Volunteering makes you happy.

It’s a couple of minutes before the curtain rises. Last check: “Where’s Macbeth?” – “He’s here” comes a whisper in the dark. “Lady MacBeth? Shakespeare? Do you have your props? Do you have the dagger?”

The kids are nervously excited, so am I…. An hour and a half later, or maybe two hours, I can’t even tell, the audience is applauding and as the kids come off stage I high-five every one of them. Once they’ve all cleared out, I put away some of the props of the last scene, close the script folder and turn off my reading lights. I feel excited, adrenaline still rushing through my body, I’m proud of the kids, who just put away another Shakespeare play and ecstatic to have been able to be part of elementary school age kids having fun while learning Shakespeare. Something they’ll be grateful for, when their high school teacher or college literature lecturer introduces a Shakespeare play and every other kid in the room lets out a heavy sigh…

volunteering at a school Shakespeare play

I peek around the corner to see parents hugging their children and congratulating the teachers who helped put this together and the amazing teacher who writes a new Shakespeare based play every year.

Still high on the excitement I walk outside. It’ll take me a long time to go to sleep that evening from excitement and pure, undiluted happiness.

Why I started volunteering.

Why would I possibly volunteer to design and build a 25 by 8 Foot theater set and take on the role of stage director, without experience? Why are there a whole bunch of parents who help with rehearsals, putting together a dinner theater and decorating the school in Shakespeare theme weeks before the plays? Why do some parents volunteer so often and others never?

About a year before, one of the teachers involved with the Shakespeare Club asked me to create the set for the play and to take over as stage director. Creating the set is up my alley as an artist, but I was nervous about stage directing. I’d never done anything like it before.

Like many other people, I used to feel like I was too busy to volunteer and that it’s for busy-bodies who don’t have enough to do.

I started volunteering, because the school did me a solid and I felt I had to return the favor. I volunteered as a classroom parent, then got involved in the PTCO (called PTO in some schools) redesigning their website and assisting with the book fair and later Shakespeare Club. I then also stepped up to be active in my son’s cub scout pack as a scout leader and outside the school by doing graphic design work for a charity for homeless youth. Thanks to that, I gained appreciation for their difficult situation and the hard work of the charity. That was an incredible experience.

If I don’t get paid, what do I get out of it?

According to Google (so it must be true), a volunteer is a person who offers a service willingly and without pay. That sounds altruistic.

Yet, like most volunteers, I’m not truly altruistic. So, what do I get out of it? Well, nothing financially, but being active for the school does get you some recognition by the teachers and school staff, which is nice. But the real benefit is the wonderful feeling you get, when you see the results of your work for a cause you genuinely care for. It creates happiness.

I’d love to, but I don’t have time

You could argue that as a self-employed artist and stay-at-home dad I have more time to give than others, but that’s not exactly true. My get-stuff-done time are the 6 hours while the kids are at school, which is short for a work day. On the other hand, I don’t have a boss to ask for time off to volunteer.

Not all volunteering requires a lot of work or time. Often, it’s just one task, temporary or can be done at home or work. It could be as simple as making some photocopies. Many times it’s a team effort, so you can take on a job that fits your schedule.

Helpers High – As good as chocolate

The happiness and excitement I felt after the Shakespeare show is known by scientists as “Helpers High”.

According to Tracy P. Alloway Ph.D., who’s a psychology professor at the University of Florida, “giving of your time or volunteering can release the same feel-good sensation as eating chocolate or a candy bar. Brain scans show a surge of dopamine (the chemical in the brain that makes you feel good) when we give our volunteer time”

In addition, other studies have found that the chemical oxytocin, that reduces stress, is released by your brain when you volunteer. There are even studies that show people live longer when they volunteer regularly.

Say yes!

So, next time someone asks you to volunteer for anything you care about, remember that volunteering makes you feel happy. Just ask if they have a task that fits your schedule. Once you experience not only the satisfying result of your volunteering, but also how much the people in the organization appreciate your effort, you’ll realize how much happier you feel and you can also experience Helpers High!

Painting hair on a baby doll

American Girl baby doll painting

I get unusual requests sometimes for airbrush work. I received an email with the question if I could paint hair back on a baby doll. It turns out that this was an American Girl baby doll, the kind that doesn’t have real hair, but hair painted on. Somehow it got scratched or white paint streaks on it, unclear, but easily airbrushable and it actually looks like those dolls’ hair gets airbrushed on by American Girl Doll anyway.

