Thoughts on Pricing Creative Work

I hope that I’m not the only one who has some trouble pricing creative work.  Some folks seem to just know their price points immediately.  Maybe because they’ve been at it for a while or there’s a distinct range for their particular craft.  For those in the arts world, it can be pretty difficult considering the huge range of values put upon artwork.  If you are trying to make a living, you obviously need to make enough profit to sustain your costs.  Enter the series of mathematical calculations that go along with running a business.  I’ve done some research regarding pricing and there are countless articles and discussions offered online to read.  Fine and dandy to mess around with Excel sheet documents and fancy formulas, but it all feels uncomfortable and dry to me.  I know, I know…it’s all part of business.

I realize that it is essential to figure out these business basics to make a career out of your creative work.  The formal methods work to balance the books, but at the end of the day I always encounter the soft, not calculable part of business.  I have to feel that the price is right in the end.  Yes, emotions…but really it’s surveying the scene and something about supply and demand – details forgotten from that Economics class I took way back.  I need to value my work, but I need affordability as well.  It’s great to believe your painting is worth a million dollars – let’s say – but if it never sells you certainly can’t make a living off of that.  It’s a constant struggle to not devalue yourself, but still make your work sellable.  A few pieces for lots or lots of pieces for little?  What strategy to take?  What feels right?  Oh…it boggles my mind still…

  • pamq

    Oh my.

    What a can of worms you have opened with the pricing dilemma!

    I never know what to do either.

    I read all the “formulas” and they either don’t make sense or they would just never work for my area of the country.

    I hate to just give my work away, yet I want it to sell.


    • linda

      Hi Pam. I know that pricing is such a dilemma. It’s difficult to reconcile something that you do with your heart…then have to smack a price on it.

  • Kara aka Mother Henna

    Pricing is so hard — and you are right there are a zillion “how-to” articles and ideas out there. I’m much like you though, emotionally, it has to feel right. My gauge most recently has been been testing to see if I can tell another person my price without squirming, excusing, offering an immediate trade options, etc. I have to be able to say it solidly, no qualms, then I know it’s right for me for where I am now. Two other things really helped me: rephrasing “price” or “cost” as “expression of appreciation” — coz that’s really what it is to me. And second offering a sliding scale for our services like doing in-person workshops so people on budgets in school programs and the like feel they have options. So for now, that works…

    Thanks much for your time looking over the new Mother Henna site, too. And if you are doing post for holiday celebrations this season, please feel free to come over to our blog fest and add your link for that, too:


    • linda

      Hi Kara! I guess on some things, you have to go with your gut feeling as you mentioned. Of course, there are various levels of affordability for different people…because probably art might mean something different for each person. Sigh. Thanks for the tip about expression of appreciation…makes me think of how even the big companies sometimes ask for donations for something…so people can give what they think it’s worth. It’s an interesting way to approach things. Thanks for stopping by my blog and I’ll be sure to follow the holiday celebrations as you mentioned…love your tutorials and artwork! All my best!

  • Debbie Egizio

    Oh, I think the pricing thing is a struggle for most artists. To me, it’s the hardest part.

    • linda

      Hi Debbie! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I agree it’s such a struggle and seemingly at odds to what we do, even though we need to make a living!