“At What Price Art”

I have always wandered at what price an artists believes can be put on his or her art, to sale to clients or collectors, and what does it take to get you noticed by the ones who are aiding in this endeavor. The reason I ask is when I was in Florida I went to Clyde Butchers Gallery in the Everglades and visited other galleries in Key West, don’t get me wrong some of the art I witnessed was truly amazing, but the price tag on some of the work was incredible.

In Clyde Butchers shop alone I saw large prints upwards to 9,000.00 dollars and other images slightly below these prices, his work is truly fantastic and maybe I am a little jealous, but what constitutes pricing like this. Is this one of those whatever the market will give, and what formula would you use to come up with that price tag? And it was just the same in Key West, even though I didn’t witness any single price as high as I did at Butchers, still many works were incredible high priced.

How exclusive is this club when it comes to art, and do you have to sell your soul or know somebody in the business to get a break, or maybe just go out and make your own breaks and someday reap the same benefits some of these artist have been. And then again maybe that is what the market will bare and I might just be whining a little bit. I am just a little curious as to what you all have to say, because to be quite honest, I have seen a few artist in the blogging world thru this site that I think are able to produce the same type of quality of work as I saw in some of the high priced galleries on my trip.



20 thoughts on ““At What Price Art”

  1. montucky

    I’ve wondered as well, Bernie. I realize that price eventually rides on reputation, but how it all gets started is way beyond me.

  2. aullori

    This shot is amazing… the flowers are so perfect they barely look real. humm….onto your topic; I respect what your doing and your doing a fabulous job at it. I’ve been to a lot of galleries. I like to look at peoples work online simply because it comes across as unfiltered. I knew an owner once. The power he loved and petted each night before going to bed was deciding what art was. Online they aren’t so successful at that. It’s much more democratic… the people get to decide. Which is good. Because the people cash out – not the gallery. Price is relative.

  3. Richard

    It’s mostly about marketing. Of course the classics such as Ansel Adams can very much be considered an investment to buy, but more typically I think it’s about how much perceived value you can market yourself for. At times you can see inferior work up at the galleries for astronomical prices by people who try hyping themselves up to seem better than they actually are. To serious art collectors maybe hype matters though. On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of talented photographers who charge too little for their work and I believe this constitutes a larger demographic than those who market toward the super wealthy.

    For me I prefer keep the prices real and within range of people who need to decorate their home or just like the image. Enough to smile from the profit, and yet doesn’t exclude 99% of the population.

  4. Artinthepicture.com blog

    Yes, in the completely overcrowded world of art & photography it is very difficult to make your mark. So just producing quality work won’t be good enough, you’ll need the marketing as well. And yes, maybe that’s too bad, but that’s the way it has to work when there’s so much to see.

  5. HeyJules

    I think Richard said it very well – in the real world, you try to make a profit and stay within the realms of what someone will pay to have your photo in their home. However, that is NOT what art galleries are all about. In their world it is about who’s hot and who’s not – it’s marketing and status and that’s what people are paying for. They want to say “I own an original So-and-So and I paid $15,000 dollars for it.” Oh sure, there are those who buy because they like it, but when you’re financially well off you like to pay for what you like.

    In all honesty, I’d love a career just selling what I love to those who share my love – at reasonable prices that I could afford me a decent living. I don’t need the status or the glory – but I wouldn’t mind hanging ONE photograph on a gallery wall just once in my life…

  6. conchlife

    I have been very fortunate in life to have known some people who own “great” artwork. While walking the hallways of friends’ families’ homes, I have stood nose to canvas to a Monet and a Picasso. In all seriousness, they would not hang in my home. They are “great” because other people attach symbols of wealth or importance to them, not because everyone considers them pretty or tasteful. My wife did not find them pretty or attractive. She certainly did not use the word “great.” All the money in the world can’t change an impression. If something is aesthetically pleasing to the person viewing it, they will pay what they can reasonably afford to make their life more pleasant. In the case of the ultra-wealthy, there is no limit. For the rest of us, you have to decide if you want to pay for the status symbol of having a Butcher or Adams in your home or do you want soemthing that is visually appealing alone. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression of this post, everyone is entitled to pay what they can afford for art and the artist is entitled to receive it. In my case, I should have paid Bernie more for the three fantastic images hanging in our house.

  7. Nim

    I think if I think about my experiences with art, I know what I like. That pretty much means that I will pay the asking price. With that in mind, I think most artists will realise once they discover a ‘market’, they can pretty much ask what they like and they will get the asking price for their work.

  8. cruxphoto

    Living near Park City, UT I’ve walked into many of those galleries with $5,000 and higher prints. I myself have asked the same questions. I think a lot of it is location, and investment. I think a lot of those photographers who blog here would be just as successful if they were able to rent a shop on main street in Park City, and spend thousands and thousands of dollars making those huge prints and putting them in fantastic frames.

  9. ankush

    nice photo Bernie. that is a good question you raise, and i have wondered the same…i agree with many above that is, in fact, a lot about marketing…

  10. Mike Moats

    Hey Bernie, I’m also amazed at the photogs selling at these prices. I’ve always taken the walmart style of selling with the idea that people of all incomes could afford my images. I don’t like the idea that only the rich be able to own quailty art. I charge what I need to run my business and make a living and I work hard to find the best prices for ink, paper, matboard, etc. to keep prices resonable. The photography site Pbase a couple of years ago stated that 16 million photos have been posted there, how much value can any photograph have when just one photo site online has that many images,and times that with all the others sites just online. I think with all the great photogs and massive amount of images for sales I don’t believe photographs have that much value. By the way awesome image.

  11. Danny

    Good post and so true. My wife has struggled with how to price her paintings and I have usually underpriced my pots – I’m always so flattered anyone would not only like them but would want to buy them – sometimes hard to part with some.

  12. Photo Buffet

    Bernie, this image is an example of your dedication to your art–and the passion you feel for it. This is a beautiful arrangement of color and form.

    Art is relative. Even if I were a billionaire, I would not pay thousands upon thousands for a piece of art, just for the sake of saying that I have a certain artist’s work hanging in my home. A price tag or a name does not tug at me; good art does. My idea of art may not be yours and vice versa, but when I see something that yanks my chain, I know it.

    I’ve seen very good artists practically give their work away. To each his own. I fall somewhere in between. I read an interesting article by Dan Heller, a well-established artist, about pricing. Here’s the link if you’re interested, Bernie:

  13. Bernie Kasper Post author

    Thanks for the link Bonnie, very good article.

    Thanks for stopping by Danny, I find it strange people like some of my images as well, it’s flattering but kinda weird.

    I agree with you Mike, when I do sell something I guess I keep it kinda low. just for the fact I don’t always think it is worth too much.

    Steve, I am sending you a revised bill.

    Thanks for all the input, I probably will never fall into the category of high paid artist, but I was just wondering what some other thoughts on the subject were.

  14. Mark

    I often wonder about the same thing Bernie. I imagine if an artist has a great marketing team behind them, they can probably ask anything they want -regardless of the perceived quality. But at $5,000 or $10,000 a pop, all they really need is that ONE person that must have it to like it. And if they know their market (and likely income ranges) well enough – well I guess more power to them.


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