 

The price

This is one of those cases where I have no idea how much to charge, because it’s a small, unusual job. As a father of a girl, I know how much a doll or a stuffed animal can mean, so I’m more than happy to do it. When something like that happens I just let the customer offer what she’s willing to pay.

Airbrush Rogaine treatment

So, I met with mom, got the doll, took it to my studio. Masked off what needed to be protected from paint, put a little paper towel barber’s cape on her and went to work.

Before painting the baby doll hair After painting the baby doll hair

After care

After I was done, I was about to shut off my compressor and walk out, but looked over and there’s the doll, looking at me. I know that this is this little girl’s favorite doll and that she’s trusting me with it, even though she has to spend tonight without sleeping with her doll. I couldn’t leave it in my messy, paint stained studio, that gets f-ing cold at night.

So, I picked her up and placed her among other toys on the shelf in my daughter’s room. Tomorrow she will get a matte clear coat, so the masking tape needs to stay on overnight. Then she can go back to her little girl mommy.

The reward

There’s no better reward in life than making a little girl happy.

 

On being a stay-at home dad.

Quitting my job meant that I would become the primary caretaker of our kids. In our case, that meant being a stay-at-home dad.

Not missing anything anymore.

I was excited. When I was working a full-time job, I somehow always seemed to be traveling when there was a dance recital, school play or another milestone of my kids that I would never get to experience again. Now I wasn’t going to miss a thing any longer. It’s true, I’m part of it all now and more; volunteering for the PTCO (or PTO), helping design the set of the annual school Shakespeare play, being cub master of my son’s cub scout pack. I’m grateful for it all, even on the days I wonder why the hell I signed up for it…

Not the only stay-at home dad.

At the time, I was glad to find some other stay-at home dad’s picking up their young kids from school. When I grew up there only ever was a dad picking up if he was off work. We’d chat after school while the kids played. You realize they all have a story. The ones I met were all professionals with a college degree, who had agreed with their wife that they were going to be at home for the kids, instead of their wife. I know a former lawyer, a former management consultant, a librarian and a few others, of whom I don’t know what they did in their former career.

Most of these guys keep themselves occupied between 8 and 3 like me, with another home based occupation. They also tend to use their expertise from their former career in a voluntary position for the school or the PTO (or PTCO in our case), cub scouts and other clubs.

The stigma of the stay-at-home dad.

However, I do still notice a stigma with being the male home maker, as opposed to female. It’s when you’re at a social gathering and inevitably someone asks that question: “what do you do?”. It’s such a loaded question. It really means “Where do you stand on the social ladder compared to me?”, even if you use it as an ice breaker or to break the silence. I noticed that when you say you’re a home maker or stay-at-home dad, it’s an instant conversation killer. Many men don’t know how to respond to it. They’re used to talking a little shop and they suddenly can’t. Women tend to react much more positively, because they have a much better idea of what you do, or I think they appreciate that you clearly agree that women should be empowered to have a career, regardless of having kids.

Now of course I tell those who ask that dreaded question that I’m an artist, which never kills the conversation and is fun to see the reaction which ranges from disdain (oh, the starving artist), to interest or even envy (he doesn’t have to deal with the crap I deal with at the office).

The ultimate project manager.

For those that think being a stay-at-home dad is a matter of hanging around, watching Netflix, playing X-Box or that it makes you a deadbeat, think again. The more you are at home, the more you realize that your house needs cleaning, decluttering and maintenance. In addition, you need some serious organizational and project management skills to ensure that there is food in the house, there are school snacks available, to keep on top of special events at school (almost every week something), there are no conflicts with soccer, dance, guitar class, flag football, scouting. Birthday party invitations and presents, making sure homework is done…including reading, bike tires are inflated. Add to that, dentist appointments, doctors’ appointments, orthodontist, car maintenance etc. It’s no surprise that Google Calendar is my best friend.

The Reward.

There’s a huge pay-off. I get to see my kids more, be part of their lives, bond with them and know what’s going on in their lives and at school. I can contribute and be part of the community, which is material for a whole other blog posting. I got to know the wonderful teachers at school and made friends with other volunteers, neighbors, moms and dads. And when I’m not doing that, I get paid to create art!

10 rules I live by for an efficient and happier daily routine

10 efficient rules to live your daily life by…

I’m an organized person. I like to plan, get things done and I don’t like being late. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I have rules for an efficient working day.

