It’s inevitable. Sooner or later someone will ask your prices and when you tell them they will act like your insane and tell you you need to lower them. How should you respond? Will lowering your prices help you to get more sales?
In almost every case, the answer is a GIANT NO!
People have gotten so used to the Walmart/ikea/cheap mass-produced art that they think original one of the kind art prices should match. Here are a few fun facts I’ve learned from selling art over the years.
1- Art is a luxury item. By not giving your work to someone at a discount you’re not preventing them from eating, keeping a roof over their head or medical care. “I really love your work, can you help me out with the price?”. Can you imagine someone going into a plastic surgeon and saying the same thing? Do NOT feel guilty if someone can’t afford your work.
2- Lowering your price will not likely get you that sale anyway! People like to act as if your prices were just a bit lower they would buy! NOPE! What I used to hear on commissions was “wow, $150? Will you take $75?” I would agree and then get “Ok, I will let you know when I’m ready” and they were never to be heard from again.
3- You don’t want to deal with clients who are only willing to pay low prices. They don’t generally value your work. After all, if your work is that cheap, then you must not really know what you’re doing. You probably need their help and criticism every. step. of. the. way.
When I raised my prices from $50 to $250 for a graphite portrait years ago, I still got more commissions and OMG was my life easier. The difference in the type of clients you get is HUGE.
I’m not saying to charge $5000 for everything. You can absolutely hit a point where you won’t get any sales, but charging too little can hurt just as much and waste your time!
So what do you say when someone tells you your prices are too high? For me, I give them the link to my print store. If you love my work, here’s an option to own a piece at a fraction of the price! Having a link to your prices on your website will also make things easier when people start the “oh, I want a painting of my dog, how much do you charge” conversations.
Try to keep in mind that most people who try and low-ball your prices have no idea they’re being rude. I was recently talking to another artist at Aquashella. This guy was AMAZING!! He was asking what I thought he could get for this painting he had done on a wood cut out. This piece took him two weeks. I would love to say he could easily get 2k for it, but the problem is in finding the right buyer for this exact type of work, and at these shows most won’t pay that. Another guy who was shopping at the event came by and saw his painting and just gushed over it. I said, “what would you be willing to pay for something like this if it were for sale”.
The guy answered proudly, still gushing over the painting, “Oh, I would pay $100, maybe even $250!!”.
He thought he was so generous in that answer. He had no idea that as an artist this number for this piece was insulting. He then went on to tell us how he paid a bit more for another piece of art that was a metal cut out. He was telling us that it wasn’t really a fair comparison though since the metal art was so much harder to make. He was wrong. The process of that metal art likely took the artist an afternoon at most to make where this painting took weeks. The average buyer has no idea what they’re looking at. They only know what they like, and that is so subjective that it’s no real indication of your skill level.
Why do I tell you this long story? Because it’s SO common. Don’t let someone telling you your work should be cheaper discourage you, or make you feel your work isn’t worth what you’re asking.
Be reasonable of course, see what other artists are selling their work for that are in about the same place as you (reputation, skill, size, location), but you’re not a flea market or mass-produced art. You produce original, one of a kind pieces and that demands a higher price. Don’t feel guilty for the prices you’ve chosen.