Blog / 2020 / How to Love Your Art #11: Charge a Lot of Money for It

April 13, 2020

Today’s installment of the “how to love your art” blog series pairs nicely with last week’s about giving your art away.

There’s nothing more powerful than an artist who is confident about the value of their work.

Most artists don’t charge enough for their art, and, since the ones who do probably aren’t reading about how to love their art, I feel safe making the blanket statement: raise the prices on your art!

Raise your prices, because art is worth it.

Raise your prices, because art is hard work.

Raise your prices, because some know-it-all is going to tell you that your prices are too high no matter how low you keep it.

There’s no shortage of self-appointed experts who are only too happy to make you doubt yourself. Often, they’re not even interested in buying your art. They’re just conceited and insecure, and they know that artists are easy targets for shaming because we’ve swallowed the lie that artists are selfish.

Instead of trying to crack the code on the “right” price—that mythical number that no one will ever disagree with—learn to push back on the people who balk at your prices. You might ask them:

  • What is your motivation for giving me this advice? Are you looking to get a deal on my art?
  • What are your qualifications for making recommendations about how to price art?
  • In what way do you imagine that your suggestion will help my art career?

Their answers don’t actually matter. In fact, you don’t even need to ask these questions out loud, so long as you carefully assess the person giving you advice. Critiques almost always reveal more about the critic than the thing being critiqued.

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Raising your prices is more than just an opportunity to make more money and assert your value. It can be an important marketing moment too.

At the beginning of 2019, I spent two weeks upping my portrait prices in a very public way. I announced the change with an explanation and then I proceeded to celebrate both the genre itself and the people I have painted over the course of three posts by deconstructing what makes the perfect portrait subject. One video was about the character of people who have their portraits done, while another talked about about their generosity, and the final post made clear that being a good subject meant being a very grounded person.

This open transition in prices invites clients and potential patrons into the process, while also giving you an opportunity to share about your art in delicious detail.

paintings of four girl cousins commissioned by their grandmother
Gwenn Seemel
Andy, Audrey, Hailey, and Elizabeth
acrylic on canvas
each painting 18 x 14 inches

These four portraits are a recent commission from a grandmother wanting to capture this stage in her grandkids’ childhoods. At the moment, I’m not accepting new painted portrait commissions because I only work from photos I take myself of my subjects and COVID-19 prevents that sort of meeting.

painting of a smiling white girl with white-blonde hair
detail image of Andy
painting of a smiling white girl with red curls
detail image of Audrey
painting of a smiling toddler girl with a mischievous expression
detail image of Hailey
painting of an intense ten year old white girl
detail image of Elizabeth

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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