Business · Emotional Struggles · Materials · Recommended Reading and Classes

Learning and Stretching

I’m taking an on-line course that (if I do the work necessary) should result in finding additional venues from which to market my art. The first week was about setting some goals and figuring out how I view my art. I really do see it as an extra source of income to supplement my retirement income and as such, would like to bring in an additional $1200 a month. For some, that does not seem like a lot. To me it seems like a huge amount. I also know it will not happen overnight, but is a goal to work towards. I also believe that if I was thinking of my work as a full-time job, I would set my goal to double that amount.

So, in order to make my goal of $1200 a month, I need to produce that much and more (not everything sells despite best efforts, alas). And, I’m honestly not clear in my mind yet, if I want to make a net of $1200 or a gross of $1200 as a goodly part of my living expenses above my retirement income are my art supplies. I need to sit down and crunch the numbers in all honesty, but I believe my current sales are at least paying their own way. I also need to figure out the tax deductions I can claim as a small business owner and use them!

But, let’s say all I’m worried about is gross sales (never mind commissions paid out, expenses of producing the art, framing, continuing education, etc.) and I focus only on my little 6X6″ paintings selling them at $150 each (basically $100 plus cost of the frame)… I need to sell eight of them a month. So, I need to get more of them out in front of people and I need to paint a whole lot more of them. I believe this is possible, however, I think I also need to consider the idea brought up in the webinar (A Friday feature of the class I’m taking) that larger paintings are marketed with a higher price tag. We students were challenged to push our size envelop out about 20% and begin to offer a variety of price points. From the view point of materials alone, they have to be valued more. I recently sold the Raccoon painting (16×20″) for $625. So, rounding this down a little to make the math easier, I could paint and sell two paintings a month that size for $600 or one that size and four 6×6″ paintings.

My current pricing plan is to charge $2.77 a square inch plus framing cost. Yet, I wimped out when I worked out the price for the Raccoon painting and cut my price to just $1.95 a square inch and ate the cost of the frame and the commission. It sold, but I have to be realistic and firm in the future, I think. Had I not doubted myself, I would have priced it at $886 and had a little room for negotiation. Even $850 would have made more sense.

I’m planning to find additional representation with a gallery in a more metropolitan area and I know the commissions there will run around 50% and I’ll have to figure that into my pricing as well. My current gallery location is a cooperative gallery. I rent 4 feet of wall space paid every six months plus a 25% commission and am required to work at the gallery one day a month — about 6 hours a month. Figuring my time is worth at least $10 an hour; between my wall space rental, my time and the commission, I think they are earning about 50%. And I don’t begrudge them that, but since it is a cooperative gallery, I don’t receive the same marketing services I would receive from representation at a “regular gallery”…. at least I don’t think that I do. I’ll find out eventually.

It is all good and a learning experience. In just the few years I’ve been showing my work I’ve gotten much better at the pricing game and I’ll continue to improve.



2 thoughts on “Learning and Stretching

  1. Thank you for this very informative post. I am currently struggling with many of the same things. I recently retired and would like to sell more of my art, plus at some point I will enter the hoarder range with all my finished art work pieces. As you learn more and make more decisions, I hope that you will continue to share them.


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