I've anonymised the question with respect to (1) the person who asked the question and (2) the competition as neither are relevant to the answers.
I am entering some works this year in the [prestigious] competition. I have got the works photographed well (I think) and they fit the bill for being me and maybe a bit different. The three I'm entering form part of a series (there are 2 more but they got rejected by me). My problem is with pricing. I have entered juried competitions in the past and think my pricing has sat well in the range ignoring the unbelievably cheap. However, this is a big one. I couldn't make it to see the exhibition last year so I have no information to go on. I have also not worked at this large a scale for open exhibitions. I think the price I would normally put on them would be too low (I am "up north") and I don't want to look foolish. Are there any guides to help with ballpark figures? How much would you think for a full imperial watercolour?You'll find my take on the answer to this question below.
Thank you btw for such a fantastic website. Long may it continue!
I invite readers of this blog to add a comment at the end about
- either their own practices
- or their perspectives on what is the right approach for pricing for art competitions.
Is there a guide for pricing for competitions?
No - there is no guide for pricing art for art competitions.
In terms of working out what to do about pricing below you can find my personal observations on:
- a principled approach to pricing art
- some practical suggestions for working out prices
- how to price for an art competition
Images are from various competitions - plus a poll about how much artists know about pricing art!
|Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015|
1. A principled approach to pricing art
There is one over-riding principle behind pricing art - Be Consistent.
In general, your art should cost the same wherever it is shown whether that is on your website, in a local gallery or in an open competition. Here's a couple of reasons why:
- Buyers need to have confidence in the value of your work. That means they need to know that
- the price of the art won't change depending on where you sell it and
- they are not paying a premium for your work because you happen to be selling it in a prestigious competition.
- Being consistent is also a very important consideration when it comes to galleries. A gallery that might become interested in your work and consider adding you to their roster of gallery artists will very soon have second thoughts if it finds your work is priced differently depending on where you sell it.
- nature of the art e.g. original rather than reproductions
- size e.g. large rather than small i.e. why dimensions are an important feature of any title credit line
- media used e.g.it's well known that some media (e.g. oil) will command higher prices than others e.g. watercolour for the same quality/size/etc of artwork
- presentation e.g. framed rather than unframed
So in relation to pricing for art competitions my advice would be
- Price to be consistent with SIMILAR examples of your own work shown in different places over time.
- Do NOT price for a competition per se. Create work which is high quality and worthy of the competition and then price relative to the rest of your work.
|One of the walls at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015|
2. Practical suggestions for working out pricesThere is no "quick fix" for working out prices.
|Not a lot of artists know all there is to know about pricing art!|
If you'd like to learn more about pricing art I suggest you review the contents of the section of my Art Business website devoted to How to Price your Art.
This includes pages on:
- How important is price when buying art?
- Options for pricing art - How to avoid pricing art disasters
- Terminology and formulas for pricing art - Learn the words used when pricing art.
- Art experts on pricing art
- How artists price their art
- What's the price of affordable art? - find out what are the big price hurdles
|One of the curated collections within the ING Discerning Eye exhibition 2015|
3. How to price for an art competition
In relation to thinking about prices for an art competition, I'm going to reference two points from my blog post "20 tips for entering art competitions"
First you need to decide whether your work is appropriate for a competition or whether you would be wasting your time.
#1. Aim for a good fit between your work and the competition. It's a complete waste of time, effort and entry fees to submit to competitions which are not a good fit with your artwork. It's wise to do some research before you start to create an entry. If possible, I always try and see an open exhibition first before submitting work - partly to see what sort of work gets hung but also to decide whether my work is, or could be, a good fit. Another goord reason for researching the competition is to understand its purpose and to see whether again it's something that you'd want to be associated withThe next point might seem to contrary to points previously made. However it is in fact entirely consistent.
#14. Research prices and consider price points. There's nothing worse than having your pricing completely pitched wrong for the area, the gallery and the calibre of the company you are keeping if you get selected. It's very helpful if you can get hold of catalogues for previous exhibitions to see what the range of prices look like. This is again where a visit to an exhibition in an advance of entering a competition can be such a good idea.Bottom line - you need to develop a really good sense of the market value of your work. Methods you can employ to do this include the following:
- Look at an awful lot of art for sale - ideally by artists who are known to sell their work. An artist with lots of red spots in open exhibitions provides an excellent benchmark - whereas an artist who never seems to sell does not!
- Find artwork that is comparable - and research prices
- Find artists who are comparable - and research their background/career history - remembering not to presume you are equivalent and that pricing also relates to
- where an artist is in their development and
- the extent to which they have a track record of regular sales and/or a body of collectors
- Test out what your art will sell for in open competition with others - in the market place. This is where selling art online has helped a lot of artists develop a clear sense of the value of their art.
You can also learn about a competition
- Get hold of a past catalogue for the exhibition and look at the range of prices charged. You don't have to attend an exhibition to get a catalogue - you just have to ask for one (and you may need to pay for it)
- However do remember that the prices charged:
- in the catalogue - are meaningless to both buyer and artist researching prices if they are not accompanied by information about size and medium
- by the artist - mean nothing if the art did not sell. (which is why I often pay visits to an exhibition very close to the end - to see what sold!)
DO REMEMBER: Prices on the wall for an artwork without a red dot means:
- EITHER - this is too expensive and the price is
- wishful thinking on the part of the artist
- inconsistent with the pricing for other works by this artist
- OR this is artwork which lacks general appeal
- OR this is artwork which didn't look good in this competition and/or in the context of other works (other works can sometimes swamp a good piece which needs space to shine)
- OR this is an artist whose work has not yet converted interest to sales.