Pricing - The Word
with Heather René Dunaway

Written by: Heather Dunaway
January 2024
Photo of coins stacked

Wow, happy new year everyone! Crazy to think yesterday it was 2020 and now its 2024. Where does the time go?


Hopefully it goes into doing things you love, like making art, music, writing, dancing or just generally being creative. We all need that expression. Plus, when you make enough, you might want to start selling your work. It’s a tough thing to learn to do, but pricing is a must-know for all working artists. I have some personal tips for you to use.


My personal formula is the cost of materials used times 3 (this covers my experience and schooling) then my hourly rate, which right now is $27.00. So lets say I spent $35 on materials and the work took me 14 hours.  Thats (35 x 3) + (27 x 14) = $483.00. Then you also have to factor in commission.

If you are selling in a gallery space, apply to be in a show that has a fee, or maybe your manager or venue takes a cut, or you have to pay staff, you have to factor in those added costs and make sure the pricing stays consistent, no matter where you are selling, showing or performing. You don’t want to insult a gallery or venue by selling out from under them for cheaper, because they might not take you on as a client again or blacklist you. In this industry, everyone knows everyone.


So add on the appropriate percentage, plus a little cushion. The average commission rate in galleries of Augusta is about 40%. I usually mark up by 50% incase I plan to show the work in a different space. So that big ol’ 14 hour long piece is now priced at about $725.


You also want to factor in sales tax, which depends on your state. GA is 8%, if you are in SC its 6%. If you are consistently making sales, especially ones that are $725, you definitely want to add sales tax for when you file. Some spaces pay the taxes for you, so it’s always good to check your contract with them. I did a Word on Taxes you can read here if you are curios.


Some things to consider though is the market you are selling in. Doing some research about what the median wage is in your city, and calculate how much leisure money these people spend on average from that wage will give you an idea of where your pricing falls. From what I have read, the average person tends to spend less than $1000 on collectables and art per year. The median household income is  $65,244 in Augusta, GA. Which is about .015%.


You can also visit these local venues, talk to artists or arts managers to get a better idea. If you are making $700 plus paintings for a city whose residents tend to spend 200-400 dollars on art, you might want to consider making prints of that big piece, or switch it up and make some smaller pieces.


If you see a greater value in your work than your city can afford, try branching out into bigger cities. Apply for out-of-town shows or gigs, grants or international residencies. Or work on your online presence. Turn your art into a work from home job. That sounds like the dream. 


I hope this helps. Pricing is one of the big questions I get from artists.


Thats the Word. Now go make some money! New year, new gigs for all!