Wednesday evening @ The Plastic Club, Anders Hanson hosted a lively discussion of how artists should price their art. Many familiar faces were present in the Tea Room, all with the same concerns – how do artists price their work. Off the Wall Gallery @ Dirty Frank’s curator Jody Sweitzer shared lots of good advice from deciding how much you should pay yourself to pricing works in a range that is reasonable yet profitable. Ben Cohen shared a great idea from his last one person show – he priced figure studies done in workshops at really low prices with a raffle coupon attached for one of his framed paintings valued at around $300. Ben found that people bought more than one drawing with hopes of winning one of his paintings and he earned enough to cover the “loss” of the painting and generated good will. Other ideas included pricing by the square inch (Francis Tucker, the great painter and teacher does this – he charges $5 per square inch, you do the math), keeping track of hours and material costs, not giving away work to friends, no undercutting yourself when a client asks the price, keeping your price consistent (don’t price it one way for New York and another for Philly), think like a business person and pick up on buying cues, be present at your openings and follow up, follow up, follow up. On a recent show on PBS called Craft in America, one of the artists said to not count on your gallery to promote your work and keep your own mailing lists (snail & e-mail).
Jody visits artist studios to learn more about the artist and their body of work, picks works she feels will sell, learns the background of the work, techniques, materials, style…so when a patron asks she’s armed with info to share. Off the Wall has a terrific sales record and does great promotion with posters, cards and parties. Rick Wright shared that he has a range of product priced from very low for his famous cell phone photos (phone-to-grams) to higher end large scale works. By selling some works cheap he makes friends and collectors who return and often buy more.
Sweitzer recommended the book “How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul” by Caroll Michels. DoN recommends “I’d Rather be in the Studio” by Alyson Stanfield and “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. As a former sales manager, DoN has a few tips: watch for buying cues (how much is it?, how did you make it?, how long did it take?…) Use the acronym QRISP – quality, reputation, innovation, style and price. Notice price is last not first – don’t spend your collectors money for them, after all, you don’t know how much they have to spend. In this feverish economy, it’s important to remain thick skinned, engage your customers, pick up on cues, have a story to tell, value yourself and stick to your price.