How to Price Art Commissions: A Practical Guide for Artists
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Assess the Cost of Materials
  2. Calculate Time Investment
  3. Set a Value for Your Skill and Experience
  4. Account for Other Business Expenses
  5. Factor in Market Demand
  6. Compare with Other Artists' Prices
  7. Consider Your Target Market
  8. Adjust Pricing for Different Types of Commissions
  9. How to Communicate Your Prices Effectively
  10. Revise Prices as Needed

Figuring out how to price print for public art commission? It can feel like a jigsaw puzzle without a picture for guidance. Whether you're just starting or have been in the art world for a while, pricing your works can be tricky. But don't worry. This practical guide will walk you through the steps to price your art commissions effectively and fairly, giving your creativity the value it truly deserves.

Assess the Cost of Materials

Before you put a price tag on your art, it's important to first evaluate the cost of the materials involved. This is an essential first step to make sure you're not selling yourself short. Here's how:

  1. Itemize your materials. Start by listing out everything you use to create your art. This could include canvas, paint, brushes, print paper, ink, frames — anything that goes into the making of your masterpiece.
  2. Calculate the cost. Now, it's time to do a bit of math. Tally up the cost of each item you listed. Remember, even the smallest things add up. So, don't forget things like the cost of that special eraser you use.
  3. Factor in the unseen. Sometimes, there are costs that aren't visible in the final product. Think of your sketchbook, the pencil you use for drafting, or even the electricity to power your studio lights. Keep track of these and include them in your total cost.
  4. Consider the waste. Art isn't always a straightforward process. Sometimes you end up wasting materials in the process of creation. If that's a common part of your art-making, take that into account in your cost assessment.

Once you have a clear idea of how much you're spending on materials, you'll have a solid foundation to start pricing your prints for public art commission. Remember, this is just the start. There are other factors we'll dive into next.

Calculate Time Investment

Now that you've figured out the cost of your materials, the next step is to understand the value of your time. After all, time is money, right? But how can you put a price on your hours? Here are some ways:

  1. Determine your hourly rate. This is a crucial step. Think about how much you'd like to earn per hour. If you're unsure, consider what other professionals earn for their time. For instance, a plumber or electrician.
  2. Track your time. For your next artwork, keep a record of every hour you spend on it. This includes not just the time you spend physically creating, but also the time you spend planning, sketching, and even thinking about your work.
  3. Do the math. Once you know how many hours you've spent, multiply this by your hourly rate. This will give you the cost of your time investment.

By adding your time cost to the cost of materials, you're getting closer to a fair price for your art. Exploring how to price print for public art commission? It's not just about covering your costs, but also about valuing your time. So don't sell yourself short! You're worth every penny, and your art is too.

Set a Value for Your Skill and Experience

Ok, let's talk about the elephant in the room - your skill and experience. It's a critical part of the equation when it comes to figuring out how to price print for public art commission. But how can you quantify your skills and experience into dollars and cents?

  1. Recognize your skills. It's high time you gave yourself some credit! Whether you're self-taught or have a formal art education, your skills have value. So, don't be shy—factor them into your pricing.
  2. Consider your experience. If you've been creating art for years, you've gained valuable experience. This is a merit that adds value to your work. Remember, experience can't be bought—it's earned with time.
  3. Be honest about your uniqueness. Your unique style or technique can add a premium to your art price. What sets your art apart is what makes it special, and that should be reflected in your price.

Setting a value for your skill and experience can be tricky, but it's a key part of pricing your art. Remember, it's not just about the time and materials—it's also about the unique skills and experience you bring to your work. You've worked hard to develop these, and they have a value that should be reflected in your art prices.

Account for Other Business Expenses

Now, let's talk business. When calculating how to price print for public art commission, you must account for other business expenses. It's not just about the paint and brushes, it's about the whole picture. So, what does that include?

  1. Studio costs: Whether it's a room in your house or a rented studio space, your work area incurs expenses, from utilities to rent. Don't forget to factor those in.
  2. Marketing: Whether it's maintaining a website, promoting your art on social media, or attending art fairs, marketing incurs costs. It's a necessary part of doing business—so factor it into your pricing.
  3. Shipping and packaging: If you're shipping your art to clients, don't forget to include shipping and packaging costs. These can add up quickly, so make sure you're not left footing the bill.
  4. Taxes and insurance: As with any business, there are taxes and insurance costs. It's a part of doing business, and it needs to be included in your pricing structure.

These expenses may seem daunting, but they're all part of doing business. Remember, you're not just an artist—you're also a small business owner. So, when you're figuring out how to price print for public art commission, don't forget to account for all the other costs that come with running a business.

Factor in Market Demand

Market demand is a key factor when setting your art commission prices. Just like in any business, the demand for your art can greatly influence how much you can charge for it. So, how do you gauge the market demand for your art?

  1. Popularity: If your art is popular and in high demand, you can charge more for it. This can be measured by the number of commissions you receive, the interest in your art on social media, or the speed at which your pieces sell.
  2. Uniqueness: Your art's uniqueness can add to its demand. If your style or subject matter is unique, it can increase demand and allow you to charge more.
  3. Market trends: Stay informed about art market trends. If certain styles or subject matters are trending, it could increase the demand for your art.

