What is the value of your art work? This is such a contentious area because it is reliant on so many factors.
The first thing I think that needs to happen is as an artist you have to be honest with yourself. I understand that there is an attachment that forms between an artist and his/her work. You wouldn't willingly sell your children (on a good day). But that is how it can feel, something that you have slaved over now must be given a price tag. It is a necessary evil, this is where the honesty comes in. Ask yourself the following:
- You say that a painting (for example) was two years in the making. In real terms how much time did you actually spend?
- Did you produce other works in between?
- Did you spend 8 hours a day for 104 weeks on this piece of art?
- Does the work reflect that amount of input?
- Do you really expect to earn the equivalent of a wage from a painting?
Ok, I know there was something a little facetious about some of those questions but you do need to be honest. Here are some more for you, these all factor in the pricing of work.
- Where have you exhibited before (especially in London)?
- Have you sold work before in a professional gallery?
- Are you a full time artist?
- Where did you train?
These all factor in how to price your work. It is a rare thing that someone will spend £1000's on the work of an amateur artist. It does happen but not that often.
Serious collectors who spend serious money will want an artists pedigree if they are paying out large sums for the work.
Here's how I price my work, I'll answer the questions 1- 4 to help contextualise it for you. I have exhibited in London, I have sold quite a lot of work in galleries (excluding and including mine if that makes sense). I'm 3/4 time artist and I trained at Loughborough for my degree and Camberwell for my M.A.
I actually start with the frame, I need to make that money back first and foremost. I then think about the time it took to produce the work. I have an idea of how much I would like to be paid per hour, around £25, then I do the maths. I should add here that pieces seldom take me longer than a day, if they do I charge accordingly. If the number is too big at the end I rationalise how much I can actually live with selling it for. I do factor in my experience as a financial number too, it's hard to explain that but I do.
So that's how I do it.
Things to remember, keep your pricing consistent. There is a huge temptation by artists to have prices that move all over the place. I know this is often done to counteract gallery commission. But you must factor that in when costing your work in the first place. If someone buys a piece from you at one gallery and it's £300 and then 6 months later they see very similar work of yours else where for £150 they will not be happy. Quite rightly so, it is up to you to price your work correctly.
Lastly, you may enjoy living with your entire back catalogue under your bed, in the loft, in the garage or cluttering up your studio. But does that give you the impetus and money to make new work? I doubt it, price your work to sell, be fair to both yourself and the potential buyer.