Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Tuesday Tips and Tricks

Flon Flon et Musette, Lincoln Square, Chicago

In the last few weeks I had three separate conversations with three different artists who asked for suggestions how to price artwork. I wrote to them separately in private messages and emails essentially the same set of suggestions. Perhaps if I share these suggestions here, they will be useful for someone. 

Pricing artwork has always been a mind boggling subject. And like politics or religion it seems to be a sticky and uncomfortable topic to discuss. But someone has to talk about it, so we will here. 

There are many different ways to price artwork. I will talk about one of them - the one I use - pricing by size.

First I want to share with you 10 Commandments of Art Pricing by one of my favorite art writers, late Robert Genn:

Thou shalt start out cheap. 
Thou shalt publish thy prices. 
Thou shalt raise thy prices regularly and a little. 
Thou shalt not lower thy prices. 
Thou shalt not have one price for Sam and another for Joe. 
Thou shalt not price by talent or time taken, but by size. 
Thou shalt not easily discount thy prices. 
Thou shalt lay control on thy agents and dealers. 
Thou shalt deal with those who will honour thee. 
Thou shalt end up expensive.

When I first read Robert’s Commandments I knew that I found my pricing system. I started then and continue to this day to price by square inch. This system takes amorphous and emotional things like “This was complex”, or “I struggled with this one”, or “My sister really likes it”, or my favorite “I don’t need prices, I am not at that stage yet” out of consideration. If we are selling work, it it a good idea to be objective and consistent. This is business.

But can we get a little more specific? Let’s see the numbers! How much per square inch? A little research is in order. Find work by others that is similar to yours in quality and style. Browse art selling websites like eBay, Etsy, online galleries. Perhaps you will find a drawing 5”x8” priced at $35. Or  another one 7”x7” for $80. Try these prices for your art piece, do they seem to fit?

When you find an approximate suitable price that works for you, you can figure out your price per square inch. For 5”x8” $35 sketch, price per square inch is $.88. Take this number and calculate prices for your other drawings of various sizes. You will come up with a little table that may look somewhat like this:

6”x6”  - $31.68
5”x8”  - $35
8”x11”  - $77.44
12”x12”  - $126.72

How does it look? Too low? Too high? Adjust the price per square inch so it feels comfortable. Then round your prices to drop funny cents. Now you have your price list, it will look something like this:

Jane Sketcher’s Price List 2015:
6”x6” - $32
5”x8” - $35
8”x11” - $77
12”x12” - $127

Now, if you find yourself in a situation when a music band you sketched on a sketchcrawl wants to buy your sketch to put on their album, you are not going to be caught off guard, unprepared and coming up with apologies, like I did. Instead you can sound professional and say: “Oh thank you for your interest! Let me email you my price list.”

Flon Flon et Musette, Tunes from Last June. Artwork by Alex Zonis

Oh, and please note that this price list is good for 2015. In the beginning of 2016 you may consider increasing your price per square inch by 10%. Happy pricing!


  1. Excellent advice Alex! I remember we had a conversation about how to price art, a topic many of us is interested in. Thanks for sharing and making it public, we do appreciate your generosity.

  2. Спасибо большое!!! Это очень полезная статья!