The New York Daily News is reporting that a named buyer (but a museum in Qatar is suspected) has paid $300 Million for Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), a 1892 oil on canvas by French artist Paul Gauguin.
This is proof that pricing has nothing to do with what it costs an artist to produce something.
Sure, artists need to know their costs, but pricing formulas based on costs or amount or the amount of time it took to produce it aren’t relevant…because art isn’t a commodity. (continued below)
People don’t buy art by the pound. They buy it for their own reasons, and with the odd exception for rare metals, gems, and other premium materials, material costs aren’t it.
Sure, they need to know that the quality of the materials is good, and that the artist spent a lot of deliberate time on a piece – meaning if you used scrap bits and shoved it out in ten minutes you might not want to include that in the lead story of the piece – but trying to price a work of art by saying “It tool me 40 hours to do this, and at $10 an hour I should charge $400” is flawed.
Price according to what the market will bear.
This is NOT the same as “Pay what you want pricing”, this is about testing higher and higher prices over time.
If you find the market is capping out at a price that isn’t letting you prosper, you need to do three things:
1) Become more valuable.
If the painting in this story was unable to be verified as being a Gauguin, what would the price be? A microscopic amount of $300 million. The $300 million isn’t because this painting is intrinsically worth more; it’s value comes from the artist.
Do that too.
2) Become more efficient.
Don’t sacrifice the quality of the work you do, but it’s wondrous how far a little planning and organization can go. If you have to continually stop what you’re doing to answer the phone, or run out for more supplies, or rummage through heaps of crap to find anything, then by definition you’re not running at capacity.
A little preparation can easily double or triple our output, and by removing the white noise of distraction and disorganization, creativity can soar.
3) Get better at procurement.
Eh? Develop better buying skills and strategies so that your costs become minimal to non-existent. Sure, if bread is a little tight, then you have to take what you can get, but when your sales grow, you can buy in bulk when things go on sale, you can take advantage of auctions and going-out-of-business sales, and you develop a sixth sense of where else you can get the same things for less money. And don’t forget about Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers.
So if the same item costs you half as much, and you can produce twice as much in the same amount of time, and you stop thinking that the client’s paying based on materials or time spent…your art business just got a whole lot more profitable and a lot less stressful!
Be sure to check out our Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!
Check out the Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!
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