Here’s how I price my artwork. It is a formula I use to reach the cost per piece.
Using standard sizes of canvases, multiply length times width and this gives me the total square inches of the canvas. I do not add the sides of a gallery wrapped canvas as part of my formula. Here are the most commonly used sizes and their total square inches for each:
4 x 6 = 24″
5 x 7 = 35″
8 x 10 = 80″
9 x 12 = 108″
11 x 14 = 154″
12 x 16 = 192″
16 x 20 = 320″
18 x 24 = 432″
20 x 24 = 480″
24 x 36 = 864″
30 x 40 = 1200″
36 x 48 = 1728″
8 x 8 = 24″
10 x 10 = 100″
12 x 12 = 144″
20 x 20 = 400″
Now that you have the overall square inch of the piece, you multiply that by the amount you want per inch. For example if you are a new artist and have no real following, you might want to start out with a low number-say .25 cents or less per square inch. At this point, you want people to buy your stuff. By making it inexpensive you will have a much easier time selling your work as an unknown. This also gives new collectors an opportunity to purchase original artwork without the huge investment from a more established artist. Later, when you’re famous those collectors will be dining out on stories of how they knew you when…
An established artist will price their work much higher than a beginning artist.
You cannot price your work based upon the number of hours you spent working on it. This is not a pay-by-the-hour-job. If a painting took 50 hours to complete and you can only reasonably expect to receive $200 for it, you have a problem. Learn to paint faster.
In general, oil paintings sell for more than acrylic paintings. Acrylic paintings sell for more than watercolors. Watercolors sell for more than multi-media, pastels and drawings. You also need to know what the market will bear. Some areas have a tremendous artist community with lots of galleries and shows. Other areas have very little by way of original art. If you are new and just getting into galleries, make sure your paintings are priced the same everywhere. Nothing makes someone more angry than paying for a piece in Chicago then finding one similar in Traverse City for half the price. The customer will blame you, the artist, for this discrepancy not the gallery. And it is better to price your stuff lower and have it be in demand rather than price it so high no one will buy it and you’re work room is stacked up with paintings.
I do not frame my paintings. I use gallery-wrap canvases. People have a lot of feelings about frames. I don’t want my work dismissed because the person doesn’t like the frame. With a gallery-wrap they can frame it if they choose or just plunk it on the wall the way it is.
I cut my own mats for my watercolor paintings. I put them is clear plastic bags and store them that way. When pricing my watercolor paintings, I also include the cost of the mat. I try to keep my watercolor paintings to standard sizes so the customer can easily find a frame of their liking which will hold the art.
The price of blank watercolor cards is reasonable and I find the finished cost of around $5.00 per card sells pretty well in my area. I put the cards into cellophane bags from PaperMart. I bought the food safe ones on Lindsay, the Frugal Crafter’s recommendation. This way I can also use them for cookies, candies, dipped pretzels, etc. These bags are also perfect for your watercolor paintings and mats, just get a large size and fold them over to fit your smaller pieces. Saves on the cost of the bags. I purchased the correct size for watercolor cards and I regret it. I wish I had bought a larger size and been able to use the bags for my smaller watercolor paintings too. Live and learn.