In this article, you will find my newest addition to the helpful tools for artists – the Art Pricing Calculator apps and I will explain how to use them. Then I will offer some of my own advice and tips on how to price your work and how to deal with clients in this regard.
I will also talk about fine art (oil paintings), and the process of determining value and asking prices there.
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Table of Contents
I am happy and excited to announce the calculators, not only because I know they will be really valuable to so many working artists out there but also because I can see now that the Art Side of Life site is becoming what I had always dreamed of and envisioned – that is, a one-stop full resource center with everything any artist would need or want.
I mean, I can now offer on the site:
- The Ultimate Self-Taught Artist Guide
- How Much do Artists Make 2021 Guide
- Art Prompt Generator
- 50+ Art Challenges Guide
- Recommendations for Libraries of Drawing Books, Art History Books and Color Theory Books
- Over 200 (!) Video Interviews with Working Artists
- Tons of Buyer’s Guides and Reviews
- And Many Other Resources as well
And now the Art Pricing Calculator, which is definitely one of the most useful tools I’ve ever been able to offer, and is completely free to everybody and super easy to use.
And it is a truly effective and usable solution and a direct answer to questions I hear so often from students and even already established working artists:
- How Should I Price My Art?
- How Can I Valuate My Own Work?
- How Can I Know What to Charge as a Commercial Artist or Illustrator in Art Business?
- How Much Should I Charge for My Original Art?
- How Much Should I Charge for My Art Prints?
Please understand, that due to the nature of the data which change frequently and sometimes are not fully accurate, we assume no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article. The information contained in this article is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.
How Do I Price My Artworks?
☆ Art Pricing Calculators
Hourly Rate Calculator
Us the hourly rate calculator to find out how much you should charge per hour.
If you don’t incur business costs, or don’t want to add profit margin, just enter ‘0’ for both.
Annual business costs:
Hours worked per year:
Your hourly rate:
1. Annual salary ( 1 – ∞ ) = Salary you want to earn in a year
2. Annual business costs ( 0 – ∞ ) = Costs associated with your art and design business, if applicable
3. Annual hours ( 1 – ∞ ) = Hours you plan to work in a year
4. Margin ( 0 to 100 ) = How much profit you want to make, (usually 10-15%)
Watercolor, Acrylic, Mixed Media Pricing Calculator
The traditional art pricing calculator is great when you want to calculate the price of your work for an art job or art commission.
If your hourly rate already includes business (& material) costs, you don’t have to add material costs again. Just enter ‘0’. If you don’t want to add a profit margin, enter ‘0’ there too.
1. Hourly rate ( 1 – ∞ ) = How much you charge per hour
2. Hours spent ( 1 – ∞ ) = Estimated hours spent on finished artwork
3. Material costs ( 0 – ∞ ) = Costs of materials & tools if not included in your hourly rate
4. Margin ( 0 to 100 ) = How much profit you want to make, (usually 10-15%)
Digital Art Pricing Calculator
The digital art pricing calculator is great when you want to calculate the price of your work for an art job or art commission done digitally.
Calculating digital art price doesn’t usually include costs of material and tools.
1. Hourly rate ( 1 – ∞ ) = How much you charge per hour
2. Hours spent ( 1- ∞ ) = Estimated hours spent on finished artwork
3. Margin ( 0 to 100 ) = How much profit you want to make, (usually 10-15%)
Oil Paintings Pricing Calculator
The oil paintings pricing calculator is great when you want to calculate the price of your work using the price per square inch formula.
If you already include the cost of material in the price per square inch, you can just enter ‘0’ under the material costs.
Price per square inch:
1. Artwork’s height / width ( 1 – ∞ ) = Size of your artwork
2. Price per square inch ( 1 – ∞ ) – Acceptable price set by the market
3. Material costs ( 0 – ∞ ) = Costs of materials and tools if not included in the price per square inch
What is an Art Pricing Calculator?
This ingenious and useful tool can be called many different things:
- Online Art Pricing Calculator
- Art Price Generator
- Illustration Price Calculator
- Art Commission Pricing Calculator
- Digital Art Pricing Calculator
- How Much Machine
Ok, it’s never really called a “How Much Machine” even if it should be. But whatever you call it, the art price calculator is basically a simple online tool that will help you, well, you know, price your art.
This is, after all, one of the most challenging parts of being a commercial artist – knowing how much to charge for your work. You want to charge an amount that will allow you to survive, that will pay for your time, your talent and your effort, not to mention your materials cost and overhead, and that will accurately reflect your value as an artist and the quality of your work.
