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 The same would be true if the site is out of date and a price has not been updated after a price increase.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 as follows:

  • 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, and 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. Collectors 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 counterproductive 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.

23 Comments

  1. I believe that prices should be consistent across every platform and defenetly included, simply because I move on if I don’t see the price when I am shopping for anything.

  2. I’m a believer of pricing on a web site but I’m a photographer and my prices don’t fluctuate no matter where I do an art show. But just as important is having contact information on every page so people don’t have to search to get answers to any questions, like prices. Some artists prefer e-mail or text but I prefer having them pick up the phone to contact me because it gives me a chance to upsell.

  3. Point of sale is tricky with art work. It’s an emotional issue for the artist creating it and an emotional issue for the prospective collector needing it.
    Without a value, how does any possible exchange even begin. Someone has to blink. The Internet does not wait more than a literal second or two before everyone moves on.

    My tactile works are all one-offs. Nothing flexible except the price and only then movement is minimal.
    My digital works as conceived, are one-offs but since they are printed, there can be all sorts of options and that I believe could be a good sales advantage..

    I want to underscore that I come to this with great difficulty because I have been an artist in the academic-institutional sphere. This is whole other discussion.

  4. I just finished my website I’m excited to have it I feel more comfortable and professional art maker.
    I do follow your articles always and am glad I read your opinion about pricing the art work in the website which l did include the price and I do agree with you.
    Please keep the good work coming 🍺🎨

  5. My sales are 100% internet and 98% through online galleries so my prices are posted but on my art website, I include a link to one of the galleries (I try to spread it around between them) rather than post the price. And not posting the price along with the link is laziness on my part.

  6. I agree with Jason one hundred percent. Why put more “friction” between your art and your potential buyer? They are on your website because they are interested in your work. Most shoppers will never call or email. Too expensive for them now? Well, maybe give them something to save up for. Or have some smaller, less expensive pieces.

  7. I agree with your comments, Jason, but there is a little more subtlety to be discussed in the ‘too commercial’ issue. Art is not a commodity (at this level). Buyers and artists both appreciate that each piece is special, and excepting prints and limited runs, also unique. An artist’s website needs to create a tone and ambiance that is in harmony with the work, and encourages the viewer to look carefully and consider buying.

    If an art website strikes the visitor as ‘commercial’, they will move on more quickly. A ‘commercial’ feel doesn’t come simply from displaying the price, but it is a valid concern. Visiting the website should feel like visiting a gallery or museum, not like an Amazon webpage or a car dealership. But as you say, the price should be easy to find.

  8. I am a little confused about pricing. My paintings have fairly set pricing and I put those on my website. But I am also selling through some galleries, so should my prices be identical to what they are listed at the galleries? I assume so, even so selling through the galleries I get only about half as I get online.
    Should I offer the customer who called re my website a discount to get the sale or is it unfair to the gallery?
    Please give me your opinion. Thanks

  9. I have included the prices with my work on my professional website. These same pieces have been in gallery shows and I’ve been careful that the prices are consistent with my website. I had the help of a professional Computer Graphic designer to help me with this website. I need to take more advantage of social media too. I do not at this time want to invest in any other online platforms because of the cost.

  10. I include prices on my site. I have a shopping cart feature, and pieces in my possession are included in my shop (they are almost all one-offs). For works at my galleries that are also in my portfolio, I link each image to my gallery’s web store listing if they are available, or mark them sold if not. This solves any issue of consistent pricing. I was told at a workshop once, make it as easy as possible for people to buy art. If they have to ask, they may assume they can’t afford it and move on.

  11. I am a glass sculptor and currently work with 5 galleries – each one has its own pricing formula. I tell them what I need my artist’s share to be and they mark it up as they wish. That practice makes it very challenging to set prices consistently across all sites.

  12. Interesting question because I show my work in person as part of a group where 10% of the sale is taken, I belong to an organization and display on their website and 15% is taken. The art center in the next village will accept my work as a juried artist member and take 35% of a sale…on-line or off the wall. So the first negotiation is with myself of how much can I afford to lose on commission based on location and keep the price “reasonable” for purchase. I would love to have one price across the board to be consistent, but the price displayed at each venue varies. The best would be a direct purchase with me so of course I am going to post prices on my own website.

  13. I find that it is difficult to keep prices consistent on all platforms. There is some control over this when selling work on commission through a gallery but some galleries charge more commission than others. I have a set price I need to get for the artwork to simply cover my costs/time. There are galleries that charge higher commissions and don’t do the work to earn that by marketing the work, etc. The trick is finding the right galleries. If you’re able to work exclusively w those galleries then you can set web prices the same. Otherwise, I sell wholesale direct to the gallery and allow them to price it as they wish. On that case, pricing may be different from my website. But, the gallery owner is also aware of the prices and has the choice to set theirs higher or lower.