I try to have a daily routine and even though there’s almost always something that throws it off, I like having a plan, so I try to follow these 10 rules.

10 rules for an efficient work day

  1. Make a physical list the evening before. I use a small notepad, where I jot down thoughts of what I need to do tomorrow in a list. I don’t do it digitally, because I’ve found digital lists are too easy to ignore. My list sits next to the coffee machine, where I see it often throughout the day.
  2. Start the day reading something meaningful. I think it’s important to put yourself in a good frame of mind for the day. Don’t start with work, email or the news. They all trigger feelings of stress. I’m not a religious person, so my morning reading tends to be about mindfulness, compassion and other life lessons. Another person might read the Bible, Koran or whatever. The point is to start the day with a sense of being grateful for your life and the people in your life and thereby realizing that not everyone is so lucky and that any day can potentially be your last. Don’t waste your time being angry, unhappy or mean to others.
  3. Eat a good breakfast. Not cereal or a quick bite in the car. Your brain and your body needs fat to be full, content and happy. I cook breakfast for my family every day, so we can all last until lunchtime without being hungry or needing a snack. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you have a boiled egg in the fridge you can eat. Avoid sugars and carbs. They make you lethargic, tired, hungry and fat.
  4. Delay reading your first emails of the day, because once you start, you know you’ll be putting out fires for a while. Many problems solve themselves and most can wait, really, they can. So, if you have something that must be done today, do it before looking at emails.
  5. Dumb down your smart phone. I turn my smart phone off around 8 or 9pm and usually don’t switch it on until about 9am. That allows me to spend the evening with my family without distraction, sleep without disturbance and focus on my morning routines. I also removed all my social media and games from the phone, except Instagram (I use it to post pictures of my artwork, but I rarely spend much time visiting it). Instead I have my books on the Kindle app, so when I’m in a situation where I’m waiting somewhere, I spend time reading. This was an excellent tip from The Minimalists. I read more and waste much less time on Facebook. It’s also much better for my data usage.
  6. Have lunch at a set time. I don’t eat a huge lunch, because I have a good breakfast, so I don’t spend much time on it, but I try to have lunch at pretty much the same time every day.
  7. Stop working when you get home. This one is hard for me, because my art studio is at my house, so it’s easy to slip in there. But really it is much better to set work to the side and give my wife and kids the full attention they deserve. Again, this one is very hard for me. My brain wants to keep going. However, when I adhere to this rule I’m always happy afterwards that I did.
  8. Read before sleeping. Nothing can keep you up more than to work late or to stare at a screen late at night. Nothing helps you sleep better than reading a book in bed. If you must have something keep you awake, let the book hit you in the face as you fall asleep.
  9. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Even your TV! Luckily my wife wholeheartedly agrees with me and believe me, once you start doing this your partner will too, because as far as I’m concerned, the bedroom is for 2 activities only and both are more enjoyable than TV or Facebook. I notice the difference, even if I’m just charging my phone in the bedroom. Only the Kindle is allowed.
  10. Use a shared calendar with your family. We use a shared Google calendar. We can all add to it and see what we’ve going on. That way there are less surprises, better planning and less chance at double booked appointments. It really reduced stress in our household.

Art Pricing III – Custom art on objects

Art Pricing for commissioned work on objects

The first time I had my hockey goalie mask painted, I wasn’t working as an artist yet. I had bought a brand-new mask. I remember that my budget for the paint job was (arbitrarily chosen, I admit), no more than what I had spent on the mask. After all, in my mind it was just decoration, whereas the function of the mask, to protect my noggin, was worth much more. The idea that the paint job was skilled art work that takes much more time than to create a mass-produced goalie mask and therefore should cost more, never crossed my mind. I looked at the art pricing from the consumer’s perspective, not the artist’s.

A goalie mask will set you back on average around $500. OK, there are more expensive ones and cheaper ones. To paint a goalie mask typically takes me around 2 weeks, including preparation for painting and clear coating. Of course, I don’t work on it a solid 8 hours a day – I’m also a stay-at-home dad and I usually work on more than one project at a time.The artist airbrushing a goalie mask.

If I was to divide the price my customers pay for a goalie mask paint job by the hours I spend on it, it comes to a little over minimum wage. I avoid doing that. It’s depressing. If I priced the paint jobs properly by the hour at what I think it should cost, the cost to paint a goalie mask would be prohibitive for most goalies.

