Just over a month ago, I opened an Etsy store so I could sell some of my art and photography online. Within the first few days, a fellow Etsy seller sent me an email asking about my pricing. Ugh.
The mixing of money and art…it’s an uncomfortable subject at best. Why is this?
Is it because we think that the price we put on our art is reflective of it’s value…and since we create from our heart and souls, we tie the value of what we create to our own personal value? Or is it because we’re not sure how much we should get paid to do something we love and enjoy?
No matter the reason, pricing our own art is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult things to do! The only way I’ve been able to get semi-comfortable with pricing my art is by separating myself from what I create, i.e., looking at a finished piece as a product rather than “my art”. Removing my emotional self and all that I’ve experienced during the creative process not only allows me to be more objective when it comes to determining a price, it also takes away the “apology” factor…that is, feeling like I should apologize for the price of my art.
When I first started selling my work, I was absolutely clueless as to a price…so I turned to the wisdom of full-time professional painter and author of The Painter’s Keys (a twice-weekly letter which I love), Robert Genn. He wholeheartedly believes that “artists young and old, particularly those who have the intention of staying in the game, ought to strategize for the big picture and honour their strategy with Biblical tenacity.” He has assembled what he calls, “The Ten Commandments of Art Pricing” which I have found to be full of wisdom and common sense:
“Thou shalt start out cheap.
Thou shalt publish thy prices.
Thou shalt raise thy prices regularly and a little (he suggests 10% per year).
Thou shalt not lower thy prices.
Thou shalt not have one price for Sam and another for Joe.
Thou shalt not price by talent or time taken, but by size.
Thou shalt not easily discount thy prices.
Thou shalt lay control on thy agents and dealers.
Thou shalt deal with those who will honour thee.
Thou shalt end up expensive.”