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  • Advice for Artists...
    Be Flexible When Setting Your Selling Prices



    Q: My philosophy about pricing is derived from the basic idea that you get what you pay for. My prices are reasonable but not so low as to lack credibility. I will not sell or even create art below a certain price because if I did that, I would be compromising my integrity as an artist. How can I convince people to pay the going rate and to stop bothering me about my prices or trying to make offers?

    A: Leave the outside world out of it for a moment and think about this-- you have a money issue and your sales are suffering as a result of it. Unless you're a highly successful artist and the demand for your work is at least as great as your ability to produce it, you can't afford to be too rigid when it comes to how you price and sell. The more adamant you are about what's worth what and why, the more sales you lose and the less time you can spend making art because you'll likely have to work other jobs in order to survive. If you become too obsessed about money and lose too many sales, you may one day have to give up art altogether.

    People obviously want to own your art or they wouldn't be bugging you about your prices, so you might consider a change in tact. Whenever someone expresses interest in your work, but for whatever reason doesn't want to pay the going rate, work with them to figure out exactly how to best satisfy their needs. You can't just show them the door. Maybe instead take the approach of the classic used car salesman who says stuff like, "What do I have to do to get you into this car?" Consider lowering your prices, exploring trade or barter arrangements, offering layaway or payment plans, offering a trade-up option, accepting credit cards or PayPal, producing smaller pieces for less money-- whatever works. People who want to own your art are your biggest fans; do everything in your power to transform them into loyal collectors.

    Way too many artists spend way too much time fretting over dollars-and-cents matters. They attach all sorts of inaccurate or irrelevant meanings to what their art should or shouldn't sell for and why. If you sell a painting for $500, for example, does that make it a better painting than if you sell it for $450? Does it make you a better artist? Of course not. It's the exact same painting and you're the exact same artist no matter what you price it at. But you'd be surprised how many artists think otherwise. They equate self-esteem and self-worth with the size of the money pile, and in so doing, throw up imaginary obstacles that reduce or hamper their chances of making sales, and possibly even their success as artists.

    You are the only one who's concluding that you would lack credibility as an artist if you sold your art below certain dollar amounts. You are the only one who has problems taking yourself seriously based solely on the prices of your art. You make it seem as though the outside world is doing these things to you when in fact, it's not. Blame no one but yourself.

    Where is it written that a buyer is only supposed to get so much art for so much money, and that it's your job to make sure they don't get one iota more? Nowhere. Once again, you're writing your own laws, getting hung up on them, and then suffering the consequences. You're a good artist and people want to own your art. You should be thrilled... and making regular sales on top of it. But instead, all you're doing is turning people away. What you should be doing-- and hopefully will do soon-- is changing the way you think and figuring out how to give each and every one of your fans exactly what they want-- a piece of your art.

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