Pricing Your Oil Paintings: Stay Out of the Bargain Basement

How do you decide what your oil paintings are worth?  How do you price your precious one-of-a-kind original works of art?  Every artist throughout history has struggled with these questions.  And they are difficult questions to answer.

Over the last fifteen years, I have sold my oil paintings for very high prices and I have also settled for very low prices.  But here is the main thing I have learned:

Stay out of the bargain basement. 

Never settle out of desperation for low prices for your paintings in a bargain basement.  You do not want cheap customers or collectors.  Cheap customers or collectors are the most disloyal customers.  They follow price and will abandon your product for the lowest price competitor.  They don’t care about quality or customer service, price is all they see. 

Cheap customers or collectors also give you the most trouble.  They complain the most.  They are more dissatisfied and have a higher return rate.  They will want you to correct or redo things over and over for free and are never satisfied. 

There are myriads of bargain basement selling websites on the internet.  I see artists all the time selling their work for $100 or $200.  This is a very bad strategy.  They are associating their name and their work with the idea that they are cheap. 

The art fairs are another place that I don’t recommend.  Art fairs are low-end art sellers who sell to the general population.  The person who buys your work at an art fair is not a serious art collector.  You are not helping your career selling at an art fair.

Stay with the mainstream gallery system.

Always stay close to the mainstream gallery system and price your work very high.  You will attract a better category of collector who can afford your work and will be very loyal in following your career as it progresses to even higher prices.

The gallery director will be your best advisor for helping you to set your prices. 

Final thoughts…..

My best advice is to stay away from the cheap websites where there are an overabundance of desperate sellers who are practically giving their work away. 

Associate your work and your name with a mainstream gallery and work with the gallery director to set your prices as high as possible.


About Gary Bolyer Fine Art

I am a New York City-based landscape artist.
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6 Responses to Pricing Your Oil Paintings: Stay Out of the Bargain Basement

  1. Thank you for an excellent article.

  2. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Sell Your Art on Auction Websites | Gary Bolyer Fine Art

  3. Pingback: Gary Bolyer’s Top 5 Kick-Ass Money-Making Art Blogs of All Time | Gary Bolyer Fine Art

  4. Lori says:

    So would it be safe to say……as I’m not in any galleries yet…….that an 800% mark up would be reasonable? I had an oil painting instructor give us this advise…and I thought, at that time, that she was crazy… I’m coming to the realization that she may not have been that far off. What do you think?

    • Putting a price on your paintings can be a tough call. It depends on where you are in your career and a lot of other factors. Are you represented by a gallery? $500 to $1000 would be a safe bet if you are just starting out.

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