I tried the free art price calculator on the web, and found it interesting, although pricing art is so idiosyncratic that it wasn’t really useful. In my work as a Director of Art-Tique, I am often asked how much they should charge for their work by artists who are just starting out. I always tell beginning artists that art pricing is personal (meaning every artist pretty much makes up their own rules!). However, there are some guidelines:
Make sure the price of the art first covers the cost of your time and materials.
If you want to use the “per square inch” approach, you can emulate the Printing companies who do price by the square inch. Take a survey (get prices) locally from both a high-end printer of Giclee and your local print shop (Kinkos, Office Impress) and check out the pricing on the on-line printer Fine Art America. Compare the prices.
If you don’t want to use that approach, go to a local art show, compare your art to the winning art, and check out other artists’ prices. This will give you a ballpark figure on how much other artists in your area are charging. Where prospective buyers will see the art does make a difference. I live in a large city surrounded by farming and agriculture that is not considered an art mecca for California. If I sell a painting in my area I will get less for it than if I had marketed on the Coast because for some reason, buyers think that there is more ‘cachet’ from art bought in Carmel or San Francisco than that bought in Fresno. The same painting by the same artist will earn more if marketed in a pricey gallery in New York than it will in New Jersey.
When checking pricing at an art show, you should be looking for the following criteria: Artists who paint the same or similar subject matter (abstracts, still lifes, portraits, landscapes, etc.) Be honest: is your art as good as theirs is? If you don’t know, ask a more experienced artist to critique your work. Please be careful with this; the person who does the critiquing should be a more experienced artist with some knowledge of technique and the principles of art. We love them, but the opinions of our friends and family who don’t know any more than we do about art really aren’t useful as critiques.
Enter some art shows and have a professional (a paid judge) give you an honest opinion.
Lastly, how much do you like the art? If you really like it, don’t give it away. Price it so that you will be happy if it sells, not regret that you gave it away. If it doesn’t sell, you can enjoy looking at it!
If you are still interested in using the art price calculator, here a couple of links to free art pricing sites.
By the Practical Artist
Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork; unfortunately, if you don’t frame your art wisely a poor framing job can ultimately ruin the appeal of the painting or photograph altogether. We all want our art to look its best, so artists inexperienced in the art of framing usually begin by using a commercial framer. A commercial framer will give you a nice, professional looking frame for your art. They will also give you sticker shock when quoting the price. Depending on the size of the frame wanted, a commercial framer can charge anywhere from $200 to $600 for a simple frame for a painting. Keep in mind that the cost can go much higher if you want an elaborate, ornate frame for your art. Contrary to popular supposition, using a metal frame is not cheaper (metal frames are favored by watercolorists and pastel artists). A commercial framer must not only charge you for the materials, but also for the labor it takes to actually frame the art.
The simplest way to avoid this type of sticker shock is to do your own framing. This isn’t really that hard; the first step is finding an inexpensive frame that looks good. The local art store will have a variety of frames to select from in standard sizes so watch the sales flyers for Coupons from your local art store and use them. Depending on the size of the art you are framing, you may be able to find suitable frames from other sources also. Dollar and discount stores such as Walmart and Target typically have photo frames available in sizes that can be adapted to art. Words of warning here however; make sure that the frames you purchase from this source are made of wood and not plastic or acrylic. Plastic or acrylic frames can’t easily be adapted to the hanging methods required by most art shows. The saw-tooth or eyelet hangers that come with the frames probably won’t be accepted at a professional art show or gallery. Another difficulty is sizing. Take your tape measure with you; some of the frames sold at these places are not the standard sizes used by artists. Frames that look to be 11 x 14 can turn out to be 10 x 13 or some other odd size that won’t fit canvas or canvas boards sold to painters.
Another good source for finding inexpensive frames is On-line catalogs or internet stores. Typically these sites will charge less than your local art store because you are circumventing the middleman’s markup. This is my favorite source when purchasing new frames because the cost is usually 30 to 50% less than that of my local retail store. Of course the shipping does add an extra fee which cuts down on the savings somewhat. I buy frames from these places in bulk once or twice a year because there is an additional discount if you buy at least 3 or 4 frames at the same time. Think ahead and sign up for the stores e-mail program so you will be notified when they are having a sale. If you can’t afford the initial cost of buying in bulk up front, you might consider buying in bulk and sharing the cost with other artists. Some good sources of Catalogs are to name only a few:
ASW (Art Supply Warehouse) http://www.aswexpress.com/,
The Frame Place http://www.frameplace.com/xwoodfrm.htm,
Frame USA http://www.frameusa.com/wood-frames
Another way to frame inexpensively is to find used frames and refurbish them. Where can you find used frames? Well the two main sources I have found for used frames are second hand stores and yard sales. Again, take your tape measure with you because framed art found here may or may not meet the size requirements of standard canvas sizes sold in the art store. The frame probably won’t be in pristine condition so you may have to do some refurbishing and refinishing. Look for wooden or metal frames because they are easiest to clean up and refurbish. This subject is covered in more detail in Part two How To Find A Good Used Frame, Part three of this series on inexpensive framing covers ways to refurbish a used frame, and Part four explains how to refinish one of those ornate frames.