I was asked a little while back by anotherartist about how I sell my art... you know... how much do I charge?... who do I sell it to? and so on....so I thought I might share my answers to her with all of you...I hope you might find it interesting...

The Art Scenario

As with all artists, we would love to make a living from our art. As it happens, that scenario is rare. Many people may love your art and praise your efforts, but when it comes to actually purchasing any, the numbers are small.

The biggest mistake is selling it cheap. Once you sell one piece at a low price, you set a precident for all of your art. Cheap art has low creditablity.

Setting a price for your art is a difficult task, there is really no "blue book" price to work from, so you have to rely on guesswork to find one. Then it may be too low or too high... We've all been there.

If you live in a low income area, then there may be very few that can afford the luxury of purchasing art. I live in such an environment. "Pots and Pans" I call it.... For most of these folks it's, buy food, pay rent, buy fuel and have very little left for any luxuries... such as art.

There are people out there however, who can and will buy quality art, the task is to find them.

Is my art good enough?

The best way to find this out is by showing several people a piece of your art they have never seen before. You listen for the magic word - WOW - you can't buy the wow response, you have to earn it. If that it what you are hearing, then it's pretty sure indication that your art is good enough to sell.

Paid by the hour

We wish...If I asked to be paid by the hour for my last picture, I would never have to work again. It is impossible and impractical to consider pricing your art this way.

A Pricing Strategy that works for me

I paint on canvas, using acylics and I now know that art on canvas brings a far better price than most other art. The argument that oils out sell acrylics is a mute one, it all depends on the quality of the finished piece and, to be quite frank, most, non-art savvy people don't know one from the other.

(Note: if you work with other mediums... I will explain more down the track)

I calculate my art price by the inch... usually some where between eighty cents to a dollar an inch.

So, a 30" x 40" painting would equate to $720, I would round that off to $700. Trust me, it works.

If you think that is too high, then try it at fifty cents to the inch (you do the math).

The danger is, that if you drop below fifty cents, you will undersell yourself and set that precident I spoke about earlier. Trust me, I've been there.

What about other mediums?
Other mediums, in particular, Watercolor and Pastels, generally require framing, so the same pricing strategy can be used for them as well. the overall dimensions of the art, including the frame, priced by the inch.

Where to sell

Try tapping into selective markets -

If there is a bike, car, truck, air show or a festival on near you, then design your art so it relates to the show or festival's theme.The same would also apply to dog, horse or flower shows - paint to suit the theme of the show or festival. That's what people are interested in at these events.

You should always add a couple of non-related paintings to your display, this will give the public some idea of the scope of your art subjects. I have taken on several commissions this way.
Some would think that a painting of a rose or a cute puppy would not be the thing to take to a custom motorcycle show, we commonly assume it's only guys that attend these shows. Not so, I have found that they usually have their ladies with them and ladies like flowers and cute puppies. The ladies are the ones you'll find checking out the stalls and art displays. 70% of my sales have been to ladies.
If it's a show or festival near the beach, then do pictures of seagulls, pelicans, the beach it'self etc.
There is hardly a weekend goes by without a festival, fair or show happening somewhere. You may have to travel a few mlies, but it may be well worth the trip.
Check the Internet to find what is happening in your area or state.
It's all about having the right art in the right place.
If you are fortunate enough to find a gallery that will handle your art, then you have to remember that they will charge you a fee. Most galleries will take a percentage of the selling price as the fee. This can be quite often very high and, if you chose the fifty cents to the inch pricing, you will make very little. Generally speaking, you will have a better chance to sell your art if it's in a gallery, but it will limit your returns financially.
Selling Online:
This can a difficult way to sell art, the buyer usually has only a photograph and a description to go by. I have found that most serious buyers will steer clear of buying art this way. They want to see it "in the flesh", particuarly if it has a high price.
In addition, you will, in most cases, have to get the artwork to them if they buy it and that can be very expensive to do. You also run the risk of it being damaged or lost in transit.
I know some that will disagee with this, but I have never really had any great success selling art online.
Posting your art online
An absolute must do... Sites like The Art Colony are a fabulous way to show the World your art. Additionally, It's here that you can let people know what show or festival they can find you at. You can return the gesture by printing a flyer about yourself, your art and the web site and hand them out at the shows.
Having said all that - here is my disclaimer...
All that I have stated here is drawn from my own experiences over the years. There will be some who will disagree with what I have said, either wholly or in part, but that is the way individual logic works.
If you find some of it helpfull, then try it, you'll never know if you don't give it a go...
As an end note I will pass on a piece of advice that was related to me many years ago by a successfull, established artist, he said..." Never do your art for the money, do it because you love it...if you love it, you'll do it well...it will then sell itself"

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Dallas, thanks for sharing your experiences with us.  I for one truly appreciate it!

Hi Dallas!

I trust the festive season has treated you well and I wish you the very best for 2015!

I spent my festive season diligently organising a spread sheet on the most common sizes I use, based on the $/inch or in my case per cm basis.  I also varied my pricing according to the technique used as I figured photo realistic work should be more expensive than less intense work.  Do you agree with that, by the way?

The thing is, I was quite taken aback by the amounts that presented themselves and I am wondering if my prices are not too high.

Please will you be so kind as to judge some of my work and give me an indication of what you feel it should sell for?  No pressure, this is just a gut feel thing.  Please look at 3 pieces for me and please contact me should you need any more info on the mounts, etc.  The three pieces I would greatly appreciate your input on are:  Saffron, Best friend, Best tutor and one of the seasons, say, Spring.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance! :)

I sell whimsical art...it does sell! :)

Gail Dennis said:

Dallas, thank-you so much for taking the time to post this wonderful information. I found it very informative and helpful. Being a new artist I find that I am my own worst critic and for this reason tend to price my work low. I guess I feel that whimsical art won't bring the prices that realism does. What do you think?


Dallas thank you a million times for your advice. It opened my mind on how to treat my art. Hope to hear from you again.

Thanks for the info Dallas! I live in South Africa  and selling art here is a bit of a challenge. I am really no good at marketing my work and I price my work way too low, but I always feel sorry for the person who really, really wants it, but just can't afford it. I am definitely going to try the inch by inch (in my case that would be centimetres) method of working out my price. That sounds much less complicated that trying to figure out the value of an artwork based on "feel". Does the price per inch/centimetre differ according to the medium? Do you determine that price on cost? I read Michael's comment, but I am USELESS when it comes to anything that becomes close to mathematics and a spread sheet sounds too close to home for me. :-D Thanks again for the very helpful article.

Dallas Nyberg, thank you very much for your posts.  I am still learning and relatively new at painting; self teaching myself the past 3 years.  I have no idea at all how to price my originals and am reluctant to actually put a price on anything.  Your suggestions are not taken lightly and I hope you have made a nice profit on your beautiful artwork. These discussions are very helpful.  tata for now!

Coming in a little late here. Was absent three years and gratefully have returned. Just wanted to thank you for your generous advice. Very helpful indeed.



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