You can buy a nicely framed reproduction of a Picasso for $100 (or even less than that) or the original for $100,000,000 (or a lot more than that). To what extent do these products differ that one should be worth one million times more than the other?
One million times: that’s a rather large number, bordering on staggering and inexplicable. Indeed, how can anything really be worth one million times anything else? Given these sorts of odd, disconcerting realities, how should an artist approach the psychology of pricing?
Here are ten questions to ponder:
1. When you ask yourself, “What is my painting worth?”, what sort of question are you actually asking?
2. Which would produce a higher price for your painting of a teacup: that you’ve done a beautiful job of rendering it or that you are a celebrity?
3. Which would produce a higher price for your painting of a teacup: that you’ve done a beautiful job of rendering it or that two well-heeled collectors both want it?
4. Which would produce a higher price for your painting of a teacup: that you’ve done a beautiful job of rendering it or that you were written up in glowing terms last month in a super-large art magazine?
5. Are there any logical connections at all between how many hours it took you to paint the teacup, how much the materials cost you, or how large the finished painting is and what it’s price ought to be?
6. When you set your prices, do you say to yourself “I’m in no position to ask for very much” or “Boldness is everything, in pricing as in all the rest of life!”?
7. Before you set your prices, do you say to yourself, “I need to do a little more work on that teacup handle” or “I need to do a little more work on that teacup handle and then create lots of teacup buzz!”?
8. What does it feel like to announce a seemingly very hefty price for one of your paintings? Does it embarrass you, scare you, excite you, or what?
9. If a gallery owner says that your paintings ought to be priced in a certain way, do you take that as gospel?
10. Would you enjoy your paintings selling for hefty sums or does something about that frighten you or turn you off?
More next week on this subject!
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