Saturday, 29 June 2013

Behind pricing a piece of affordable art

Autumnal Flowers by Teodora Totorean
Scenario one: Your car is broken and you need it the day after tomorrow for work. You take it to the garage and they tell you they can fix it for £400 in which they include the parts plus £60 labour per hour. It is a big amount and you have other priorities, but on the other hand you can’t be without your car. So you pay. You are the third paying customer today.

Scenario two: You come across this online gallery and you really like a painting. You like the colours, the image, and it would be a perfect fit in your newly decorated living room. But the price is £155 and you would only pay £75. So you walk away from the website. Your are the third potential customer who changed their mind in the last month.

Both the garage owner and the artist are business owners. All they want is to make a decent living and provide for their family. The difference is that while the garage owner offers services that people need, an artist offers a treat, a whim or a luxury. It's great to have admirers of their art, positive feedback and nice compliments, but when it comes to buying, it is too often that people say “It's lovely, but is too expensive”. And I am not talking about thousands of pounds paintings, but affordable art which is something between £60 and £250. While the artist knows that the asking price is not too high, they can't grumble, as everyone knows best what they can afford and what financial priorities they have. Artists are known for not being salespeople and it shows.

But let me elaborate on why the £60-£250 price range is not too high. Let’s take for example a £75 framed painting on sale on an online gallery, 14” X 18” in size, painted in acrylic on canvas board. Now, the gallery estimates the posting and packaging at £20. Let's say they take 30% from the selling price (normally the commission is between 35% and 50%). The framing costed another £20. So if you deduct approximately £22.5 for commission, £20 for framing and another £20 for delivery, the artist is left with £12.5 which is more or less how much it costed them to create the painting. According to this calculation, the value of the artwork is zero. 

So what exactly does a customer pay for when they acquire a painting? I will not count the passion and dedication an artist puts into creating their work, which is priceless, I will only limit myself to the pragmatic aspects.

1. Gallery commission – the percentage a gallery takes for promoting art. This includes online and offline promotion through social media, exhibitions they organise and other materials like posters and flyers. This is a time consuming activity and they have dozens of artists to promote on a regular basis so the commission they take is relatively fair.  

2. Framing – the framing service is paid by the artist and it is included in the final price. Very often artists prefer to go to a framer instead of buying ready made items because they choose to support small business owners and also the quality is much better.

Big Tree Little Tree by Teodora Totorean - SOLD

3. Delivery – even though on most of the online galleries the delivery is free, in reality there isn't such a thing. The artist still has to pay for the posting and packaging so this is likely to be included in the final price.

4. Artwork itself - the value of the artwork which is not the same as the materials and the time an artist puts into creating the painting. Normally an artist evaluates their work according to their art education (self-taught vs. art educated), career level (beginner vs experienced), type of materials (oils vs. acrylics or water based paints vs. mixed media), style, technique, originality, innovativity, etc. 

What does the customer get from a painting?

  • An artwork that will last a lifetime and for generations to come;
  • An investment for the future, especially if the artist becomes better known;
  • A touch of refinement in their home, which shows they have an elegant taste;
  • A piece of the artist's soul in which they may find themselves (without being cheesy, honestly).

We all have our priorities and our spending budget is tight in today’s economic climate, but investing in an original painting could be beneficial not just for uplifting your days, but for your future too. 

No comments:

Post a Comment