Pricing Work by Anne Havel - Applying Your Tax Return Information to Pricing Your Work
Pricing Your Work - More Variables that Count but Don't Include Math

Pricing Your Work - Variables that count but don't include math (a serious pun)

This ASK Harriete post is part of an ongoing series of posts about pricing your work.

Understanding how to price work based on your expenses and the hours invested in your work is essential, but the reality is the final price for selling your work needs to take into account several intangible variables. Many of them were mentioned in the recorded discussion with the audience during the Professional Development Seminar, Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work

What I am saying is that, despite all your calculations to figure a price that includes all your expenses, you may be able to charge more or less than the calculated price!

Today we will talk about one variable - the reputation of the artist, maker, or company.

Harriete Estel Berman April Flower in mulitple colors says: Past Present Future is the size of a real flfower.
Multi-color April Flower Pin © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: emiko oye

The reputation of the artist/maker/company may impact pricing significantly. Perhaps this is the most important variable. We see this all the time and accept it to some degree. We know a designer fashion will cost more. Or a super famous artist commands higher prices.

Reputation can be based on the number of shows or museums that own the artist's work. A well-regarded gallery can also help establish the reputation of the artist and support higher prices. Perhaps an exhibition that shows the artist's work or books and publications can help establish a reputation.

ChuckCLOSE. I just saw a Chuck Close painting on Antiques Roadshow (right image) that Chuck Close sold for $8 to cover his rent in junior college. Now it is worth an estimated $100,000 - $150,000! That is what reputation will do for you.

Reputation is not just established by the gallery or museum world. Consider Thomas Kinkade, "the world's most collected living artist."  Essentially the work is mass-produced commercial images, but Thomas Kinkade has an established following. He has taken his artwork and turned it into merchandising note cards, collectible plates, to Thomas Kinkade housing developments. People love Thomas Kinkade. 

Or how about David Yurman as a jewelry example. Mass-produced, conservative jewelry with amazing marketing that now includes fragrance and eyewear.  In my opinion, many more jewelers make far more interesting work at a fraction of the price, but David Yurman is very successful at promoting a reputation for his work and the retail prices it commands.

The prices of all these examples are based on reputation. It is up to you to establish and develop a reputation for your work. Your reputation can be local, statewide, national or international but it will help support and eventually develop a higher pricing structure.

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This post was updated on January 18, 2022.