HOW TO: Pricing Your Reproductions

Last year I wrote a short post about how to price one's original artwork. It seems to have helped a few souls, so I have decided to share what little I know about pricing reproduction works. I highly recommend that you read my previous post about reproductions before you try to tackle this article.

Technology has afforded artists a new mechanism for selling their work. No longer do we need to spend months creating a reproduction image of our work. We've gone digital. We are able to scan, photograph, edit and save our images in a file. Artists have never had it so good. Still with this power, comes responsibility. In my previous posts I have addressed how to responsibly reproduce your work: oversee or make the reproduction yourself, be very careful about quality control, sign each image, do reproductions only in limited edition and always put the edition number on your reproduction. In my book, these are non-negotiable aspects to maintaining control of your work, and these are the steps that give your reproductions value. My business model depends on selling quality, limited edition reproductions at a price point that allows me to make a profit, and I am going to share with you my reproduction pricing structure.

Let's assume that you've done all the above, and are now reproducing images of your work in a responsible manner. Great! Now the hard part, pricing. There are tons of ways to approach a pricing structure for your reproductions. I am going to use the 30"x30" portrait work below as my example. The original sold for $1,300.

I create giclée prints, which allows me to print on numerous materials and in various different sizes. I print on canvas and cotton paper. I print my smaller reproductions on paper and most of my larger reproductions are printed on canvas.

The production costs of paper prints are markedly lower than the cost of canvas prints. On average the production cost of a paper print is $20-40; This cost includes time spent signing, numbering & packaging, the cost of packaging supplies & the cost of the making the print. For a 30" x 30" paper print of this portrait, I would spend about 15-20 minutes packaging and about $30 on the print and supplies. It is not possible for me to make a profit if I price a 30" x 30" paper print below $30.00.

My canvas prints are embellished, painted and sealed, and I have to stretch them or hire someone to stretch them for me. For a 30" x 30" canvas reproduction, I will have pay approximately $50 for the canvas print, $50 for the stretching, and about 2-3 hours of my time in embellishing and sealing the canvas. It is not possible for me to make a profit if I price a canvas reproduction below $150.00.

The a paper reproduction may cost me $30 and a 30"x 30" canvas reproduction may cost me $150 to make, but the value of the work goes beyond material cost. What I need to also factor in is the value of the art itself; The desirability of the image is what gives art value. Plus I need to keep in mind gallery commissions: If I am losing 50% to a gallery, but I am responsible for production costs of the reproduction, I need to price works in a manner that allows me to have some profit after a gallery takes 50% of the sale.

Because I sell more paper prints than I do larger canvas reproductions, I have an exact pricing structure for paper prints. Sizes 10" x 10" land around $45-50. Sizes ~15" x 15" land around $65. Sizes ~20" x 20" land around $80. This holds true for all of my paper prints, regardless of the image. The structure works for me in part because I am not constantly explaining small price discrepancies to clients and also because it is easier for me to do labels! $45 may seem like a steep jumping off price, but here is why: if I flooded the market with $10 prints of the image I would easily sell all the edition, 100 prints, at the lowest price point (and I would not make a profit on small prints). This hurts me in two ways: One, I would no longer be able to make larger more expensive prints for my buyers, preventing revenue, and two, I will have undermined the value of the work by allowing that image to be as easily purchased as a fancy Starbucks latte.

Canvas print pricing can get a little more dodgy. A safe structure, if possible, is to have a canvas reproduction, that is the same size of the original, cost about half the price of the original. After I factor in the cost of the original, I also factor in the size of the print: For every additional 10 square inches, I add about $150-200 to the price. So a 30" x 30" canvas print of the portrait above would cost $500, (less than half the price of the original), and a 48" x 48" print would cost $650 ($150 more because of the increase in size). Even if I sold these in a gallery, after losing $250 to the gallery, I would have made a profit of about $50. There are always exceptions to this structure: I sold a 4' x 8' giraffe reproduction without using this pricing scale because the cost would have been astronomically higher than the price of the original work. Another exception: if I sold a small original painting for $300 and someone wants a reproduction twice the size of the original, they may end up paying more for their print than the cost of the original painting! It is best to be up front with your clients; Oftentimes buyers do not care, but it would be unethical to withhold that information.

The decision to sell reproductions requires organization, diligence and good ethics. This is another arm of my business, and I want my buyers to know that they can trust in their investment. I hope that this helps someone else price their reproduction work fairly. Good luck!

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