Yeah, easier said than done. Well, maybe not – it becomes a daunting, even overwhelming proposition if you are trying to price your art just off the top of your head, fuzzily trying to correlate and calculate too many variables and values and, especially, allowing emotion and emotional rationalizations to enter into the equation.
That’s why I love the idea of this simple tool. The art price calculator will allow you to enter in standard values – hourly rate, material costs, overheads, and wished profit – and get clear and consistent values for any and all of your work. Then you can and will know exactly what you should charge your clients.
The process of pricing will be so much easier, your pricing overall will be more consistent, you will feel more confident and clear when quoting and dealing with your customers, and they will sense your consistency and certainty and respond positively.
How Does the Art Pricing Calculator Work?
All you need to do is open up the page and enter some basic numbers into the calculator, and by the magic of digital computation there will appear the correct price to ask or quote for that particular work of art or job.
The basic numbers are:
- How long it took you to complete this particular piece or job (or how long you estimate it will take you)
- Your hourly rate of pay (the hourly salary you want to earn)
- The total cost of materials and supplies you used in completing this artwork or job (applies to traditional/fine art)
- The profit margin (how much profit you want to generate; usually between 10-15%*)
I told you – basic and easy! Ok, there’s one thing you probably need to figure out first…
How Much Should I Charge Per Hour?
I recently published a very complete guide to how much artists make around the world. This can help you determine the hourly rate you should charge and should enter into the art pricing calculator.
I’m going to mention this later on in this article, but I should point out an important consideration here:
- If you are going to sell art in your own community, you want to charge prices and hourly rates which will be appropriate in that economy – whether higher or lower than worldwide averages. In this case, going to my Artist Salary Guide and finding your own country (country in your region) will lead you in the right direction.
- But if you are going to sell art internationally, or predominately to the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, or even North America or Europe generally, you shouldn’t charge too little just because your own cost of living might be lower. Charging too low of a price will not only make you lose out on potential earnings, but might lower your perceived value in the eyes of clients and potential clients, and even hurt your chances of getting jobs or repeat business.
So in this second case, I recommend using the United States section to determine the appropriate gross salary level (per annum (yearly)). This, together with the profit margin should satisfy your personal costs, such as taxes, insurances (e.g. health, social), home rent/mortgage, food, travel, savings, investments, and other personal expenses.
Once you’ve determined the salary level, don’t forget about your annual business costs. You are, after all, running an art business, which naturally incurs business costs. These would be the cost of rent/lease/mortgage; utilities (e.g. electricity, water, heating, trash disposal); office & art supplies; advertising & promotion (e.g. Ads on Instagram / Pinterest / Etsy); labor costs (e.g. your employees or contractors); insurances; accounting and more depending on your business or freelance setup.
After you have done the calculations above, just put everything together and divide it by 1,840. That’s the number of hours you will work if you take ca. 6 weeks out of 52 weeks (a year) for holidays, sick days, errands, recharge, and so on. This number may be even smaller when you consider you will also be doing non-billable work, such as planning, strategy, outreach, client calls, etc.
For example, if you are using the standard United States annual salary for a graphic designer – 63,000 dollars and your annual business costs are e.g. 24,000 dollars – you divide that by 1,840 and come up with about 45 dollars an hour. On top of that, you will add a reasonable profit margin of about 10% and you end up with rounded 50 dollars an hour.
To make it easier, my art pricing calculator will also have a salary and costs / hourly converter built-in, so you can just get the salary from my salary guide, determine your annual business costs and go to the calculator, and it will figure everything out for you.
So, that’s it!
Yep, that’s it. Just figure out your hourly rate, enter it and the two other bits of data into the calculators and you’ll get the price you should charge. You will want to round the number up or down a little to make it more even, and then you can face your client with certainty and confidence.
I recommend you consider using the art pricing calculator for each job or piece you are selling or marketing. It makes things easier for you, makes your pricing and overall impression on clients and on the market more consistent, and wholly removes emotion and uncertainty from the mix.
My Tips on Pricing and on Dealing With Clients
In the above-mentioned salary guide, I mention that the salaries listed are for established employees, who have been in their positions for +3-5 years. If you’re just starting out, this might make you want to adjust the salary down so that you can plug a more “appropriate” hourly rate into the art pricing calculator.
And yes, this might be a good idea at the beginning, especially with your very first clients and your very first jobs. But once you’ve got the experience and the confidence that come from even one or two completed and paid projects, or one or two sold pieces, adjust your hourly rate back up to the 3-5 year level.
