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Pricing your work on a simple business model

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Pricing your work on a simple business model

Postby pehiatt » Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:47 am

For those committed to a profession as an oil painter, putting things into perspective.

You have to start somewhere: A basic unit cost

I used an oil painting 22 X 28 inches

Direct cost
Stretched Canvas 20.00
Gesso 8.00
Oil Paint 24.00
Medium 7.00
Brushes 19.00
Thinners 5.00

Simple Frame 60.00
Hanging hardware 2.00

Total direct cost 145.00

Indirect cost (overhead)

Studio space
Cell phone
Exhibit fees
Presentation supplies
Total overhead 1025.00

Basic unit overhead (Indirect Cost) / (Production units)

1025 / 4 paintings per month = 255.50

Total basic unit cost = (Direct) + (Indirect) = 400.50

Price based on a common business model (Cost) X (3) = 1201.50

Relating to size

Cost per square foot
(22X28) / 144 = 4.28 square feet
1201.50 / 4.28 = 280.72

Size | sqft | PRICE
Oil 8X10 |0.56 | 155.96
Oil 9X12 | 0.75 | 210.54
Oil 9X24 | 1.50 | 421.08
Oil 11X14 | 1.07 |300.21
Oil 16X20 | 2.22 | 623.82
Oil 22X28 | 4.28 | 1200.86
Oil 30X40 | 8.33 | 2339.33
Oil 48X60 | 20.00 | 5614.40

How much are you worth

Assuming you sell 100 percent of your production.

(4 each 22X28 paintings er month x 1200.00) = 4,800.00 per month or 57600 per year

This however is unrealistic. Most galleries consider an artist successful if they sell 50 percent.

Therefore half = 2,400.00 per month or 28,800.00 per year

(Actual sales – Cost) = (Income) or 1584.00 per month or 12,545.00 per year income

Assuming you paint 50 hours a week (Actual time at the easel)

(Hours per week X 52 Weeks) = 2600 hours

(Income) / (Hours worked) = 4.83 per hour; LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE!

This is why you have to price your work higher. Being an artist is an interesting and challenging lifestyle but without reward it can be a quick road to poverty.

To make a simple living supported only by painting you need to price small paintings (8X10 to 16X20) from 500.00 to 2200.00 dollars. Anything less is unacceptable.

Do the numbers. If your work won't sell at the required prices, work harder, develop your skills and produce better art.
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Postby arlynnhr » Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:22 am

Wow! This is a very helpful guide!!! :D

Thanks a lot Pehiatt! It gives people like me a very good starting point.

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Postby DLKeur » Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:12 am

Excellent post, pehiatt. I think new artists need to grasp this perspective, and you've really laid it out nicely for them.
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Postby xxbreezy » Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:48 am

Funny I should stumble across this post as my husband and I have been discussing what to charge for my "Fruits of Passion" that has to be for sale when I enter it into competition. I guess where I am confused is that my husband wants me to charge for EVRYTHING related to the "making" and "showing" of this piece including a 60% mark-up!!! What I mean is..just for example.. he wants me to add charges in for expenses like running to the art store (which is about 30 mi. from here). This, of course drives the price up and I'm not really sure that is the "right" way to price out a piece of artwork. I don't know, I guess the whole pricing thing has me confused....lol!!! I mean, the obvious charges I get such as frame, matting, material, etc.... Then, of course theres the competition commission and entry fee. The way he has it priced out now, it would cost over $300 to sell. This is an 8x10 Pastel Sketch profressionally matted and frame piece of artwork. So, I guess my question is what to include other than the obvious when pricing out a piece of artwork? Any help and suggestions would be sooooo appreciated!!!!! HELP!!!!
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Keep it simple

Postby pehiatt » Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:33 am

You can't make up all of your cost with one small drawing.

Start with materials, Matt, Framing, Packing and shipping
Entry fee counts towards the work entered

Other cost like trips to the art supply store need to be spread over a body of work over a period of time. Income from one drawing is not enough to offset most indirect cost. It often takes high production rates to justify studio and other business cost.

Figure time to do the piece times (cost per working hours per year)

60% markup is OK but light.

Check the price for similar pastel drawings by others and adjust accordingly.

Good luck
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Postby BAReam » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:00 am

Hi Breezy... very good question; wish I had a solid, indisputable answer for you. Pehiatt's basic business model is a good one from a more impersonal perspective... and DLK has address the issue from a good business/personal/subjective perspective. Both contain very useful info. .

When all is said and done, you must decide just exactly what your objective is. Is it primarily to sell the work? Is it to develop recognition and generate interest in your work... or both. I feel you must answer these questions before all else.

Then you must determine just exactly how you feel about the work... is it your very best... do you have a strong emotional attachment to the work... is it worthy of investing in reproductions... do you enjoy looking at it every day. Etc., etc. .

