Student Pricing Strategy

A common question from students that are nearing the endgame of a first creative work is “What should I price this at?” Many students are quick to approach a price determination by a simple summation of invested hours plus material costs. While this might seem reasonable at first, it quickly becomes problematic as one cannot easily parse the hours spent “learning” from the hours spent “producing” for the marketplace. Should a drawing or painting that took a student three months to create yield a higher price than that of a seasoned artist who could have generated the image in three weeks? If we are basing the price on a time scale alone, then it would seem so.

However, we can get around this problem if we remove the student’s time-frame altogether.

Before jumping into our baseline formula, it is important to understand that this formula should yield to any sales history. A consistent price range is an important aspect of any artist’s career, and therefore sales history must be taken into account when pricing new work. Additionally, it is recommended to discuss any pricing strategy openly with any other party involved in potential sales or representation. This can be a gallery, art dealer, etc. I encourage everyone to be very forthcoming regarding their thoughts on pricing with their representation so as to make sure that your work finds success in the marketplace, and that you (the artist) feels adequately compensated.

Our basic starting formula for students is fairly simple and straightforward. The only subjective variable in this formula is relative complexity (we use a 1-5 scale on this for drawing and a 5-10 scale for paintng). Relative complexity is something that must be factored in as a painting of a single flower on a 16x20” canvas may not require as much work as a bouquet of flowers occupying that same canvas at the same level of finish. When asked about my own price points, I always state that it is dependent upon both size and complexity.


Have you come across rules of thumb like this for pricing work in career stages beyond student?

1 Like

That a great question Jeff and I wish that I did have such a formula to share. Usually the subject of pricing after graduation (at least in our case) becomes an issue for the artist and whatever representation or retail agent they choose to employ.


I think we all wish there was an easy formula :smirk:

1 Like

I’d say same formula the multiply again by a 1-10 scale of reputation

1 nobody knows of you,
3 everyone in your town knows of you
5 everyone in your state knows of you
10 everybody knows of you :slight_smile:

Obviously I’m just messing I haven’t a clue. I’d be happy selling and breaking even :slight_smile:


Ha ha ha! Love It!