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 The same would be true if the site is out of date and a price has not been updated after a price increase.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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🍺🎨
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.
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.
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.
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
Should be consistent across the board and across the country. Today’s customers are aware and computer-conscious, especially the higher-end ones. If you sell for less than the gallery is listing, you’ve just undercut your gallery, which will not make them very happy. And making your prices more than the gallery is showing raises other questions….
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.
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.
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.
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.
I would price your work with the highest commission included in the price no matter where it’s ahown. The gallery will take its portion, whatever it is, and you will always get at least what you want out of it, and sometimes more! Win-win
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This sounds bought out and fair !
What if you don’t put the same piece in both venues. I never put online what I have in the gallery so I don’t undermine them. The gallery owner checked out my site to see if I do put the same on it and told me he appreciates that very much.
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.
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 .
I now believe in pricing on my website (never used to) but not on social media. I put a link to my site on social media to go directly to the painting on my website. That way any inquiries are through my website. I do not have an automatic payment plan on my website but it links to my email for direct inquiries. That way I do not have to worry about double selling the same work if it happens to be in a gallery and on my site (came close a few times on that). I can also arrange for shipping pricing that way whereas a direct buy link on my site could not calculate that. Confusing but all the info is available to the client in one place that way and I get to personally interact with them.
I Do Not Frame My Artwork, I Found That The Customers Pick Pictures And Frames That Match The Decor In There Home !
That certainly seems to simplify things for the artist. I have framed and unframed work. The framed work is work that I have put into galleries and exhibitions.
I am a firm believer in putting pricing on my website. If someone doesn’t have pricing for something I’m looking for, I just move on to the next. I have nothing to hide. Yes, pricing on my site and if in a gallery should be the same. The tricky part is if you sell a piece on the web that is also in a gallery. You have to choose your relationship with the gallery and frankly I would give the commission to the gallery.
I agree pricing should be on the Artist and Gallery websites and be consistent with the Gallery that the artist is show x number of his or her paintings.
I have a new page for current exhibits and I have listed the agree upon pricing with the gallery’s displayed pricing and vice-versa.
This now leads me to art on my other pages and I am currently updating those to show prices and be consistent with all my art that is of a same size, etc.
I have noticed that folks are showing more interest in the art that I have already placed pricing. When I get an email regarding the painting both the gallery and myself make a sale, after all we are in partnership.
Up until this year I have done art festivals and I have an active website. I also sell at galleries, one has a 35% commission and one has a 30% commission. I also sell at a co-op gallery and commission is 25%. The one that charges 35% commission is in a location with a lot of foot traffic and sells well for me. The one that charges 30% does not get as much foot traffic and does not sell as much. The co-op gallery is also in a location with a lot of foot traffic and a very visited town. I started in January so not so much foot traffic but I think they are going to do well. I keep my prices the same at all locations. The point is to make sure the commission is worth it. I recently tried a gallery where the commission was 20% and they sold well but paid very slowly and went out of business within a year. In retrospect I should have known that the commission was too low to support the gallery location. The key is do the sales support the commission.
I know that the mindset about not including prices is to get the buyer to contact you. But I know when I’m a buyer, I won’t do that, so why would I expect my buyers to do that. I believe including pricing up front is consistent with my attempts to always be upfront with my clients about everything. Once the price is published, it’s sort of set in concrete. Not publishing it means that the artist might price it differently to different buyers, and to me that’s not ethical.
I believe in posting prices for all the reasons you mentioned.
It is a fair amount of work keeping pricing current on the site and consistent with gallery pricing but, such is life.
The more difficult task for, this artist, is getting the traffic to my site in the 1st place. There are only X number of hours in a day. FBook & IGram are time consuming as well. It interferes with production.
‘Still searching for the right gallery which is a good fit and actually sells my work effectively.
‘Don’t plan to give up any time soon.
As a long time business owner, I’ve learned that the easier you make things for a client, the better chance you have in making a sale. I personally don’t like to jump through hoops as a consumer and don’t appreciate my time being wasted when I want to do business with somebody. Also if things are too complicated to conduct business with someone, I move on as there are plenty of fish in the sea. It takes something really crave worthy for me to work harder as a consumer to obtain it.
Now, as a gallerist, I have two different types of artists in my gallery. It’s on the small side with 18 artists. I have the professional artists that understands commissions and that their prices need to be the same across the board. They understand that it’s expected that when they show a piece on their website, they direct the client to my gallery.
Then, there are the amateurs that I’ve usually poached from a co-op gallery or artist guild because I see something special in them and their work. They are used to being hustlers (and good for them). What I mean is that they are used to selling their own art on social media, website, air festivals, etc. They don’t understand why they can’t put out their business cards in the gallery or provide their own brochures with their contact info on them. They want to add our commission to their current retail prices because they feel they are missing out on what they’re used to selling their work at. Well, then maybe you shouldn’t be seeking gallery representation! We don’t spend thousands of dollars on artist receptions, advertising, or renting space without the intent of selling your work and earning our commission. If you over price your art above market value, it won’t sell. I always tell them that, “60% of something is better than 100% of nothing”. Or they have no pricing structure and their prices make no sense when they first come into the gallery until they learn I can’t insure them without some consistant formula for their pricing. As a gallerist, it’s become a hassle to work with non-professional working artists. I’ve grown tired of it and I only seek professional artists at this time. The amateurs that listen to me and read Reddotblog.com which I practically force them to do (I should put it in the artist-gallery contract…LOL!), I’m happy to continue working with. Those that don’t, are not asked to renew their contract.
Totally agree with you about the two types of artists.
We also encourage all of our artists to read the REDDOTBLOG as well, as it answers so many questions for them.
It does take a lot of time explaining to new artists with no experience, how pricing artworks needs to work for all parities – the artist, the gallery and the purchaser. The only way it works is to have a fixed price for each artwork – the price goes with the work across all platforms. Simple.
I agree with you 100% Jason on posting prices on the artist website; however, I haven’t posted prices because I am at a standstill regarding Shipping costs. Do you include it in your price? Do you list as separate costs? S & H is very expensive and can drive up prices. I would like to see this covered in a future post. Thanks for the info you pass on!
I live and work in England and Vancouver Canada. I can understand the difficulty of various commission rates of galleries but I have to figure out which country’s currency to list. If I list British pounds some may not know how to convert it to US or Canadian dollars. I have gallery in each country which takes a different percentage as well.
I agree with the listing of prices on my web site which I will now add but which price should I use and what about older pieces that have been listed years before. Maybe they should be repainted or burned?
I was in sales for 15 years before I went full time artist, I think transparency is key. I’m “pro-listing prices.” I agree 1000% that people won’t call for prices. We all want instant info and like you said, they’ll move on.
That being said, I don’t have mine listed. I need to make my site a priority.
I am an artist but also a long time collector of many varied things. Not displaying a price really irks me.
Like others I often have a price range to work within.
It’s frustrating to always be asking , sometimes having to wait, for every item of interest to be pointed at , reached for etc to get a price.
Some times an item is only somewhat interesting but a decent price could up the interest.
Forget the no or hidden price tag rule.
I have often walked away because zi can’t be bothered anymore. I don’t need to always need the talk.
I think this goes for art also.
I like to st least give a range on selected pieces.
Shipping, I know. Last year I sold two identical paintings one month apart. In July, it cost $95 to ship. In August, UPS (same shipper, same packaging) wanted $140! I have begun just asking the client to contact me re: shipping costs because they’re fluctuating so much.