Practical Tips for Pricing Art Commissions
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


As an artist, one of the most daunting tasks might be figuring out how to price drawing for public art commission. You've honed your craft, poured your heart into each piece, and now it's time to put a price tag on it. It's a tricky balance between valuing your time and talent, and what the market is willing to pay. In this blog, we'll guide you through the practical steps involved in pricing your art commissions, making the process a bit less overwhelming and a lot more straightforward.

Evaluate your artistic skill and experience

Before you can even begin to think about pricing, it's important to take a step back and really evaluate your artistic skill and experience. This isn't about being overly critical or modest—it's about being realistic and fair to both yourself and your potential clients. Here's how to go about it:

  • Assess your skill level: Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced artist? Remember, this is not a judgment on your talent, but rather a reflection of your experience and technical ability. An advanced artist, for instance, would have a deep understanding of concepts like perspective, color theory, and composition, and would be comfortable working in various mediums and styles.
  • Consider your experience: How long have you been creating art, and more specifically, how long have you been doing commission work? If you're new to commissions, you might want to start with lower prices until you build a reputation and a client base. On the other hand, if you've been doing this for years, it's time to acknowledge your experience and charge accordingly.
  • Analyze your portfolio: Look at your previous artworks and see how they compare with other artists who do similar work. This can give you a ballpark figure of where your prices should be. If your work is consistently high-quality and you've got a distinct style that sets you apart, you can command higher prices.

Once you've evaluated your artistic skill and experience, you'll have a better idea of where to start when figuring out how to price drawing for public art commission. The key is to be fair and realistic—price your work in a way that reflects your skill and experience, but also aligns with what clients are willing to pay.

Consider the cost of materials

When pricing your artwork, it's not just about the time and talent you invest. The physical materials you use also play a significant role in how to price drawing for public art commission. Whether it's premium paints, high-quality canvas, or specialized drawing tools, it's essential to account for these costs.

Here's what you should do:

  • Track your expenses: Keep a record of the art supplies you buy and how much they cost. This includes everything from the canvas, paints, and brushes to less obvious items like the varnish or even the electricity you use while working.
  • Calculate per project costs: Figure out how much of these materials go into a single piece of artwork. If you used half a tube of paint for a drawing, include the cost of half a tube in your price. Remember, even though you might not use all the materials for one project, they still contribute to your overall expenses.
  • Don't forget about hidden costs: There are often costs associated with creating art that we tend to overlook. These might include the upkeep of your workspace, marketing your art, or even shipping costs if you're sending the artwork to the client. Add these into your total cost of materials.

By considering these costs, you ensure that you're not underselling your work or making a loss. It's a simple step, but one that can make a significant difference in how you price your art commissions. Always remember, your art is not just a product of your time and talent, but also a culmination of the materials you use to bring it to life.

Estimate the time investment

Next up on the path of understanding how to price drawing for public art commission is gauging the time you spend creating. From drafting initial sketches to applying the final touches, every minute counts. So, how do you factor this into your pricing?

  • Determine an hourly rate: Think about how much you would like to earn per hour. This should be a fair wage that respects your skill level and experience. Remember, you're not just an artist; you're also a business person.
  • Time yourself: Starting with a blank canvas to the finished product—time how long it takes you to complete a piece. This might mean keeping a stopwatch handy or noting down start and end times. Do this for a few pieces to get an average.
  • Do the Math: Multiply your chosen hourly rate by the time you spend on each piece. This gives you the labor cost for your artwork.

Estimating time investment is not just about the hours you spend in front of the canvas. Consider also the time you spend on client consultations, making revisions, and even marketing your work. Your time is valuable, and it's important that your pricing reflects that.

Remember, pricing art is not an exact science. It's more like a recipe, and time is a key ingredient. By accurately estimating your time investment, you're one step closer to finding the right price for your art commissions.

Set a fair market value

When it comes to learning how to price drawing for public art commission, it's essential to consider market value. Setting a fair market value means understanding what price the market is willing to pay for your work. It's a balance between your costs and what your customers are comfortable paying. So, how do you go about setting a fair market value for your art?

  • Research: Look at what similar artists in your field are charging for their work. Keep in mind their experience, style, and medium, and how these all factor into their pricing. This will give you a ballpark figure.
  • Consider your target audience: Think about who your buyers are. Are you selling to affluent art collectors or to people who love art but have a smaller budget? Understanding your target audience's spending habits can help you price your work appropriately.
  • Self-assessment: Ask yourself, would you buy your artwork at the price you're considering? If the answer is no, it might be time to reassess.

