In getting ready for an upcoming art show, I realized that many people might not know why art sometimes seems absurdly expensive. Let me walk you through some of my process for the upcoming show...
1. The entry fee for this show is $35 for 3 pieces (that's an "early registration" deal, a cut rate from the regular fee.)
2. The group holding the show will take a 25% commission on anything sold (which is piteously low, in the art world. Most galleries charge 40%.)
3. The total cost of the 3 photographic prints I'm entering; about $30.
4. The total cost for mats & frames for the prints; almost $70.
As a result, I have to charge $150/ea to make a mere $37.50/ea (roughly.) That doesn't include the $40 membership fee I had to pay to join the group to begin with, either. Sure, there's a possibility of winning an award, but I have yet to win or sell anything at a show like this.
My best hope is that perhaps I can sell them at a local market (which costs me anywhere from $10 to $75 for a spot,) in future. Even though I can price things more reasonably there, market goers don't understand the expense of art, either.
At a market I attended last fall, one couple admired a painting that was PERFECT for their living room, but thought that $55 for my framed, original, one-of-a-kind artwork was "expensive." I pointed out that I was having a 50% off sale that day. I didn't point out that the frame cost me $30. I didn't point out that the spot at the market cost me $35. I didn't point out that the canvas, paints & brushes cost me money, too, or that I hadn't charged one thin dime for the time involved in conceptualizing & painting that "expensive" piece. At the end of the day, they came back & bought it, & I went home taking a loss.
The BEST way I've sold art is through this blog, which carries no extra fees beyond the normal costs involved in a piece, itself (the cost of the canvas, etc.) + shipping (which isn't bad, so long as the piece isn't huge & the customer's domestic.) I tend to sell my art here unframed, as well, which enables me to price my work even lower & allows the customer to pick out a frame that suits their decor.
Unfortunately the recession's hitting the arts particularly hard these days. When people are losing their jobs & homes, art's nowhere NEAR a priority. As a result, I still don't charge one thin dime for the time involved in conceptualizing & painting a piece.
So please, do think about all of this the next time you consider original art "expensive."