A question I hear all the time goes something like this, "Matt, how do I start charging more for my work? I seem to be around a lot of people that don't want to pay anything for what I create."
I always answer with, "Listen, that's really not your issue. That's their issue. You're just in front of the wrong people." This of course leads to the obvious follow up question, “Well then, who ARE the right people and how do I get them to pay me what my art is really worth?”
I remember hearing years ago that the price for anything - your time, your artwork, any business that you have - is really based on two things:
And it's this second point that I want to focus on for a minute. The difficulty your clients or potential clients will have in replacing you - what you do and the way you do it - really points to the whole idea of uniqueness in the marketplace.
Ask yourself a few questions, and be honest, like your art depends upon it:
Over the years as I would think about increasing my prices, I would take a look at other artists who were able to really get top dollar for their work in order to learn their secrets. And the one common denominator I saw in play every time was uniqueness.
Uniqueness for Artists is a Two-Sided Coin
Artistic uniqueness is comprised of many factors, but in the end you can break it down into two major categories. The first of course being the individuality that you express through your art, but the second layer of uniqueness that seems to key for so many successful, thriving artists is the depth of connection you cultivate with your potential audience.
You see, the more people know, like, and trust you, the more they're willing to let price be one of the least important factors when determining a potential purchase. Unique artwork left on a shelf in a store will eventually sell, but unique artwork combined with a personal relationship with the artist turns an art buyer into an art lover and art lovers into raving fans of your work.
That's where selling art and being an artist becomes really, really fun. And this way of bringing together my artistic uniqueness, combined with a personal relationship with my clients keeps me free from the never-ending cycle of price wars played daily on Etsy and other similar websites. Sure, you can play the game of trying to put your art on as many online portals as possible in order to get the price down as low as possible with the hope of making it up on volume. If you are called to be a “production center” or an “art machine” then I say go for it.
But for me and most of the successful artists that I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring, we long to create beautiful and meaningful works of original art that are appreciated and purchased by people who love us, like what we do, and are willing to invest in those relationships. This only happens when artistic uniqueness is intentionally connected with developing relationships with your clientele or potential clientele.
So if you're struggling with trying to get people to pay top dollar for your creations, then I would encourage you do a little self-assessment:
The more you cultivate mastery, quality, uniqueness and relationship, the more you'll be able to raise your prices over time. And the best part is your clients will be glad to pay because they'll feel like they're getting something really special. Guess what? They are, YOU!
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend.
Thanks for reading! For a detailed explanation of pricing artwork, check out my guide to How to Price Your Art: The Definitive Guide for Pricing Artwork for Visual Artists.
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.