Debate: Should Artists Include Pricing on Their Websites?

As I am discussing the internet and marketing online with artists, the question of whether or not an artist should include pricing information on their site often arises. I spend quite a bit of time looking at artists’ websites, and, from my observations, most artists do not include pricing on their websites. I’ve also found that a good number of galleries don’t include pricing information either. The lack of pricing information is always a little surprising to me, but perhaps it shouldn’t be as there is a warm debate over the issue.

I’ve heard both sides of this debate. While I suspect that a large number of artists (and galleries) don’t include pricing information because they see that very few others are including it – those that do put thought into the issue seem to have pretty strong opinions one way or the other.

Briefly, to frame both sides of the issue, those who don’t include pricing seem to omit it for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To encourage contact from the potential buyer. If there’s no pricing information, the reasoning seems to suggest, the client will have to call the gallery or artist and ask for the pricing and now the salesperson has an opportunity to actively engage the customer and push toward the sale.
  • Including pricing can lead to complications or confusion. As I understand this concern, if there is inconsistency in pricing between the artist’s website and the gallery website it can lead to obvious customer service problems. The same would be true if the site is out of date and a price has not been updated after a price increase.
  • Including pricing makes an artist’s website site seem too commercial

There are probably other arguments, but these seem to be the primary positions I run into.

I come down firmly on the other side of the argument and am in favor of including art prices on artist and gallery websites. My arguments against the points above, respectively are:

  • If you are waiting for someone to call you or email you for pricing you are missing the point of the internet. Visitors to your site aren’t going to contact you, they are just going to move on. In the internet age, people want to find information easily and instantly. We have always included pricing on xanadugallery.com– instead of getting calls asking “how much is it” we get calls saying “I want to buy it, here’s my credit card” or, even better, we get the order right from the site. Pricing is the single most important thing people are looking for on the site, you’re only frustrating them if you don’t give them this information. 
  • Running into problems due to inconsistent pricing is not an internet problem, it’s a pricing problem (or a laziness problem). An artist’s pricing should be 100% consistent across all venues. Eliminate inconsistencies in pricing and you won’t have any website pricing problems.
  • As far as the “too commercial” issue, I am truly dumbfounded by this one. Aren’t we trying to sell the art? If not, if you are just trying to create a web museum of your work – then pricing probably isn’t necessary. If, however, your aim is to sell, then you need to overcome your fear of commercializing your site. Collector’s will buy only if given the opportunity.

Of course there are other considerations for an artist. Some galleries prohibit their artists from sharing pricing information on their sites. I think this is counter-productive for all involved – especially if the gallery isn’t generating strong online sales, but it is wise for an artist to accede to the wishes of their galleries if the gallery is generating sales for them. It wouldn’t hurt though to have a discussion with your gallery and talk about the pros and cons of including pricing on their site and your site.

Of course, this debate is close to moot if you aren’t getting strong traffic to your site. If you’re not getting 200+ unique visitors to your site weekly, you should start there before you worry too much about pricing (more on this in a forthcoming post).

What do You Think?

Do you include pricing on your site? Do you have arguments one way or another that I’m overlooking? Share your thoughts, comments and questions in the comments section below. Your feedback improves the dialogue and I appreciate your participation.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

41 Comments

  1. I include pricing on my web site and work to ensure that the Web page prices are consistent with my gallery’s prices. My biggest issue is boosting site traffic and thus, I am looking forward to your upcoming article on this.

    Thank you

    Mark

  2. It makes no sense to me to not include pricing. I agree with you, Jason, that a viewer who doesn’t get all the information expected will just move on. Those sites I visit that don’t include the price of the product get only a little of my time. I view and then move on.

    1. I include prices on my website and if I have offered discounts at the Gallery I try to reflect that online. It’s necessary for potential buyers to know the price because it’s one less hassle for them towards the purchase.

  3. I am getting ready to add pricing to my website. My pricing is consistent but I highly doubt I get 200 views a week on my website. I look forward to your follow up on that subject.
    Thank you!

