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There are so many facets to consider about when creating a work of art, because this category and subject can get very detailed and is quite broad based on each individual and style of medium. Whether you sculpt, paint, sketch, weld, to the many mediums and styles of painting, colors, textures media etc., you can spend more time in trying to determine what the final masterpiece will be priced at that what it took to create it. 

First of all, don't shortchange yourself, YET, be very practical. Now, this is not to say that you should give your art away but at the same time don't give your potential customers unrealistic sticker shock either. Listed below are a few different methods that may work for you, these suggestions can assist you in some of the wandering questions that we have all experienced at a point in our artistic careers. Try one or all of these, experiment, you may find one that works well for you, based on the size of the piece, time measure and pace yourself. As you get started with this it can give you a better idea of your scale for pricing. 

1.) Time clock yourself. See how long it takes and use it as a tool to determine if this method can work for you. Give yourself a starting hourly wage, add into the sum the supplies "at cost". Add them up. Based on your hourly wage can determine the cost of your piece.

2.) Add up the materials and give yourself a humble fee, then times it all by three. For instance your canvas 15.00, usage of paints 6.00, your humble fee based on a four hour project 40.00. Sub totaling 61.00, times three 183.00. This is just an example, you can make your humble fee whatever you feel is fair for you. Work with the numbers, but feel good about the result.

3.) Let the canvas be your guide.... determine the price of your art based on the size of the canvas. Give yourself a hard and fast rule that you charge a specific price per canvas and stick to that price. You can never go wrong with this method, as long as you are comfortable with a price for the works that you are producing.

4.) Let the canvas be your grid! Use a simple pricing structure like a specific cost per square inch. This is another way that you can be consistent with your pricing and it can give a potential buyer a good range to work with when considering a commissioned piece. For example you have a 16" x 20" canvas (320 square inches), your charge .20 cents per square inch, your total will then be 70.40. For this and Item #3, have separate grid pricing structures for different mediums canvas, paper, matboard, cardboard, masonite etc.

5.) Try not to base your prices on your ego or "originality". Unfortunately not everyone can be a Warhol and it always better to get your pricing structure to gain in popularity, let your reputation easily progress. 

6.) Keep consistent with your pricing, play it cool and don't get "green eyes" while you may be on a good selling streak. Buyers notice this and they will appreciate the consistency.

7.) Be reasonable with your quote on the shipping and handling, if you are not too sure about shipping costs and prices, please refer to my article from the November 2000 zine on "S.O.S. Sonya on Shipping" there are many tips to shipping fairly.

8.) On all the above suggestions you should factor in advance all your supplies, do not tack on "supplies" when invoicing your art, it's cheesy and unprofessional. They are purchasing a piece of artwork, from you, not a bag-o-itemized-deals from Bobs warehouse. If you do not presently complete an invoice for your buyers, you may want to think about doing this, if for no other reason than it make a great impression. You can get a booklet of pre-printed invoices from the stationery store.

9.) Again, be humble and start easy, it is far easier to gain your popularity rather than to start high then to have to back down, this will not make you feel all that great and you do not want to impair your creative ability. Also, take into consideration if you would rather sell more in quantity and really get exposed.... This will create your repeat customer and you can build from there. :o) 

10.) You are your own artist, do not worry about what other artists are doing and getting for their pieces, there are several reasons for this and it can be from their reputation to what they do for a living, it can be their own dedicated following, to perhaps where their geographic location is, it may even be a non productive auction page.

Don't try to figure it out or you may go nuts, put your creative energy at work on your canvas and work on being successful! Work with the methods and best of luck with your pricing!

Sonya Paz

Sonya Paz is a professional fine artist/painter living in San Jose, California. Sonya is also an established web and graphic designer and has written many articles based on her experiences in the corporate world and how she manages her fine art business today. In 1996 - 1998 Sonya wrote the "Funky Thought of the Week" for the on-line publication Soho Saltmines.

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