What Is Art Really Worth?

I would like to have a discussion this morning about pricing your art. Not mine — not necessarily yours. But those in the Art world.

Let me explain. 

I truly am curious to find our how someone comes up with a price for a piece of their work. In doing research on various artists (or rather those who have actual price tags on their work), I have seen a variety of price points on sculptures, paintings, and other marvelous creations.

Now I’m not talking about famous artists such as Picasso or Pollack or O’Keeffe, I am talking about popular artists who have their circle of followers and the love of their critics and are a few steps beyond Art Fairs and Exhibitions. Close to Museum quality — perhaps at Gallery level.

For those websites that did show prices, paintings from one of my artists were offered from $45,000 and a few at $180,000. A 30-inch brass and stone sculpture went for $3,500. Another statue maker charged $3,000 for a resin statue and $32,000 for a bronze. Colorful paintings of animals can run $1,400 a piece or more.

I am not dissing these prices at all. What I am wondering is — how do you determine how much your work is worth? How can you tell if your Art is worth $40 or $400 or $4,000?

I know it’s more than material. It’s time. It’s experience. It’s talent. It’s having a vision that is worth spending hours and days and months developing.

I understand the ethics behind creativity.

I just don’t understand how people know what to charge for their creativeness. 

It’s one thing to price Angel Tears, made of fishing line and rhinestones and chandelier crystals. I made a work plan based on my cost, how long it takes to make one, labor, all of that. Figuring out what to charge for me is based more on what I would pay to buy one at a craft fair..

But when you make a bronze statue, a ceramic vase, a mosaic mirror frame, how do you know what it’s worth? How do you know to price something at $100 or $1,000? What about pieces whose asking price is $15,000? I won’t even touch larger pieces of sculpture and steel that stand in parks and in front of office buildings.

This is where you, my artist friends, come in. Maybe you have created masterpieces that you have sold. Maybe you have a friend or family member whose works hang in a gallery or on a corporate wall someplace.

Share your thoughts. I’d love to understand the Art World around me a little better!

7 thoughts on “What Is Art Really Worth?

  1. It has a lot to do with the name of the artist. If he was lucky someone famous bought it, his friends and family sometimes want to buy from you too. At artschool we were told to start with a low price and the more you sold the higher the price you ‘d get. But as LA is saying: it is as much as someone is willing to pay. And often you just don’t understand why someone gave a lot of money for a work.

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    1. I agree with you. It’s not that I begrudge artists making money — there’s a lot of stress bringing a 2D thought into a 3D object. The same is true with writing, sketching, knitting — anything where you have an idea you want to express. But I have to admit I sometimes wonder — a simple design, a 3D encaustic painting, flowing watercolors — asking (and probably getting) thousands of dollars a piece. I am probably a bit thick in the understanding department! Ha!

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      1. You and me both ! I think I’ll never really understand the human mind, it works in mysterious ways.(ps did you get my mail with the pictures ?)

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  2. Ok…my understand is that your art is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it…I know that doesn’t make sense, but frankly sometimes art doesn’t make sense. If you are able, watch the documentary The Lost Leonardo. I think it’s a fascinating piece and while it might not give you answers, it might give you a different view

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    1. I will keep an eye out for that movie. Perhaps all successful paying art jobs reflect the self confidence of the artist. Like “I put a lot into this but I’m not very good so I’ll ask $5 instead of $50.” I suppose ego does have something to do with it. It’s a tricky world to be sure.

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