  4. Before I read your arguments I’d already formed this opinion: if you don’t include pricing, you’re just another website posting pretty pictures. A price indicates “this is available for you to own.” People do already know what their budget looks like; if you’re vague, they’ll err on the side of not being shot down by a big number. You have a better chance, if your work is priced out of their budget, of letting them formulate a plan to save money, or to keep looking at your work to find something that *is* in their price range.

    My question is this: should artists be encouraging people to reach out and negotiate prices?

    1. I made a huge mistake that I didn’t put the price on my website during the virtual art fair event on Labor Day weekend. One visitor said why I didn’t have the price on my work? At the end of the fair, the coordinator said that for those artists that did not list the price for their art on the websites, they had less visitors! It was big learning lesson for me! Since then, I added the prices on my website.

  5. I tend to agree with with having pricing available to a potential collector. I don’t want to frustrate the collector with a lack of information. Part of the issue for me, though, is that as a photographer I can offer prints in several sizes, with commensurate changes in pricing. I’m also happy to sell without a frame (adds to weight, shipping cost, and the customer might replace it anyway), so that also changes pricing. It’s tough to list ever possible perturbation.

  6. Since I’ve included pricing both on my website and on Facebook, I have sold a painting from both places. I took Jason’s recommendation on pricing inclusion. (Please note FB’s new Business Page is in development and is a little buggy, so I’ll see what happens once the bugs are worked out.) Last week I received a “You have received a PayPal payment from …… for “East Fence Line. ” What a surprise, no calls, just money. I have communicated with the client and am shipping it to Illinois on Monday. For paintings that are not included in my studio, I list the prices and include the link to where they may be purchased so it is a simple “click.” It does take a little computer time to keep it updated, but I try to update every other week on Tuesday. I’m a pricing advocate.

  7. I have been interested in many pieces of art during the many years of looking on the internet. Once I see there are no prices I leave that site. I have no interest in getting into a discussion w/ either the artist or a salesperson. It also bothers me when the size is also missing! Sell from your website! Your gallery usually does not have all your work. You can list those separately w/ price, size, media, and Gallery info.

    Yes, for those that make prints, it can be difficult to find personal websites that include all the sizes and frame options you’d like to offer your customers. You may have to hire a website designer to make your website for you.

  8. I make sure prices are the same wherever I post paintings. I price per square inch which makes it easy. I personally like to see prices. More often, artists post pictures of their paintings without noting the size, and I like want to know the size.

  9. Earlier in my art career I was appalled at the apparent “sticker shock” some people had at quotes over the phone for commissioned art. This has lessened over the years. When I put up a website in 2000 I made it clear what my pricing was. It eliminated wasting the time of both the potential customer and myself. It also eliminated the embarrassment of someone who had no business buying carefully executed representational art in the first place.

  10. There is nothing I dislike more than not showing price. (Whether in a retail space or online.) It is like they are saying “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”. Let me decide if I can afford it.

  11. Hi Jason,
    I have strong feelings about this issue. Several years ago, an artist who was new to the gallery system but worked with a few galleries… one of his galleries asked that he not list his prices on his website because that gallery did not list prices on theirs. That gallerist felt that the customer would call for more information.

    I agree with you in that I believe seeing prices is part of what the internet is about. When this artist complied and didn’t list prices on his site, I began to think it’s unfair for a gallery to request this of an artist. I’ll describe why I think this way:

    1. The artist is essentially a small business owner – even if sales are conducted only through galleries. Most of the artists I know personally who used to sell primarily though galleries can no longer make a living through those same galleries. Sure there’s the occasional superstar artist who sells everything they paint, but that’s not true for most professional artists today. Some of their galleries have closed.
    So, I think it behooves an artist to price on their website even if the gallerist chooses not to. Thankfully, most galleries that are selling well right now do show prices.

    2. OK, so I’m going to sound a little combative here, which isn’t my usual way. That said, In my observations of artists I know in real life, they often let gallerists completely control their ability to sell on their own, even when that gallery isn’t selling much of their work. This essentially handcuffs the artist so that they can not build a viable audience for their work… building one’s own audience is an insurance policy. If the artist wants, he or she can sell works in different sizes or reproductions, something that artist doesn’t sell through their galleries. I’ve actually seen artists who only sell through galleries get jobs at Home Depot when their main gallery closes.

