Written by Amy Schroeder
For customers seeking unique original art, photography, and design, we’ve launched the Minted Commissioned Original Art Program, a new program that is limited to U.S. consumers and Minted artists during our initial beta period.
Minted believes in protecting the value of artists’ work and creating a marketplace that will help independent artists thrive. To prevent a “pricing race to the bottom”, we’ve set a minimum price of $75 per commission. Our independent community of artists create a variety of styles, mediums, formats, and with that comes varying prices. Artists set their own price for Commissioned Original Art projects. Please keep in mind that artists keep 80% of the price quote and Minted retains 20%. Your price quotes must include shipping costs.
Pictured above: Lauren Rogoff is a Minted Artist who specializes in custom pet portraits. She posted this photo of herself on her Instagram, @wanderinglaur, during a Minted press event in New York in July 2016.
How does the pricing work for Commissioned Original Art?
Minted artists will set an estimated price or price range for various sizes (S-L) and complexities (Simple-Complex) of projects you will have available for commission. You will not set a final price for a project until you discuss the project with the client and agree on the scope. By this time, you’ll also know the estimated size/weight of the finished product and the shipping address, so you’ll be able to accurately estimate and account for the insured shipping costs. You may also need to include any sales tax in the price depending on the state where you live, and the location of the customer.
Based on the photo she received of her client’s French bulldogs above, Lauren Rogoff created this pet portrait.
What's the right price for my work?
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all formula for pricing commissioned work, you might not find one. But after interviewing several experienced commissioned artists, we’ve identified common threads for best practices. Here are eight tips to help you find your pricing sweet spot.
- Do your research to get a ballpark figure
When initially thinking about your price range for commissioned work, it’s helpful to get a sense of the market on other sites, especially for your particular style and medium. “You don’t want to charge $10 or $1,000 when your competitors are at $500,” says Lauren Rogoff, a Minted artist who specializes in animal and pet portraits. “Even if your work is distinct stylistically, it helps to know what customers are spending.”
- Price originals at gallery rates — higher than prints
If you sell your original work in an art gallery, we recommend that you sell your Commissioned Original Art on Minted for approximately the same rate as the gallery’s.
This might be an obvious point to some, but hopefully this helps give you a starting point. Commissioned Art differs considerably from our limited edition art prints. Commissioned Originals are handmade, one-of-a-kind, vary by medium, and tailored to exactly what the customer is looking for. For those reasons, we recommend setting the price of commissioned work higher than the price of art prints. For example, a 24” x 18” limited edition unframed art print is $86 on Minted, so we recommend pricing an original painting or photograph, unframed at a similar size, for more than $86.
- Don’t undervalue yourself
While doing your research, Lauren says you may find that doubts creep in. As she explains, seeing lower-priced work in your arena on other websites might cause fear that no one will buy your work because you’ve priced yourself out of the market. Or, lots of higher prices lead to musings that potential clients will suspect the quality of your work isn’t up to par. “While a little investigation is useful, it’s also important to be confident that your work is unique and that your skills will be valued,” she says.
Keep in mind that the Minted brand is known for high-quality art and design created by our independent community of artists. Many of our customers want to invest a decent amount for commissioned original work.
- Think about the value of your time
Because some artists work quickly and others work at their own pace, it’s important to think about the value of your time and what you feel comfortable charging. Some artists set minimum hourly rates; whereas, others don’t like putting a price tag on their time. Point is, there’s no right or wrong — only what feels right to you.
Angela Simeone, a longtime Minted artist and painter in Nashville, Tennessee, is an experienced commissioned artist who typically creates large, abstract works for $800–$1,200 (unstretched and unframed). She sometimes spends upwards of 80 hours on a large commission piece, depending on the complexity. “I don’t calculate what I charge hourly as I am a fan of the process at all costs,” she says. “Personally, my work would suffer if my head space was cluttered with a price/time relation. I want to create complex color and line, layer upon layer. I want to create movement in my pieces and those are my goals.”
Angela Simeone works on three commissions at their very beginning.
She starts with an unstretched canvas, and rolls out a custom size and begins the work with the canvas on the floor. “After my first layer, I tape the piece to the wall,” she says. “It usually take another 40 hours until I am at a halfway point. My fees are affordable for fine art so that many can own a meaningful piece of art. My worth as a painter is the satisfaction I receive from creation.
I charge what I feel comfortable charging.”
- Pick a pricing approach that works for you
If you haven’t discovered the pricing approach that works best for you, you may want to think through several options or even experiment a bit. Lauren Rogoff, who charges $225 for an 11” x 14” custom animal portrait, is familiar with a number of pricing strategies and formulas for art. “But a lot of that advice, sound as it may be, doesn’t apply to custom work, which is less about the cost of supplies and more about your time and creative vision. It seems that as an artist, it is difficult to attribute proper value to those intangibles and to labor and time as well.”
To give an example of a precise pricing approach, painter Julia Contacessi prices her original and commissioned work by size, calculating by the square inch. “However, depending on the assignment, there may be an additional commission fee for the planning involved,” she says.
Julia multiplies the art width by the art height to get the total square inches of the artwork. For example, the total square inch number of 16-inch x 20-inch canvas is 320. Then she multiplies 320 by the price per square inch, which in Julia’s case is 2.5, to get a price of $800. “This number happens to be nice and neat,” she says. “If you get a weird number, you can always round up to keep things simple.”
Julia adds that with her approach, you can change up the the price per square inch to arrive at something that is right for you. “If you want consistent pricing by square inch, use the same formula but feel free to change 2.5 to 1.8 or 2.9, and you can see how the end pricing changes. I also use a sliding scale for my price per square inch. So the larger the work, the lower the price per square inch.”
“Seeped In Truth,” an original painting by Julia Contacessi
- Create a range of prices
Speaking of sliding scales, we recommend providing a range of prices for your work, to illustrate for customers the options you provide for size, style, etc. The range should begin with your absolute lowest price (nothing below $75) and culminate with your highest price. Be as specific as you can about what constitutes the lower price point versus the highest price point.
- Include your expenses in the price
Include the cost of your art materials (including canvas stretch fee for paintings), in addition to the cost of shipping, handling, packaging, applicable sales taxes, and insurance on your final product to the customer. If you’re inexperienced with shipping your work, read our shipping tips. You may want to consider offering format and shipping options to customers such as a rolled canvas vs. a flat, stretched canvas on a frame.
We recommend communicating with the customer upfront, before you provide a quote, regarding shipping options and where they live in order for you to provide an accurate shipping and insurance element of your quote.
- After you agree on price, overcommunicate with your customer
Much of the first seven tips ladders up to clear communication via the Commissioned Art 1-1 messaging system. For original works valued at more than $500, we ask that artists send a weekly progress report to the customer.
Angela says detailed communication with a customer always pays off down the line. “Don’t assume that you know what they want,” she says, stressing that it’s important to verify exactly what you hear the client saying they desire. “You may think you are hearing them, but only really know after you repeat back what they have said.”
Angela checks in frequently with her clients and emails photos to show progress. Sometimes the client may not quite know what they are responding to in a photo of the piece, so Angela asks more questions to try to pinpoint and develop the answer. “There is nothing more gratifying than hearing your customer say, ‘I love it so much this is exactly what I wanted.’”