Pricing artwork for sale is one of the most emotional and confusing issues artists face. Some sculptors wish to sculpt fewer works or release smaller editions, while others may be very prolific or wish to release very large editions. Though both of these approaches are valid, at the end of the day you have to price for the market you participate in. In business, which includes the art industry, customers expect to find certain categories of products at certain venues, or market levels. A simple analogy for this idea is that you don’t expect to find the same merchandise at both Target and Nordstrom’s. A shirt from either venue may be similar in function –but while Target is offering modest styling at discounted pricing, Nordstrom’s is adding something intangible to the equation through the designs, brands, environment and authority they offer you. These two name brand stores have invested heavily in creating unique experiences that are designed to bring certain value to certain types of customers. In the art industry, that value is affected by authenticity which is referred to as provenance, an attribute that are generally implied by the venue or market. For instance you wouldn’t expect to find a Michelangelo at an outdoor art and wine festival because that environment doesn’t traditionally convey the “priceless historically significant art” message. While there are artists who have managed to participate successfully in multiple markets and at multiple price points, these scenarios are the exception and not the rule. A focused, aligned pricing strategy is much more predictable.
Brett Barney is CEO of American Fine Arts Foundry, Inc., an innovator for more than 40 years in patinas and finishes for fine art bronze and a Fine Art Appraiser