What The Market Will Bear

What relationship exists between the artist and the price they can set for their work? Generally speaking, an artist can price their work at whatever they think the market will bear. However, pricing and selling are two different things. (Think about that house or car you sold.) In order to sell, the artist has to consider some of the factors mentioned above. 

'Emerging' artists face the dilemna of under/overcharging because they think too little or too much of their work to establish its true value, plus they are competing with established artists whose prices they cannot get too close to, unless they want their patron to buy from the more established artists. So, they usually undersell and pray for fame. 

'Mid-career' artists either have their prices set by dealers (an objective 3rd party) or have driven prices up themselves. Dealers take 40-60% on average, so always remember that the artist is only getting a portion of the price you pay the gallery. (If the artist makes $30 an hour, works 240 hours, and splits 50% with the dealer, the work would be priced at $14,400 -- the price you see next to the painting on the gallery wall. Using the formulas above, think about the $5,000 and $7,000 paintings you've seen.... The artist made about $15 an hour.) Independant  artists drive  their prices  up the same way a dealer does -- gradually over time, with each sale increasing their 'going rate'. When you buy from an independant, ask to see a sales roster which should include each sold work of art's title, medium, date sold, price, location as well as its availability for resale. You can ask for names of past patrons, but beware that an artist's most closely guarded secrets are the names of his/her patrons, and so that information will most likely be withheld.

'Mature' artists almost always have representation, either through an agent or through a dealer (i.e. gallery), although some are self-represented. The gallery owner, agent or the artist set prices based upon past performance, such that the value and price of the artwork increase from show to show, or in the case of the self-represented artist, from sale to sale. Purchases take on even greater signifcance at this stage of an artist's career because they lock in the increased value and price, which is particularly great for collectors and artists......

Hopefully I've given you enough information about the actual cost of making art, and that you are more familiar with how the artworld works.

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Copyright 2022  Eric Jonsson.  All rights reserved.

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The Cost of 
Making Art  p.4
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