonably want their cut. After some trial and error I’ve decided there’s only one sensible solution for me. If a picture costs a curry for four with a couple of pints of Kingfisher each and an unnecessary kulfi, then that’s what I’ll be asking if you buy from me, the internet or in a gallery.

So there you have it, one artist’s view on pricing. It may be simplistic and I may not reap huge rewards as a consequence, but it keeps things fair and me able to sleep. I’ll shortly be adding prices to my prints on the web site (at the moment you have to mail me to ask) and you can do your own conversions – motorbike parts maybe or tickets to assorted Olympic events?

Author: Laura

Laura Boswell is a printmaker working exclusively with linocut and traditional Japanese woodblock printing. She has a degree in Art History/Visual Art from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and has been elected to the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers.

8 thoughts on “The Colour of Money”

  1. I enjoyed this post very much…
    Being an artist who is venturing into the selling for the first time I appreciate your discussion of this sometimes taboo topic. It would be nice if we got an “Artist’s Deduction” on our taxes, wouldn’t it? 😉
    Love your work.

  2. Agh! That thorn in an artist’s side – pricing!
    But you have simplified the onerous task with your menu comparison. From now on, that will be my approach, too. 😉 Thank you.

  3. Another pricing consideration ought to be the edition size – a small edition of say 20, really should cost more than one of 150. In my experience, though, the public almost never notice the edition size – it’s only artists who do….

  4. Extremely useful! Many thanks. One quick question, do you set one price independently on whether you sell from a gallery or you put on top the comission price? (i guess the first…). Many thanks again!

    1. Hi Laura – I just have one price which I set for each print. I tend to sell a lot of work personally so I see galleries as a sort of dual purpose thing: marketing as well as selling.

  5. Thanks very much for this post Laura, which I really enjoyed and is also most useful. Have just got my new website up and was debating what to do about pricing myself. Very helpful- amusing and sadly, true! Many thanks.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and ideas with Joe Public, i.e. me. I once asked an artist who was present at a gallery in Burford what varnish he used on his acrylics–they looked fabulous. He looked at me and said that I could not expect him to give away his secrets! Thank goodness 99% of artists are only too pleased to share their success with interested others. Pricing is always a problem and there is so much to take into account. Thanks again.

  7. I came to see you at Art In Action this weekend and would like to say “thank you” for being so open and approachable about how you create your wonderful work. I am inspired to try the watercolour/rice printing myself as a change from my usual media. I have now enjoyed your website and your amusing and entertaining commentary on how you go about the business of being an artist.

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