by Cecilie Scott
Since VoiceCatcher6 features artists as well as writers, opportunities to exhibit as well as
sell artwork have multiplied. For example, our artists will have appeared in three month-long exhibits during 2011-2012: at In Other Words in November, Space Monkey in January, and Stonehenge Studio in May.
Unlike most of our writers who get paid for their work in copies, artists have a more daunting challenge: Putting a monetary value on their creations. Commissions from art
sales supports galleries; and bookstores, coffee shops, and special art shows galleries count on sales to help cover the cost of presenting and protecting the works they show. So each artist tries to price her work to move it out of the studio while reflecting the labor and values that went into its creation.
Here are some considerations that VoiceCatcher6 artists say help determine a price tag:
- Look at the price of art similar in technique and materials to yours. Then consider your standing. Just starting to sell your work? Price it below that of established artists. Been selling for several years? Increase your price to reflect that. Painter and graphic designer Lea Barozzi notes that collectors appreciate your protecting the value of works they’ve bought. So don’t reduce your selling price.
- Selling works in different cities, say Portland and Seattle? Select works that can be sold for less in a city where lower prices are the norm. Don’t sell similar works at different prices between cities. Instead, select smaller works or less labor intensive forms to sell in the city where prices are lower; for example, drawings versus oils.
- Take your own labor and material into account, but only as a rough estimate. The buyer is paying for the result, not how long you took to get there.
- Consider whether editions of a photograph or print should be limited. This can be a way of varying your pricing.
- And, yes, give your work away. Photographer Jean Harkin has donated pieces for auction and reduces prices for family and friends. A medical resident at Legacy Health in Portland, Heather Mikes has created special projects for donation and places copies of her photos in patient’s rooms. She says she got into medicine through art years ago by pulling the red wagon from the art room as a hospital volunteer.
Why should artists consider placing their originals in the world with a price tag?
As artist, photographer, poet, and musician April Bullard explains:
[You’ve put] emotion, heart, and soul into the work, and spent hours on the actual techniques of getting the work on the canvas, words on paper, or making that camera see what your eyes saw. Now it’s time to put it on display, open to criticism, hoping your work managed to touch people enough that they actually have to own it.
Any piece of creative work that touches “people enough that they actually have to own it” is worth the struggle to find the right price.
Cecilie Scott is a contributor to VoiceCatcher4 and 6. She thanks the artists who asked the questions about pricing art and who were amazingly patient and generous with their answers: Lea Barozzi, April Bullard, Jean Harkin, Denise Hrouda, Kristin Kohl, Kari Lloyd-Jones, and Elisabeth Miles.