Thoughts on Pricing…

I promised in my last post that I would share some thoughts on pricing. The topic was inspired by the last two art festivals I attended (Inman Park and Virginia Highlands). I noticed that prices are down overall quite a bit. While I suppose that is great for me as a collector (Jason and I bought a FABULOUS painting as our wedding present for each other and we were thrilled and pleasantly surprised that it was in our price range!) it makes me ponder quite a few things as an artist, too…

Pricing thoughts:  Pricing is a tricky thing for artists; I’ve always hated pricing my work. I remember reading a thought-provoking article a long time ago that suggested that artists determine what kind of artist they would like to be in the market. One can be a “Walmart” artist (that’s not meant to be derogatory at all; those are the words of the article) and sell lots of inventory at a very low price. The artist may do well but his or her work will most likely not be seen as overly “valuable” in the collecting sense. And that is great if that is what one wants to do; it is not wrong in the least! On the other end is the artist that obviously prices a little higher (and most likely increases prices every year or so) so that the number of sales is not as high as the formerly mentioned artist but the amount and perceived value is quite a bit higher. It goes right along with my beloved Econ classes in college (that’s not sarcastic; Micro and Macro Econ truly were two of my favorite classes).

A thought on “affordable” options:  I have also talked to several folks in the art business and read some great articles on prints. There are some passionate views on prints and the value of art! And it seems there are very knowledgeable people that have opposing viewpoints on types of prints and whether artists are “selling out” if they go the print route. I’m not even going to get into “limited editions” (although I have dabbled in “limited edition” prints of a few of my paintings). I have had several friends, coworkers and others ask about prints as they love a painting but cannot afford the original nor would they ask me to adjust a price. I am getting set up to have some high quality prints made of a few select paintings to provide that option. After all, I am just lucky that they were touched by something I created and it would make me so happy to know that they have an image that makes them smile in their home (or to give as a gift). Is that going to mess with the perceived value of my art? I don’t know according to the article and advice I have received. But my primary motivation is in allowing people to have that option if they love a piece of art. As a collector my experience is that prints don’t hinder my perceived value of a piece. Three years ago at the Piedmont Art Festival I discovered a wonderful photographer/painter that had prints of “Grandma’s Rainbow” (I might have the exact title wrong) but then realized the artist also had the original triptych of Grandma’s Rainbow in his booth. I asked him if buying without the frames was an option (I’m picky about framing) and bought the originals. The fact that he had the prints did not deter me from buying the originals. It was about the same price as what I had just been paid for a commission and it made me so happy.

Back to pricing:  In this economy artists that depend solely on their income from art sales are in a very tricky position. I am truly blessed in this aspect as I depend mostly on my teaching income so I look at this as an artist/collector that is not in the desperate position of some artists. Artists create a product that will ideally appreciate in value. Yet they need to cut prices to make sales right now. And they may need to cut prices drastically as art is not a “need” in a time where many people are struggling to afford basic necessities. Yet when I see some of the extremely low prices on a piece of artwork that an artist put countless hours and heart into it makes me sad. I used to wonder if artists that price extremely low value their work (this is mostly for artists that make a unique product that buyers find desirable and seem to have been at it for a while). But making enough to live on obviously trumps strategic pricing for the purposes of increasing value of artwork.

Happy is worth its weight in gold:  The photo in this post is a piece of art that makes me SO happy. Every time I walk into the bathroom he greets me with a smile. He stands on the toilet and is quite content there. I got this little guy at the Folk Fest last year. I paid either $140 or $160 for him; can’t remember exactly. I also loved the artist’s larger pieces but they were out of my price range and that would have made choosing my favorite more difficult anyway. The artist was being fair to himself with the hours, expertise and vision that he had in his pricing and it made me value his artwork, too. And he seemed to be doing pretty well with the perceived value of others in this down economy (oh, this was the artist that I mentioned in a previous post that almost lost my sale because he was chatting it up on his cell phone while I waited and waited. Obviously I valued his artwork and the happiness it gave me to overcome one of my pet peeves).

So that’s all I have for now:  These are just hard times unfortunately. If you have a love of art and the means to purchase it is a great time to get out there and make some purchases; you will be adding beauty into your own life and into the life of the artist that you are supporting with a purchase. Look around for some fun festivals this summer. Whether you purchase or not, being around art makes the soul smile. 🙂

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