Your Art Has Value! 6 Points To Consider

Picture this. You see a painting at an art fair. You think, “That was meant for me!” Hoping you can afford it, you approach the artist and ask, How much is this painting? The artist, instead of answering you directly, seems uncomfortable, and starts to tell you about the inspiration of the piece or why it was so interesting to paint. They say anything but the price. You can see they are visibly uncomfortable, and you begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with the piece. You can’t understand what’s going on. And so, in confusion, you leave the painting that was meant for you behind. Can you see how this option doesn’t really work for the customer?! Yet so many of us act this way though. Instead, be confident that your art has value! This belief – believing your art has value – is paramount to being an artist. 

Inspired by a comment recently made by one of my IGNITE! Members about a sale they’d avoided making and then finally did (yay!), I thought it a great opportunity to talk about this subject. The struggle between art and commerce can be a tangled web and leave us feeling unsure and anxious. 

If you’ve ever found yourself hesitating to discuss money for your art or are perhaps afraid to broach the subject of payment with the person who’s commissioned a piece from you, know that you’re not alone. I’ve struggled with this and still do from time to time, especially when I’m caught off guard and I don’t have a price in mind. (Hint: this is a good idea – to know the price of your work!)

Here’s the truth: Your art has value, and you deserve to be compensated for your creativity and effort. 

Let’s unravel the threads and look at how we can readily embrace the joy that comes from receiving payment for our work.

Your art has value! Embarrassed woman
Photo by Ivan Aleksic at Unsplash

1. The Artistic Embarrassment Conundrum

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that discussing money somehow tarnishes the purity of your artistic expression. It’s crucial, however, to recognise that as artists, we invest time, skill, and passion into our work. Our artwork isn’t just about the act of creation; it’s a manifestation of our dedication to what we do. Embrace the fact that your art brings joy, and people are more than willing to pay for that joy. Embrace also the idea that your art has tangible value, and requesting payment is a way of acknowledging the worth of your creative journey.

Your art has value - photo of money
Photo by Pepi Stojanovski at Unsplash

2. The Myth of Imposing on Our Admirers

Have you ever felt a sense of guilt when asking for payment, that you’re somehow imposing on those who appreciate your art? Shift your perspective. Consider this: those who love your work aren’t burdened by your request. Rather, they are enthusiasts who are delighted to support you. 

When someone commissions or purchases your art, they’re investing in the emotional impact it brings to their lives. Recognise that your art adds value to their existence, and they want to invest in that value. 

Photo by Alexander Grey at Unsplash

3. Forgetting the Love Others Have for Your Art

We artists can sometimes underestimate the profound connection people have with our creations. Your art isn’t just a piece of work; it’s a source of joy, inspiration, and meaning for those who appreciate it. Don’t let your doubt cloud the appreciation others have for your talent. By forgetting the love others have for your art, you might unintentionally downplay the impact it has on their lives, and consequently, the value they see in it. Remind yourself that people genuinely want to compensate you for the happiness your painting brings them. 

Two women talking
Photo by Trung Thanh at Unsplash

4. Embracing the Art-Money Dialogue

Money doesn’t diminish the artistic process; it enables it. Acknowledge that discussing payment is a natural and necessary part of the artist-client relationship. Approach this dialogue with confidence, knowing that your work is worth every penny, that your art has value. Don’t shy away from discussing financial aspects; instead, accept it as a way of formalizing the exchange between your artistic talent and those who appreciate and wish to invest in it. Your work is not just an expression of creativity but a service that adds value to others’ lives. 

Your art has worth! Old attic with paintings stacked and dusty
Photo by Peter Herrmann at Unsplash

5. Shattering the Starving Artist Myth: Artistic Virtue and Financial Success Can Coexist

In the artistic realm, a pervasive myth suggests that true artists must suffer for their craft, equating financial success with a betrayal of artistic integrity. This antiquated notion often leads to the belief that if you’re earning money from your art, you’re somehow compromising your virtue as an artist. ACK!

