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Pricing your Artwork for Competitions and Exhibitions

photo of art exhibition

Pricing your artwork in the first place is something all artists struggle to be completely happy with. There are so many factors to consider and lots of expenses to think about. Though it is important to recover your costs when pricing your art.

We will take a look at the costs involved in producing your artwork and any extra costs involved in entering an art competition or open exhibition. Also we discuss the differences between art competitions and open exhibitions. Next we consider the commission charged by organisers and galleries. Then finally we weigh up recovering your costs and what you need to consider before deciding on a final price for your art.

One Price for your Artwork

We think it is important to stress, that whatever price you decide on for your artwork, this has to be the price whether you sell it in an open exhibition, competition or gallery or on your own website. Having more than one price for an artwork will just confuse potential buyers. Also competition organiser and gallery owners, will not be happy to sell your work at a higher price, while you also have it at a lower price on your website or other platform.

So if you think you are likely to enter several competitions/ exhibitions and also want to sell through galleries, then their commission charges have to be included when pricing your artwork.

Be Consistent when Pricing your Artwork

Not only should a particular artwork be the same price, regardless of where it is for sale, once you have decided on a price for the artwork, you need to keep this price. Don’t keep changing the price. It is understandable to offer a discount against the price, but you must not keep changing and swapping prices all the time. This does not build trust between you and your buyers.

Generally artists raise prices as their reputation and sales increase. Winning an award or competition can also raise an artists profile and their asking price. Just remember to be consistent with your pricing and how you structure it.

watercolour painting Primrose Hill by Perry Harris

©Perry Harris ‘Primrose Hill’ 2020 RWS Exhibition

Difference between Art Competition and Open Exhibition

Take note there is a difference between an art competition and art exhibition. An art competition can be just an online event. It can have prize winners, but might not sell or exhibit the artworks that entered the competition. Whereas an open art exhibition will have artworks selected, with awards and possible prize money or vouchers available. Also an Open Exhibition usually has an actual exhibition too, where members of the Art Industry and the general public get to see your artwork in the flesh and the ability to buy it.

Partly because of the costs involved many artists take time building the quality and style of their artwork before entering an art competition or Open exhibition. Their aim is to use these opportunities to build a solid reputation for consistent, quality work and to increase their chances of being selected for the competition or open exhibition. The difficulty here lies in knowing when you think you are good enough to enter. Check out our Blog ‘Should you Enter Art Competitions’ for more information and the pros and cons of art Competitions/ Exhibitions.

Costs for Pricing your Artwork

Do not purely base your cost around how much it costs you. Doing it this way will not leave you with any profit and there are lots of hidden costs you probably haven’t thought about yet. So add a percentage against your costs, to cover all the hidden extra costs and this way you will have some income and leeway for any extra costs. Also as your art career develops, normally your costs increase as well.

A lot of artists once they have put their costs together, decide pricing their artwork by the square inch or by an hourly rate. Whatever format you decide, stick to it, don’t keep swapping and changing, unless it doesn’t work for you.

Overhead Costs

So when pricing your artwork you need to put together all your costs to produce the artwork. These costs include:

  • Materials (paint medium, paper, canvas, canvas preparation materials etc..)
  • Labour (time taken to research and produce the artwork)
  • Framing (DIY or professional framing)
  • Art Competition/ Exhibition entry fees
  • Transport costs (your travel costs to and from the exhibition or using an art courier)
  • Insurance (especially if your artwork is of a high price)
  • The competition/ exhibition organisers commission due on sale of art.

Also don’t forget about income tax and National Insurance. Also if you are VAT registered you have to consider the VAT implications too. These are just some of the simple costs involved.

giclée print of copper saucepan and bag of gooseberries still life painting

Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm

Working Out Monies you receive after Competition organisers (Galleries) Commission

The biggest cost to you that can affect your pricing structure is when you sell your art through a third party i.e a gallery or competition or open exhibition organisation. This is because you have to take into account the commission (plus VAT) they take from the sale of your artwork.

Galleries and competition / open exhibition organisers usually charge a commission ranging between 30 – 45% plus VAT.

For Example:

Artwork selling price of £500

45% Commission of £500 is £225
20% VAT on Commission is £45

Total Gallery Commission is £270 (£225 + £45)

Selling price £500 less Commission leaves £230, this is the money you receive from the sale. This is also the money your costs have to come out of, before you make a profit.

Your Art Business

When you look at your art business as a whole, there will be costs that can be spread across all artworks, giclée prints, other merchandise you sell and any art licenses you issue.

