Do you undervalue your work?
As I’ve ventured into the art world, I’ve discovered that pricing seems to be one of the biggest concerns faced by artists at every level. Whether an established pro with scores of collectors, ambitious beginner, or an emerging talent like myself, all artists are worried about pricing.
Selling your first piece is electrifying, but if they’re honest, most artists will likely tell you that they let their early pieces go for way too little. You can see examples of this on the walls of just about any art league gallery; works by competent painters, some even as good as any professional’s work, but with a ridiculously low price tag.
For me, there’s something disheartening about seeing a beautifully rendered, 18” x 24” landscape priced at $50.00. Most often when I ask artists why they’re pricing their work so low, they respond with, “I’m afraid it won’t sell if I price it any higher.”
Fear of rejection, that no one will want your work, is very real for every artist. Even Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz, worried that one day he’d awaken to learn nobody cared about his comic strip anymore. However, I would argue that selling a $500.00 painting for $30.00 is really more damaging than missing a good sale. Let me explain why.
On average a tube of professional quality oil paint will start around $13.00. Some cost slightly less, others much more, and the pedigree of the brand also impacts pricing, but we’ll stick with $13.00 for argument’s sake. One can expect to use at least 1/4 of a tube of each color on a 16” x 12” piece. Assuming a standard palette of 8 colors, you’re looking at an expense of $26.00 just in paint. Add to this canvas, brushes, mediums, solvents, and precious time, then ask yourself if you’re content to sell your work just to get it sold. I hope the answer is, “No.”
Consider also what undervaluing your work does to other artists. My guess is no one ever looks at an $85.00 painting next to a $800.00 painting and asks, “Why is that one so cheap?” And herein lies the biggest hurtle. Once the public is accustomed to seeing decent art at bargain basement prices, they’re unlikely to accept little else. As such, the question is always, “Why do you charge so much?”
Yet where beginners often ask, “Am I charging too much?” the pros are asking, “Am I charging enough?” This is because they know the value of their work. They know that good supplies and materials don’t come cheap. And most of all, they know the value of their time.
Your time is no less valuable than theirs. Don’t cheapen your work or yourself.