Creating a marketable body of work (part 5)

Notes on a talk by fine artists and art coaches Meagan and Michael Blessing, interviewed by art director Grant Roberts, 15.01. 2022 on the Art Work House Discord

Their socials:

https://www.meaganabrablessing.com/

https://www.michaelblessingart.com/

https://www.artstation.com/grantroberts

Disclaimer:

These notes are filtered through my perspective and interpretation, what I personally took away as a listener. I do not claim to cover the complete talk. Also, my views are not necessarily the views of the speakers.

(continuation from part 5)

Pricing

Most artists struggle with their cashflow. It is not a sign of failure, it’s just in the nature of being a self-employed artist. It can be unpredictable when the next sales and money are coming in. You can mitigate that by keeping track of your sales, trying to see any patterns of what is clearly working out and what isn’t and what art pieces of yours get the most attention. Aim to have an opportunity to sell at least once a month. Even if you don’t make a lot, your brain might appreciate the illusion of consistency.

For most artists, the following model of pricing or a variation of it works very well:

The wholesale price results from:

  • overhead costs – fixed costs you always have such as renting a studio, electricity, etc.
  • your labor and materials – your time is money and your raw materials need to be covered too, oftentimes also tied to the canvas size of work you are creating
  • profit – you need to make a profit, even if it just is a thin one. Just breaking even on your costs is not a success and does not justify going through all of this. So decide how much profit you want to make or can ask for and actually ask for it.
  • take the sum of 1,2 and 3 and then double it.

Why?

For once, you will pay taxes, if applicable pay business partners and agents, pay for advertising, save up for bad days and need some breathing room in case you have some unexpected additional expenses or have to wait for the next money for a while. So the question is why you haven’t doubled your prices so far.

Get paid while still being unknown

The immediate counter to this is that most people will not want to pay a lot of money for your art, especially if they don’t know you. While this is true, you will still run into some collectors who will want to pay and see you thrive. And for everyone else who isn’t ready for a big commitment yet, have entry level low priced things they can buy and collect from you, for example an coffee cup with a print of a piece of yours. Let your creativity run wild what you can offer here.

Stay consistent

With pricing it’s like with the rest – whatever you do, stay consistent. If you offer your services on several platforms, make sure your prices match. If you have a gallery or other form of representation, do not undercut your business partners by making deals behind their back saving the customer the part of the price that would go to the representative. Eventually, your business partners will find out and drop you. And a word about discounts – You are absolutely free to give discounts, but remember that someone who was given a discount once will want more discounts in the future. Give discounts with care and consideration and remember that you still have to make a profit with your business.

Seven income sources

Aim for seven income sources. This number is just a rule of thumb, but shows you that there’s a lot of things one single artist can do and that there’s a lot of ways to make money as an artist in general. Examples: selling originals, selling prints, designing and selling t-shirts, tabling at conventions, taking part in exhibitions, teaching, selling books, selling artbooks, making and selling comics, commissions, freelance work, selling game assets, stream on Twitch, make Youtube art videos and the list goes on.