Here’s an issue that comes up all the time in the Klein Artist Works course – as artists become new at succeeding. Many non-represented artists don’t know what do with the price of their art when someone else is going to be involved in the sale instead of just them.
You are an artist making splendid work and selling it yourself – let’s say for a $1000. And an art consultant comes along, or a church and they’re going to take a 25% commission for selling your art. Or you get into a gallery group show and they’re going to take a 50% commission for selling your art. What does that do to the price of the art?
The answer is that it does (next to) nothing to the price of your art.
As an artist, you are not your art. Yes, you are the genius who creates it, but your art has a value that is independent of the time or effort it took you to make it. How much you deserve an hour or week has nothing to do with how much the asking price of the art should be.
I know this is confusing because the two main ingredients of pricing your art are your résumé and the size of the piece. So if your résumé improves, the price can escalate.
Okay, you’ve been selling your art for $1000 and now a gallery wants to show your work and they want a 50% commission, how much should that $1000 piece be? And the answer is . . . somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200. Here’s the logic; the piece was $1000, but now you’re working with a cool gallery, so your résumé is more substantial, therefore that relationship warrants elevating the price of all your pieces a tad.
Keep in mind that what you deserve has nothing to do with the price of the art. When you are starting out you deserve way more than you are getting – no doubt. And when you are famous and it takes you less time to make something that’s now selling for 6 digits, should you knock down the price because it’s no better than what you used to do? No way.
Another way to look at it is that your artwork that is $1000 retail is worth $500 wholesale to you. Because you are acting as the sales person, the 50% selling commission is going to you –so you are getting the $1000. Then though, if someone else is selling the art, they are entitled to that 50% selling commission. That’s the reality.
That said, there is no reason any artist Must work with an art gallery and give up that percentage instead of keep it oneself. That’s a choice and an obvious tradeoff that may or may not be worth it.
There ya go; if you have questions feel free to email me back.