The Art Pricing Value Gap

I call that the art pricing value gap. The difference between what the value of a piece of art should be or is even perceived and what the customer is willing to pay for it.

I think most of my customers would agree after I paint something for them, that the value of the paint job is far higher than what they paid. However, budget constraints simply won’t let them pay that. That’s OK and understandable. We all know this struggle.

So once again, my father’s wise words, that you price an item to what the fool is willing to pay hold up. However, in this case it really backfires.

The value of doing what you enjoy

Why do it then? Well, I could spend my time in an office, making much more than I do, performing a job I don’t want to do, 8 hours a day? Not in corporate America, where you’re required to show your commitment to the company by working many more hours than the regular work week.

Or, I could make a lot less, but do what I want, be my own boss and enjoy what I do and spend more time with my family, which all makes me happy! That’s a choice I made.

Not all jobs are like the goalie masks though. I find that the higher the value of the object you paint, the more people are willing to pay. My motorcycle customers are willing to pay more than my goalie mask people.

Of course, there are occasionally exceptions, but I think many of my colleagues in the custom art world will agree that they prefer not to divide what they get paid by the number of hours they put into a project.

Lastly, my airbrush teacher had looked at it in a positive light: “Every dollar of profit you make, is more than you had in your pocket yesterday”. I’m not so sure that that holds up when you look at your total business accounting, but it puts things nicely in perspective. Enjoy what you do and be grateful for that.

Amsterdam museum visit

When I go home to The Netherlands it’s typically to spend time with my mother and my brother. Often there isn’t much time for other things. I’m not from anywhere near Amsterdam, so I rarely get to visit there as a tourist.

On my last trip, I decided after I landed at the airport near Amsterdam that the best time to do that was there and then. So, I told my family I’d get there a few hours later and headed to the Museum Square.

Here you find the Stedelijk Museum for modern art, the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum, which boasts an impressive collection of the Old Dutch masters.

Banksy at the Moco Museum

As I walked over, I noticed another small museum called the Moco museum, which advertised a Banksy and a Dali exhibit.

Having never seen any Banksy’s for real, I decided to check that out first. It had just opened, so I was the first one inside.

I will share some of my favorite Banksy pieces here. The Dali exhibit contained different stuff than the usual items you know of him. It didn’t strike a chord with me. I’m sure for the Dali connoisseur it would have been great though.

Rijksmuseum

After Banksy I headed to the Rijksmuseum for some of my favorite paintings of the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer and contemporaries. It’s hard to grasp the incredible collection of art in that single building. Here are a few of my faves.

Who are your favorite artists to find in museums? And which museums are your favorites?

Airbrush equipment I use.

What airbrush equipment do you use?

One of the most common questions of fellow airbrush artists and those wanting to get into airbrushing is what airbrush equipment I use. In a way interesting, because I spend very little time thinking about my tools of the trade. They need to be of good enough quality to do the job, but once I have that, I don’t spend much time looking at the newest or latest & greatest equipment. Also, any new airbrush is an expense I should justify to myself and my company, so I don’t really bother until something breaks.

Airbrushes

Let’s start with the airbrush I use. My work horse is the Iwata Eclipse CS. This is a fairly simple airbrush, easy to clean, use and not too many parts, so it can be maintained well. I also have an Iwata Custom Micron, which is a much higher end airbrush with a much smaller nozzle (thinner lines), but I find it requires a lot of maintenance, with a lot of tiny parts and as a result I don’t tend to use it. Speaking of tiny parts: buy spare parts and keep them ready at all times. When you drop a part, you may either not find it, or it’s damaged.

The airbrush - the main piece of airbrush equipment
The Iwata Eclipse

I have a Paasche airbrush that I just can’t get used to, so I also never use that one.

I like gravity fed airbrushes (with the little cup on top), because I never have problems with getting paint out of a bottle and I can reduce the paint on the fly, so I can work with thinner paint and lower air pressure for detail work, or unreduced paint at high pressure for larger areas that need good cover. I also mix paints in the little cup sometimes for fine art work.

However, I can see that if you work in an environment where you need to change colors often and fast (like a t-shirt shop), having several siphon fed airbrushes on the go would work better.

When I’m not using it, my airbrush sits in a glass of a mix of water and brush cleaner or Windex. That way it doesn’t dry out and I don’t have to clean it as often.

