Figuring out how to price your art is a huge part of growing as an artist, a brand, and a businessperson.
“Your art career is a full-time job, and it takes time to grow and build your business,” says professional artist James Corwin in his Skillshare course on how to price your art work. “If you want to make an incredible living off of your art, then you have to put in an incredible amount of effort,” he adds, speaking not just to your work itself but to the logistics of pricing.
So, how do you determine the value of art? And equally important: what are some shortcuts for pricing artworks in a way that makes them more likely to sell?
To help you figure out how to price your art, we’ve rounded up lots of helpful advice on how to price different types of art and commissions. Here’s what to know.
How Much Should I Charge For My Art?
Figuring out best practices for pricing artworks is a big challenge for both beginners and experienced artists. And the process for doing so is both subjective and objective, having to align with your own personal interpretation of what your work is worth as well as the market conditions that are driving sales.
How to price your art prints, paintings, and other pieces might not always be easy, but it’s not rocket science either. There are a number of formulas you can use to decide what price tag you should put on your work, and a lot of artists who have forged the way ahead of you. Use both as a resource when determining how to price your art work and you should be able to find what works best for you—and for your buyers.
Advice and Formulas for Pricing Art
If you’re asking how do I price my art paintings? then you’re in the right place.
“The most important lesson came from realizing that most of us are really still figuring it out,” says Andrea B. Farina, an artist who specializes in fine art and embroidery. “Someone could seem so professional and experienced, but really, they’re also wondering, ‘Am I pricing my work right?’”
Self-doubt goes hand-in-hand with forging your way in a creative career. How you tackle it though speaks volumes to how successful you’ll ultimately be—and yes, it’s totally okay wing it in the beginning.
Here are some of the formulas that real artists use, and that might be helpful as you work on pricing your art.
How to Price Oil Paintings
One of the most common ways to price oil paintings and other pieces of fine art is the square inch method, with or without material costs included.
“I always price my paintings by the square inch,” says fine artist Susie Drucker. “It’s a set amount whether or not the painting is framed, and regardless of my personal feelings about the piece.”
That formula looks something like this:
Square Inch Formula
- Multiply the length of the piece by the width of the piece in inches to arrive at the total number of square inches. If your oil painting is 12 inches by 12 inches, that’s 12 x 12, or 144 total square inches.
- Set a price per square inch; for example $3. Here, that would be 144 x 3, for a total of $432, which you’d then likely round to $430.
Square Inch Formula + Materials
If you also want to recuperate the costs of materials—including the canvas and frame—then you’ll need to factor that into the formula.
- Figure out how much you spent on materials and double it, since otherwise you’re just subsidizing the cost for the buyer. If you spent $50, that’ll come out to $100.
- The total for the piece then ends up being $430 plus $100, for a total price of $530.
It’s up to you whether you add on the price of the frame and other materials, but the square inch method is a great way to arrive at a clear and set price point for your work—and, as Drucker mentions, a great way to take your own personal attachment to the piece out of the equation.
How to Price Watercolor Paintings
Over at the Watercolor Guru, artist Anthony Pfohl Jr. recommends factoring in both the market and your personal experience when pricing your artwork. “Art is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it; an artist may reason that their masterpiece is ‘worth’ $10,000, but if no one buys it at that price, it’s not worth $10k,” he says.
His advice on selling watercolor paintings comes down to pricing your work at what you think it will actually sell at, not what just you wish it would sell at. He recommends the following process for pricing watercolors.
Sell + Raise
- If you’re just getting started, focus on producing small or medium sized watercolor paintings that you can price low—around $50 to $150.
- Once you’ve sold half of your inventory, bump your prices up by 10%.
Simple as it is, this formula gets to the heart of beginner pricing, which is that the more you sell, the more your work is worth. Pricing low from the get-go and then gradually increasing your rates over time incorporates skill and demand into your price tag, rather than just wishful thinking. The more art you sell, the more your work is worth, which is good news for any artist who’s working to ramp up their career.
How to Price Acrylic and Mixed Media
If art is your job, then you’ll want to make sure that the prices you set factor in a living wage. A good formula to use with acrylic and mixed media art pieces (or, as is true for any of the formulas we’ve mentioned, with any type of art that you create) is one that includes this important variable while also helping you recuperate the cost of materials.
(Hourly Wage × Hours Spent) + Cost of Materials
For this method of how to price your art prints, treat yourself like an employee and pay yourself for your time.
- Determine what your “hourly rate” is as an artist. For our purposes, let’s say $25.
- Figure out how many hours you spent on the piece. If it was five hours, that’s 25 x 5, or $125.
- Now consider materials. If you spent $50, that’s $125 + $50 for a total price of $175.
The benefit of this art pricing method is that you can modify it based on what you think your time is worth. If you’re pricing a particularly difficult and time-consuming piece, the end price will reflect that. (Though to Pfohl’s point above, it should still be in line with the general demand of your work, since pricing too high might not land you any buyers.)
Something else that you may want to consider is the percent profit you want to make. Using the above example, you could add a 30% profit margin to increase your total amount to $227.50, and from there round up to $230. But again, it depends if you have the skills and experience to back it up. If you do go this route, make it easy by using an art pricing calculator.
How to Price Your Digital Art
Prints pricing for digital art can get a bit tricky, since you’re typically using equipment instead of materials and the deliverable itself might not be a tangible piece.
Your best bet for digital art pricing is likely going to be a play off of the formula above, foregoing material costs in favor of profit margin and market conditions.
(Hourly Wage × Hours Spent) + Profit Margin
- Start with your desired hourly rate. For this one, we’ll say $40 an hour.
- Multiply that by how long the piece took you. If it took you five hours, that’s 40 x 5 for a total of $200.
- Factor in your desired profit margin. If it’s 15%, that’s [(200 x .15) + 200], for a total amount of $230.
Now here’s where market conditions come into play. The type of digital art you’re creating, the field you’re creating in, and the type of buyer you’re reaching for will all affect your total price point. In lieu of a set formula, it might just help to look at what your competitors are pricing their work at in comparison to what you want to price at—then find the happy medium.
How to Price Your Art Commissions
Commission prices often look different than prices for completed work. You’ve got a set buyer and a predetermined project, plus a bit more leeway in your charging structure since the demand is already there.
Artist and teacher Melissa Dinwiddie had this sage piece of advice to give on art commission prices for a guest post on The Abundant Artist: “If you like what I do, this is what I charge. If you don’t want to pay it, you don’t have to buy it. Period.”
Dinwiddie says that staying firm with her art commission prices is key to valuing herself as an artist and businessperson and helps her avoid working with clients who she ends up resenting.
To make it work, set up a commission price sheet that you can hand off to potential clients when they ask about your rates. That way, you have set commission pricing and don’t have to do the math with every request. As for the prices themselves, try one of the formulas above and then tweak as needed.
Practice makes perfect, and that’s true with your pricing as well as your art itself. The more you do it, the more natural it will seem—and the more you can charge, too. Sounds like a win-win!
Ready to Sell More Art?
The Creative Guide to Selling Art – Confidently