Pricing your art

There are a few things to consider when calculating the final price of your art. Any expense necessary for creating and selling your art should be included here. You need a base number for each of the following to add to each original painting:

Materials + Studio Space + Other Costs + Time = Final Price. Let's break them down.

Be warned- there is a fair amount of math at first but once you have your base numbers figured out, it's pretty simple.


First you will need to figure out a base cost of all the materials you use and save this to refer to later. Each size of painting will be different so if you have a list of materials already broken down it will be much easier in the long run. Don't forget to add in the taxes you pay.

Paints: Figure out how much each ml costs and how much paint you actually use for each painting. The price of each color varies so just average the colors you use most to get an average price of paint per ml. For instance say we're using fluid acrylics. 118ml of cerulean blue is $42.14, naphtol red is $25.18 and cadmium yellow is $18.97. Add them all together then divide by the number of paints to get your average. (42.14+25.18+18.97)/3=28.76. So a 118ml bottle of fluid acrylics averages $28.76.

If we divide this number by how many mls, we get the price per ml. 28.76/118=0.24. So now we know 1ml of paint costs an average of $0.24. This is your base dollar amount for paint.

Say we're doing an 18"x 24" painting and it takes 650ml of paint. Divide the area of the canvas (18 x 24=432) by the amount of paint to find out how much paint you use per square inch. 650/432=1.50. So we're using 1.5mls of paint per square inch of canvas at $0.24 per ml.

Now we know our 18x24 will cost $156 in paint (650ml x $0.24).

Since we determined the amount of paint we use per sq in, we can figure any size. A 12"x 20" would go like this: Area of 12 x 20=240sq in. 1.5ml x 240sq in=360mls of paint needed which would cost 360 x 0.24=$86.40.

Easy right?

You will need to find the base numbers for all your materials. Get organized and write them all down so you can quickly price out a painting. 

Here's a list of mine for reference:

Paints, mediums, finishes, inks, canvases, papers, brushes, palette knives, straws, forks, canned air, sponges, paper towel, cotton swabs, paint containers, palettes, stir sticks.    

For some items you can figure out the monthly amount spent then divide that by the average number of paintings you turn out each month to get the number you need to add to each painting.

Studio Space:

If you pay for studio space you need to account for these costs. If you're working from home like me it's not really necessary. If you've built a studio on to your home or property solely for painting, you may want to figure the cost into your art.

Regardless of your situation, you will need these numbers for tax purposes if you're selling your art.

Each scenario will be different but for example let's say you've built on to your home. Figure out the square footage of the space you're using and divide it into the total square footage of your home to get a percent of space you're using. For example, say your studio area is 460sq ft and your entire home is 3500sq ft. It would be 460x100/3500=13.14% of your house is being used for your art. Then you can take that percentage from the costs of running your home. 13% of all utility bills, mortgage or rent, house insurance, property taxes, etc. Add them all up and divide by the average number of paintings you do per month to get your base number to add to each painting for studio space.

Other costs:

Don't forget about these. You don't want to make the rookie mistake of unintentionally painting for free or having it actually cost you to sell a painting- yes I have done that! And I see a lot of artists out there obviously doing it too. Understandable I suppose, since we are generally more of a right brained group, the numbers are easily overlooked. I encourage you to take time in the beginning to figure out how much it actually costs to create your art. It's surprising once you add everything up!

Some of these "other costs" will or won't apply to you or you may have different costs. Some will be ongoing monthly costs you can average per painting and some you just add. Pretty straight forward. This will get you started:

Things like your domain name, website, all business costs like accounting, office supplies, bank service charges, licensing fees etc. should be here. If you have the time and patience for logging kms spent on art related trips, you can add in gas and vehicle expenses, but personally I don't. Figure out a base number for "other costs" which are fixed that you can add to each painting and make a list of the variables.

You will have two or three base numbers now. "Studio space" (if applicable) will be constant, "Other costs" you can group into constant and variable and "Materials" will vary. Add them all up to get your final cost. More than you thought right?

If you're doing a painting for a charity or giving one away, this is how much it actually costs you. Not including your time. Which brings us to the last variable...

Hourly Wage:

Whether this is your full time job or just part time, you need to be paid for it just like any other job. You are providing a service and product which takes time and effort to produce.

This number can be anything but if you want your art to actually sell, you need to be reasonable and honest with yourself. Like any job, there is somewhat of a standard rate for starting out. I think in all fairness, minimum wage should be your starting point. Then carefully consider things like skill, education, seniority, the art market and prominence in the art world to come up with your number.

In addition to how many hours it takes to complete each painting, add in your processing time. How long does it take each trip to your printer, to do all your computer and business work, packaging, etc. Now you have the final price of your painting! And all the numbers you need to easily calculate all your future art!

That's it! I hope this article has been helpful to all of you out there just starting out. I think fairness and consistency are key here. I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on this subject! Please feel free to comment below :) 








April 18, 2018 by Nicole Brucks


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