I’m often asked how to price art prints. It’s not an easy answer because there are so many variables. In this post, I’ll show you how to price your art prints, but only you can decide what to charge, given your own situation. Try this.
Calculate your printing costs, including any commercial scans and proofs. Add your packaging costs, such as matboards, wrappers, and stiffeners. Add 10% to cover business overheads such as lighting, rent, insurance, etc. Charge as much as possible above your base price.
You can’t work out your true costs until you have a sales record, and it matters how important your prints are to your business. Will they be the mainstay of your business or a sideline?
Let’s go over the main points of pricing art prints. This is how I do it.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
How to Calculate The Price of Your Art Prints
Knowing how to price your art prints is important, but there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are many factors to consider when it comes to pricing. One way is to decide how much money you need to earn and work backward.
I’m from the UK and I’ve converted the sums to dollars so bear that in mind. The most important thing is the method.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you could live on $35,000 per year. Add your overheads, we’ll say it’s about $7000 for everything. That includes your transport costs, rent, trading licenses, liability, stock insurance, and the rest.
You’d need to turn over about $42,000 per annum
Your prints have a fixed cost. I pay for prints in bulk and they cost me $1.50 each. We’ll use that sum. They sell for $15, so the profit margin is $13.50 per print.
If you divide $42,000 by $13.50 you have to sell 3,111 prints per year. Don’t be alarmed. Let’s break it down further.
Let’s divide 3,111 by 52 weeks of the year. That figure is 60 prints per week, or 10 a day on a six-day working week. That’s $135 per day and achievable.
It’s not a science and it’s not even a reliable formula, but it is a good rule of thumb. Your circumstances are different from mine. It is only one way of figuring out how much you need as a minimum, should you wish to go full-time.
Your real profit will include other variables and you just can’t predict an accurate income. All you can do is make a calculated guess.
I sell this way, and in my circumstances, it works for me. Could I make more money? Yes, but I choose not to. I try to strike a work/life balance for an easier life.
I don’t sell mounted prints and I don’t do framing, that would change my figures completely.
My calculations don’t take into account, multi-buys, selling printed merchandise, or commissions. Nor does it take into account any discounts I make to gain added sales.
Most artists accept commission work. I’m offered work all the time, but I don’t do them anymore, if I did my income would rise.
My business model is very simple. I rely on selling a large number of prints during the summer season and the occasional original artwork. That generates enough profit to do all the things I want to do in the winter.
I don’t do commissions because it ties me down, I don’t do frames because of storage issues and breakages.
Setting up a small and profitable art business isn’t so daunting when you break it down.
Use Discounts to Attract More Business
People love to get a deal, it’s in our nature to get a bargain. It works like this.
Based on each print costing $1.50 to produce, you can sell one for $15, and that’s $13.50 in your pocket. Or you can offer two prints for $25, with a cost to you of $3.00, and earn a $22.00 profit.
You might argue that some people would’ve bought two prints for $30 anyway, and that’s true. But here’s the thing, you’ll gain so many extra sales from the folk who would NEVER have bought 2 prints without the offer, that you’ll earn far more money. Guaranteed.
I’ve done it for 20 years and I know it’s true. This is experience talking.
One last thing to share. Self-employment is an insecure way to make money. One day you are up and the next you are down.
You make more money at certain times of the year. You’ll do well on the weekends and holidays.
It’s important not to give up when you have a bad spell. Your cash flow will fluctuate, but if you are willing to put in the hours and hard work, you’ll find that things average out at the end of the year.
What Type of Art Prints Should You Sell?
What type of prints are you going to sell? Giclee or offset litho? Are you doing the printing at home or outsourcing? Your decision will determine the way you price your art prints.
Each type of art print involves a different cost. If you are making digital prints, the costs will vary depending on the size of the print, paper, ink, and the type of printer that is being used to make them.
Not all inkjet printers are the same. They are divided into two, dye-based printers and pigment ink-based printers.
Pigment inks (Giclee) are archival and should be used for prints intended to last the test of time. Giclee prints are high quality and suitable for limited edition prints.
Dye prints can be used for ephemera, they are prints that are not designed to be treasured for years and carry no premium. Greeting cards, magnets, and very cheap art prints fall into that category.
Offset litho prints use permanent inks and have the cheapest per-unit cost but require a large print run for the economics to work.
Giclee prints are great for short runs and print-on-demand, however, they do cost a great deal of money per print and will reduce your margins dramatically.
Even D.I.Y Giclee printing from home will cost you significantly more than buying offset litho prints in bulk.
Read this guide for making art prints: How to Make Prints of Your Art – Printing Art Explained in Detail
I still sell offset litho prints and that’s because when I started my business, digital prints were not an option. If I started today I would initially choose giclee prints and when I was confident of sales, then I’d start printing in volume with offset-litho.
