Have you ever wondered what it would be like to earn money with your art? Have you already taken some commissioned work, but aren’t sure how it should really be done? I am asked repeatedly about how to sell art for a living. Many of my students make extra money by creating custom artwork for people. It can be a fun and challenging experience, but it does have its issues. Before you dive in and try to sell your art, there are some things you should consider.
1. What should you charge when you sell your art? That’s the most common question I hear. Unfortunately, I cannot tell people what to charge. I have no right to tell someone what their time and talent is worth. What I DO tell them is, do not undersell themselves.
When you place a price on your work, your client will value it according to how much they pay for it. There is a very wide range of prices to consider. I go to the extremes. I either give it as gift from the heart, which is priceless, or I place a high dollar price tag on it. Both of these approaches makes the recipient appreciative of the art, and it will be treasured. The gift becomes sentimental and the high priced piece becomes an investment. Both may become an heirloom due to the value I assigned it.
If you underprice your work, the purchaser will value it accordingly, If they pay $25 dollars for something, they will not treasure it nearly as much as they would had they paid $250. You tell the customer what your art is worth by the price that you charge. Sell it cheap, and it may end up being discarded, or sold in a garage sale.
Is your skill level worthy of the price you are charging? When you’re just beginning, it stands to reason that you wouldn’t be selling art as expensive as someone like me, who has 40 years of experience, unless you’ve already reached a skill level that is sought after. I’ve seen students who are just starting off charge way too much and have been hurt when the client is not pleased with the project when it’s finished. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by promising something you can’t deliver. Be up front, and make sure you show good examples of your work. Let them see your skill through examples before you agree to anything.
I’ve had students take on jobs that are way over their heads. They then come to my class and need help to complete the artwork, or for me to give them pointers. I make it very clear that I don’t approve of this. If you aren’t capable of completing the art without help, you shouldn’t be representing yourself as a professional. Only take jobs that you feel confident in doing, from start to finish!