There will be many times throughout your art career when you’ll be offered advice by people who really want to help you. Keep in mind however, even when this advice is offered by esteemed art professionals, it might not be in your best interest. One area where this is concerned is: Avoid accepting risky advice when pricing your art.
To demonstrate this point, here’s an experience I had. A few years ago I was helpful in getting one of my coaching clients into a highly visible fundraising exhibition in New York City. The event featured works by many well-known artists and one of the organizers was a highly-reputable curator.
The artist and I were extremely grateful because this widely publicized exhibition had the potential to propel her career to a much higher level. It was one of those rare career opportunities.
To my surprise the curator advised the artist to double her current price on the painting we entered into the exhibition. She offered no reason except she wanted to help the charity bring in more money. The agreement with the exhibition sponsor was if the art sold, the artist would receive 50% and 50% would go to the charity.
Naturally the artist was flattered and her ego soared into the stratosphere. Her immediate reaction was to raise her price.
Although I respected the curator I did not agree with her advice. I was very concerned. Why? Because she was suggesting an arbitrary price that was not based on my client’s sales history. This decision could place my client in a precarious position that could turn out badly for her reputation.
Consider the source of the advice before you agree to change your prices.
As I normally do for my clients, before making a quick decision, I examined this situation from all angles as I assessed the curator’s suggestion.
Here are 4 points I knew to be true:
1. The curator’s qualifications, albeit impressive in her field, were in a different area of the art profession.
2. She was not an experienced gallery owner or private dealer, nor a collector in the emerging artists’ market. She dealt with museum level art.
3. Her primary interest on this occasion was to help raise as much money as possible for the charity.
4. She did not have a vested interest in the artist’s career.
5. My client’s career level was not in sync with the price the curator was suggesting.
What are the potential consequences?
I looked at the larger picture and asked:
How will this decision impact the artist now and in the future?
I knew from experience there was a strong possibility that her painting wouldn’t sell at this event. The price would be recorded in a catalogue for posterity. And, if it didn’t sell, the artist would have to wake up to reality and revert to her current, lower prices after the event. This alone would be an unfortunate fate that would be perceived as a “devaluation” of her work not to mention be perceived as a lack of honesty and integrity.
Furthermore, she could possibly alienate her relationships with her loyal collectors and private dealers that had taken her years to develop, because they would feel that her art work was no longer affordable to them. She could suffer from declining future sales.
Establishing market value of your art requires a careful and calculated process.
In the process of doing business artists and their representatives are faced with decisions that affect the value of the artist’s work.
Establishing the market value of art is based on a range of factors and events that the seller (whether it is an artist or the artist’s agent) does not want to leave to chance; nor should they leave price-related decisions solely in the hands of others who have other interests.
In Summary, Here’s My Advice
1. Pricing art requires careful calculations.
2. Raising prices of an artist’s work requires strategic long range objectives and plans.
3. Just because someone has a position of authority or has more years as an art professional than you does not guarantee that their advice is in your best interest.
4. Ultimately, no matter how much advice you receive, it’s up to you to make the decision as the CEO of your art enterprise.
Do You Need Help Pricing Your Art?
Helping artists with pricing is one of the many things I do as a career coach and mentor. Click here to find out more about my services.
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