The Artist's Dilemma: Pricing art

How to price your work is one of the hardest decisions for an artist, particularly in those early days. There's many resources one can turn to for guidance. Many will say to double your cost of materials and factor in your time, or use similar artists' work as a benchmark, and New Blood Art suggest we ask "What price would it need to be in order for [you] not to feel as though [you've] been robbed?"~ which are all valid factors indeed.

As an emerging artist myself, I first found myself desperate to counteract the intrinsically high prices of sustainable materials to satiate my desire to make art accessible; I hated the thought of somebody appreciating my work but being unable to afford it. As a result I can't tell you how many people told me my work was under priced and I needed to charge more (they still do sometimes). They all meant well but I found this to be a double edged sword when they then didn't buy work they thought was under priced, and that's because it was un-reassuringly cheap. So, now my pricing strategy essentially starts with my instinctively low price and then I remind myself a) it's OK to make a little bit of money for myself and b) EVERYTHING that has gone into that piece. Which will usually include:

  • Cost of sustainable materials

  • Cost of sustainable packaging

  • Time to source sustainable packaging and materials

  • Time to make natural paints and naturally hand dye fabrics

  • Time to create the final piece

  • Admin, marketing, networking

  • My lifetime of passion for art

  • Time to continuously teach myself more fine art and natural dying techniques

  • Several confronting breakdowns I had in my early twenties that forced me to resolve childhood trauma through art

  • Living in a house dominated by my home studio taking over the dining room

  • My unique set of experiences that led to the exact moment I created that piece

And that is why when I hear somebody remark on someone's work 'that's overpriced/that's not art/I could have done that' I think- but you didn't.

© 2019 by Colette LaVette.


Sustainable ~ Cruelty Free ~ Artist