The main issue for most art enthusiasts when considering the price of artwork is often that of deep personal appeal. One individual may bypass a piece of art entirely, while another would pay whatever price is stated for the piece. Thus, subjective perception of value that the viewer places upon the work enters the equation of value being received for the price being asked. But there are other factors to consider.
Art enthusiasts may start by comparing a favored work of art with other pieces of art offered by the same artist. The artist may have price variations for artwork that, on the surface, is similar in appearance. This can be due to factors such as competitive pricing by other artists on similar themes, time taken by the artist in completing the work, material used, framing cost and in some cases subjective assessment of the artist on quality of a particular piece compared to another. The more common determinant of pricing is competitive prices offered by other artists in the same location or in the vicinity where the art is sold. Equally attractive work by other artists in the same geographic area but which carry broad price ranges can confound the issue of price. The artist must then make a choice on establishing the value of her own work relative to alternatives available to the prospective buyer.
A conversation between the artist and consumer, whenever possible, can be informative and can provide a more objective assessment of whether the work is reasonably priced or not. The art consumer is likely to feel more comfortable with the purchase price by asking questions about the selling history of the artist, prices received for similar work and how recognized the artist is in different geographic regions of the country. An artist whose work commands a certain price in one region may move to another area of the country where he is less well known or where different economic conditions prevail and this may dictate a change in price for the work.
Gallery promotion is another variable and can play a large part in pricing one’s work. Galleries traditionally charge a substantial commission for selling a piece of art. This is a deserved fee, given that artwork is generally accepted on consignment and galleries use their own resources to provide for show space, utilities and advertising to exhibit the work. Galleries also have a following of art collectors and other traffic that increases exposure to the artwork. Some galleries purchase directly from artists and mark up the price taking into account gallery costs required to sell the work and return on investment. Depending on pricing policies of a gallery, artists may or may not have the option of charging lower prices in different locations, for example through cooperative galleries where artists share a smaller carrying cost but most often do not pay a commission on sales, or if they sell work directly from their studios in which case there is no additional overhead cost.
One consideration for an enthusiast drawn to a particular artist’s work but unable to afford the price of the original painting, is to determine whether the work is available in a limited edition print series. The artist may have issued such a series, but if not, may be willing to create a printed edition to meet the financial considerations of the customer. In this case, you as a potential buyer can request a very limited series to be produced as the fewer the number of prints produced, the more valuable the print.
The personal experience of the viewer, cultural taste, economic conditions, and whether the artist is established are some of the factors in play when considering price. Careful examination of the artist’s history, the work of art itself and the objectivity of the artist in determining prices can help clarify the value of a work.