Pricing art is a nebulous business. With my Urban Scrawl solo show now just two months away it is time to start to design the wall labels for the finished works and that involves picking a price. Picking being the operative term. There is no right or wrong answer, although there may well be answers in both the 'Did she miss a nought off this?" and " The OMG who does she think she is?' brackets. In seeking to avoid both excessive self-effacement and hubris, I find myself using some of the principles from my training as a family lawyer. Be reasonable When I was a barrister I spent a lot of my time advising people on how a court might divide their money after a divorce. The first principle was: there is no right answer only a 'range of reasonable decision'.' Splitting up and pricing art are not amenable to a mathematical formulae. Its a judgement call that involves finding an answer that is fair - to both spouses or to buyer and seller. its gut instinct based on prior example Does it feel right? I am told I have a 'money case/art pricing' face. I sort of purse my lips and scrunch my nose a bit and waggle my head from side to side whilst thinking. I cant imagine it's attractive, but its a physical manifestation of me weighing things up inside. I learned to trust that instinct as a lawyer because it was based on years of experience of seeing outcomes and knowing what negotiation tactics worked and what didn't. With pricing art of course, I have no prior experience. Save that I've been looking around. Gauging your local market and placing your art in it is something you can start to do by simply seeing what else is for sale and at what cost. I spent a whole day at an art fair in Liverpool openly explaining to established artists that I was new to art myself and that I was looking for pricing guidance. Every stallholder I approached was extremely generous with their advice. Apply logic and parameters With money cases, a settlement is not just plucked from the air. It's based on a list of criteria to be taken into account from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 s25 and a whole host of case law interpreting that. And then there is wiggle room based on factors like emotions, personal priorities, cost of litigation, strength of negotiating positions and so on. So with my art I have a some clear principles, a beguilingly simple formula and then I wiggle about a bit. Let me show you: In terms of principles, this is what I have decide are my values:
- I am not dependant on selling my art but I still want to price it as if I were running a full time working studio.
- I will make decisions considering the general market in which I aim to place my art but I will not make decisions based on comparing myself to other individual artists.
- I will price taking into account that there is value to me in not just financial reward but also seeing people able to enjoy owning art and me not having a studio full of unsold art.
- I will not work for less than a fair wage unless I am making a conscious choice to gift art or time. even then I will price that art in my own head according to my pricing principles so I know the value of my gift.