Examples include photographing your artwork. Either you buy camera equipment or you pay a professional art photographer, such as The Artists Print Room, Get in touch if you require our help. The digital image file of your artwork has more than one use, so the cost is spread out.

Other examples include having a website, computer equipment, social media advertising, being a member of an art society, studio equipment (i.e easel, palettes, tables), studio rental costs and associated heating and lighting costs. You have to think about and list everything you buy and use to build your art business.

Do you need to make a profit ?

There are many artists that start their art business, while they have full-time employment. Usually they start out by using their income from this employment to cover their art business or artwork costs. If the artist has miscalculated their selling price and actually undervalued their work and sell it for a tiny profit or loss, then eventually they will run out of funds to support their art. At the very least they will have limited their options for building their art business and art reputation. Purely because they won’t have the money to promote their art or enter art competitions, exhibitions or societies, or attend art fairs to build and grow their reputation and network within the art industry.

By making a profit, even if it is small at the beginning, you will still be able to continue to grow your art and expand your opportunities.

Hourly Rates Guide

The Artists’ Union England have published a Guideline to Rates of Pay for Artists – Updated 16 Aug 2021

Hourly Rates
£22.69 p/hr new graduate artist
£29.42 p/hr with 3 yrs+ experience
£35.02 p/hr with 5 yrs + experience
*£38.52 p/hr Lead Artist/Project Manager*

Sessional/Daily Rates
£179.33 p/day (£ 89.67 p/ 1⁄2 day) new graduate artist
£235.37 p/day (£117.69 p/ 1⁄2 day) 3 yrs+ experience
£291.41 p/day (£145.70 p/ 1⁄2 day) 5 yrs+ experience

They also state:

They do not include equipment rental costs, travel costs, publication costs, insurance or shipping, or any other cost associated with art production (or VAT where relevant) – they are compensation for an artist’s time and labour only.

giclée print of summer flowers painting

Giclée print on St Cuthbert Mills Somerset Velvet 330gsm

Looking to increase your art income

Once an original artwork has sold, that is all the income you create from it. That is unless you choose to sell giclée prints of your artwork. By selling giclée prints you open up another income stream from the same artwork. Also you can offer these giclée prints at a more affordable price, compared to an original artwork. So you will be expanding your potential buyers market too. At the Artists Print Room we print your giclée prints as you make a sale (including Limited Edition prints) and we can also send your fine art print direct to your customer. So in effect you don’t pay us until you have been paid by your customer and there are no extra packaging costs or shipping costs.

See our Blog  Artists Printing – What you need to know about online giclée printing to learn more about Giclée printing or please feel free to Get in touch


Managing your Expectations

Firstly bear in mind when you enter an art competition, you are taking a risk. You are aiming for exposure and to build your name as an artist. If you are lucky you may even win at your first attempt and not only sell your artwork but win some prize money too! This is the best outcome possible and would ensure you would cover all your costs, from producing the artwork to the competition costs.

Now here comes the reality, the odds of you winning on your first attempt are very small. So you could spend money entering an art competition and not have any return on your monies spent to enter. You could even make two trips travelling to London, taking your work for pre-selection and in the end collecting it, when it doesn’t sell. In this instance none of your costs are recovered, though you could sell the artwork at a later date and recover the costs to produce the work, but you will not recover your entry costs and travel costs for the competition or open exhibition. We have put together our Best Tips for Art Competitions check it out.

The Final Say on Pricing your Artwork

Overall there has been a lot to think about and it may take you time to find a price structure that works for you. Try not to assess yourself and your prices against another artist. It is not always easy to tell which artists are selling well or even why they are selling well. Also some artists undervalue their art and rely on the income from a full-time job to cover the costs. This practice creates a false price for the art market and affects every single artist who is or wants to be a full-time artist. Also remember sometimes it isn’t the price that stops buyers.

So in summary:

  1. One price for your artwork, no matter where it is for sale.
  2. Consistent prices, don’t swap and change.
  3. Make a list of all your costs, including galleries and competitions organiser commission charge.
  4. Spread your costs across all your income products (artworks, giclée prints, other merchandise, licenses, art services and commissions).
  5. Decide on either a price per inch or an hourly rate. Choose whatever is easiest for you.
  6. Recover your costs and make a profit.
  7. Raise prices as your reputation and sales increase.
  8. Value your art.


Keep an eye on our Blogs we will be taking a deeper look at working out how to price your art.




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