What Makes Some Art Worth More

Or More Valuable Than Other Art?

Do you ever wonder why one work of art is priced higher or sells for more than another even though they're both by the same artist and both look basically the same? Did you know that outside factors entirely unrelated to the creation of the art itself can greatly influence how it's priced and how much a buyer is willing to pay for it? Whether you're an artist, buyer, seller or collector, the better you understand the dynamics of the marketplace, how prices are set, and how outside factors can influence dollar values, the more you can benefit.

For artists and people who sell art, knowing what circumstances can make some art worth more (and how to price accordingly) can increase your bottom-line. For buyers and collectors, understanding these outside factors (and how much they impact value) can make you money, save you money, influence what you buy and how much you're willing to pay, and even increase the overall quality and importance of your collection. The following examples will help you understand what types of reasons, situations or conditions can justify higher selling prices and influence how much buyers are willing to pay:

* The art is pictured, written about or featured in books, catalogs, websites, blogs or other media. Exposure like this almost always increases art's value. How much that increase is depends on how significant the publications are, what gets said about the art, how much is said about it, and who says it. Mentions like this also serve to authenticate the art, which has value in and of itself.

* The artist mentions or talks about specific works of art in a live or print interview, on a website, in their writings, on a video or in the media. The more significant and positive the mentions, the greater the price can be increased.

* The artist considers a particular work to be one of their best or most important and makes that information public. Buyers are willing to pay significantly higher prices for art with those kinds of credentials.

* The art wins an award, a prize or receives any other kind of distinction. The more important the award, the reason for the award, or the circumstances surrounding the award, the higher the price of that art can be raised beyond what it would have been priced without the award.

* Serious collectors are often willing to pay higher prices for being first in line to buy new art that's never been shown or offered for sale before. The same holds true for significant older art that's been off the market for decades. In general, buyers are willing to pay for the privilege of being offered art first, ahead of everyone else, no matter what the circumstances.

* The art will be included in a significant museum or institutional exhibition. The more important the show and the institution, the greater the price increase over similar works with no such distinctions.

* The art is accepted into a significant juried art show. The size of the price increase depends on the importance of the show.

* The art has museum or exhibition stickers, labels or notations on the back or bottom.

* The art is pictured on the invitation or press release or news coverage for an upcoming show. The amount of the price increase depends on factors like the fame of the artist, the importance of the show, the importance of the gallery, how the show is expected to be received or reviewed, whether it's likely to sell out, and so on.

* The art is pictured or featured in a movie, play, music video, TV show or other type of programming. The size of the price increase depends on the length and significance of the appearance, the importance of the scene or set it appears in, the success of the movie, music or program, and so on.

* The art is used as the cover illustration for a book, magazine, album or other publication. The art is used as an illustration in a book, magazine, article, on a website, etc.

* The art is used for a poster that advertises an exhibition, art fair, art festival, music concert, music festival or other event. The increase in value of that art is proportional to the significance or importance of the event.

* Original works of art that are reproduced, published and sold as limited edition prints are worth more than similar art without such distinctions.

* The art goes viral on social media. The amount of the price increase depends on the stature, profile and circumstances surrounding why it went viral, as well as on how many people ultimately see it.

* The art makes news, creates controversy, or otherwise comes to the attention of the public more so than other art by the artist.

* The artist writes something significant on the art itself (assuming they don't write like this on all of their art).

* The artist is pictured with the art (assuming they don't regularly allow pictures of themselves with their art). This type of visual pairing can also be considered as authenticating the art.

* The art is an early or formative example of the style or type of art an artist becomes known or famous for.

* The longer an artist has been making art, the more valuable the earlier works tend to become when compared to more recent ones, and the more price increases are justified. This is especially true when the art is significant in the evolution of the artist's career or is now rare, scarce or harder to find than more recent work.


Need help pricing your art? Not sure how to price certain works of your art? I appraise, evaluate and price art all the time. Try me; I'm good. For more information or to make an appointment, call 415.931.7875 or email


(art by Yoon Lee)

divider line

Current Features

Services for Artists and Collectors


  • artbusiness on Facebook
  • Artbusiness on Twitter
  • Artbusiness on Instagram