Artists Prices – a debate

by Chantal

Question – how should artists price their work? I’m not talking about how you reach a number that you decide it’s “worth” or that you are happy to have in your pocket (that’s another discussion in itself!). I want to know your thoughts on “regional pricing”. Should an artist adjust their prices dependent on where their art is showing? Does the city/ gallery stature affect the price tag of the artwork or should prices be universally consistent?  I have recently heard two sides to this debate. Here are the arguments:



“Regional pricing is insulting. It penalizes your market in large cities and patronizes your market elsewhere. It also supports elitist notions that people in small cities or rural areas are incapable of valuing art. . . When assembling a price list, always state the retail price (not) wholesale or artist’s price . . . problem with wholesale pricing is that it prevents artists from establishing a real market value. For example if you are using wholesale prices and have relationships with more than one gallery, it is highly likely that your work will sell for vastly different prices. When establishing a retail price, assume a dealer will take 50% commission. Do not adjust the retail price if a dealer’s commission is lower. Do not work with dealers who require a commission higher than 50%” (Caroll Michels – Art Advisor and author of How To Survive & Prosper As An Artist)



“Art, unlike most other commodities is a luxury item with an almost completely subjective value (minus material cost).  The value of any particular piece in the eye of the beholder but is also based on the recognition of the artist and the esteem in which the piece is regarded within the art world (hence the prices fetched by historically significant artists).  Pieces that have been accepted into prestigious galleries therefore have received greater acclaim within the art world than pieces that can only be displayed in more modest setting.   The art in the one location can now be said, quite objectively, to have a greater value than the same art displayed elsewhere.  It should therefore have a higher price in the esteemed gallery.

If you treat your art as your business, you should be looking to get the best deal in every situation.  If your work is priced for the esteemed gallery it will look over priced in more modest setting and it wont sell.  If you price for the modest gallery, you are selling your self short and devaluing your more recognised pieces when they are accept in more prestigious locations.” (Rob Powell – Businessman)


I want to hear what other artists, galleries and art collectors think of these two arguments and any thoughts you have to add to the discussion. Artists which method do you generally use? Galleries what do you encourage? Please leave your thoughts as comments to this post.