Setting a fair market value is like finding the sweet spot in the middle of a seesaw: it's all about balance. It's also a dynamic process — as your skills develop and demand for your work grows, your prices can, and should, increase. Remember, the goal is to price your art in a way that feels fair to both you and your customers.

Think about the complexity of the project

Another factor you should think about when you're working out how to price drawing for public art commission is the complexity of the project. Not all art projects are created equal, after all. Some require a lot more time, effort, and even mental gymnastics than others.

  • Size matters: A large-scale mural will take a lot more time and resources compared to a small sketch. So naturally, the price should reflect that.
  • Detail oriented: The devil is in the details, as they say. A piece that involves intricate details will require a higher level of concentration and time. This should be factored into the price.
  • Technical Difficulty: Some art requests may require you to step out of your comfort zone and use techniques that are more challenging or time-consuming. Remember, if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you — or your pricing!

Complexity can be a tricky thing to navigate, but it's an important part of pricing your art commission. By considering the size, detail, and technical difficulty of a project, you can make sure that your price reflects the hard work that you put into your art.

Consider the usage of the artwork

When you're figuring out how to price drawing for public art commission, it's also important to consider what the artwork is going to be used for. Public art, after all, is not just about creating something beautiful — it's also about creating something that serves a purpose.

  • Display and exposure: If your artwork is going to be displayed in a high-traffic area, it could lead to more exposure and opportunities for you. This might justify a higher price tag.
  • Commercial use: If the artwork is going to be used for commercial purposes, such as advertisements or product packaging, this should be reflected in the price. You're not just selling a drawing — you're selling a commercial asset.
  • Longevity: If the artwork is intended to be a permanent fixture, it needs to be durable and stand the test of time. This could mean using more expensive materials, which needs to be factored into the price.

Remember, the usage of the artwork isn't just about the here and now. It's also about the potential future benefits and opportunities it could bring. And that's something that should definitely be reflected in your pricing.

Adjust pricing based on demand

As an artist, you're not just selling a product, you're selling a piece of yourself. That's why it's important to price your work in a way that reflects its value. But remember, the value of your art isn't just about the time, effort, and materials that went into it — it's also about the demand for your work.

Think about it this way: if a lot of people want to buy your drawings, it's a sign that your work is highly valued. And if your work is highly valued, it's only fair that you price it accordingly. So, don't be afraid to increase your prices if you notice an increase in demand for your work. This is a common practice in many industries, and the art world is no different.

Here are a few signs that you might need to adjust your prices based on demand:

  • Regularly selling out: If your work is constantly selling out, it's a clear sign that your prices could potentially be higher.
  • Long waiting lists: If you have a waiting list of people wanting to commission you, it's an indicator that your work is in high demand.
  • Lots of positive feedback: If you're receiving a lot of compliments and positive feedback, it shows that people value your work.

Remember, the goal isn't to price your work so high that no one can afford it. It's about finding a balance between what you think your work is worth and what people are willing to pay for it. And that's the art of pricing art commissions.

How to communicate your prices

Once you've figured out how to price your drawings for public art commissions, the next step is to communicate your prices effectively. Communication is key because it not only helps your potential clients understand what they're paying for, but it also helps you avoid misunderstandings that could lead to disputes down the line.

Here are some practical tips for how to communicate your prices:

  • Be transparent: Always be upfront about your prices. Include them in your portfolio, website or wherever you showcase your work. This saves time for both you and your potential clients.
  • Break it down: Don't just give a total cost. Break down the cost into components, such as materials, labor, and any other expenses. This helps clients understand where their money is going and why your art is priced the way it is.
  • Explain your pricing: Tell your clients how you arrived at your prices. For example, explain that your prices reflect your experience, the quality of your materials, and the demand for your work. This can help clients understand that they're not just paying for a product, but for your skills, creativity, and labor.

Remember, it's okay to negotiate, but it's also okay to stand your ground. Your work has value, and you should be compensated fairly for it. So, don't be afraid to explain your prices and stick to them. After all, good communication is the key to good business.

If you're searching for more guidance on pricing your art commissions, we highly recommend the workshop 'How to Price Yourself as a Creative' by Olivia Ghalioungui. This workshop will provide you with practical tips and a deeper understanding of how to price your art commissions effectively and confidently.