Pricing Your Artwork with Confidence (in a nutshell)

Once upon a time, in 1998, I had two small paintings in an exhibition. I was asked to price the pieces low, so that they would sell, and sell they did. But when I received my percentage, it seemed as though I didn’t earn anything at all from this double sale. And so, after 17 years of being an exhibiting artist, I finally did some math to find out what it really cost me to produce any one painting. The unhappy ending? Not only did I not make any profit, but it cost me $500 out of pocket to sell those two paintings.

We have been told to count the hours spent creating the artwork, and to add up the cost of our materials, at most. This issue has flummoxed artists, coast to coast, for as long as I can remember. It should be taught in art school, among other business things.

Math is your friend and knowledge is power.

Start with four basic pieces of information:

  1. Material Costs: Add up all the materials that go into your artwork. Average them out over the year, per piece of artwork created that same year.
  2. Overhead Costs: Other expenses that go into being a working artist such as studio rent, workshops, photography, etc.
  3. Creative Labor: Time spent actually creating your artwork in the studio. Keep a log.
  4. Miscellaneous Labor: Time you spend doing support work such as attending meetings, gallery visits, shopping for supplies. Keep a log. Average it out over the year, per piece of artwork created that year.

One more thing to calculate:

Figure out your minimum hourly living wage, based on your real life expenses, so that you can live to continue to create work. That is only reasonable. Neither luxurious, nor impoverished, but reasonable.

As an example:

It takes you 15 hours to paint “Goldfish Dreams”,  plus 20 hours average support time per painting. This equals 35 hours of your time to create this painting.

If your minimum hourly living wage is $25 per hour, then that is $875 for labor costs alone. If your material and overhead expenses average $200 per painting, then “Goldfish Dreams” cost you $1075. to create. You also need to consider any exhibition commissions, plus taxes on your labor and any profits.

Knowing what it really costs to create your work can be distressing at first, however, knowledge is power.

Everything above can be calculated mathematically.  Then there are the more intangible items to consider:

  • Price ranges in the art market
  • The economy in general
  • Your cumulative experience as an artist
  • Your career level
  • And other things…

Remember to value your skill, vision, and years of experience… And then balance that with the reality of the marketplace. Have work available at different price points, from quick sketches and experimental pieces to your highest-quality exhibiting work. Balance what is important to you personally, and to your longer-term career.

To purchase   Pricing Your Artwork with Confidence (print and ebook with link to Amazon page)


Ice Crystal Painting

PDXOS artist Ruth Armitage is sharing one of her many ideas for creating her wonderful paintings.  Ice Crystal Painting  This is one of the many things that excite me about attending Portland Open Studios and getting to know the artists we meet there on an individual basis.  What a great idea!!

More news

The Portland Open Studios Board spent so much time last weekend discussing where we’ve been and where we want to go in the Portland art scene, and made so many decisions, that it might take us a little time to convey it all to you. What follows are some of the changes we made, but it’s certainly not all. The chart shows the basic fees charged artists from 2010 to the present. As you can see, we haven’t kept up with rising prices at all, but we still want to make the tour affordable to as many artists as possible.

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Participation 250 150 150 150 150 150 150 140
Jury/ Application Starting Fee 30 25 25 25 25 25 25 25
Jury/ Application Final Week Fee 40 35 35 35 35 35 35 35
Opt Out 0 175 175 175 175 175 175 155

We are raising the entry fee and eliminating the opt out fee.  We are also eliminating the required volunteer hours (while still offering it as an option to people who want it).  We did this because we unanimously agreed that most of our artists would volunteer whether or not they were required to do so. 

Just as important, we are offering so much more in benefits this year.  The meetings will be shorter and much more helpful.  For instance, we are bring in an expert on social media and how you can make it work for you.  We are eliminating the need for the artists to sell ads, which we know was a hardship on many.  We are planning much more in artist-involved shows to promote our artists.

 The gallery scene and art world in Portland is changing.  In order to stay relevant we need more funds and a more active community.  When we are stronger as a group we will have a larger impact on what changes occur, such as studio space, group shows, etc.  We need our artists to attend the meetings so they can be better informed, active, and part of the decision making process.

We welcome your comments. 

Exciting changes to Portland Open Studios

Hey artists! Your Portland Open Studio Board has been hard at work this weekend in Manzanita while all of you brave the snow in Portland to bring you a new and improved tour for Open Studios 2017. Here are some of the highlights:
• The Call to Artists opens on January 15, and closes early on March 3 (to give us all more time to plan for the event). The application fee this year is $30 before February 26 and $40 after that date. We’re asking that everyone submit four photos this year, with one photo being an ‘at work’ photo.
• We have eliminated the volunteer hours requirement. Instead, the entry fee will be raised to $250. Each artist will have the opportunity to volunteer 4 hours for a refund of $50. You will notice that this is not as much as you would have paid last year if you opted out of volunteering. Just because we’ve eliminated this requirement, please don’t think that we won’t welcome your offer to volunteer. As most of you know, it’s a lot of fun, and giving of yourself makes you feel much more a part of the PDXOS family.
• The Tour Guide will be produced much earlier, by mid-June, and artists will not be required to sell advertising (though you are welcome to buy an ad, or send a prospective advertiser our way).
• We’re going to raise the number of artist meetings: three general artist meetings and a Community Leader meeting (formerly CAG). General artist meetings are mandatory for us to consider you a Participating Artist. Feedback from the survey also said we need to meet sooner so the first artist meeting will happen right after the artists are announced in April. The second meeting will be in mid-June to deliver the tour guides and provide an educational component for your benefit. The third meeting is in September to have a party to kick off the event and distribute the signs. After a very positive experience last year, our Community Leaders will continue to have their own meeting prior to the first General Artist meeting in April.
We are working hard to incorporate your feedback and strengthen our timeline to support your efforts. Thank you so much for your interest in this premier art event!

