Understanding your perceived value can mean the difference between being an Artist or a starving artist. Often, younger and more inex...

Understanding Artist Valuation

Understanding your perceived value can mean the difference between being an Artist or a starvingartist. Often, younger and more inexperienced artists price their work solely on the cost of materials or a general guess of their print's value by looking at other artists and assuming they need to charge less due to inexperience or other presumed limiting factors. When doing what you love for a living leads you to cutting expenses and eating less food than normal, it's time to take some important steps in creating your artist valuation.
First (and probably most important): STOP UNDERSELLING YOURSELF!
If you and I were both to go to market with an equally appealing piece of art and you sold your art print for $15 while I sold mine for $35, who do you think would sell more at the end of the day? At first thought it would seem the lower price point would indicate more sales, but that is not the case. A $15 art print suggests to the potential buyer that you are not anyone of value and you are just there to hock prints. While a $35 dollar print indicates you believe in yourself and others should believe in you as well. It sends a message that your art is worth something and they'd do well to invest in one of your prints. Some artists sell prints for upwards of $90! If you are just starting out, $90 for a print may be a bit much to ask for. You need to find that sweet spot; Ask too much, and people will think you are narcissistic or over hyping yourself, ask too little and there will be a negative assumption of quality and it will haunt you. 
Second: Create valuation by limiting quantity
There is a general saying in business: People will pay more for what they can't have. Think about this for a moment and realize if you constantly sell the same print over and over, you are decreasing your valuation permanently. You are once again telling buyers it is not worthwhile to invest in your art or you as an artist because it will never be special. Conversely, if you sell a limited edition of a print where it is guaranteed that you will not release that print again for sale, you are creating a collectible market of your own work and telling your collectors and fans that you are going to be worth investing in. Your buyers will come back looking for your next limited edition and they will (most likely) tell others to invest in your prints as well.
Third: Boost valuation by utilizing your art in consumer product markets
When you think about some of the top artists out there today, the ones that come to mind are ones who are famous for having their artwork appear in consumer level products. They have a presence when their name is said, a certain mysterious quality comes to mind. This may be difficult to manage, but look for opportunities to align yourself with consumer markets with which you both identify and wish to participate. It makes no sense for me to make art for skateboards if I'm not a skater or don't know the market. By aligning yourself with consumer products, the public will start placing more value on your art. 
Fourth: Maintain valuation by selling originals and Giclée
If you work with a major game company and develop art for them using traditional media, often times, they will let you sell the original art to collectors. The same can be said for many other commercial art markets where it is not considered a work for hire project. When you do this, not only can you collect a little more money on the work you've done, but the market will begin seeing your other items as more valuable or at least as valuable as they've grown and you will maintain your ability to command a fair price for your work.
Giclée are super high quality prints that capture details traditional digital printers are incapable of. They cost more to produce but command higher prices from serious collectors who are not yet able to afford an original. If you are able to afford a limited run of Giclée prints they can earn you some pretty sweet income as well as further the valuation that you have been building with your earlier work.
Finally: Resist the urge to challenge the secondary market
It's not uncommon to see a secondary market marking up your initial prints or originals and reselling them for more. This is a good thing! This is building your perceived value. At first the reaction is to fight them and re-release your print so that people can buy your art at the prices you originally set forth. This is dangerous territory. You risk upsetting a lot of your most devoted collectors and plummeting your perceived valuation in a nose dive. 
Remember: "People will pay more for what they cannot have." If your work has entered the secondary market and is being sold, it proves that you are an artist of value. You are now able to raise your current prices and really make a living doing what you love. You will likely receive more requests for private commissions and, if you haven't previously, you may be presented opportunities in the consumer market. The secondary market is just important to building your valuation as the primary market, and you do not want to get on those folks' bad side either.
As with anything I tell my "Entrepreneurship for Artists" class participants: Don't take my words verbatim. Do your own research. Ask Mentors to help you understand some of these concepts if they go against your logic or morals and always do a gut check. There is a massive difference between being an artist, and making art for a living. You have to be able to see the bigger picture and think long term growth rather than short term gain. Let me know if this article helps. I love hearing from artists who are taking control of their art and making it a business.
(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)