Have you ever watched the Antiques Road Show? When we have time my wife and I love watching it. It’s always interesting to see the “wow” reactions when an item has great value or the disappointed look when a person learns their item isn’t as popular as it was a few years ago and now it’s not valued as much.
This also reminds me of the housing market. Sometimes the same house is valued at one price and then higher or lower at other times even within the span of a year or two. What drives the value? The market.
You’ve heard the term the “art market.” Is it any different? A while back I was visiting in a gallery and discussing different buying patterns or trends. In his gallery he said if a painting had a cowboy hat in it, he couldn’t sell it, unlike what it was previously when western art was very popular. He also mentioned other subjects that weren’t doing as well or as popular as they had been.
I thought again about the Antiques Road Show and how the market drove the price and the perceived value of something depending on the genre’s popularity. An artist may be faced with a dilemma in pricing art when an artist who might be painting a particular genre that’s popular at the time and is selling well, may suddenly finds sales have slowed and then realize the subject is not as popular as it was, yet the quality of the painting is still the same. Perhaps during this “good” time an artist’s work appreciated in value and price. I’ve heard it said that artists can go up on their prices but can never come down. I’m wondering why not? When the market goes soft, do we just leave our prices the same and not raise them for a period and then just hope things pick up before the savings run out or perish the thought take on extra work outside of our artistic passion of painting, so we can feed our family and pay the bills? Or do we adjust our prices to mirror what the market will bear?
Would doing so break some cardinal rule? Would it make our collectors unhappy if we had to lower our prices? For those who invest in art and perhaps bought with the hope of prices going up, do not most who invest in things whether real-estate or art know that what’s true of any other investments there’s always a risk the prices can fluctuate in response to the market? Or would they be thrilled that they can buy more of your work and when the market returns, they’re collection will be of even greater value? I was told by someone attending one of my art shows that they had wished they bought one of my paintings when they had a chance before my prices had risen. What if due to a soft market the prices of the paintings were lowered and are now once again affordable for them?
Pricing in general has always been an issue for an artist with so many factors to consider. Some price paintings by the square inch. Perhaps with a slightly higher dollar amount for small works and a slightly lower one for large works to keep them all within a reasonable range. However, if one painting by an artist features mostly sky, verses a painting of the same size with a complex composition of say a flower market scene that includes some type or building architecture, do you price it the same just because it’s of the same size? What about aesthetic values? Some paintings have a greater appeal and for that reason have a higher perceived value and naturally the price would reflect that or so one would think.
Well what do you think? If you’re a collector and love to buy art, but the overall art market is soft would you be upset if an artist’s prices were lower than before or be pleased to purchase more?
Artists; how do you manage your prices? Do have a system in which you use that has proved successful during downturns in the economy? How have you had to adjust? I would love to hear your comments.