Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Pricing "Winners"

Today I'm commenting on the prices of artworks sold during the first 2-3 days of the "Winners | Award Winning Artists 2020-2022" Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. (Note: I'm going to be writing a long post about pricing in the context of the current economic climate in the near future.)

This follows my two previous posts

This post includes 
  • a chart of all sales (to date) analysed by the size of the artwork and the price category of the sold artwork.
  • commentary on my conclusions about the chances of artwork selling - by size and price categories
Winners Exhibition - View of West Gallery last Friday

As most of you know, most sales in an exhibition occur during pretty early in an exhibition. Notably 

  • when it goes online and 
  • at the Private View before it opens to the public, 
  • then in the first few days after that. 

I'm not going to Private Views routinely at the moment - and indeed I'm still walking round with a mask on given the fact Covid infection rates are rampant in London - and I've still not had it....

However I did visit last Friday - after the PV on Tuesday evening (and the rail strike on Wednesday) and the last thing I did before I left the gallery was to walk round and photograph every artwork which had sold.

I've also checked what sales have since occurred online and it's pretty much the same.

So today is an analysis along the lines of those done in previous reviews of exhibitions in these galleries. I've crunched the numbers and created an excel file with a data sheet and a chart. All sold artworks are categorised according to

  • price categories are those which I observe most sales in this location
  • sizes are new - and includes small, small medium, large medium and large - scaled according to the size of the artwork and NOT the framed size.

General observations on pricing

First of all though I'm going to make some general observations

  • a lot of the artwork on display is priced at several thousand pounds - and none of it has sold.
  • a lot of people are still pitching prices far too high for this gallery. Now some of these will be people who sell well in other galleries and who cannot be seen to vary their prices - and I understand that HOWEVER 
  • for everybody else study the chart below - it's very educational! COMMENTARY IS BELOW CHART


CHART of my analysis of sold artwork as at 2nd August 2022

The price categories increase in increments of £500 up to £2,500. Nothing had sold in excess of this figure - despite how artworks were priced

Analysis and Commentary

It's important to remember that this exhibition includes both well established artists who are members of the FBA Societies AND artists whose work was originally selected via the open entry for the various exhibitions. However ALL the exhibiting artists in this exhibition are PRIZEWINNERS and as such the quality of the artwork on display should (and is) better than that seen in most exhibitions where there is more variation in the standard. 

This exhibition therefore provides something of a benchmark for thinking about pricing over the next year. That said, there is a caveat. These are the summer months and at least some of the regulars who come to such exhibitions may well be abroad on holiday - if they're up to braving their airports or ferries(!) or are holidaying at home but away from London.

BELOW I analyse the results of allocating artwork to both size and price categories. As the legend on the chart indicates.....


  • small medium artworks (between 30 cms and 60cms on their longest dimension) were the most popular size of artwork to sell. (47% of the total)
    • Small and small medium artworks are popular with people like myself - who collect artwork - and have a lot already. 
    • Hence there's often problem with "not a lot of wall space left for hanging" 
    • Hence when shopping you look for artwork you might be able to hang!
  • small medium was closely followed in the popularity stakes by small artwork (sized at or below 30 cms longest dimension). They accounted for 32% of the total.
  • only one large artwork and three large medium artworks have sold to date. 
  • I'd also comment that if shipping artwork using a method which prices on size or weight, there's an awful lot to be said for smaller artworks if they sell better and cost less to ship! (see Fine Art Transport - For those who 'need to know' How to pack, mail and ship art on my website)


My general view is that 
  • not a lot of works under £500 get hung - but those that do very often sell quickly
  • anything under £1,500 is viewed as "affordable" art by many of those who buy art regularly or occasionally.  Enough to make you pause to reflect on whether you really like it / have room for it - but not enough to deter a purchase - especially not with the Own Art Options for spreading payments (I can never understand why this option is not promoted more)
Specifically in relation to this exhibition
  • The £501-£1,000 was the most popular price category for sales - accounting for 42% of sales by number (not value) 
    • it was the only category to include three different sizes of artwork - with the most popular being small. 
    • to my mind artists should never ever underestimate the importance of producing quality artwork in small dimensions. "Sketchy" paintings are simply not enough....
  • the next two most popular price categories were £1,501-£2,000 and under £500
    • I eliminated two categories I normally include in these charts - for £2,500-£3,000 and above £3,000 
    • simply because there were no sales above £2,500
  • If there's one lesson exhibiting artists take away, it's that pricing high / too high very often means that your costs of exhibiting in the exhibition are for marketing purposes only. Which is certainly a very valid reason - and this exhibition should attract the interest of conventional art galleries - but it is somewhat costly when shipping larger artworks.....
In my upcoming post I'll be reminding artists that pricing without thinking about the economic context is naive and potentially detrimental to income streams.

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