Allow me to illustrate... I did a small soapstone sculpture in 1990 {my first} which at the time was my most prized work and had no intention of selling it. The student show was coming up and was undecided as to place a NFS or a price. I placed a price of $195 on it firmly believing it would not sell at that price. The piece was one of the very first you saw coming into the gallery. The lady who owned the local high-end design studio reserved to piece before she got any further and refused to withdraw her offer even after I implored her to... explaining I really did NOT want to sell it... too bad; so sad.

To add insult to injury, it was reported to me that she had sold the piece to a dealer in NYC for almost $3000 a month or so later. Let's just say I was livid!!

As DLK had stated... once it's gone, it's unlikely you'll ever see it again. I suppose it would be a lot like sending your child off to college for the first time... hopeful and apprehensive too.

Hope this has been of some help, and not even more confusing for you. I myself, even to this day, have issues with pricing. I suppose it goes with the territory. Be well.. and good luck with your show :D

all the best... Bruce
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Postby xxbreezy » Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:18 am

Thanks guys so much!! All this has been helpful.....really!!! It does confirm that ALL cost can't be recovered in one sale...especially a piece of work this size. I feel that this entry is one of my best of its nature. Although not necessarily something I would do for myself, with the theme being "FOOD" for the competition, I just feel that this "pricing" issue...seems to be a constant stuggle. I am always told I "undersell" myself but lack of knowledge of pricing is probably the main problem. Its unreal that you sold a piece Bar and someone else make such a huge profit!!! Not to say that your artwork isn't good.....just getting back to the pricing issue. So in the long run I guess its better to be a little higher in price and negotiate maybe....then to totally misprice and lose like that. I guess my husband isn't so far off base after all......but I won't tell him that...lol!!!! :lol: Thanks again!!!
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Postby cirekoy » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:14 pm

One kink in the business model is prints versus originals, which can in theory sell for less (be more marketable and sell faster) because you can sell the same image multiple times, depending on the edition size if you even have one.

Your math seems very solid! It's good to run the numbers and think about your sales from a logical standpoint to project, even in a best case, what your potential income is.

I believe very strongly in artists selling prints, because more people can afford to own art, and artists can still make $50-100 per piece, or much more for limited edition work. Let's say you sell 60 24x30 stretched prints per month, each at $175 (about $75 of income for you, at least if you used me as a printer ;) ). That's a cool $4500 per month of income, or $54,000 per year. This assumes open edition works.

There's no doubt that any business model you adopt will be tough, but keep your options open! :)
http://beartful.com - Gallery quality prints at low cost
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But how MANY

Postby pehiatt » Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:13 pm

Very few artist sell large numbers of prints. Those that are successful charge a lot of money for them.

I often spend as much time fiddling with a print as an original; proofs, adjustments etc. Then there is the matter of handling sales, marketing, printing, shipping, etc. The time also distracts from creating originals.

I know some artist that have made money but even their sales are not regular. Many often mark prices way down
eak even on an edition.

There are two galleries here in Frederick that specialize in selling high quality prints by known artist and they struggle every month to sell a dozen or so.

How many artist do you know that really sell 60 prints a month and how many artist do you know that make 50 thousand a year plus just on prints.

Prints have a place but not when it comes to making big bucks in the art market at least not for the individual artist. I use prints to show and promote work in venues not suited for displaying original work. Yes I sell a few but my best source of income comes from the sale of original work.
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Postby demac » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:25 pm

OMG pehaitt you are a mine of information.

I was wondering about getting prints done but now after reading this I will concentrate on my art rather than anything else.

Thank you for the pricing etc copied and processing for myself, as I was thinking I was over pricing my art - the belief of who want to buy that!!! but starting to learn differently.

Never went to art school/college so don't have the benefits of being educated on galleries, pricing etc so its wing it all the way..lol

Can't say thank you enough for this information and knowledge.
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How's my Pricing perspective?

Postby Justin_Dancing_Hawk » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:02 am

