How to Price Your Giclée Prints, Art Prints
CategoriesArt Business / Fine Art / Photography / Scanning
When you’re a professional artist who also provides custom framing and printing services, you get asked a lot of questions about the business of art. That includes everyone from novices to professionals who want to take their business to the next level. Pricing almost always drives the first questions, for both originals and prints. Today, I’m focusing only on giclée prints and other art prints.
I’ll just say right out of the gate, that a 2 – 3 times markup seems to be the common shortcut for your art and giclée prints. In most cases, you’ll be paid enough. But it’s important to your bottom line to understand why this is the case. Doing so will show you that this “shortcut” will not always land you at the right price point.
There are many ways to manage pricing. My way isn’t the law, but I know it’s a solid place to create minimum standards. It’s also just a good starting point for pricing your giclée prints.
What follows are:
- Common mistakes
- Re-evaluating the question
- Examples of moving forward in your own pricing strategy
- Rethinking the language used to explain your prints
Everybody’s Doing It!
First, here are some common mistakes with pricing. I often hear these on a daily basis:
- I’m just getting started. Should I price low and work my way up?
- I need something really cheap in order the make the sale.
- What about when I go to shows and see other artists selling cheap prints?
- My friend just doubles the pricing she paid to make her giclée prints and art prints.
- I just don’t know what to charge.
- I have a lot of old stuff. Should I just have a fire sale and get rid of it?
I hear these a lot. I’m definitely happy to know more artists want to get their work out there, but they are short-changing themselves in the short- and long-term. I always encourage them to change their thinking. Because most of the time, their questions or beliefs are coming from the wrong direction. (A direction that won’t get you very far.)
Reshaping the Question
So, let’s try this from a different angle. Ask yourself: How can I price my art and giclée prints sustainably? There are so many pricing strategies out there and some have merit. But rarely do they address this one simple issue. I believe that a formula is solid once there is proof that sustainability is present. Let’s say that you added all the parts and pieces of your costs and time and discovered, “If I simply double my costs, then I land very perfectly at the sustainable prices points I need.” That’s great! But, first and foremost, you must consider the concept of sustainability.
What exactly does “sustainability” mean in this context? As a professional artist, I feel this refers to what you must charge for anything you sell to stay in business. My sustainability model is a simple approach:
- Consider your costs
- Consider your time
- Always make a profit on your costs
- Always make something for your time
Don’t work for free! That seems like a no-brainer, right? But you’d be surprised how often this happens when you leave this model out of your pricing strategy.
Your Pricing Strategy for Art and Giclée Prints
This isn’t complicated, but it does require you to think differently. Everyone assumes that “costs” simply refers to “what I paid for the print.” So, I always ask artists and photographers questions about areas I know they are overlooking. For example:
- How much did you spend on gas for your project?
- What is the cost of your studio space?
- How much does the print itself cost?
- How much is packaging?
- How much did you spend on shipping to the client?
- How much time did you spend researching the best print solutions?
- How much time did you invest in preparing the print for sale/the customer?
- Did you buy stationery to send with your print to thank the client?
- Have you printed a bio, fact sheet, or any other items to include with the print?
You don’t have to have every detail right now. The idea is to simply get you thinking about the bigger picture, so your pricing strategy is sustainable. How often have you priced a piece or print without consideration for the questions above?
Let’s dig a little deeper to complete the pricing strategy for art and giclée prints and ask some harder questions (get ready for math!).
- Include Scanning Costs: I recommend adding the cost of scanning the original into the price of the original. (Find our scanning prices here.) The only exception would be when you are ordering prints of the original that have already sold (or are certain to sell). In this instance, it helps to spread the costs over the number of prints and minimize the impact on your buyers. So, everyone pays a little more without feeling it and, most importantly, you are now sustainable.
Include Product Costs: The nice thing about print-on-demand is that once your image is scanned, you’re ready to jump on any opportunity that comes along. At our shop, we keep everything we’ve scanned for customers on file. That gives you the freedom to call us with a sudden print need for clients, shows, galleries, etc. Nevertheless, keep your pricing the same. Include in your final sale price the cost you pay to produce the print.
- Include Miscellaneous Costs: Are you exhibiting at a place requiring booth fees or commission? Are you selling online with transaction fees and commissions (e.g., Etsy)? Are you charging enough for shipping? Some of this can get a little tricky, but we do it all day long. So, if you find yourself in a jam, just message us at email@example.com or call 615-815-6015. We also created a handy calculator that really simplifies complicated markups. Download it here.
- Include Markups: Once you’ve added all the costs you can think of, you will need to decide how much to mark them up. This can be a grey area, but a good rule of thumb is that items with smaller costs can usually withstand a higher markup. Conversely, higher priced items usually have little markup. As a starting point, add 15-35% and see how that rests with you. You can always charge more. But at the very least, you are making a little on the money you’re spending. That means you’re never losing out on profits.
- Include Your Time: When dealing with the printing side of things, this is really simple. The idea is to minimize your time as much as possible, but it still must be factored it into your costs. Especially if you have a show or gallery event of sorts that requires you to act as you own salesperson for an evening or weekend. What is your time worth? Think about it in these terms: if someone offered you a job, what’s the least amount you would accept per hour? Start there. If the price doesn’t settle well with you, then raise your value.
Changing Your Language
I want to conclude this with a common reply I hear from people when we go through this exercise: “That price seems too high!” Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not too high. One way to help you understand that is to consider using the right language for your art and giclée prints. These products are priced as they should be. Here are some reasons why:
- Giclée prints are currently the most sophisticated method of print production on earth.
- These are extremely high-quality archival print reproductions made with the finest materials and printed with the best inks available. No exaggeration!
If you or your customers are looking for “cheap,” then go to Kinkos for some laser prints. They will look bad and won’t last long, but they will definitely be cheap. That’s not our gig. We focus on quality.
By taking an active role in educating your clients on exactly what they are buying from you, then there is added value for everyone. For one thing, the buyer has a chance to understand the quality of the product they are purchasing. And for another, you as the seller won’t feel awkward asking that price now that you are armed with information and a solid pricing strategy.
Questions? Comments? Ask below, message us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-815-6015.
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