Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Pricing

Pricing Guidelines
One of the most important things to remember when pricing work is that the “worth” of the piece is based on perception. Apart from the actual value of the materials and framing, value is subjective. What one person may be willing to pay $700 for, another may not feel it is worth more than $50.

The first question to ask yourself is: Are you pricing to keep or pricing to sell? If you are looking to keep your piece, setting your price much higher than the piece is worth will almost guarantee that it won’t sell, especially if it is not a limited edition print and not professionally framed. If you are looking to sell be aware that you will not always make a profit. Would you be willing to have someone own the piece even if you had to take a bit of a financial loss or is it worth it to you to pay for return shipping and have your piece sit in your closet? You also have to take into consideration how often you plan on exhibiting said piece since it will be more likely to sell if it is displayed frequently. If you want it to sell, my best advice is to start the price at two to three times what it cost you to print, frame, and ship the image.

Reasons to raise the price over this guideline
Unique images will be worth more than those that might be reproduced more frequently. Limited edition prints should go up in price from the basic formula depending on how many are remaining. One-of-a-kind images, such as wet plates, should also go up in price accordingly.
Reasons to lower the price from this guideline:

Images that are not professionally framed are less archival. They may not have the same UV protection or use acid free materials and they will not be sealed against air and dust, potentially leading to deterioration over time. Likewise, images that do not have glass or Plexiglas are more prone to damage and may not be considered as valuable by potential buyers. Images that are mounted instead of framed, even with glass, also may not be considered as valuable due to the risk of deterioration of or damage to the image. This does differ from person to person, however, and depends on how they are able to visualize hanging the piece in their desired location. 

Pieces that are not for sale
Sometimes artists do not list a piece for sale. Typically said piece is a unique item, such as an alternative process piece that the artist would like to keep, or a personal image, such as a family member or self-portrait, that the artist feels is too intimate to have hanging in a stranger’s home.

One final thought: An artist who has been in two of our exhibitions recently shared a wonderful quote with me about framing and pricing, “…as I tell photographers when I've done speaking, ‘frame it so you like it, because it will probably be hanging in your house.’”

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