Blog / 2021 / Why Artists Hate Putting a Price on Their Art

September 13, 2021

There are a few common formulas for figuring out what to charge for art: you can base your price on what similar artists are asking, or you can go by the square inch or by the hour. Personally, I think it’s best to look at a combination of factors, including your burnout threshold and what your prices say about your work.

But no matter how you end up pricing your art, it’s just as important to consider why you’re having so much trouble coming up with a price tag that you can believe in.

The fact is that money and art really don’t mix, because art is a necessity on par with air, water, food, shelter, and health care.

Art is the love of other humans made tangible across space and time. When a person can’t get a hug from a friend, art is there to make them feel seen and understood. It opens them up to new worlds, helping them to get outside of their own narrow experience, allowing them to become better and more loving.

None of that should have anything at all to do with money, so, when you can’t figure out what to charge for art, it actually says good things about you and your work. Far from being ashamed or frustrated if you’re struggling with pricing, you should be overjoyed!

When you look at this triple portrait of a grandmother, mother, and baby, I doubt that money is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not what pops into my head either.

three generations of women, artwork by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Mona, Mary, and Alexandra
2021
acrylic on wood
20 x 20 inches

I remember the exchanges I had with the client over what this commissioned artwork would include as well as the sense of accomplishment when I got the baby’s expression just right. The feel of family envelops me along with the joy of being an artist who makes custom art and, in that way, gets to be a part of something special in the client’s life.

laughing baby, painting by Gwenn Seemel
detail of Mona, Mary, and Alexandra

I was paid to make this art and it’s very unlikely that I would have made it without being paid, but this triple portrait isn’t made of money. It’s made of love.


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