The cost of doing business

I've been asked a lot lately about how much it costs to do an art business and just how one goes about pricing their work.  These tips should be helpful to those that are interested. Art has never been a "hobby" with me and even as a teacher for 34 years I maintained my business license and practiced my art every day, as well as enter shows outdoors and in galleries. A hobbyist is one who pursues their art at their leisure for pleasure or entertainment. An artist as a business person/professional pursues their work seriously every day, has a business license, and shows regularly. This article is pretty much spot on in regards to merging from "hobbyist", to "amateur", and on to being a Professional Artist:

Pricing Your Work


Those who know me know I work at a madman pace and don't stop until the job is done. The not so simple answer is I researched a lot over the years and have come up with a formula for "Sizes" that fits much better than the "hourly rate". It's a good thing I don't charge like my lawyer does at $175.00 per hour or no one could afford my work. After seeing what other artists charge for specific sizes for similar amounts of detail, I have come up with a variety of sizes and prices that I keep very consistent.


Sizes and prices:

•8" X 10" is between $150.00 and $175.00

•12" X 16" is $250.00

•18" X 24" is $650.00-$700.00

•24" X 36" is $1,100.00-$1,200.00

•30" X 40" is between $1,500.00 and $2000.00 depending on the details involved

•36 X 48" is $2,500.00

• 36" X 60" and 40" X 60" run around $3,000.00 to $3,500.00


I hope this better helps you understand how artists price their work and can give you a better appreciation for what we do. There are tons of other costs involved that would take too much time to discuss here but I think you get the idea that my work is fairly priced for original art and I am committed to the highest level of quality in all that I do. I also provide shipping and free delivery locally in my area. You also have to consider what galleries charge per piece as well, with most taking 50% of the sale. If people buy directly from artists like me they save a considerable amount of money. That is why I do so many shows and so few galleries any more. I meet people directly and sell in person to them, developing long lasting relationships through personal contacts with the actual art buyers.


Related costs to art as a business:

•Legal fees, including annual LLC fee to accountant and city, business license

•Sales tax monthly to VA and quarterly to other out of state show departments of taxation

•Federal quarterly income tax on all art income

•Rents and show fees

•Frames, Matts, and boards, hardware for frames, chop saw, matt cutter w/blades

•Various tapes including acid free artists tape, double sided sticky tape

•Shrink wrap machine and shrink wrap materials

•Photography and printing costs

•Office supplies

•Miscellaneous costs for business

•Canvas, Cleaners, Paints, brushes, varnishes, and all materials involved with the painting process

•Bags and containers for transporting and selling the work (at least 3 different sized clear bags small, med. And large.

•Packing materials for the transporting of art works to shows

•Exhibition materials including a professional tent, reinforcement stablizeer bars for tent, tent bags, tool box with assorted pliers, hammer, sledge hammer, wire cutters, hole punch, twist ties, etc., weights, dolly, boxes and containers, bungies, ratchet straps, shrink wrap, jack for trailer, assorted locks for trailer, marine battery, inverter for battery, lighting system and racks, hanging tools, equipment and materials, print racks, ladder, chairs, two different sized tables with professional custom fit cloths, framed artists statement, assorted tarps for inclement weather, boxes for extra inventory, table easels, portable shrink wrap, white duct tape, sectional black foam flooring, indoor out door carpet for when on grass with stabilizer hooks that go into carpet and grass, heavy duty clips to hold tarps to walls top and bottom (at least 8 per side=24 clips).

•Plein Air set up that includes all paints, brushes, paint box, water supply, umbrella with stand, extra canvas primed, drawn and ready to paint, backpack, easel, palette.

•Up to date computer (must be replaced every 4-5 years) with the latest software from Adobe, Apple, and Quicken.

•iPhone and iPad with square app and hardware for business (replace every 1-2 years)

•Epson printer, inks and papers

•Marketing materials including flyers, business cards, calendars, show notices, etc.

•Mobile phone fees for phone and internet usage

•Internet fees for web site hosting and business name

•Art Insurance (I use USAA’s RLI insurance company)

•Digital camera (point and shoot type)

•Go Pro camera with KNEKT trigger system for water shots

•Pentax water camera for video and stills

•Surfing equipment to get the water shots to include surfboards, fins, wetsuits, boogie board, vests, leashes, and various other related water equipment to shoot waves for subject matter.

•Any and all software related to the business to edit photos of paintings

•Monthly fees to galleries

•Postage and shipping

•Travel expenses including air fare, lodging, gas, food, rental car

•Boarding of pets while at shows

•Property taxes on art supplies and equipment, trailer, and van

•Dues for professional memberships in organizations and publications