Compressor

My compressor is a Harbor Freight 21 gallon, 125 PSI. It is not oil free. For any paint spraying it’s advisable to use a larger tank compressor, because you keep the air pressure on much longer than for instance when using a nail gun, so you deplete the tank relatively fast. With a small compressor it ends up running all the time to keep up. My experience is that they then burn out.

airbrush compressor
Harbor Freight 125PSI, 2.5HP, 21 Gallon compressor

This sucker is large, so it lives in my garage and I have a hose running from it to my studio. That way I don’t have to listen to it when it kicks in, because most compressors are loud (except the really expensive ones they sell for airbrushing). In the past I used a Porter-Cable 6 gallon pancake compressor, which held out for a really long time too.

Paint

I use 3 main brands of paint. All of them are acrylic, water based. They are Createx Auto Air and Wicked airbrush paints and Golden Liquids. I reduce them usually with a few drops of Createx airbrush reducer.

For work on objects I tend to use mostly the Createx products and the Golden Liquid I use more for fine art projects. However, the Golden color range spans the full artist color spectrum and the paint quality is high, so sometimes I also use them for airbrushing on objects.

For switching colors and quick airbrush cleaning I use Windex. You can dilute that if you want to make the bottle last longer. If I have a big hardened paint clog in the airbrush, I use acetone to get rid of it.

I learned to airbrush with House of Kolor automotive paint. A great paint to spray, but I couldn’t stand working with solvents. I also found that for organic and earth colors, they don’t have the color range (say if you wanted to paint an animal or a landscape). It’s designed for automotive use, not really for fine art, so if you’re looking for different umbers, ochre and a Van Dyke brown it’s not your paint.

various pieces of airbrush equipment
Paints, reducer, cleaner, masking tape, brushes, masks, respirator, lazy susan

The other airbrush equipment I use

Every airbrush artist works differently. Some freehand everything, others meticulously create overlapping stencils. If you want to see different ways to do things, I recommend reading Airbrush Action magazine and Youtube.

I tend to work with the airbrush the way I paint. I’m not a huge fan of stencil work, prefer freehand painting and like to detail out with traditional small brushes. I use masks to create hard line when I need them and even with those I basically only use the ones you see in this picture. I don’t buy them, but cut those out using a Silhouette cutter you can purchase at Michaels.

The masking tape you see is a low tack 3M 2080 masking tape from Home Depot. I also sometimes use yellow automotive masking tape, but this is what I use to mask over a painted area, to avoid ripping the paint off. Sometimes I spray a matte Krylon layer as an intra coat clear over the painted area, before applying masking tape.

I’ve trained myself to use a respirator all the time. You get used to it and after a while forget you’re wearing it. You don’t want paint or Windex to enter your lungs.

The last thing is the Ikea Lazy Susan you see under it. For $10 the SNUDDA makes your life so much easier, so you can paint any smaller object from all sides without having to move it.

Airbrush equipment in my studio
My art studio – please excuse the mess

As you can see from this picture of my studio, there’s a lot more crap in here that I haven’t discussed, but if you distill it down to the core. The stuff above is what I really use all the time.

Do you airbrush? What is your go-to equipment?

Art Pricing II – Art Business Decisions

Know your expenses

If your art is your business, you need to have a good overview of your expenses. By knowing that, you can know how much you need to make to breakeven and to make a profit.

In part 1 of this series I talked about a base price. That base price is not chosen randomly. Based on your expenses you need to figure out how much you need to make to cover those expenses and then some more for profit.

For me, expenses include paying for my domain name, webhosting, email service to use that domain name, art materials, marketing materials like business cards and event materials (canopy, banners etc), tools, insurance, admin etc.

Knowing what that is, you can figure out, if I make $X on a painting, how many should I sell in a year to cover my expenses. More strategically: How many do I need to sell to not just make breakeven, but to make whatever profit I want to make?

Creating income

You could gamble on selling one original painting for $50,000 if that’s your yearly goal, but more realistically you figure out how many pieces you can realistically paint in a year. How many you expect to sell within a year. How much should you then get for your paintings? That will get you closer to that base price. Over that you need to add any cost of materials, packaging and maybe commission. How does the price look now? Would your customer pay that or do you need to adjust? In that case, do you need to increase yearly production to be able produce and sell more? How can you do that without giving up quality? Do you need to add other revenue streams? If so how and what?

These are all important business decisions. It’s an ongoing process called running your business. There is never a single, final answer.