Printful.com has a good reputation for making consistently high-quality Giclee prints, so they are a good company to test first and buy some samples.
Once you have established a demand, you can invest in your own printer. Epson and Canon steal the show when it comes to home Giclee printers. Most reviews favor Epson printers.
The new Epson Surecolor P700 A3+ printer is the best of the best home art printer at the time of writing (2022) and outclasses its competitors with ease of use and size of the machine.
The catch is the price, not just for the printer but for the inks and paper too. You can kiss goodbye to £1200 ($1400) upfront before you begin.
Read my guide, based on thorough research: Printing Art Prints DIY – Epson ET 8550 vs SC-P700 – Hobby vs Pro?
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Who Will Buy Your Art Prints?
You will have to figure out who your typical customer is, how much they are willing or able to spend, and what motivates them to buy.
Most people looking for wall art are buying it for aesthetic or emotional reasons.
People buy things that resonate. These things are often linked to a hobby or passion, a place, or a memory.
My typical customer has a love of animals, or to be more exact, certain charismatic animals. I can sell elephants all day long.
Then there’s the gift market. Many people can’t justify buying an art print for themselves, but will readily buy art prints as gifts. Probably another elephant!
If you want to know what animals sell best: 12 Wildlife Art Bestsellers (Use These Subjects to Make Money)
People who are not in your exact demographic are still potential customers if they’re looking for a gift. They don’t even have to like your work if they think a loved one will.
I sell my art from a market pitch and I know from 1st hand experience, not just Google Analytics, that my potential buyers are mainly women between the ages of 25-55. That remains true even when my art prints are bought as gifts.
Women are the top buyers of home decor. Men buy presents but few actually buy art for the home.
You’ll need to figure out how wealthy your customers are in order to set a logical price for your art. If you have an audience with a high disposable income you can charge higher prices.
Certain subjects are going to lend themselves toward a more affluent customer base, equestrian art, is a good example. Horse and pony owners have money. Little girls who go riding have parents who must pay for it.
You can target that audience without lowering your prices to attract trade. In fact, low prices might put them off entirely. People with a higher income don’t have to penny-pinch and many will refuse to buy cheap. They prefer bragging rights and equate price with quality.
On the other hand, let’s say you paint cats and dogs, plenty of people love their pets; every other household probably. You might be better off going for the mass market with lower prices.
People who buy cheaper art prints are price sensitive and their disposable income matters more to them. It’s easier to sell cheaper prints, but you’ll have to sell more of them.
In the real world, most of us start selling to the people we know. We feel comfortable among people from similar backgrounds. We know what they want and what they’ll spend.
In that sense, our prices are predetermined by the community we live in, at least initially. Life certainly isn’t fair but that’s the way it is.
The one great advantage of going to art college, one of the very few, in my opinion, is the opportunity it presents to network with social groups beyond your own.
You can follow my line of thought here: Is Art School Worth it? Is it a Waste of Money?
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What Are Artists Charging for Similar Art Prints?
Like it or not, other artists serving your niche are your competitors and this is a business. That’s a point lost on so many newbies.
Find out what they charge but please don’t expect another artist to help you. I get approached by artists who do similar work to me all the time, and I have little time for their probing questions. Why would anyone reveal their business secrets to a complete stranger?
If you find someone at an art fair exhibiting their work, it’s OK to take a look and browse. It’s also OK to ask a few open-ended questions, such as “hows trade” or “are you selling much?” but not much more.
An experienced trader knows when they are being ‘researched’. Keep it subtle and respectful. One of the most important things to find out is what sells best, and that is an innocent question.
Look around for artists who serve a similar demographic, in the same genre, and with a similar art style. You might think your work is better or worse, but you’ll gain an insight into what they are able to charge for both their original work and their art prints.
You need to know the following:
- The average price
- How are the prints presented?
- What sizes are they?
- What’s the subject matter?
- What medium did the artist use?
- How are they printed?
Make some mental notes and DO NOT take photos.
Most traders have business cards, grab one and look them up online. Are their prices the same? How do they ship their prints, flat or rolled? With, or without a mount/mat?
Can you do something similar? If you can, you have a proven price point.
They might have a collectors base and client list that increases the value of their work, but at least you know what’s possible. You can begin to formulate a price strategy.
When in doubt, price your art prints at the lower end of the price range. This is important. Start low and let your art prices creep up. As your work begins to sell you can gauge your customer’s reaction to your price rises.
In truth, no one resents you increasing your prices gradually. Previous customers are pleased they bought your print for less. because it means their print is now worth more. It’s psychology.
No one wants to see their purchase fall in value.
