Pricing art to sell can be somewhat subjective in nature. A piece of art’s value depends on a number of factors, one of the most important being the buyer’s personal taste. Another factor is the artist’s own estimation of what the work is worth. Van Gogh, for example, struggled to make a living as an artist in his own time and felt no one truly appreciated his work. Today, art lovers find his masterpieces hanging in galleries all over the world and, whenever sold, his artwork generally fetches millions. Whether you’re selling your own work or the work of another, there are specific steps you should consider adopting when pricing a work of art.
Check the art market. If you’re selling your own work, look at the local gallery prices of other art in your style. You also need to consider that a more-established artist is able to price his work higher because he has a reputation and body of work that lends him more credibility with potential buyers. If you know who the artist is, you can better gauge how much the work you have might sell for by looking at what the artist's other works have sold for in the past.
Ask questions where artwork is sold. Get a sense of what is currently in demand by buyers. Like so many other things, art market sales ebb and flow, largely depending on what’s popular at any given time. An artist or a style that might have been trendy five years ago might, by now, have entirely disappeared from the art world.
Ask an expert to evaluate the work you are seeking to put a price tag on. You don’t have to contact Sothebys unless you have a Tiffany lamp or a painting by Monet. You can simply check with local appraisers in your immediate area, but remember that they may charge you a fee for the appraisal. If you think the appraiser isn’t giving you a fair estimation of the work's value, get a second opinion. The primary job of an appraiser is to price the art, not to buy it, but some do both. This can create a conflict of interest, so be cautious if she offers to buy work. Or, if the Antiques Roadshow happens to be in town, you could run by and ask them.
Never sell a work of art you believe is valuable based on an offer from a gallery, a local merchant or an appraiser who offers to “take it off your hands.” If an appraiser does this, don’t always trust that he is giving you a fair price.