    3. Many artists need multiple income streams.
    When I have worked with galleries, I let them know I sell from several venues, including my website, and I want to continue building income through those venues. If the gallerist isn’t comfortable with my continuing to make money on my own, then I don’t drop all my income streams just to work with that gallery. It just doesn’t make good financial sense to me. During COVID, many artists who had formerly worked with galleries and sold through invitational shows, felt forced to sell directly though their websites, teach online, etc just to pay the bills.

    Finally, I totally agree with everything you’re saying Jason and understand why you said that if a gallery is selling well for an artist and asks that the artist avoids pricing on his or her website, the artists should comply. However, since this is debate, I will state that I think it’s in the artist’s best interest to price on their website even if the gallerist makes a poor business decision by not pricing on theirs. Most of the galleries that don’t price seem to go out of business. Not posting prices is just a bad practice for potential sales.

  12. Thanks, Jason, for the helpful post. I agree completely with your solution, both on grounds that the artist is ultimately involved in business and that transparency crucial. I have faced the problem of being represented in a galley in a small mid-western town and needing to price realistically given the market while at the same time having a website. My solution, which I think is the only honest one, is to have a standard pricing that applies to both venues.
    There is also a practical issue. I also find that showing pricing online enables artists to help understand and determine pricing. I have learned a lot looking at the issue of price, location, size of art work, and relative representation/name recognition of artists. My own result has been to develop a pricing model based on the size of the piece (all of mine are two-dimensional, so square inches is workable) and some sense gathered from a comparative analysis of prices, which wouldn’t be easily managed if artists did not show prices online.

  13. I have posted prices on my website ever since a good friend told me “I wish you’d show pricing for your paintings. I look at prices first, which tells me if I can afford to keep looking. If I don’t see the price for something I like, I don’t look at any more art on the site: I avoid starting to want something if I can’t tell whether I can afford it.”
    I’ve heard similar comments from other non-artist friends since. They say they feel uncomfortable contacting a stranger for a price and then feeling it’s rude of them not to buy… that it somehow confers an obligation on their part. They also feel it makes them look ignorant to have to ask, and then to learn it’s way out of their price range. Of course these are ordinary people, not experienced collectors; but these are the people with the greatest potential to become collectors.
    I am a retired business consultant, so when someone I know gives me feedback that they want to see something on my site, I question them closely about why they feel that way and what their thought process is. It gives me a better insight into why they are (or aren’t) doing something, and whether I should change what I’m doing. I also assume their thoughts aren’t all that different from the general public.
    One of the reasons I used to hesitate to post prices years ago was fear that my own pricing was inappropriate: possibly overblown or undershot. Fortunately Jason’s Art Business Academy and his feedback on the pricing assignment have given me confidence in my pricing. Thank you, Jason!

  14. If there is no price, I leave and move on. This is very irritating to me. All the information (size, etc) should be there. I work in a gallery, and everything is on the website. We do very well!! (also, I know it is hard for an artist to get only 50% of the selling price in a gallery. However after working in one for 13 years, I have to tell you the overhead can be tremendous on a gallery.)

  15. Here is something to consider. Do luxury automobiles, luxury clothing, or any other luxury item have prices on them? Darn right they do! Why? So they can sell the items. Art is a luxury item.

    Personally, I get real frustrated when I look at gallery or artist websites and they don’t list prices. It’s like “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Artists need to sell art, not be snooty. Art can be an impulse buy as well as a well-planned purchase. Either one is a sale.

    Leave the “if you can’t afford it” to the top ten percent who have their art brokers.

  16. I think the idea that artists should not show prices comes from an old myth that artists need to set themselves above the “dirty” world of commerce. A myth that, not coincidentally, went hand in hand with the idea of the starving artist. I am so glad those times are over! Artists are business owners, art is a product, and products have prices. If you do not show prices, you are saying the work is not for sale. So if you are selling your art, and I hope you are, show your prices.

