How to Price Acrylic Pour Paintings

I’m Ready to Sell My Paintings, How Do I Price Them?
By guest author Ellenie Nichols

So you’ve run out of room in your studio and you’re thinking of selling your art. There are numerous avenues for selling. You can sell in a gallery, at an art fair, online shops like Etsy or Society6, open studios, at coffee shops and the list goes on. But how do you decide how much to charge for your paintings?

How do I price my art? What should I charge for my paintings? How do I work out what to charge for my paintings?

As an artist, you need to understand that your art is your personal expression of creativity which comes from within you. When you talk about selling, then that’s real-world market forces at work affecting pricing. The better you understand how the art market works and where your art fits into the big picture of all art for sale at all the places where art is being sold, the better prepared you are to price and sell your art. In reviewing the threads on the Acrylic Pouring Facebook group and around the web, there are pricing themes that emerge. Here is a summary of that information that I hope will be helpful to you!

How much is your time worth to you?

A good starting point for you is to price your work based on time, the cost of your labor, and cost of materials. Pay yourself a reasonable hourly wage, add the cost of materials and make that your asking price. The US Department of Labor Occupational Labor Statistics lists the mean hourly wage of Fine Artists as $23.22. Use this as a starting point for figuring out your hourly wage.

For example, if materials cost $50, you take 20 hours to make the art, and you pay yourself $20 an hour to make it, then you price the art at $450 ($20 X 20 hours + $50 cost of materials).

Related: How to Make Over $100 Per Hour Hosting Acrylic Pouring Events

Charge by the square inch

Another strategy frequently cited to calculate a standard pricing is:

$1 per square inch of your painting + the cost of your supplies

If you go over 30 inches on either width or height, then it becomes $1.50 per square inch.  New artists and those looking to break into the market may wish to start with a slightly lower multiplier than $1 per square inch. Well-known artists, those already in demand, can charge significantly more.

To work out your price by the square inch, multiply the length by the width of your painting. For example, an 8 by 8 inch piece = 8 x 8 = 64 square inches. If you charge $1 per square inch, this would be $64 + the price of materials if you are adding that as well.

 

On a side note, to complement your Acrylic Pours amd your sources of income, I highly recommend using a Cricut Machine (my personal favourite is the Explore Air 2 machine) to design and print yourself beautiful crafts on all sort of supports. Check it out here!  Now back to another method of pricing your paintings.

 

Charge by the linear inch

In contrast to charging by the square inch above, you may also wish to consider charging by the linear inch. This will make much more sense if you offer your art in a wide range of sizes. Using square inches as above is sensible if your art is typically all of a similar size. However, for art that varies between very small pieces to very large pieces, square inch charging can create oddities at both the lower and higher end of your scale.

For this method, you would add together the length of the sides and use a standard multiplier of your choice.  So a 5 inch by 7 inch canvas becomes 5 + 7 = 12

12 x your chosen multiplier (let’s say $5 for example) = 12 x $5 = $60

A 12 inch square canvas would be 12 + 12 = 24 times by $5 = $120

Again you can choose to add the cost of your materials on top.

Top Tip – consider the sizes of your typical artwork and work yourself out a table of charges on each of the three methods above. See which one of these methods seems most sensible to you. If it’s sensible to you, it’s sensible to your potential buyers too. 

Comparing your art to others

Keep in mind that even though your art is unique, people make price comparisons from artist to artist all the time. Being able to evaluate your art by comparing it to that of other artists in your area, is necessary in order for your price structure to make sense in the marketplace. Prices may also vary regionally with smaller local art galleries achieving lower prices than top New York galleries.

Buyers will typically expect to pay more at a smart gallery than at a small local craft fair. Be prepare to price your art according to your venue and your audience, without undervaluing your work.

Quick Tips:
1. Plan ahead. Don’t price things at the last minute. This can lead to outrageously high or low prices depending on your mood, current economic situation, or desire for attention.

2. Low pricing often signifies that the artist doesn’t have confidence in their work. On the other hand, if you are an emerging artist, asking for $5,000 for a painting might be over the top. Prices can go up, but they should never go down. Use common sense.

3. Most artists undervalue their work; often make less money on sales than they spent making the work. It is a good idea to keep track of your expenses and the time spent creating the work. You can defend your prices – even to yourself if you need to. If you have kept track of your time and expenses, you can defend the price of your work should a gallery or collector insist they are too high. Be realistic here, but also include your direct expenses for materials, as well as your overhead expenses such as studio rent, utilities, phone, etc. Never make your art so inexpensive that people will not take it, or you, seriously.