Keep in mind, market demand can fluctuate. When determining how to price a print for public art commission, you need to stay updated on market trends and adjust your prices accordingly. This doesn't mean you should chase every trend, but being aware of them can help you make informed pricing decisions.

Compare with Other Artists' Prices

It's a good idea to understand what other artists are charging for similar work. This doesn’t mean you should lower your prices to undercut competition—instead, it provides a useful benchmark for what the market is willing to pay.

  1. Artists with Similar Experience: Look at artists who have a similar level of experience to you. If you're just starting out, it's not realistic to compare your prices with a seasoned professional. But comparing with artists who are at the same stage in their career can give you a good idea of what to charge.
  2. Artists in Your Locale: Local markets can vary greatly. An artist in New York might be able to charge more than an artist in a small town. So, consider the prices of artists in your geographical area.
  3. Artists with Similar Styles: If your art is similar in style to other artists, you might want to consider their pricing models. This can help determine how much people are willing to pay for art like yours.

Remember, while it's useful to know what other artists are charging, your art is unique and should be priced as such. So, when you're figuring out how to price prints for public art commissions, don't undervalue your work. Use comparisons as a guide, not a rule.

Consider Your Target Market

When deciding how to price prints for public art commissions, considering your target market is key. Your target market is the group of people most likely to be interested in your art—it could be art collectors, companies looking for office decor, or individuals shopping for home decoration.

  1. Income Level: If your target market has a high income, they might be willing to pay more for your art. On the other hand, if your target market has a more modest income, you might need to set more accessible prices. It's all about balancing your target market's budget with the value of your work.
  2. Art Knowledge: A market composed of art enthusiasts or collectors could be willing to pay more for a unique piece of art. On the other hand, if your main buyers aren't particularly knowledgeable about art, they might be more price-conscious and less concerned with the finer details of your work.
  3. Location: Where your target market lives can also impact what they're willing to pay. For example, city dwellers might have more disposable income for art purchases than those living in rural areas.

In the end, understanding your target market can guide you in setting a price that's both fair to you and attractive to your potential customers. Always remember—you're not just selling art, you're selling a unique experience and emotional connection that your art brings to your customers.

Adjust Pricing for Different Types of Commissions

Art commissions aren't one-size-fits-all. Different types of commissions will require various amounts of time, effort, and materials. So, how to price print for public art commission in these varied situations? Let's break it down:

  1. Size Matters: The size of the artwork often determines the amount of materials and time needed to complete it. It's common sense that larger pieces will usually cost more than smaller ones. When pricing, make sure to factor in the size of the print.
  2. Complexity Counts: A complex piece with a lot of details will take more time and skill to create than a simpler one. If a commission requires intricate details or advanced techniques, don't hesitate to price it higher.
  3. Special Requests: Sometimes, a client might request specific materials or techniques. These special requests can increase the cost of the commission. Be transparent with your clients about these costs.

Remember, every artwork you create is unique and the price should reflect that. It might take some trial and error, but finding a pricing strategy that accounts for the diversity in commissions will pay off in the end. The goal is to find a balance that respects both your art and your customer's budget.

How to Communicate Your Prices Effectively

Once you've figured out how to price print for public art commission, it's time to communicate that effectively. But how? Here's a three-point plan:

  1. Transparency is Key: Be clear and upfront about your prices. Include all the necessary details in your price list, such as the size of the artwork, the complexity, and any additional costs for special requests. This way, there are no surprises for your clients later on.
  2. Explain Your Pricing: Your clients may not understand why a piece of art is priced the way it is. Take the time to explain the factors you've considered in your pricing. This includes the cost of materials, the time it took to create, your level of expertise, and so on. This can help your clients appreciate the value of your work.
  3. Be Approachable: Pricing conversations can be awkward, but they don't have to be. Be open and approachable when discussing prices. Encourage your clients to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. Listen to your customers and be willing to negotiate within reason. After all, an informed client is a happy client, and a happy client is likely to become a repeat client.

Revise Prices as Needed

Here's a secret: knowing how to price print for public art commission isn't a one-and-done deal. It's something you'll revisit and revise over time. Why? Well, think about it. As you grow and evolve as an artist, shouldn't your prices reflect that?

  1. Track Your Growth: Your price today may not be your price next year. As you gain more experience, develop new techniques, or grow in popularity, your prices should increase to reflect your growth as an artist.
  2. Keep an Eye on the Market: The art world is always changing, and so is its market value. Regularly check what similar artists are charging and adjust your prices accordingly. But remember, don't just blindly follow the herd. Your prices should still reflect your work's value.
  3. Listen to Feedback: If customers are constantly telling you that your prices are too high (or too low), it might be time to revisit them. While you shouldn't let one disgruntled customer dictate your pricing, consistent feedback can provide valuable insights.

Revising your prices doesn't mean you're indecisive or inconsistent. It means you're adaptable and aware of your worth. So, don't be afraid to adjust your prices as needed. After all, you're not just selling art, you're selling a piece of yourself.

If you've enjoyed reading our practical guide on pricing art commissions and want to gain more insights, we highly recommend checking out Olivia Ghalioungui's workshop, 'How to Price Yourself as a Creative.' This workshop will further enhance your understanding of pricing strategies and help you confidently establish a pricing structure for your art commissions.