There are a lot of factors that can be considered in the equation of determining what your art is worth, such as fair market price, size, material, exposure, experience, critical acclaim, and self-worth. Of all the factors the ladder is probably the one that is most overlooked, but yet should be the most important. What your art is worth, is directly equal to what it is worth to you. How important is your art to you? What will it take to separate you from your art?
Unfortunately most artists are emotionally disadvantaged, and are easily separated from their work by praise. Most artists are willing to give their work up freely to anyone with a blank wall and a positive comment. Although compliments are great for the ego, and are wonderful motivators, they do not elevate the value of the artist work.The first step in promoting the value of any product is “NEVER GIVE IT AWAY”. So if you are never going to give it away how much do you charge for it? Simple, how much are you worth?
The size and material for most projects, particularly two dimensional projects, is negligible compared to your time. The artist’s hours are the must valuable resource employed in any project. Think about your time, the next time you take your car in for repairs. Look at your bill. You just had a mechanic put a six dollar part in your car and were charged a hundred dollars for labor. Time is money, and your time as an artist has value. Think about other professions, such as lawyers, doctors, and therapist. In most of these profession they complete four to eight years of education, develop most of their skills with one year of being on the job, and charge thousand of dollars for their time.
Artist train their whole life, constantly developing their skills and incorporating everything they are exposed to into their art. By comparison the artist’s time is a priceless commodity, but even artists must considered their market and charge a reasonable price. Are you worth ten, twenty, or fifty dollars an hour.
Set your own rate, then begin to track your hours.When you begin a piece, note it in a journal. Note the date you began the project and keep track of the actual hours you devote to the project each day. At the end of the project, total your hours. You now have a base line figure to work from. Just like every other profession, labor is not the only determining cost to the bottom line. You must also account for the time you have devoted to building your reputation. Do you have representation of a gallery? Galleries provide exposure. They also charge a commission on any work sold because of that exposure. The amount of their commission should be calculated into the price that you would like to receive. Have you received any awards, or participated in competition? Competition provides exposure, and awards boast the critical acclaim of your work. How much work have you sold? Every time you make a sale,consider raising the price on the next painting. If you make one sale it is likely you will make another. Every sale is an indicator of demand, the more your work is in demand the more buyers will be willing to pay your price. Do you have any work included in collections? Hanging on Aunt Fannie’s wall does not count for much exposure. The more prestigious the collection, the more prestige there is to rub off on your work. There are collectors who will only buy if someone else has bought your work, and being part of a collection creates the atmosphere of appeal. There is not a set value for any of these indicators, but as a business person you must maintain a active awareness of them.
Use your journal, and keep you resume updated. Periodically review your successes, and incorporate their personal value into the value of your work. Always remember your time is a commodity, never ever give it away.