I wrote a note about pricing to an artist I know who is exhibiting at a festival and thought it would be good advice for all artists to keep in mind. Here it is;

I have some pricing advice for you if you are interested. As you know I have a fifty person ad agency and for fun I teach marketing at a local college, so I’m pretty smart at this stuff.

The bar of sales is set high; people have to desire your product more than their money–and people have a strong desire to keep their money.

Think of it this way; it’s always about price. If you had 50 paintings and gave them away, they would all be gone in an hour and you would have $0. If you were to charge 1 penny for each painting they would all be sold in an hour and you would have 50 cents. If you were to charge a nickel for each painting they would all be sold in an hour and you would have $2.50. If you charged 1 dollar for your paintings they would all be sold and you would have $50. $5=$250, $10=$500, $20=$1,000, and so on. Somewhere there is a maximum price point at which you will sell all your paintings in one or two days.

Keep in mind that it’s really the customer who sets the price, not you. Sam Walton used to say “if you are ever confused about your business, go to the customer. They have all the answers and all them money.” To his point, I would say let the customer tell you what they are willing to pay for your paintings. And you do this by simply lowering your prices until they sell.

Now, you may not like the price people are willing to pay and you may not be able to make a profit, but you will know what that price is.

What I’ve found out is that if I can get a stream of money flowing, even if it’s meager, it allows me some cash flow until I eventually figure out how to provide the product at the price people will pay.

And one last bit of advice; Don’t take it personal when customers are unwilling to pay you what you think your work is worth. It’s not a statement of how little your artwork is worth, it’s a statement of how little money most people have to spend. I personally like the challenge of figuring out how to provide a product cheap enough so customers think it’s a steal. If you can do that, it will be a win for everyone.