Thank You!

tour-guide-cover pdxos-ad



fb-cover banner-with-3The Board would like to thank our artists for submitting “At Work” images with their applications this year. We found some great submissions and used them in our advertising, the Tour Guide cover and new banners for our festival shows. Artists whose images were selected include Annamieka Davidson, Bill Park, John Shlichta, Therese Murdza, Alison O’Donoghue, Beth Yazhari, and Craig Allen Lawver.

MAP Changes and closures

#28 Joanne Radmilovich Kollman
Joanne is no longer at the Troy Laundry building. Please visit her at her new studio at
Oregon Society of Artists
2185 S.W. Park Place
Portland, Oregon 97205

#82 Kitty Wallis – MOBILE APP displays wrong address. Correct address: 12450 SW Knoll Drive, Tigard.

#101 PM Shore
PM Shore has moved since the Tour Guide was printed. Her new address in the Everett Station Lofts is Everett Station Lofts, 625 NW Everett, Unit 106

#40 Thérèse Murdza
Thérèse’s studio

Directions in the printed Tour Guide are sometimes limited or confusing. The best way to navigate is to use any of our mobile apps including the FREE navigation version

Tour Dates: October 8, 9 & 15, 16.

News and an address change from artist Joanne Radmilovich Kollman

kollman2 kollman1From Joanne Radmilovich Kollman, Artist #28.
I am happy to announce I have a new address for Portland Open Studios. I am one of 3 Artists-in-Residence sharing a daylight basement studio at Oregon Society of Artists, 2185 SW Park Pl, Portland, OR 97205.
On First Thursday, October 6, I will be giving a critique from 6 to 7 pm and a demonstration from 7-8 pm. Open to the public.…/demonstrations I am often asked how to determine what subject merits a large painting. My approaches are direct and I use 2 distinctive methods. Join me for the critique, talk and demo October 6th followed by the 2 weekends of the tour. Visit OSA gallery 1-4 for the student teacher show both week ends.

The Board would like to thank our artists for submitting “At Work” images with their applications this year. We found some great submissions and used them in our advertising, the Tour Guide cover and new banners for our festival shows. Artists whose images were selected include Annamieka Davidson, Bill Park, John Shlichta, Therese Murdza, Alison O’Donoghue, Beth Yazhari, and Craig Allen Lawver.tour-guide-cover fb-cover banner-with-3 pdxos-ad

Preview Show 2016

For the past 18 years, on the second and third weekends of October, Portland residents traverse the entire city to visit their choice of 106 artists’ studios. During the self-guided annual tour, artists open their studios to the public for the low ticket price of $15.
But on Sept. 17, you’ll be able to see nearly half those artists’ work, in one place. For one day only, Portland Open Studios is partnering with Basic Space Gallery in the Everett Station Lofts, located at 625 NW Everett Street, #111.
“There hasn’t been a group preview show in several years, so we are excited to bring it back this year,” says Leah Kohlenberg, vice president of Portland Open Studios and co-organizer of the event. “We think we’ve got the best artists in the city on this tour, and now we can showcase them in one room.”
preview-show-ad      Open from noon-8 pm, art collectors can get some amazing deals on art, listen to music, nosh and mingle with Open Studio artists as a preview to the Tour. You can pick up our annual guide at the Gallery and start to plan your tour of the studios you want to visit in the fall.

“Honestly, to visit 106 artists across the city is a huge endeavor” says Kerri Hewett. “Visiting as many studios as possible is a goal for many of our loyal, art-loving patrons, but it is quite the undertaking, even with four days in the tour. It’s fantastic to have the support of Basic Space Gallery to present a preview show this year and Leah has been integral in planning this event with our artists.”

Each year, the artists are selected through a professional juried process to participate in the Open Studio tour. This year, Christopher Roberts, co-owner of Basic Space Gallery with Kenny Saylor, was one of three jurors vetting the artists.

“This is what art is supposed to be about,” says Roberts. “This show will give you the experience of being attracted by a piece of art for the art itself, and what the artist is attempting to convey to you, rather than being guided by a label. The event will allow you to see the many varied ways artists choose to create their art to convey their artistic inspiration, art forms you may have never seen.”
Find out more about Portland Open Studios at To purchase a Tour Guide go to or any one of Portland’s 18 New Seasons stores, or any of these local art stores: Collage; I’ve Been Framed; Muse; Blick; and Artist & Craftsman.

The Guide is admission for two adults, children under 12 are free to attend. Join the self-guided tour and see artists in their studios on October 8- 9, 15- 16, from 10-5pm. The tour offers a unique and inspiring form of experiential education: interacting with local artists in their working spaces.

So, did Portland Open Studios sell out? Ask us on Sunday!