How Much?

Pricing work; nightmare eh? I dare say there are artists out there thrilled by putting a price to their work, but I have yet to meet one who actively enjoys it, especially at the start of their career. I know I’ve lost a lot of sleep over the years thanks to pricing.

I think that’s because pricing is a bit of an iceberg situation. There’s the financial bit bobbing about on the surface for everyone to see. Reasonably clear facts and figures; what the work costs to make, where you sit in the art world, what the market will bear and so on. Stuff you can discuss rationally and more or less pin down with a pen and paper.

labours of love come at a price for both artist and collector

Below the water lurks the larger, less rational challenge of finding the nerve needed to fix a price and stand by it. The confidence and self-belief essential to actually get out there and face the public as a new artist with newly priced work. This was about ninety percent of the difficulty for me, tying it neatly to the iceberg metaphor now I have googled to check the proportions.

There’s no easy formula for that ninety percent, only time. One thing I found did help was to be sure that my prices suited me on my terms. I did the practical stuff: the research and maths needed to be sensible, but only finalised my figures when I was happy and comfortable with the decision reached. It sounds silly, but this checking in with my feelings as well as doing the maths helped enormously with my confidence, tiny as it was at the beginning. And it’s confidence that sells. It helped me to smile and stand by my prices without apology or justification. It was a terrifying charade to begin with; I have a transparent Celtic skin that was no help at all, but my belief in my prices did. Over time selling got easier. It does all get easier, pricing included.

Pricing is a serious business, emotionally as well as mathematically. As any ship’s captain will tell you; it’s a good idea to consider the whole iceberg, not just the bit above the water.

We’ll be navigating all things pricing this week on the Ask an Artist podcast, released every Friday at 10am GMT.

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.

2 thoughts on “How Much?”

  1. I look at other artists’ work of a similar style and standard, and price accordingly. My wife considers my prices outrageously high (but doesn’t complain when I get the occasional sale). You have to believe in yourself.

  2. I thunk here’s at least on Ship Captain that should have heeded your advice about the whole iceberg and not just the bit above the water. But still, that’s another story.

    Great analogy used here Laura!

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