Choosing creative freedom over business

This may not be how you envisaged being an artist. Maybe you’re more idealistic, maybe you just want to create your art, regardless of cost, profit and demand. That’s OK, but then you need to be prepared to supplement your art career with other income streams (a different full-time job). There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s how a lot of the most progressive artwork is produced, sometimes with dramatic success, far beyond those of us who try to immediately run art as a business.

I’ve read a few times that if you do that, ‘art is just your hobby’, I disagree, you can be a professional artist and still supplement your income with other jobs. I think most artists do one way or another.

This is the great thing about art, the freedom to be an artist however you want. In fact, the way many folks in the corporate world often look with jealousy at my freedom as a commercially minded artist, I feel a pang of jealousy when I meet the artist who truly creates what he or she wants, without the constraint of commerce, especially when they are as successful as I dream to be….

In part III of this series I will talk about how I price my commissioned airbrush and custom paint jobs…

 

Pricing Art I – Paintings

Pricing your paintings

What is a good strategy for pricing my paintings? The question of all questions for artists. I’ll start with one of the wisest lessons my dad taught me when I started working with him:

“In marketing, pricing is not based on the manufacturing cost of an item, but it’s driven by whatever the fool is willing to pay for it…”

 I can prove this with wo words: Fidget Spinner. ‘Nuf said.

The Banksy factor

On my last trip home to Holland I visited a Banksy exhibit at the Moco museum opposite the Rijksmuseum on the Museum Square.

Some Banksy pieces have sold for over $1M, yet my guess is that in terms of time to create the painting, making the stencils and doing some research may have taken him a day or so and actually spraying the painting (much) less than 1 hour. Material cost is minimal. Maybe I underestimate or overestimate, only Banksy knows. Point is that there are plenty of paintings by well-known artists, that took months to complete, but fetch less or the same price at Sotheby’s than a stenciled and sprayed piece that could be finished in time before the cops catch you putting it up on a wall. Time and materials are not necessarily a guideline for the value of a painting.

The pricing of a Banksy is not representative for most artists.

Who do you sell to?

When you start out as an artist, many seasoned artists will tell you not to underprice your work. They want to make sure that the value of art is not spoiled by low cost pieces, but I’ve always wondered if that is such important advice. Who buys a piece of art, because it’s cheap or on price alone? When you’re at a point that you’re selling originals to collectors, I’m pretty sure your prices will reflect that. Most of us are not.

The question is, who do you sell to? Art collectors are known to value certain pieces higher and spend more, but how do you get their attention? If you sell to the general public like many of us artists, most customers have a much tighter budget. They are often more inclined to pay smaller amounts for a nice art print. In that respect, you also compete with the commercial stuff you can buy at home stores. For someone who’s just looking for something pretty to put on the wall in the kitchen, a painting of several thousand dollars just isn’t in the budget.

Commissions and other cost

Another issue is the cost of exhibiting your work. An online gallery like Saatchiart.com may take a 35% commission and require you to pay for packaging for shipping. A lot of brick & mortar galleries will take 50-60% commission. Even in the cooperative gallery I hang my stuff I pay a monthly amount of $65 and 20% admin cost for each sale. You don’t want to be yoyo-ing with your prices. To your customers it looks like you make it up as you go along, but it could also severely piss off the dude who paid 50% more, because he bought your piece in a gallery vs straight from the trunk of your car. So for your original pieces you need to consider the amount you are willing to take for it (base price) and then add the possible commission and any other cost to it (50%). That may take you past the amount you think ‘the fool’ – my dad talked about – will pay for it, so you may need to adjust that down or perhaps the higher price is the correct value and you were actually pricing your work too low…

Establishing base pricing

For the base price, I do have a ‘system’. I figured out what I would be willing to take for one of my paintings. This shouldn’t be some gut feeling amount, but a careful consideration what you need to make to give your business enough cash flow to flourish (your nut). I then take the surface dimensions of that painting (length x width). I divided that base price by the square inch surface of the painting. Now I have a per square inch base price. Every subsequent painting I make I work out a base price based on its size. I do price differently for oil paintings vs. acrylics, because I’ve noticed that many galleries price acrylic paintings lower than oil paintings. My price per square inch is higher for oil paintings than acrylics.

So now that I know my base price and I figure out any additional cost and commission I think I have a pretty good method to price my work by. Now let’s hope someone finds it who loves it enough to pay the full price for it…

One important note to make: I don’t consider art buyers fools, and neither did my dad. The person who buys art is paying a carefully calculated price for a handmade piece of art that they can enjoy lifelong and by generations to come.