It’s time to shatter this myth and adopt the belief that being a successful artist doesn’t diminish your authenticity; it amplifies it. Acknowledge that earning money from your art is not a sell-out but a testament to your dedication and the genuine value your creations bring to the world.

Let’s challenge the notion that financial success tarnishes the purity of your artistic soul. Realise that selling your art doesn’t make you less of an artist; it allows you to continue creating and sharing your unique vision with a broader audience. After all, a world that values art is more likely to sustain and appreciate the beauty it brings.

Your art has value! Happy young woman
Photo by Brooke Cagle at Unsplash

6. Celebrate Your Artistic Worth

It’s essential to celebrate and internalize your artistic worth. Your creations are a unique offering to the world, and asking for payment is not only your right but a validation of the value you bring to your audience. By recognising and celebrating your artistic worth, you contribute to reshaping the narrative around artists and finances. Remember that being compensated for your art doesn’t diminish its value; rather, it enables you to continue sharing your unique perspective and enriching the lives of those who connect with your work.

Financial success isn’t a departure from your artistic ideals—it’s a celebration of them. Isn’t it time to redefine the narrative around artists and prosperity? Isn’t it time to confidently say your art has value? Repeat after me (many many times!): My art has value! Let that be your mantra going forward!

It’s time to break free from the paradigm that artists should shy away from financial conversations. Remember, you are not just a creator; you’re a contributor to a world that craves the artistic reflection only you can bring. 

So here’s to embracing the business side of art-making and those who admire and support our creative journeys. 

Now it’s your turn! Do you struggle with telling a potential customer the price of your work? Do you avoid any discussions around the value of your artwork? I’d love to hear if this post was helpful! And if you’re someone who had this hesitation but now feels comfortable selling your work, we’d love to know any tips you can share!

Until next time,

~ Gail

PS. Thanks Sue for the inspiration for this post! I hope it’s helpful and next time, you will feel absolutely confident that your art has value and share the price easily!

Related Posts

Subscribe to the HowtoPastel Blog today!

Take a course

Like my Blogs?

Do you like the blog?

Support HowToPastel and help me to keep creating content to instruct, inspire, and motivate you with your pastel painting. Although I’ve been asked, “How much does it cost to subscribe?” HowToPastel will always be free. Your financial support is completely optional but does go a long way in helping with the cost of running this blog. Thank you!


28 thoughts on “Your Art Has Value! 6 Points To Consider”

    1. This blog really hit home. Thanks so much for clarifying and reiterating the fact that our art has value. I feel I can be more up front and confident when quoting price, especially for commissions which I tend to under price. This was extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

      1. Bev, that’s sooooooo good to hear!
        If we can believe it – that our work has value – we can be more confident in stating the price. And not feel squeamish about it. (Believe me, I totally get it!!)

  1. Yes, Gail, and thank you for this blog post. I know I have some serious baggage around money. It is not my biggest reward in making art. I know I need to do the work to straighten this out. I do know my art has value… AND I cringed at the opening of your blog. It is how I feel inside. I do have price stickers on my art in my booth when I sell it. It is hard for me to hear people’s comments on the price I chose when the are looking. I know that I need to talk price before a commission, but it is hard to know what it will end up being, depending upon the flexibility given to me. I think I prefer making without pressure, and collectors can decide if they want to buy it versus commission. But I sure do love cart blanche flexibility in creation with commissions! Amazing things emerge with external ideas shared becoming seeds!

    1. Ohhhh Sue, I’m sorry I made you cringe! But your comment in IGNITE! did have me change my whole post plan for this week! Because it IS a really common problem that I wanted to address! We do ourselves an injustice by not valuing our work. Price stickers help because the price is out in the open and they can approach you knowing that. People will always have their opinions. Some will think your prices are too high, others may think they are too low. And others will think they are just right and take a piece home. Yay! I know that feeling of hearing others talk about your work (and maybe the price) sometimes as if you weren’t there. UGH. Like rejection from a show, you just can’t allow yourself to take it personally.

