Price/Value of Art

“The price of this painting has been set at $1,000,000. Do I have any bids?”
“I’ll give you a buck.”

Pricing art is one of the trickiest things I can think of. Who can truly know what the value of a piece of art is. Is art not as valuable because the artist is still alive or more valuable if the artist has been dead for a number of years?

I have looked at most of the paintings on the list of the most expensive paintings and I personally don’t agree with the list. Damien Hirst gets millions for stuffing dead animals in formaldehyde (he’s a one-trick pony, but that’s just my opinion). Yet, Dali, one of my personal favorites, isn’t on this list. If you ever get to walk through his museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, I recommend it. That guy makes me want to throw down my brushes and never paint again.

I’ve thought about it time and time again, the price of art is as subjective as the art itself. Who can accurately judge? Do we know how much soul, energy and time was put into each painting or work of art? There is no way to measure any amount of heart someone put into their work.

Part of my own pricing has to do with how much time and money I invest into each painting. I put the same amount of energy and hard work into each creation I make, but I don’t spend as much time on each piece. Mostly that has to do with sizing of canvas, but not always. I work on a painting until I deem it’s finished. With that in mind, I don’t always base my prices off actual time. Each one of my paintings is an idea/concept I put on canvas or paper, and they all differ in value (well some are the same price).

I have battles with myself on how much even I should sell certain things. Raising and lowering prices all the time. As of late, I’ve been lowering prices…a lot. You have to roll with the times and the times are not full of fat wallets and plump purses. Let me know if anyone else goes through these struggles.

    • dawnblair
    • January 27th, 2010

    I go through these struggles all the time. I see art that in my opinion is nothing but a blocked in painting selling for $2000-$11000. I know an artist that sells paintings of road kills (he’s even listed in a volume of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for this) and, in my humble opinion, very terrible western paintings, yet he’s becoming a popular artist. But much like many other things in life, it’s a game and it’s who you know. Very discouraging for some of us who prefer to be making art rather than being out socializing and have no hopes of marrying a trust fund baby or becoming one.

    So, I keep falling back to advise given by Jack White. He said that even if you sell art for less than you think it’s worth, at least you’re selling. What’s more important — being thought of as an art genius and selling only one work in your lifetime (and ending up in a pauper’s grave) or paying your credit card bill for the month? We have different values than they did 100 or 1000 years ago. We no longer have patrons who are willing to support as we develop our craft. Art is something everyone wants for free. Don’t believe me? Just look at the schools. Go to any public school and you’ll have to pay to get into a football or basketball game, but go to a band concert and you might be asked for a donation, but you certainly won’t have to buy your ticket to get in. What gets cut first when school spending needs trimmed — band, choir, drama, and art programs. Is it any wonder that art has no appreciation? But after years of art being something only for those well-off in society, what can we expect but this kind of treatment? It’s a balance.

    Knowing we’re having that period of balance, we can also know that it will change. Already in the traditional workplace we’re seeing that right-brained skills are being valued more and move over the left-brained skills that have dominated for so long. The pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction. I think we need to realize that art is a product of the right brain with the key being on “product.” It’s a commodity and needs to be sold as such. But everyone’s got to start somewhere. Even Walmart started as one single little store. So take your art and start to sell small, even if it’s undervalued at first. Let word get out. The more art you can get out there, the more it will be seen, and the more people will want to have a piece for their own. Many people do what they love for free for many years before they start to make money. You have to have a certain amount of faith in what you do and develop it as you go.

    Hang in there. You’re not alone.

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