4. Discounts. Always have a price list available that states the full retail price. If you are selling the work yourself, always include the discount policy in writing on the price sheet. This will get you out of a bind if a buyer brings it up.

5. Commissions. Usually galleries and art consultants take a 50% commission of all sales. If the commission is less than 50%, do not lower the price. Often there will be a wide range of excuses for higher commissions, including that you are an emerging artist, your work costs more to sell, etc. Do not buy it! Many nonprofit galleries take from 0-30% commission and many leave the negotiation and the setting of the selling price up to the artist.

6. Increasing your price. The best time to increase prices is when you are experiencing a consistent degree of success and have established a proven track record of sales that has lasted for at least six months and preferably longer. You should also be selling at least half of everything that you produce within a six-month time period. As long as sales continue and demand remains high, price increases of 10-25% per year are in order. As with any other price-setting circumstances, be able to justify all increases with facts. Never raise prices based on whimsy or personal feelings.

7. Online sales. Here again is where you want to continually compare your prices to available art in your area, as well as on the Internet, and not just among your circle. Have a good selection of reasonably priced works available for purchase. Give the buyer the option of starting small, without having to risk too much money.

The more you are aware of market forces in general, and how people respond to your art in particular, the better prepared you are to maintain sensible selling prices and to maximize your sales.

You can find Ellenie at @ellenie_n on Instagram and https://www.facebook.com/EllenieNicholsArt/

As an artist, you need to understand that your art is your personal expression of creativity which comes from within you. When you talk about selling, then that’s real-world market forces at work affecting pricing. The better you understand how the art market works and where your art fits into the big picture of all art for sale at all the places where art is being sold, the better prepared you are to price and sell your art.

32 thoughts on “How to Price Acrylic Pour Paintings”

  1. Pequeeta Renfroe

    Thank you so much for this information. Pricing is always a stumbling point for me and my fellow artists. It is great to have some guidelines to help us. Thank you so much for this information.

  2. I use this:
    * cost of the canvas x 2 plus a flat rate
    * plus so much per square inch for the first 100 square inches
    * plus a little less per square inch for the next so many
    * ditto a third bracket
    The square inch amount is determined by the type of art becuz some have more expensive materials and/or require more time.
    Frames and shipping are additional.

  3. This way of figuring out how to price seems crazy. So you can have a painting that took twenty minutes to make, and one that was detailed and realistic, and they may be priced the same?

    1. If you make a variety of types of paintings (say if you do acrylic pour paintings and detailed oil portraits and loose watercolor landscapes) then it probably makes more sense to charge based on an hourly rate and cost of materials. However, an artist who specializes in a single style or method may find it simpler or more lucrative to charge based on size (especially if there isn’t a very big time difference between making a small picture and a large one).
      Personally, I’m just about to get started selling paintings, and my work is diverse enough in size, syle and materials that I don’t really need a clear system for my prices, I can just price everything individually. I’ve been finding the price based on time spent, then the price based on square inches, then picking a price in between the two. Of course, I’ll probably change my system over time, but for now, it seems like a good starting point.

    1. I have been selling art for years. The price per square inch is the best in my book. I have done watercolors for years and with them I added the frame, mats and glass plus I cut my own mats and assembled. I look also at my education what its worth. I now do paint pouring and do the same. Some I frame with a front loading frame that my husband makes and I paint and stain. So I still use the per inch method of pricing plus the price of the frame.

  4. Great information and thank you. I do pourings and abstracts on 78 vinyl records.
    How would i price these and also how does one determine shipping costs? Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

  5. How do others feel about pricing pieces where the supplies used were low to middle cost? I’m speaking about canvas, paint and mediums. I know I am going to continue this venture, I don’t know if I feel investing more money in the supplies will bring better end results (at least from the few I’ve tried) I don’t want to be undercutting others and have considered adding a “pricing disclosure” for pieces I’ll be selling online.

  6. Beverly Kaplan Nelson

    I enjoyed all of the comments tremendously being a new hobbyist with this type of medium I am enjoying it my question is is it better to put a mat on the painting and not put on a frame so that the receiver could choose the all their own frameTo fit their Decour thank you so much for everyone’s comments

  7. This was very helpful and had some great tips! With so many artists emerging in my area who do paint pours, it’s hard not to get that feeling that you need to lower your price just to find a sale, often to less than what materials and time amounted to. This definitely helped give perspective.