      Regarding Commissions – they are certainly a two-edged sword! On the one hand, you have a solid customer, money in hand so to speak, and if they give you carte blanche, they are a dream come true! On the other hand, because you have made a commitment, there can be a lot of pressure. I love that you are open to commissions and that you have had creativity blossom! I myself am one of those who prefers to create and hope the painting’s person comes along soon!

      And Sue, I think most of us carry money issues with us!!

  2. When I first started selling my work pricing it was certainly guess-work. Early on I shared an exhibition with three established artists and they priced my work much higher than I expected and some actually sold! Yay!
    Fast-forward 2 or 3 years and I retired and joined an art collective and I knew those higher prices wouldn’t work in our new little country gallery, featuring emerging artists. I had an idea of a suitable price for standard A4 size paintings but what would I do for bigger or smaller ones?
    Then some of the best advice I read was to price paintings by the square inch – brilliant! This provides consistency and as I’ve developed my art practice I’ve been able to increase my price/sq inch slightly. I do vary this for different media but mostly I use soft pastels so pricing is standard. I should add that I frame my paintings myself so don’t have the added expense of professional framing, I’d have to add that to my price if I did.
    Generally people seem happy with my prices but I did have one lovely man who insisted he pay more ☺️

    1. Thanks for sharing your pricing journey Catherine! Pricing is the next step on the journey to actually saying/ believing your work has value. This is a huge topic but I am of the school that likes and uses the square inch formula. The other is pricing by linear inch. I think this requires a whole other post.
      Lucky you having a client who wants to pay MORE!!

  3. Oh Gail this is sooooo helpful! It certainly goes a long way to breaking my personal logjam: people tell me “you should raise your prices” all the while I am thinking No, it is way too expensive, I feel undeserving of financial compensation. (Actually I have so much fun painting, sometimes I think I should pay them ! ) Haha. Anyway thanks for the insight, so well put as usual.
    Nancy Malard

    1. Hah hah Nancy – I know what you mean about the fun we have – the satisfaction we get. We are in our bliss right? And so sometimes we see that as undeserving of financial reward. I’m glad this post was helpful to start moving you past that resistance!

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE!! I have never read anything that was more encouraging and honest about accepting payment for art. I love when my work sells directly from my website and I don’t have to talk about the price. I love when my work sells through galleries or shows and I don’t have to talk price. It does make me very uncomfortable to talk price. I always feel like if they can’t afford it or just think it’s too expensive that it will make them feel uncomfortable to tell me it’s too much. Maybe we need to remember that people check prices on everything they buy and then make a choice, whether or not to buy.

    1. You are soooo welcome Susan! And thank you! And as I read what you wrote, I was nodding my head. It’s so much easier for many of us to sell online or through galleries rather than sell directly face to face! And yet…it’s such a great opportunity to interact with our audience, to be curious about them and where they are at. Let’s try not to put our assumptions and beliefs in front of our conversation with them because, often, we are so wrong!

      1. Yes, Yes, Yes! Most galleries will not share the collector’s name with the artist. It’s great to receive a check from the gallery but it is impersonal. I like to send a thank you note or a small gift, which provides an opportunity for further connection. Connecting with people is a huge part of why I paint! Yes! We must try to never assume we know our audience!
        I also fall into wanting to give a discount to friends and family.

        1. Thanks Susan for bringing up this point about Galleries. That is a hard aspect of the gallery relationship to swallow. I do find that after you build up a good relationship with a gallery, management is more open to sharing the name and contact info of a buyer. Understandable, they are afraid an artist will sell directly to the collector after all the work the gallery has done with the client. Once they know you understand the situation and that all sales will go through the gallery whether or not you deal directly with the collector, they are more apt to share the information.

