image by Stefan Baudy
Artist Julie Martin wrote in with the following question:
I am thinking of having prints made of some of my watercolor paintings and selling them on sites like Etsy. I’m not sure how to go about having prints made, as far as making it profitable. Any suggestions?
This is a great question Julie. Pricing is really tough, but you can figure it out!
I’ll try to break it down to its basics. Here’s what you need to consider.
1. Costs. You need to make back what you spent in making the art. This can include fixed costs like your office space, lighting, heating, etc. These costs must be spread out among the number of pieces you plan to sell on a monthly basis. For example, if your studio and rent together cost $1000 per month, and you plan on selling 10 prints per month, then you have $100 in costs for each print, before you ever count anything else. If you think you can sell 20 prints each month, then it’s only $50 per print.
Then there are your costs per painting, or variable costs. This includes your canvas, brushes, the paint you used, and the time you spent (yes, your time is a cost, unless you are working for free). These will vary based on how much paint you use, how big the canvas is, etc. These will be calculated on an individual painting basis.
How much is your time worth? How much do you want to make? If you make $20 per hour, that’s about $40,000 per year. (Hint: You’re worth more than that.)
2. Goals. What are your painting goals? Are you trying to appear like you care what the art world thinks, or are you creating art for your buyers?
Also, how much money to you want to make? If your basic cost per painting is $50 for fixed costs plus $20 for materials, then you add the 10 hours that it took you to paint the piece, then that’s another $200. How many prints do you want to sell before you make that back? 20 prints? That’s $90 per print. (Then you sell the original for gobs of money.)
3. Research. After you know your costs and goals, find out how much it costs to buy other artists’ work. Not just any artists, but look at artists who work in similar styles to you. Look at watercolors that are for sale on Etsy and see what the high, middle, and low prices are. Where do your paintings fit in? Is your work more like the high end or low end of the pricing structure?
4. Test. Pricing is as much of an art as it is a science. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you are making money. Price out a few pieces at a few different levels and see which ones sell the most or which ones end up being the most profitable.
Let me know how it goes! If anyone has had great experiences with pricing their art prints, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Did I leave anything out?