There’s another thing that’s useful to know. Try and find out if the original was the same size as the print on offer. Mediocre originals can look good when they are reduced in size.
I’ve experienced it many times. You see a print and it looks masterful, then when you see the original, it’s disappointing.
I mention this because it’s all too easy to compare yourself to others, and feel despondent. We all do it, so it’s reassuring to know that reproductions can be very deceptive. It’s not the same as looking at an original.
You cannot really judge the art from a print unless you have the original side by side. Something worth remembering when you see some fantastic work and begin to doubt yourself.
This is an excerpt from my guidebook, and it’s full of practical advice. If you are serious about selling your art, it’s a must-read. Check it out!
How Much Do Art Prints Cost to Make?
It is difficult to state a figure with any accuracy because 12 months from now all the prices I state will be different. With that in mind, we can look at the options and compare the likely costs against each other.
The cheapest way to make fine art prints is to print in bulk using offset lithography.
Offset-Litho has been in existence since 1853 and remains the primary way to mass-produce art prints at a reasonable price.
Offset-litho prints are made using a zinc-coated plate that is first photo-etched with the artist’s work. Ink is then applied and pressed against paper making an image that will last for many years after its creation.
That’s the non-techy way of explaining it.
The price is reduced with quantity but the highest quality is hard to maintain. A skilled printer is able to make superb prints but unfortunately, inconsistent and variable results are a real issue.
I paid $1.40 (£1.00)) per print for monochrome A3 prints on 300gsm Fedrigoni art paper in 2021.
(UPDATE: Now it’s 2023 and the exchange rates and inflation are different.)
I could get a better price if I ordered more prints but I haven’t got the storage space for thousands of prints so I compromise.
I can’t get anywhere near that price any other way. It has allowed me to offer unlimited open-edition prints for as little as $9 (£6.50) each.
Contrast that with the best quote I had from a local printing company using their Giclee digital printer, they quoted me $9.00 (£6.50) for each print. That’s my retail price!
If on the other hand, I sold my art prints for $26.00 each, as I do for my limited edition prints, my profit margins would still be reasonable. You can see how the economics change.
The big bonus with modern Giclee printers is consistency. If you use a reputable print company that maintains its equipment, your prints will look the same each time they are printed. Plus you can order only what you need, which is heaven if you lack storage space.
A cheaper alternative to using printing services is to do it yourself.
If you have the space and reasonably consistent sales, it’s a viable option.
I tried working out how much it would cost me to make an A3 print and it was almost impossible to come up with a definitive number. There are so many factors that alter the figures such as the size of the image and paper type.
The best I could find was from Redriver in the States and I calculated the equivalent costs in Pounds Stirling.
|Epson SC-P700||4″ x 6″||5″ x 7″||8″ x 10″||11″ x 14″||13″ x 19″|
I rang Marrutt a reputable supplier of 3rd party ink and paper, and they have released their compatible ink cartridges for the Epson P700 but it involves an awkward workaround. You will have to follow their instructions.
Their older Epson models, such as the P400 and P600, are much bulkier, more difficult to set up, and less reliable. If you can still find one, a number of companies, including Marrutt, manufacture good 3rd party inks and the costs tumble.
What Size Art Prints Should You Sell?
For most people, the size of your prints will be the only way they will judge the value of your art. Get used to it. It’s size, not talent that is the main consideration when it comes to pricing your art prints.
Of course, large Giclee prints will cost a fortune to make and you will have to mark them up by at least 100% to make it worth your while.
Then there are shipping costs and display problems.
There is a lot to be said for selling small prints. They are cheap to produce, low risk, and take advantage of the shopper’s impulse.
This post explains things in detail: What Size Art Sells Best? Frames and Apertures – FREE Chart
No one casually buys a print for hundreds of dollars, but they do for $15 or $20. For most artists limiting their art prints to A3 (420mm x 297mm) in size, or below, makes commercial sense.
They are easy to sell on the spot, easy to display, and easy to post.
The profit margins are good, but at a lower price band, you will have to sell more to make money.
Limited Edition or Open Edition Prints?
Do you sell more and charge less, or sell less and charge more? That’s the dilemma we all face. Is it better to stay exclusive or sell to the masses?
I do both and try to capture both markets, I advise you to do the same.
In the real world, people don’t get out of bed and decide that today they are going to buy a work of art. Those lovely people are the exception, not the rule.
Most people buy pictures on impulse. They suddenly see an image that suits a purpose, and if it’s affordable, they will buy it.
Your open-edition prints satisfy that need. A quality image, well presented, at a good price.
They can put it in their bag or even their pocket, if you sell miniatures, and get it home in one piece. You also have the option of supplying tiny frames.
