Straightforward: delivering three artworks to Linden Gallery for the annual Linden Postcard Show.
A little challenging: choosing the work. All work had to be 8″ x 10″. Fortunately I had a sketchbook the right size, but I didn’t want to rip the pages out. Solution: good quality digital prints from fine art imaging specialists Imagescience.
Pretty easy: the entry process this year was via a gallery website, so you can see the works here.
The hard part: pricing – a figure that was fair to me, and reasonable for a work of this size to an art lover.
If this were a conversation it would go something like this:
Me: (thinking – add up the costs of entering the show ($77 for three works plus 30% commission and 10% GST on commission and the cost of getting prints made, umm lets try $100, no I need to earn a bit more than that…I know!) $120 each please.
Imagined Art Lover: Hmm $120…I’m not sure…they’re Prints, not Originals.
Me: Oh okay, what if they were less than $100, do you think that’s more reasonable?
Imagined Art Lover: Yes, that sounds good, going over $100 will put a lot of people off.
So I made them $95 each.
But even then I struggled, making the mistake of dividing the entry fee and printing costs for a per/print amount. If you’re not an accountant you might be wondering why was that a mistake. It’s all about being “out of pocket” – I’m out of pocket for a fixed amount no matter how many I sell. I’m not out of pocket one third of $77 plus one third of the printing costs plus the commission costs. Clarity: now I could see how many I had to sell to cover my costs and when I would start to earn something. And I decided to go low, as low as was bearable for me. And I’ll have to sell three prints to (almost) break even, rather than two.
There’s been loads written about this by other artists, artist coaches, critics, gallery owners, arts organisations, journalists – everyone seems to have an opinion. There’s advice about figuring out how much your materials and time are worth, plus the intangibles like the reputation of the artist (established, emerging, popular, amateur); the kind of work it is (painting, print, photo, sculpture, installation, commissioned); the size of the work, when the work was done….
So how low did I go? I decided on $60. If I sold all the prints at this show (which is not likely) I’d end up earning about the same as three days teaching.
Do you think I should give up my day job? Or just put a bird on it?