How I price my paintings

For years I have struggled with how to price my paintings. If I overprice them, I might scare people off. If I charge too little, people will think something is wrong.

So it became a guessing game. The larger pieces priced higher than the smaller ones, unless they were more elaborate or somehow “better” in my mind.

I even tried pricing them according to how long it took me to finish, multiplying by an hourly rate that sounded nice, but wasn’t ideal either since paintings don’t always complete themselves at the same pace. A large painting might be completed quickly, and a small painting may take a long time to finish.

Then I discovered 2 reliable pricing structures

Recently I found a post by Melissa Dinwiddie on The Abundant Artist about how to price your paintings. My eyes were opened.

You can price by the square inch or by the lineal inch. You still total the width and the height, then multiply them by something, but there is a big difference in the end.

Square inch pricing multiplies height and width, then multiplies the total against a set rate.

h × w × r = price

Linear inch pricing adds the height and width. Then the sum is multiplied against a set rate.

h + w × r = price

I prefer the linear inch method.

This is because there is less of a giant difference between a small and a large piece. Square inch pricing results in a dramatic jump from one size to another. A linear inch pricing structure is easier to stomach. It’s also easier to calculate.

If a painting is 12 x 12 inches, that is 24 linear inches, right? Multiply that by $3. That’s $72. Why $3? Because since I originally wrote this article, I have changed my style and in a way I’ve started over as an artist. So my prices have started over. And in time, I will incrementally raise my prices as I develop my body of work and gain more recognition. This covers the materials, my time, and the inherent value of the work.

If I apply the 99-cent rule, I can adjust the price $72 to $75.

My Pricing Table

So, here is what my pricing structure looks like right now. I add the height and width of canvas sizes, then multiply the total by $3 to arrive at a base price. The base price is then adjusted to something akin to the ’99-cent’ rule. I use a $4 multiplier for commissions.

Canvas Size Price
8 × 8 $50
10 × 10 $60
12 × 12 $75
18 × 18 $110
20 × 20 $120
24 × 24 $150
36 × 36 $220
48 × 48 $290

That’s how I price my work these days. As my work becomes more recognizable, the rate will go up. This increases the value of earlier paintings as well.

How do you do it?

Let me know in the comments how you price your work! I’m curious how other people do it.

Update

This article was originally posted January 20, 2015. It was most recently updated November 27, 2018.

Neon Dollar Sign Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc