Monday, 4 October 2010

What price Art?

How do you price a piece of your creativity?

Naturally you can pay yourself an hourly rate and attempt to add on a cost for supplies (1/100th of a tube of cerulean blue, 3mm of peach pencil, one sheet of acrylic paper etc..). Then there’s depreciation – how long will that paintbrush last (especially if I forget to clean it)?

But what about your talent? The originality of the idea? The skills involved in execution? How on earth do you place a price on the contents of your imagination and the splashes of your soul that end up in some pieces? Artists like Van Gogh put their heart and soul into every painting, I think that man in particular gave more than he had.

It’s a grey old area make no mistake.

Take this piece. While I didn’t time it, I guess she took around three hours. I used paints, pencils, modelling paste, fibres, wax (I even had to buy an iron as melting wax on the same iron I use for pressing my delicates is obviously going to end in tears. Mind you £3.50 for a bog basic steam number from Tesco can’t be scoffed at!).

Then there’s the costs I wasn’t anticipating. Redecoration and carpet cleaning... Using a pump spray to give that delicate coat of speckled paint to her face caused not just a blue face my friends. The language was not so clean as the stream shot out at a bizarre angle covering everything on the table and finishing up all over the magnolia walls.

Attempt two took me outside into the garden... and back in again with muddy feet all over the carpet.

And so, as I ponder putting her for sale in my shop. What exactly should I be charging?

This is my first ever entry to Illustration Friday – a challenge site I’ve been meaning to join in with for about a year. Well, finally I managed! The theme is ‘Beneath’. My mermaid lies beneath the waves waiting patiently for her prey. I liked the eventual effect of the watery face – trying to imagine what mermaid skin might look like – a touch of camouflage perhaps. If I’d painted her tail, you might spot a barnacle or two!


  1. Your mermaid is a beauty. I love the texture a lot. And the colour of her hair - I seem to paint redheads all the time! I love the bluey green as well - very seashimmery. Lush!!

    I am also at a loss when it comes to charging. There is a thread somewhere on Willowing's ning about this. I'm sure I read some great advice from Rhomany on there. x

  2. Oh she's a lovely mermaiden and the colours are awesome! Such a pleasure to read your thoughts as well :)

  3. She is lovely! I can see some scrumptious texture in the background.
    As to what to charge, I'm afraid there is no answer. I have seen very simple art sell for lots of money, and I have seen beautiful very detailed work sit around and not sell. Who knows what a customer will pay?
    I would suggest putting her for a price you would be comfortable getting, but no less, because then you will feel like you are undermining your efforts. You deserve to get paid just like anyone else.
    good luck!

  4. Your painting is beautiful! You're not alone in wondering how to price your art. I wouldn't have the first clue. I come across this question a lot out there in mixed media art land.

    Prints are easier to price, from what I've seen, and I think easier to sell...

  5. Ohhhh she is gorgeous! I love that red hair and the green together!! The texture is beautiful too. I have the same problem with deciding how much to charge for paintings, and I know that I've seriously undercharged for my commission after all the work I've put into to it and still have to go. But I find it really hard charging someone for something that I really love doing which I know is a bit silly.

    In answer to your question I will definately be sharing my finished commission on my blog once my client has the finished piece! I've been staring at it for so long now that I don't even know if it's any good you ever find that?

    Anyway love this piece!!!!

  6. oh wow!!! this piece is wonderful and pricing is one of the hardest things to do....

  7. Lisa....!!! She is Bewildering Beauty...I love her enchanted heart and spirit....the look in her eyes...she is dazzling too! Love her!!

    Thankyou for visiting me always..and your lovely comments..and so cool how you are reading a dracula-esque type book..wild!! Sounds good!

    Never be afraid to price the value of your art must feel right to you...for there is no price that could measure that work/energy/effort and unique spirit that goes into creating it!

    Original art is immeasurable! and it is good to celebrate it, to respect and appreciate your artistry...and have a price that reflects the value of that!

    It is always an option to sell your original work for a higher price( one you feel is right to you) and if you can also sell prints for lesser prices to appeal to different levels of price!

    Art is valuable..artists should be appreciated for their work! be proud..honor your work and the value of it..this empowers artists and shifts the world's thinking better understand the value of artists and creativity.
    and how art is a gift!


  8. She is dreamy, Lisa.
    I can't believe you did this in 3 hrs.
    I am the slowest painter ever!
    Sorry I can't help you on the matter what I ask, big or little, it seems the market is flooded by people with the same sort of art...everyone has taken a Suzi or a Tam class, and does their own.
    I wish you the best, and I am sure the right person will buy her at the right price. Afterall,
    you are a gifted artist, with a ton of charisma and charm and good looks and talent and...did I mention you rock???

  9. Always love the vibrancy of your artwork. Can't believe it only took you 3 hours to finish it. Even just a line sketch of my girl took me 3 hours. Guess I'm just being anal, hahaha!

    I love the sparkly adornment you gave to your girl. So lucky of her to have you as her creator! ;)

  10. She's beautiful. Love your style.

  11. The mermaid is beautiful! As for your thoughts I feel the same. It's very hard to price art. But I figured it out for me. I never put a price on a painting that I don't feel comfortable with.

  12. It's so hard to price art--when I really like my piece--I price it high so it won't sell :) and it's easier to sell the prints obviously, but eventually you'll sell the original--it's just waiting for that right person to come along (that's what I tell myself)
    Your mermaid turned out so Beautiful and costly from what I'm reading here!!

  13. Ohh I'm right with you there on earth do you decide what to charge? My biggest problem there is thinking my work 'isn't good/professional enough' for people to pay!!!!!

    Love the mermaid! How's the carpet and the walls? Enjoy your writing style too.

    Have a great, creative Day

    Ro xx

  14. Welcome to IF. Your mermaid is lovely. I really like the colors and textures. As for what to charge, the simplest answer is whatever someone else is willing to pay. The hard part is figuring out what that number is, and I usually end up with a number that just feels right in my gut. If someone offers you less than a fair price, don't sell to them. I've had offers that amount to less than 50 cents/hour, not counting in supplies, delivery, etc. People like that don't deserve real art, and it's better to wait for a real offer. If you value yourself, other people will value you too.

  15. so wonderful to see your mermaid beneath. She is lovely and enticing.
    You ask such a great question. A very personal question. I like what some of the people have shared in the comments.
    3 hours, that is amazing. It takes me hours and hours to complete a piece.

  16. She is absolutely stunning. So ethereal and magical. You pose a question that I fight with all the time. I never know what to charge. I am fearful that if I price too high, no one will be able to afford it. Then if I price too low, I am depreciating myself. It's so hard to decide. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Theresa

  17. She'sj Beautiful! Love her colors. As far as priceing,I can't help you. Its hard to do. Actually I find that selling my art online is hard.

  18. Love all the texture on your mermaid. I've been trying to figure out the whole pricing thing myself. I want to open an etsy shop fairly soon but have no idea how to price my work...argh! Your little fiasco with the spray bottle made me laugh hard!! Thanks for that.



Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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