Customers who cannot appreciate the added value of a limited edition will not pay extra for the image even though they clearly prefer it. They will always choose the cheaper option.
I consider open editions as my bread and butter.
I sell limited edition prints to customers who wish to buy something special at a higher price point. Some customers really don’t want to be seen as spending less on something even if the quality is the same.
Read this article to get the full picture: What Are Limited Edition Prints? 12 Things You’ve Got to Know
There are others who just like the feeling that they have something more exclusive. A piece of art that their friends will not have.
People who buy limited editions are more likely to value that they met the artist. They’re not buying just the image, they’re buying into you as the artist and that means something to them.
I consider my limited editions as a lovely bonus to my daily income. It’s not the mainstay of my business but a very important element.
How to Price and Sell Your Art Prints Online
Before I wrap this up, I just want to mention online sales and how it affects your prices.
You’d think that you can be whoever you like online and that’s true to some extent if you know how to market yourself. Most of us don’t.
Having a luxurious website that oozes quality means nothing if no one ever finds your site. Very few artists spend any time on self-promotion, instead, they join an online gallery or open an Etsy store and think that’s enough. It isn’t, you still have to market yourself.
If you want to sell your art on Etsy read these:
- How to Sell Art Prints on Etsy: Mega Selling Guide
- How to Start a Printables Business: A Beginner’s Guide
Some online art galleries cater to a wealthier audience and their artists command higher prices. Those sites sometimes have expensive signup fees or they’re curated and reject work that doesn’t fit their criteria. Indeed, some sites reject prints altogether and only sell originals.
Inevitably new artists signup for an online marketplace like Etsy and sell their physical prints, or link to a printing company such as Printful and dropship their art prints to the customer. There is nothing wrong with this approach if you know how to get found on the platform.
Etsy is a search engine with its own rules and algorithm, just like Google. And before you think it must be easier, think about it. You are competing with a gazillion other artists and somehow you have to stand out from the crowd. Not only that, you will have to be price competitive.
Marketplaces, and print-on-demand platforms:
And all the rest, are cut-throat. They are open markets, force prices down and if, and that’s a big if, you find an untapped niche, copycats will take your trade away with look-a-likes.
These sites are useful if your art style is quick and graphic. If you can adapt to trends and fashion and accept that your superb designs have a shelf-life, you can do very well.
You can’t expect to sell fine art prints with much success and you certainly can’t sell limited editions or signed prints using a print-on-demand model.
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t use these platforms, I’m advising you to use them with your eyes open.
- Is Redbubble Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists (2023)
- Is Selling Art Online Worth It? Can You Make Money?
- Is Print on Demand Worth it? The Pros and Cons of a POD Business
- Is Selling on Etsy Worth it? Pros and Cons for Artists and Crafters
- Sell Art on Society6 Step-by-Step in 2022
If you wish to sell fine art prints for high prices, you’ll need your own website and actively promote yourself. You can do that most effectively by making videos and placing them on Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram, and Pinterest.
A Youtube channel will drive traffic back to your website and they’ll appear in Google searches more easily than blog posts. Google owns Youtube. You’ll see ‘how to’ videos appear at the top of Google searches, but you don’t see TikTok videos.
When you start to generate an audience you start collecting emails for a mailing list and when you have new work available you can send out an email. That’s the way it works.
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How to Price Art Prints: Final Thoughts
Charge what the market will bear. Get what you can and don’t feel ashamed of the markup. Your art is worth what people are happy to pay. It’s a discretional spend, no one needs art, it’s a luxury item.
If you can get away with a 1000% markup, go for it. Ethics do not come into it.
With luck, your art prints will increase in value as more and more people start to collect them. That’s the dream and there is only one way to find out if that lucky artist is you.
Bite the bullet and get out there, price your art prints, and get selling. Don’t put it off forever. Life is short.
If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit:
- Pentel Mechanical Pencils 0.3mm
- Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils
- Daler-Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper
- Jakar Battery Eraser
- Tombo Mono Eraser Pen
- Faber Castell Putty Eraser
- Blu Tack
- French Box Easel
If you are serious about selling your art I can show you how. I’ve been selling my art for 20 years. Just copy the way I do it. It’s all in the guide.
If You Want to Sell Your Art
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If you found this article helpful you might like these:
- How to Sell Your Art in Galleries: Is it Worth it? The Truth Told
- How to Sell More Art: 10 Selling Tips For Artists
- How to Sell Your Drawings: 10 Steps to Success
- How To Sell Landscape Paintings: 13 Ways to Make More Money
- Pricing Original Art For Beginners
- What Kind of Art Sells Best? All The Secrets Revealed
- How to Print From Procreate: Your Step-by-Step Guide
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Hi, my name’s Kevin and I’m a real person!
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy