Thursday, August 26, 2010

Habanero wip, pricing art

This is a little habanero pepper, compliments of my neighbors who have an amazing garden. I will not be eating this, not being a hot pepper person, and will give it back when I'm done drawing it so it can be enjoyed by some crazy person who does like these things.

Anyway. This is a simple piece, done like the caramels from before, with one object and a long shadow. This is about 2 inches (life size) on a 4 x 6 piece of Stonehenge.
I'm using the Lyras, and although I like them, the colors aren't popping for me. The range of oranges is rather limited (although I've also used some reddish pinks and a lavender and yellow). So I think I'll get out the Polychromos and see if I can bump it up some.

*Self-promotion alert*
I redid my shop page on my website, and turned it into a blog. I've put links to my shops on Imagekind and Zazzle, as well as my other new blog just for these little pieces - Small Drawings and Paintings. (Some of you may remember I used to have another 'pencil blog', but I put that one away in favor of this new one.) It needs a tweak, and I'll be adding things, but for now its 'there'.

**I've edited this part - see end of post
I will just put originals on the Small Paintings and Drawings blog. I'm trying to figure out how to price things. Right now, I have the caramels listed for $50 each, which I know is fair - but whether people are willing or able to cough up that much these days for a small piece remains to be seen. After all, I'm not Duane Keiser. Most likely those of you reading this blog (I'm assuming most of you are fellow artists) know exactly how much work goes into even a small colored pencil piece - but does the general public? Do they not value art so much if it isn't a) an oil painting, or b) really BIG? I'm torn between giving them away (not literally - I mean just undervaluing them) just to sell them, and holding my ground and asking what they're worth, at the risk of not selling them at all.

How do you all price your work? I like the 'so much per square inch' method - it makes sense, and makes it easy to explain to people why a piece costs what it does. It also takes the emotion out of it.
Let's try a '$3 an inch' formula: for a 5 x 7 piece (35 square inches) that works out to $105, which is in keeping with what a lot of artists charge for that size work.
So a 4 x 4 inch piece would be 16 square inches, or $48. Which I've rounded up to $50. I guess one could argue "well, you left a lot of white space" (implying the price should be less) to which I would give a pithy artist's reply like "the white space is part of the composition, and necessary". I don't know. Thoughts?

The other thing is that these are not framed. If they were, the price of framing would be added on. Then, if they were going into a gallery, the price would have to double for the artist to make the necessary profit - which then gets us into being consistent with pricing, no matter where the piece is being offered for sale.
For example, if one of my little caramels was being sold in a gallery, and framed, and the gallery had doubled my price (for their commission), it might be up to $150 (allowing $50 for framing). So really, I should be charging $100 for an unframed piece that size, so that the buyer knows how much to expect to pay for one of my pieces, wherever he finds it. It would just mean that I would obviously make more of a profit if I sold it myself is all.


Then there are the pieces you enter in shows. Show fees are typically $50 or so per entry. Then if you also have to ship it, that's another however much for crating plus shipping back and forth. And also insurance if you spring for that. It adds up! (and yes, I've mentioned this before, you're not imagining things).

Here I was just going to show my little work in progress, and I got off on quite the tangent, didn't I?

I would love to do 'ready to hang' colored pencil pieces, but am not a fan of how to make them that way - it involves a lot of fixative and adhering to a ready-to-hang board and a lot of varnishing. I can't inhale all those fumes anymore (having lived in a cloud of Crystal Clear in my studio for most of art school - now I can hardly stand a whiff of a Pantone marker or Sharpie).

So back to my little pepper and my pencils. At least until Project Runway comes on. Who will go home tonight? The suspense ...

After pushing the "publish post" button and having a bit of a think, I decided to change my pricing to $2.50 a square inch (because, after all, like I said, I'm not DK.)
I am also not a super award-winning artist (yet). And I do tend to leave a lot of white space.
So I've changed the price of the caramel drawings to $40 each. And subsequent pieces will be priced accordingly.


CC said...

You are a known and published artist.
$50 for one of your original pencil drawings is a steal! Just how many hours do you work on one piece? Then there is the mat and if things are framed?
I realize you want to make money. Consider your time and expertise (and your expertise is quite considerable) as well. Otherwise, consider selling giclee copies and/or greeting cards. That way you can lower the price, even limit the edition and keep the original for a show and/or better times when you can get what they are worth.
And that's my opinion...;-)

Ann said...

I struggle with this all the time. For my cp pieces to sell, I have felt like I was way undervaluing them. My oils I can finish in a lot less time, yet the prices I have set barely cover the materials. I don't think your original prices were unreasonable at all. And maybe you can slowly increase you prices over time? I am thinking that the next time I do cp work to sell that I will only sell prints, like CC suggested, and save the originals for gallery submissions.

Paula Pertile said...

Thank you both.
CC, if I matted and framed things, I would be charging more, obviously. And I will do prints, and probably cards - hello etsy!
I see people putting good little paintings on ebay and having them sell for $20, which is a crime. Then there are those who set the opening bid at $1, knowing it will go into the hundreds before its over.
Too many thoughts to fit into a comment post - I may have to rant on about this more again later.
For now, I feel satisfied that my current price structure is fair to the buyer.

Jeanette said...

Oh I so understand where you're coming from. Its a dilemma we all have. The solution? I don't know. We won't all produce tiny art all the time to make it affordable to the buyers.

But I think that perhaps for online selling small art is what sells and for under $50. I agree that larger pieces are probably best left for gallery sales or commissions.

I think that a lot of the general public has become desensitized to original art as they've gobbled up prints from various dollar stores and then want quality at $20. I find this often when people commission portraits. They want the world, in high realism, for under $50. Sigh. Oh and then they ask if its matted and framed included in the price.

I use the 'cost per inch' formula and think that it works out fairly and gives you some return for your effort, even if rarely enough.

Yes prints are one way to go and they do make some pieces an affordable way to purchase good art.

Anonymous said...

I agree with CC at the $50 price but in today's economy I think the $40 is going to grab more people's attention. After all, two 20's are much easier to pull out of your wallet than hunting for another $10.