How To Price Art Prints

Question Markimage 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?


    • theabundantartist says

      Great question Lesley. Obviously you’ll want to take that into consideration as well. Remember to shop around and get the best deal you can on printing services.

  1. says

    I might humbly argue to look for the best quality printing that you can. That in turn allows you to charge an even higher price for your work as it will stand out from the dozens of other people printing at home/Rite Aid/Kinkos – as long as you educate people on what exactly they’re getting and paying for.

  2. Angela Baumgartner says

    High quality printing is important, and so is the paper or canvas that you use. There are a lot of differences in how ink is absorbed and the way the image will appear on the paper- so work with a printer to learn some of the language and terms you need to know.

    Weights- paper comes in ‘pounds’ like 60, 80or 120 lb. and there are differences in thickness and finishes. Card stock is a different weight than standard reams of paper. All of it has a bearing on the look and feel of the finished product. Figure out what you like best and what you can afford.

    If you are doing large sized work, find what companies carry which sizes and how easy they are to run through a press, how they handle wrinkles, being cut, smudges or scoring and so on. Ask people who have work similar to yours or that you admire how their art looks what they use, who they use and what they found out the hard way.
    Hope some of this adds to the mix of consideration for good decisions regarding art and it’s presentation!

  3. says

    Thanks for the great tips! I find pricing my art (be it prints or originals) the hardest part of being an artist. I don’t want to rip myself off, but I also don’t want to scare off potential buyers from my works.

    As an artist that is just getting into print sales, the upfront cost of the higher end prints can be staggering, especially if you don’t sell a lot of them. I currently print them out myself on the best photo paper I can get and sell them at a fairly low price. This at least gives me some cash to put into saving up for the nicer stuff down the road.

  4. sazzle78 says

    Thanks, that’s so useful. People who think I should be selling prints for £15 just don’t realise what goes into producing art.

  5. Jay says

    Q: I own a series of Robert Peak signed and numbered artist prints(a complete seies of six) framed and never hung. I am trying to find out their value. Cn you refer me to a reputable site or gallery? Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

    • Jason says

      It will be hard to get your art in to a gallery , unless you have an in , I would design your own prints first for exposure .
      Galleries also take commission from what you , and the art that put in the gallery if you want to still want to show art in a gallery , I would put together contract of with terms conditions of your own and have the gallery agree and sign and date the contract before moving forward with any business regarding your art or prints.
      Look in to Legal Zoom for the answers , they are great asset when it comes down advise and worth time and investment.

  6. Momina says

    Hi, this is an excellent tips. I have something to ask about:

    1: Which expensive between of watercolour and prints?

    2: How much price of original painting in size A4? Per square inch?
    I m confused. Please help me


  1. […] Money is Evil. Pretty hard to bust this myth if it’s something you believe, but I’ll try. How much art could you be making if you didn’t have to worry about money? What kind of art would you be making if you didn’t have to worry about money? Yeah, sit and think about that one for a while. Now, how much money do you need to have to meet your wants? How much time are you willing to give to make that kind of money? Figure out the hours there and you’re on your way to figuring out how much you need to charge for your art. […]

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