Fine art pricing guidelines from 2011

When I was at CSM for a postgrad in fine art, we were provided with pricing guidelines for the final show. There must be something to them because I sold a bit of work at the time. These are the guidelines, archiving here for posterity.

Fine Art Graduation Show Price Guidelines 2011

Pricing works is a tricky business – essentially a work is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it, it has no inherent value. After many years of selling work at the Graduation Shows we have a clear idea of the range of prices that customers are prepared to pay for work. The primary guidelines are size for flat work, value of materials and complexity for 3D work and the size of the edition for video and prints.

With all sales 20% is taken off of your price as commission, so for a price of £100 you will get £80, the taxman gets £4.00 and the college gets £16.00 (VAT only applies to the commission).

1. Paintings

This is the type of work that we sell most of in the Graduation Show. The key thing here is that size matters and that there is a barrier to sales over £1,200. General guidelines:

  • £250–400 for small works
  • £400–800 for medium works
  • £800–1,200 for large works
  • £1,200+ for very large pieces – please do note that sales over £1,200 are rare, and so the price of £995 may be more palatable to a possible buyer

If you have a number of similar small pieces it is worth pricing them at the lower end and you are likely to sell a number to one buyer. Works on paper sell for less.

2. Prints

The key thing here is the size of the edition. If you have produced just an artist’s proof you can charge more than if you have an edition of 20. In general for an edition of 5–9 for a medium sized work you should be looking at about £300 to £450 framed and less for unframed. Be sure to allow enough differential between the framed and unframed price to pay for the cost of the frame and a profit for yourself.

3. 3D Work – Sculpture and Installations

These are the hardest works to sell and our normal price guideline is to take the cost of materials plus the cost of the labour at £15 per hour and double it and then add the commission.

4. Photography

Prices for photography are not particularly high and there is a real barrier to paying more than £600 for a photograph unless it is very large. These examples of pricing will need to be moderated downwards with editions of over 10 but of course if more than 10 are sold the total income will be greater.

  • Smaller one off or short edition (3–10) 10 × 8ins or 11 × 14ins photographs start at about £200
  • Medium sized prints (12 × 16ins and 20 × 16ins) around £300
  • Larger work (20 × 30ins and 30 × 40ins) might reach £400–500

NOTE: smaller two sizes exclude framing, larger include it

Be sure to allow for the framing involved if included in the pricing and do not put yourself in a position where you will lose money if additional copies of an edition are ordered i.e., cost in full production costs, a proportion of the original photography, printing, framing and production costs and your running around time to get the prints made and framed plus profit. (How much does it cost you to live and produce each year?). NOTE: If you have a series of photographs designed to be sold as a series, but also want to sell them individually, then they all need to be priced individually – but individual and series should all be one edition.

5. Video / DVD / 4D

There is a market for video particularly among collectors who often look at work in Graduation Shows. Again the key thing here is edition. If it is a one-off you can get as much as £750, but if it is an edition, even of 3 or 5, the price drops to £300 or £400. If you sell a video, particularly to a commercial media company, I would advise you to speak to someone in the London Artscom office about protecting your rights as you are only selling the artefact and not the copyright.

NOTE: For every edition you sell you will need to provide the buyer with TWO copies – one for storage and one for display.