But please don’t adjust your levels down because you are worried that a certain client won’t pay more – it’s not about what they’ll pay as much as what you’re worth! And even if you’re brand new, don’t keep your prices low for more than the first couple of jobs. Remember that too low pricing, while it may seem like it would be attractive and a great incentive, can and often does have the opposite effect, reducing your apparent quality and value in the client’s eye and undermining their confidence and even your own sense of self-worth.
You may have a client who is clearly affluent, and there will be a strong temptation to charge more – even a lot more. But think not just of that short-term gain, but of the negative effect this can have on your reputation in the market, and in that client’s eyes if they find out what you charge others.
And, if you’re ever tempted to fiddle with the data for whatever reason, don’t. That is, if you are using the art pricing calculator, always enter the exact and correct amount of hours a job took (or will take) and the exact and correct price you paid for any supplies used, but not more.
Being consistent, clear, and honest in valuation and pricing makes any artist feel better about their work and their relationship with the client, actually improves the work itself, and believe me, the clients can sense it, and will love working with you even more.
Please don’t be offended by these comments – I know 99 percent of my readers would never consider raising prices because a client is a pain in the neck (or other parts) or because they want a new laptop or leather jacket, and probably none of this applies to you. But these are good things for anybody to keep in mind, and the ideas about consistency and how you are perceived in the market are really important.
How Do You Feel?
All that said, if you are beginning to feel underpaid, underappreciated, stressed, and inexplicably drained by work, and/or just plain pissy, it might be a sign that you should raise your rates. Just remember to do it in an unemotional, consistent way – that is, don’t just randomly raise the price of a work, but use the art pricing calculator and increase your hourly rate, and apply that across the board and to all clients and jobs.
Quote your price and then be quiet. Don’t negotiate before a client even responds to the quote, and it may be best to simply not ever negotiate anyway. You are an artist, you are charging a fair price, and you are worth it.
If you are pre-pricing your art, you need to calculate how many hours it will take. You should never overestimate here (see Don’t Overcharge, above) but don’t underestimate either (remember, you are worth it!). And whenever possible, don’t change your rates before delivery.
If a job takes longer than you expected, it’s a great opportunity to build honor and reputation if you stick to your quote and don’t raise your rates. And if you don’t lower prices either, even if it takes quite a bit less time than you estimated – it’s a great way to build self-worth and confidence. After all, the clients pay for your experience and knowledge that you had to work for quite hard!
On the other hand, if you have pre-quoted and it is becoming clear that the piece or the project will take much longer than you originally anticipated, communicate this clearly with the client as early as possible. If they are absolutely unwilling to compensate or budge from the original quote, it then is up to you to decide if you will complete the job and honor the quote. Just keep in mind not just what it will cost you right now if you continue, but also what it might cost you in terms of professional integrity, reputation, and future jobs if you don’t.
Stay Confident – This is What You Do!
Remember that this is your job and that you have to survive and thrive. Many new commercial artists can remain a little stuck in the mentality that they’re not really working artists (or at least not yet), that they’re still not sure if it will work and succeed, even that it’s all kind of too good to be true (somebody’s going to pay me for this? Really?).
And so they also remain a little tentative and shy about pricing. But as soon as you put out your first quote, or offer your first piece for sale, you are a working artist, and you should make sure your prices reflect the work you put in and that they are at least high enough to support you.
How is Pricing Fine Art Different?
The same questions about valuating and pricing art arise for the fine artists as well, along with a few more specific ones:
- How Much Should I Charge for My Acrylic Paintings?
- How Much Should I Charge for My Oil Paintings?
- How Much Should I Charge for My Watercolors?
- How Much Should I Charge for My Sculptures?
- How Can I Valuate A Fine Art Piece?
- How Much Do Artists Charge per Square Inch?
Whether it’s fair or not, or even true or not, there can be enormous differences between the valuation of commercial art and fine art, which can be based on the beauty or effectiveness of the art piece, the reputation of the artist, the perceived levels of talent and craft, media, marketing and lot of other factors.
In general, fine art is considered to be much more valuable than commercial art and should be priced accordingly. But how can you tell precisely how much to charge? Unfortunately, fine art pricing is not as simple as plugging figures into the art price calculator, though it can be a really fun, interesting, and inspiring process and a real learning experience on many levels.
Of course, if you need to calculate the price for your artwork done with watercolors / gouache / acrylics / mixed media, feel free to use the pricing calculator above. For oil paintings, where it’s common to use the square per inch formula, continue to the next section.
For the best, most effective and accurate valuation of fine art, the first thing you need to do is research.