I really appreciate this information also & I'll be passing it on! I consider pricing a nemesis & have been told I price high. Personally, I feel that after dedicating my life to my Art at 54 yrs old & attaining a respectable level of proficiency, I deserve to be equally decently paid for my efforts. Why is it that a Plumber can expect $35 - 60 bucks an hr ( my vague estimate ) & an electrician will cost you at least that, but as an Artist, we feel guilty for charging the equivalent of minimum wage & pray we can get even that!?
I'm a Wildlife Artist & I work in Pastel. My studio is in my rented home. My preferred surface is Wallis paper , which I buy in 9 yrd rolls 53" wide & I then cut to my desired sizes as I do each piece. I'm honestly not sure how many paintings I average out of each roll, but they last me a good while! I'm sure it's easily dozens. I like what seems to be considered larger sizes. 16 x 20 is small to me! Recently , in order to spur sales I've been trying to do some really small works & surprised myself with success in a miniscule 4" x 6" pair of samples of PastelMat paper. I love the stuff!
Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how this formula can be applied in my situation. I am just finishing my current project "Tiger Oak" which is a pastel of a Great Horned Owl in an Oak tree. It's 24"w x 18"h on Wallis paper. The unit cost of the paper is about $8.00 - $10.00 per sheet that size if I buy it pre cut, so I use that figure . The piece has been on my easel now for roughly 2 1/2 months. About half of that is actually applied working time. I sometimes find leaving a piece rest a while is beneficial. I don't have the slightest idea how I would calculate how much pastel I used. I've had my several sets for years & am only now looking at a few most used colors I need to replenish. So that cost is pretty minute for me. I have a Fletcher 2200 60" mat cutter that was rather expensive when I bought it & I suppose I could figure some sort of portion of it's cost into things , but it would be tough. My Art takes up easily half my 2bdrm home & my utilities are included in my rent. So I'd add about a half a month's rent to my costs. I can order my framing online & have priced it out at approx. $180.00 on this piece. S/H will add some so est. time & materials at roughly $225.00ish total framing . I'm easily already at $575.00 before I put in anything for my time on this! Take a look & tell me if I'm nuts, but this is the best piece I've ever done & I'm pricing it at $2,400.00. I'm taking into consideration that I have prints of my work ( & therefore Collectors) in the U.S., England, Scotland , Canada & New Zealand. I will be entering this piece in "Birds In Art" next year at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau, WI. & fully expect it to be accepted. I'm about to also submit to the Pastel Soc. of America & this will be one of the images I'll be submitting & I'm setting my sights on "Signature Membership" . I may be counting chickens when I barely have eggs, but a guy has to have goals! I honestly think I'm at that level here! Tell me I'm wrong & show me how you justify it & I'll go back to the easel & fix it! But I think I'm in my right! So did Chris Bacon when I showed it to him at this year's "Birds in Art" ( via photograph) - he told me I've GOT to enter it! LOL! . I intend to protect this under UV "TRU VU " glass & that stuff is rather pricey! I do intend to offer Signed & Numbered LTD.ED. Giclee prints of this image as well. So, am I justified & in the right ball park, or am I out of my freakin' tree? LOL! I look forward to hearing your feedback. Thanks! :P
Photo 256.jpg
Nearly Finished! Just a few feather markings left.
Photo 256.jpg (120.43 KiB)
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Postby Menolly » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:06 am

Well, if you're making prints off it, then I say price the original as high as you want, and if someone complains that it's too expensive, tell 'em that's what the Giclees are for. :D
Or, if you're really sure you're going to sell the prints, then maybe you can divide some of that cost among the lot.

Personally, I think people who complain about the expense of art should get an itemized invoice like they would from their car mechanic - parts, labor, and work performed. Maybe if they had a list of all the processes that went into a painting, they would have less to say.
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Standing Ovation!!

Postby Justin_Dancing_Hawk » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:15 pm

LOL :lol: :D :D :lol: !!! I like the way YOU think!!! LOL! I'm trying to promote my work on Facebook! Check out my new Fan page - Stonefeather Fine Art Studio ! I'd appreciate all the fans I can get! I also have a blog at :www.stonefeatherfineartstudio.blogspot.com
& if you Google me, I'm plastered all over the internet! LOL! I'm doing everything I can think of to promote my work, which is why I'm HERE! Of course, the contests don't hurt none! :lol: I think my prices are pretty reasonable for the quality I do my BEST to provide! That aint no over night gig! :lol: I've been doing this for over 40 yrs! I laugh when someone asks how long a painting took me! I just cele
ated my 54th Birthday last Thurs. & so now I tell them it took me 54 yrs!! It MIGHT have been a WEEK or so sitting at the easel, but it took 54 yrs to be ABLE to DO IT in a week!! THAT is worth something!! The way I feel about it, I'll either get what I want for them, or sit on 'em til I DO!! I'm working hard to promote my work & it's getting significantly better with each painting! So, Sooner or later, these HAVE to sell! Or,. . . my DAUGHTER had better get a bigger house to hang them in when I go! :lol:
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Re: Pricing your work on a simple business model

Postby SidneyEileen » Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:36 pm

pehiatt, thank you for all the frank and detailed advice. I struggled for a long time before finding sound advice on pricing, and it was very close to what you are saying. In the next few months I am planning to start investing in some limited edition prints for some of my styles of art so I will have a lower priced option for customers, but the originals are something I won't budge on because the prices I have set will allow me to still make good money when galleries take their commission out. The prints will be like the icing on the cake. I'm not counting on them, but I hope that they will sell well enough to self-perpetuate and provide a bit of additional income. As for unlimited edition prints, they are not profitable enough for me to be worth the bother of setting up for any of my new art.
The day we stop learning about art is the day we stop making art.
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Re: Pricing your work on a simple business model

Postby Artorius » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:19 pm

This is excellent. I have always wondered how to price my paintings, or my future paintings. I will use this model for the promise of lucrative endeavors to come.

"You cannot kickstart a dead horse." -Thom Yorke
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