IN: Competition advice


With various art fairs on the horizon, here's a look at practical tips to price your art...


The art market can be a tricky place to navigate, as there is no set standard by which art can be valued. Instead, the prices of artworks follow different fashions and often represent changing aesthetic tastes and cultural perceptions. Luckily for South Africans, in recent years the market for South African artists has experienced a noticeable boom. Renowned modernist Irma Stern’s “Arab in Black” reached a record £870,000 at auction in 2015, and a remarkable buyer’s response has seen unprecedented prices reached for artists such as Gerard Sekoto, Alexis Preller, Maggie Laubscher and J.H. Pierneef – amongst others.

With various art fairs and art weeks forming highlights on the upcoming 2016 South African creative calendar, we thought that it was a perfect time to bring you a few simple tips on pricing artworks:

  1. Try not become overly attached to your artworks. If you have a strong emotional connection, instead withdraw the work from sale and hold on to it as a part of your personal collection. Emotions can cloud your judgment and may lead to an over-inflated financial value placed on the work – and that could price you out of the market.

  2. Determine at what stage of your career you are at. When entering the market as an emerging artist, it would be wise to keep prices low – with the hope of experiencing steady growth and a rise in sales.

  3. Stay informed about contemporary art production. Consider what styles are prevalent, as well as pricing and marketing strategies. What strategies can be applied within your own work?

  4. Try stay realistic. If you are approaching art as a professional career, retain a business approach that allies commercialism with artistic integrity and creativity.

  5. Try having a range of prices – this way you appeal to all price points and help to grow a loyal customer base.

Pricing Artwork

How to go about pricing an actual artwork?

There are numerous ways to go about this, but here are two simple formulas that can help:

  1. Decide on an hourly rate and then times that amount by the number of hours that you have worked on a project (remember to also keep in mind the cost of materials!)

  2. Alternatively, work out the area of your piece and then price the artwork per cm2. Measure the width and length of your work, then times together to reach the area. Once you’ve decided on a rate per cm2, you can multiply the two numbers together to reach a final price.

Hope that this helps! We’ll be featuring more helpful tips for art practioners in the upcoming months, so don’t forget to check back regularly.

This article is adapted from one that originally appeared on

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