Selling: Pricing (Part 3 of 3)

Keuka Lake Vineyard, 40X30, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas. Priced by the square inch, of course.
This week I’m writing about N., who is a retiree now painting full time. She wants to sell paintings but doesn’t want to be a full-time businessperson. 
The last question N. has to answer is whether she’s pricing her work competitively.
Do you remember our old friend from high school economics, the supply curve? It taught us that pricing is the result of how much supply and demand there is for a product. Where those things meet, there’s what’s called the equilibrium price.
Art has regional markets. If you live in a community with an aging population and a prestigious art school, you’re going to have low demand and high supply. That will keep prices low. If you live in a booming new city, you will have more demand and prices will be higher.
Art is not strictly a commodity, however. It has a strong subjective element to its pricing. How valuable a piece of work is depends on how prominent its painter is. One hopes that correlates in some way to quality, but the life and times of Thomas Kinkade teach us that isn’t always so.
Letchworth Lower Falls at High Water, 18X24, by Carol L. Douglas.
I’ve addressed the mechanics of pricing in detail, here. I originally wrote that post for a student who was in a similar position to N.. She ignored my advice entirely, to great success. At a recent solo show, she priced her paintings absurdly low. She sold four paintings. She didn’t make a fortune, but she did earn enough to resupply her paint box for a year, and she doesn’t have a hangover of old work lying around the house.
Letchworth Middle and Upper Falls, 18X24, by Carol L. Douglas
Not that I advise that. Often people think there’s something suspicious about your work being too cheap. They’re right to think that, just as they’re right to suspect the Christian Louboutin clutch they saw on Canal Street might not be the real deal.

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