  8. Verbena, this article was apparently written for acrylic pours, so unlikely to be overly detailed and realistic. However, for one artist’s work, many times acrylic pours are larger than the more realistic pieces. so – o- o- o
    in my shop, a 30 x 40 pour might sell for the same money as an 18 x 11 realistic piece. However, between different artists, the 18 x 11 might sell for a great deal more than another artist’s 30 x 4, and on it goes. I do think the article shows most of the issues-of-variance you would be considering as YOU set the value of YOUR pieces. Reason(able) Rules!

  9. It’s very difficult to sell pour paintings..people think they can go home and do it or copy it. They don’t consider it fine art. It’s a very frustrating experience going to a festival or art show and having people come by admire your work, ask questions and then walk away. Obviously they liked your paintings but don’t think they are worth spending money on. I’ve been doing this for 2 years and have never made more than $300 at an art show, craft fair etc. I price square inch x $.50 – square inch x $1. Then I’ll go for a stroll and see artists selling the same type of work. Too many have taken up this genre………….

    1. The thing is anybody can pick up a cup and POUR paint on a canvass..my daughter currently does at kindergarten, please dont try to put it in the same category as fine art, at best its a craft, creating a decoration. Id be wrapped making $300 at a “craft fair” or art show off the back off talented hard working artists

    2. I have been only doing this for about 9 months. I have accidentally sold upwards of 20 paintings. They seem to love the unpredictability of it. I’m seriously just enjoying the colors and playing in the paint. 2 of the pieces were even commissioned. I posted my art on my FB just to keep a personal record of them for myself. Keep trying!

  10. I want to begin pour acrylic art…ur information will help me a lot…so many tips given by u for selling art….thans!!!!!!!

  11. I also made modern / portrait acrylic art on canvas….how can I gart good price for my art? Help me…how can I register in ur site and decide my arts price?

  12. Gabrielle Flint

    Hi,
    Re: chosen multiplier when using the linear inch price method
    How does one decide on their chosen multiplier? What does it actually mean?
    Also, what things should be written in the discount policy? Although I have used builders tape on the back of the frames, on some of my pieces, paint has dripped onto the back of the canvas. I thought perhaps I should discount those pieces. Should I mention that? Unless there is something I can use to remove those drips????

  13. When you work on paint pouring. It doesn’t just have to be a paint pour.
    You can do string pulling, balloon smashing, add your own artsy skills.
    Canvas on canvas etc.
    It doesn’t just have to be paint pouring. Try different things.
    After all, if you say you’re an artist, then be creative.
    Do something that no one else is doing.

  14. Deirdre Mac Gowan Lindfors

    Hi!
    I was wondering what to do when you get a commission. Do you ask for a deposit up-front? And what happens if they don’t like what you have painted? How many attempts should be made? Just got my first commission and wonder about all of this…
    Would be very grateful for any tips!

    Would

    1. I would base a commission off of the size and materials used, as well as the technical aspects. How difficult the request is. Make sure to at least get a small deposit that is non-refundable to cover material costs if they are not completely happy. That will cover both you and the buyer, but disclose reasoning so they don’t feel mislead.

  15. Hi I just finished doing a large piece of acrylic pouring medium canvas
    Took me about four hours roughly not sure what to charge it was fun to do
    My name is Anna please advise me thank you

  16. Carol D Miller

    Thank you. Will be trying to sell my first pours at a show in about two weeks. Upgraded mine by doing 3D effects so hopefully will stand out from any others also at the event. Like the idea of charging by the inch for the straight pours/blows and maybe 25 to 30% more for the 3ds.

  17. I just finished an event in my area, didn’t sell 1 peice of my pour paintings, pricese were very reasonable. What do i do next?

  18. I cover the backs with brown Kraft paper and attach a sawtooth hanger. I would never tell a potential buyer about any imperfections, though.

  19. Richard Ramsey

    I don’t do many pour paintings but add a few string and balloon paintings. It depends upon the market but generally I use top quality paint and canvas and all paintings have 2-5 coats of varnish. Also the smallest canvases are 24×24” and Kraft paper backed with hanging wire in an envelope wit sawtooth hangers in the envelope. It presents a professional appearance. If someone is interested in a painting and questions a price they receive an explanation of quality of the canvases and paint as well as the drying time necessary for pour painting vs fine painting plus the cost of art fairs and shows. Not everyone can afford original art and I will steer them to the on line Etsy type art.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin7K
Share490