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Art Lessons: How to Price Your Work

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a lot of my students and people always ask
me, BUA, how do you price yourself?
Pricing yourself is a huge question.
Because it's not like a job where you go
nine to five and you get a salary.
It's like, you have to come up,
especially if you're freelancing, you have
to come up with your own rate.
What, that's a, and that's a very hard
thing to do because that gets into
the whole spiritual, philosophical aspect
of how you really feel about yourself.
You know, like you start to really go
like, am I like, worth that much money?
I shouldn't put out that much money cuz
I'm not even worth that much,
that's crazy, why should I even be saying
that [INAUDIBLE], but
the reality is you have to price yourself.
So in pricing yourself obviously and I
will reiterate,
reiterate what Darren said earlier which
is, really never try to do
work just gratuitously, for free because
that's not gonna,
spec work is never really gonna get you up
the ladder.
I've done a ton of spec work and I can't
tell you that it's gotten me anything.
If you wanna do work because you love it,
because you believe in it,
because it's charitable, that's one thing,
but doing spec work for
people who can really pay, not cool.
And really never recommend that for
And like I said I've done so many back in
the days it's crazy.
So how do I price myself?
Obviously now I price myself a lot
differently than I was when I was coming
up 20 years ago.
When I was 1 years old, cuz I'm 21, you
know what I'm talking about?
So, really, I, I have to ask Darren about
because I don't really even price myself
anymore, cuz I really, you know, I,
I only work for a certain rate and above
at this point in my career.
And a lot of that is, is because of
So, how do people price themselves?
How do artists now price themselves,
especially starting out?
>> I think that's that's a very, very
difficult question and
a real challenge for artists.
The truth is, we don't price ourselves.
The truth is the market dictates what it's
going to bear from your work,
from your rate, competition.
If, for example, I'm the company and
all I really need is somebody to do some
There's probably a hundred people I could
hire for that background.
I'm choosing you, maybe, because you have
a friendship or relationship or
maybe because, you know, I, I think that
are somebody who maybe I want to introduce
to my company to get on some more work.
But that doesn't mean you're gonna come in
say, well, I'm gonna paint this background
for $100 an hour because there's 99
other people who are gonna do it for $10
an hour or $12 an hour.
So, you have to be aware of what the
market is for yourself, too.
Now, if you've got original works, again,
what is someone willing to pay, right?
You may not get the best measure of what
your work is worth
if you're selling it to friends and
They might be buying it because they love
your work, but
they might also be buying it because it's
a formal loan to you because they think
you really need the help.
>> And, and if I may chime in on original
it really has to do with emotion, like,
how emotionally connected are you?
I mean, like, really, at the end of the
day are you willing to sell that
original painting that means so much to
you for $100?
Then you should do that.
If you're not willing to let it go for
less than $1 million then seriously you
should do that as well.
If it really is going to hurt you and
emotionally be torturous and
you're always gonna regret it for the rest
of your life because you sold it for
less than you thought it was worth, then
hold onto it.
I've gotten a lot more detached in my
There's certain pieces that I do hold onto
that I probably will never sell.
That I will leave to my daughter in my
will but you know other pieces that I was
so attached to emotionally I have learned
to really let that go.
Just because it's an exchange of energy.
See money is an exchange of energy so it
has to be valuable for you to let that go.
>> Yeah and the, and the gallery, if
you're working with a gallery or you're
working with a, you know, a, a local store
or shop that might want to hang your art.
You know, the whole goal for them is to
sell the work, right?
It might be nice that they're giving you
some shine as an artist.
A little publicity in there,
but honestly speaking they want to make
some money on your work.
So, if you're gonna price yourself out of
the market then they're not gonna be so
inclined to keep your work there.
They wanna see that work move off the wall
into somebody's living room or
somebody's office space.
So, I really think that it's important for
artists to get a true sense of what
their work is worth, that, and that means,
and a lot of times artists don't do this.
Bruno is a student of the culture, he
loves going to museums,
he likes looking at art.
And it also helps if you're a young artist
to do the same thing,
because you get a real sense at galleries
of what is work being priced at.
What's similar styles going for?
>> And that's a good point right there.
That's how you could price your work.
Exactly there.
Go to galleries, see what they're pricing.
Go to auction houses.
See what artists are out there are pricing
their work.
See what artists are starting out in the
kind of the new gallery world.
Go online, see what people are, you know,
go to people's websites, maybe people have
original prices there.
So, you know, you gotta really just
investigate what the market is, and and
if, align yourself with someone that you
really think is in your genre.
And then you could start pricing yourself.
This guy's been out in the field for two
He's selling his work for this price.
Maybe I should try that.
And if it feels good to you, then you
should do that.
If it feels like oh, I'm underpricing
myself, then don't underprice yourself.
Until you realize then you can't sell it,
any work, and
you're starving to death, then you might
>> And I will say that it's probably
better off for
a young artist to underprice yourself and
sell the work and gradually move it up.
>> Yeah.
>> Than to overprice yourself,
have one person buy it at a $1,000 and
then that collector of yours ends up
going out three weeks later and seeing
your work discounted to $500.
That's not something that a collector
wants to do.
You know, that makes him feel that it may
be a bad choice with you.
So it's better off for the collector to
always think, I got a great deal.
I bought this artist before anybody knew
about them.
And now it's worth this much money, right?
That's the perception that you want the
collector to have.
And it really starts with making a wise
choice as to what that price point is for
your audience.
>> So look at people who are in your genre
in your field.
And think about where you think you are,
and how you want to price yourself.
But there is a world of information out
there that you could just kind of dial
into if you have that, intuition.
If you had that knowledge also about what
the market is gonna dictate,
so think about it, and don't work on spec.
>> I agree.
>> Except if it's for me, but then a
little bit because I'll teach you.