    As for what to do if a gallery asks you not to show prices on your own site…. well, I’d question their seriousness as a business partner. Asking you to harm your business (which is what hiding your prices can do) in order to prop up their business model is not a good basis for a partnership. Move on, and find other galleries to work with that respect your role as both artist AND business person.

  17. To my mind, if you’re a hobby or casual artist, or you like the idea of a vanity gallery/venue, don’t post prices.

    If you want to sell your work, then post prices. If I’m looking to purchase anything online, I have no time for price mystery. I want to know how much it costs.

    And you described the choices perfectly.

  18. Thank you for this – something I’ve considered, and I think I submitted this question on one of your Wednesday Ask Me Anything sessions. I’m in the process of re-doing my website, and it will include prices, for all of the valid reasons you listed. I’m trying to SELL! I appreciate your blog and all of the subsequent comments; after much debating, I feel strongly that I’ve made the right decision.

  19. I finally put prices on my website a few years ago
    Most people appreciate the ease of seeing the cost. The absence of pricing always frustrates me when looking at other art sites because it seems unfriendly and more ‘museum like’ not gallery/shop site. After all I do want to sell.

  20. Imagine yourself as a prospective buyer: Do you want to call to learn a price and then, if the price is more than you can possibly afford, find yourself in an embarrassing conversation with a gallery salesperson or (perhaps worse) with the artist him/herself? Give the price, and anyone interested will call or purchase.

  21. I do put my prices on my website. From my mind, that is the first question they ask and I’ve been so disappointed when someone asks about a piece and then says too expensive, or doesn’t understand why a piece is more than they think it should be.

    What i generally don’t post though, is shipping and handling. I need to calculate that after a sale and usually negotiate. 50/50 split on the price – sometimes shipping can be very expensive for mosaic art as it can be heavy.

    I also do keep all my pricing consistent as best I can and have learned that is super important and find it is a topic amongst my mosaic artist friends!

  22. I agree that pricing on the web site is the best way to encourage sales. I do not like to haggle over a price. I want to offer my work at the best possible price to the buyer and for me.

  23. Thank you Jason for your well thought out and relevant perspective on this tricky subject! I really appreciate how you presented the different sides of this argument. I’m in the process of building my website, and this information is extremely helpful to my planning of how I want to present my work online.

  24. I’m in the camp that says “if I can’t find any prices for the art, I move on”. I put prices on my work and I am resolved to stay vigilant about consistency. I never want to undersell a gallery or Pop shop that is offering my work for sale because it just doesn’t feel right to do that. I like the idea of team work where the gallery is doing what I cannot do because I’m making art ( or other art-related things). I find it very frustrating that galleries often do not include prices; however I noticed that many of them allow you to inquire about a particular piece and its price through their website.

  25. Nobody wants to contact an artist and ask them how much they charge for a painting. It’s embarrassing if they cannot afford it so you may lose a sale.

    Robert

  26. I am an artist first, but also an occasional collector. Let’s say that $xx is my top limit of what I want to spend. If I see a piece online that I love, and I have to call to ask the price, what if they tell me it’s $xxxx? I have wasted my time and theirs. I have never called to ask, to avoid that possibility. If I see no prices, I just move on to another site.

  27. Hi Jason,
    I agree with your comments completely. I have always shown prices for my work and also have basic postage costs. If I were to consider buying a piece online, I would want to know how much it costs, without having to phone or email the artist.

  28. I include pricing on my website and try to maintain consistency between the price of my paintings listed on my website and the price of paintings that I submit to jurors for exhibitions.

    Generally, inconsistencies in price are the result of additional “shipping costs” that the on-line gallery includes in the total price of a painting.

    So, when I submit a painting to a jury I include the “shipping cost” as listed on my web page in the on-line art gallery. This helps me to maintain consistency in pricing on my website, on submission of the same work to jurors, and on web page at the on-line art gallery.

  29. Over the many years of looking at art before becoming a painter myself, I wondered why pricing was rarely shown. My opinion was as the old saying goes, ” if I have to ask I likely cannot afford it”. So I never asked. Just moved on. I assume it is overpriced and the artist is, therefore, reluctant to say. List interest immediately.

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