Specifically, find the websites that could sell your art and which feature the art of artists working in media and styles similar to you, and especially those who are also similar in quality and talent and those with whom you feel a certain affinity, and see what they are charging.
You should also find artists who are fairly new on the scene or even just starting out, as established or famous artists can, and will, command prices far beyond what you should consider. If you do this a lot, with many different websites that can sell your art, and artists, you will begin to see a consensus and a reliable average price that will be appropriate for your art and feel good to you.
And while there may be lots of other ways, or other considerations, it doesn’t have to be more complicated than just lots and lots of browsing through beautiful fine art sites, online galleries, catalogs, and such and see what you see. You will also, of course, need to find the sites, galleries and artist websites that are in line with your work and aesthetic, but to start with you might want to check out these popular and successful fine art websites:
- Saatchi Art
- Counter Editions
- Fine Art America
What About Pricing Your Art Per Square Inch?
I would never use some market average price per square inch to determine the value of fine art – there is too much variance in the beauty, quality and craft, effectiveness and impact of individual pieces. On the other hand, if you have found art online that is very similar to yours in style, media and quality, but not exactly the same size, you can price artwork using the price per square inch of their work and adjust it to the size of your pieces.
The oil paintings pricing calculator above will help you with using the pricing per square inch formula.
For example, if you find an oil painting that is 18 by 24 inches and costs 5,000 dollars, you can calculate the square inch area of that painting (18×24=432 square inches), then divide that into 5,000 dollars (5000/432=11.5 dollars per square inch). Now if your work is 500 square inches you can simply multiply 11.5 by 500, and price your painting at 5,750 dollars.
After that, you can use the same formula to determine a price for different-sized paintings from your own portfolio.
More Pricing Tips – Fine Arts Version
And here are a few tips and hints for fine artists as well, things which will make the whole process more effective and your enterprise as a fine artist more successful.
Are You Self-Critical? Are You the Opposite?
Since we’re not just entering numbers into the art price calculator, there is much more of a chance of (possibly inaccurate) self-appraisal and even emotionality entering into the process. Some artists are highly self-critical, and while this may lead them to be better and better as artists, it isn’t the greatest or most useful quality when they are trying to value their own work.
Other artists are notoriously self-assured, to the point even of self-aggrandizement and vanity which might badly skew, in the opposite direction, their ability to clearly and accurately value their art.
In either case, or even if you’re totally healthy and balanced, and maintain a perfectly clear and unbiased relationship with yourself, just keep doing the research, and do it deeply and long enough that you begin to get an accurate idea of what similar artists charge for fine art and where the market is at. And then, in spite of your self-assessment or any other emotional factors, stick with that market average in pricing your own pieces.
Consistency is Key
Once you have done the research and determined a fair and effective value for your fine art pieces, stick to it. The internet is littered with art sites and artist home pages where a painting, drawing, sculpture or whatever is suddenly discounted by 10 percent, or 50 percent, and this does not send a good message about the art’s actual value and quality, not to mention the artist’s talent and worth.
If you are showing at a gallery, don’t sell your work cheaper elsewhere, like in your studio or online. Doesn’t matter if it is a brick-and-mortar gallery or an online gallery. To offer one price in one place and another price elsewhere is very bad form, and can really hurt your relationship with the gallery and your reputation in the art community in general. It can also demonstrate at least an apparent lack of confidence in your own self-evaluation as well as a lack of stability in establishing your, and your art’s, worth.
Where Will It End Up?
Don’t base your prices on your location. Well, if you are selling art only locally then you have to, of course. If your local economy is lower, your prices should reflect that and your work should be affordable in that economy. And the inverse is true as well – if you are in a strong economy you can use that to your advantage.
But if you are selling art online to a worldwide market, it can be a big mistake to assume that because you are in a lower scale economy, for example, and your own cost of living may be lower than other artists, you should charge less.
If you want to learn and get inspired from already successful fine artists, I recommend that you check out the following interviews:
- Ep.197: Evolve Artist Program with Kevin Murphy
- Ep.164: Great tips for art gallery shows with Marc Scheff
- Ep.17: On why is somebody going to hire me with Marco Bucci
- Ep.171: How to balance and grow with making art on the side with Marc Allante
- Ep.131: How to make living by doing traditional art with Lioba Brückner
- Ep.85: Hieu Nguyen (Kelogsloops) on capturing feelings in your artworks
Thanks so much for reading this latest article – The Art Pricing Calculator – A Simple Tool for Knowing How Much To Charge for Your Art – and again please visit my blog – Art Side of Life – not just for the podcasts but for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, buyer’s guides and a lot more!