  14. I recently created my own online gallery, one piece per page. On each page include my artist statement, so an official-looking label fits the format. I set a sustainable price. In reality, if anyone wants to negotiate, I can be flexible in certain ways.
    When I visit a gallery that does not show the prices, I feel really uncomfortable. Especially when the pretty young chick offers me a glass of wine. I don’t know what they are selling, and I don’t know why I am here.

  15. I find putting prices on my website a matter of directness and honesty…and requires consistency in pricing between gallery and artist. It also helps prospective galleries to see if my pricing fits with theirs. But it has another function: if someone approaches me directly and wants a painting they’ve either seen on social media or want to commission, I direct them first to my website where they can see a price range that is consistent, and it saves both of us a lot of embarrassment.

    1. I disagree with not giving in-person a price range, but everyone has their own plan. Once I give a price range (lower cost prints to originals) then I talk about their project. I am not embarrassed about my prices and it helps separate buyers from talkers as the discussion goes forward…or not.

  16. I agree with Jason, people NEED to have a dollar figure range in their minds before they will call. I sold my photography for 24 years and know how important “price” is but as soon as that hurdle is gotten over it is very important to move directly into artistic questions: where do you think it will go in your home, what colors do you especially like, can come into the studio and see it in person? if not can you take a photo with your phone of your room and walls and I can show you how this (or another) painting /photograph will look in that space.

    Number #1 goal is get customers to call. If they come in-person they are 90% sold already.

  17. I include pricing on my website and had my best year of website sales in 2021 – by far. Sales are quite brisk in 2022 as well. Without pricing, I don’t believe this would have ever happened.

  18. I am coming around to the idea of putting my prices on my website. I agree with Jason and many others..How does a prospective buyer make a decision if there aren’t any prices listed? I think I was going along with the crowd who believed that if a buyer was interested they would contact me. With the amount of artists competing in a very competitive pool, I think I’m at a disadvantage when I don’t post my prices. Another question then comes up.. what about putting prices on our posts on Instagram?
    Thank you for sharing this important discussion.

  19. I agree entirely with the “No price, move on” argument, but I’ve got a serious problem with the “pricing consistent across all venues.” I live in a rural area where I can sell a $50-80 painting, but not a $500 painting, much less $3,000 painting. If I was shipping these to a gallery, I’d probably be running into “if it’s that cheap, it must not be worth anything” mentality (not to mention selling at a loss with all the back-and-forth shipping) at those prices.

    It’s the old “bird in the hand or two in the bush” dilemma: do I charge “national” prices in a big pool where I’m lost in the throng, or “local” prices in the little pool where people know me and admire my work?

  20. I sell my paintings through an online gallery, “Saatchi”. The commission at Saatchi is 35%. But the listed price includes shipping. It is nice in that the customers price is all inclusive, but the price is elevated because of it.
    I also sell at a Wonderfull co-op gallery where the commission is 25% and the price dose not include shipping.
    If I make the prices consistent I have to use the saatchi price as the base price which makes the Co-op gallery customers pay 10% more for commission and the cost of shipping which they usually don’t need. It feels a bit awkward and not fair to my Co-op gallery customers. When I use the saatchi price as the consistent price the prices can inhibit sales. So what I do is set a base price plus commission. If a customer buys from saatchi it is the base price plus 35% commission, if they buy from the Co-op gallery it is the same base price plus 25% Commission. Packing and shipping is also added to the Co-op gallery price. What a mess. I’m doing this wrong. I think it might be time to get help.

  21. From the perspective of someone who does collect a lot of original art, the price needs to be listed, and there needs to be a way to immediately add it to my cart and checkout if I want to buy it. When I see “inquire for pricing” that’s an immediate turn off, and I usually close the website if I see it – no matter how much I liked the piece. As an artist, it’s all about reducing friction for the buyer. I don’t want to put up any obstacles to people giving me their money. If you’re using a pricing formula like linear inch, it’s not hard to keep the prices consistent across venues.

  22. This is a topic that has puzzled me for a while. As a shopper I want to know if what I’m looking at is affordable. My web site originally stated the price range so at least the Ballpark number is known. Since the size iff each piece is indicated there is the suggestion that smaller is possibly cheaper ( not always). This also leaves me room on direct sales to adjust pricing when appropriate. I removed this a year ago since it was out of the common practice.
    Considering replacing .

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