          And I think it’s okay to give a discount to family and friends. But please do it intentionally, by choice, rather than feeling this is what you should do. Also, as these are the people who most care about your success, they may want to pay you full price. Never assume they are looking for/expecting a discount!

    1. Thanks Barbara. It’s a topic that can feel unrelated to our making of art and yet if we want to put our art out in the world, it’s inextricably tied in with the creation. It’s the business of art. If we want to sell, to make part of our living from our creations, we need to become stronger in this area that runs side-by-side with our art-making.

  5. Though I’ve sold several Chinese Brush paintings, as well as watercolors, I actually GIVE paintings away! Thank you for this blog to remind me I am entitled to compensation. I’m not counting on my art to feed me, but it will help me to keep buying the supplies to continue.
    As I think back, back in the ’80s I was doing Macrame. I had a neighbor who saw a hanging lamp I hand made in a magazine and wanted me to duplicate it for her home. I asked friends what they would charge. They said they totaled the materials required and then charged four times that figure. When I told my neighbor the price, she said she could do it for a lot less than that! I said go ahead…..but she never did of course.
    I was confident in my macrame work and felt good about standing by my price. This memory tells me I need to work on my confidence in my pastel abilities.

    1. Thank you Jane for your macramé story!! Sooooo good! You did it for your creations then so YES, you can do it now. Your art has value!! And, that’s not to say you can’t give your artwork away but that should be a choice rather than come from the discomfort of putting a price on it and selling.

  6. Hi Gail, thank you for the people talk.

    Face palm, I give most of my art as gifts and then stress about if the person can afford to have the art framed.
    Do they value my work to have it framed?
    I can’t afford to frame my work and I suppose I assume other people can’t afford luxury items either. I do worry that when people haven’t paid for the art if they are less likely to value it worth framing.

    But I have been pleasantly surprised when people have thanked me and told me that they have had my work framed proffessionally. Gasp.

    I recall deciding last year that If I’m doing a painting for a friend I need to atleast ask them to cover the cost of paper and something towards replacing pastels. I think as artist we are in giving mode so it is easy to be generous with our work.

    The other issue along these lines is working smaller than I would like to, having to decide on a close crop or working with teeny tiny details to reduce the cost – again thinking for other people.

    On this topic I think it is important to create for ourselves, and to bless other people but without squashing our gifting. We need to flourish.

    And we are probably all kicking ourselves for not taking at least one business, sales and marketing subject at school.

    1. Thanks Melanie for sharing your thoughts and experiences!
      You are so right about the way we bring our own lived experience with us when we interact with others. We have no idea first of all, what someone can afford and, what they are willing to spend. Some people put buying art before anything else (well maybe after rent and food). We just don’t know!

      I have definitely learnt this lesson along the way. And, the other way is true too. I have made the assumption knowing someone’s occupation and where they live etc and assumed they could easily afford to purchase my work. I have been surprised on that score too!

      When I look back at taking a fine art degree at university and nary a business course was offered (it was pooh-poohed), it seems CRAZY that they were training students as artists but we were given NO education on how to actually run an art business…because if you’re a professional artist, that’s what you are!

      1. I would like to piggyback on Melanie’s comment because I have some of the same issues. I have a strong feeling that people in low-income brackets need beauty in their lives like everyone else so I sometimes give paintings away or sell them at a discounted price. On the other side of the coin, I have one collector who works at a minimum-wage job and has purchased at least six paintings from me over the years. He insists on paying what I ask or more for the paintings and often gives them away as gifts. He often asks me to save a painting for him. It takes him up to a year to save the money but he always comes through and buys the painting.

        Framing can make or break a painting. As a result, I get my paintings professionally framed or sell them unframed depending on the buyer’s choice. If someone can’t afford the frame on an already framed painting or would prefer a different frame, I have been known to take the painting out of the frame and sell it to them unframed. If I take the frame, matting, and the glass back to my framer he will put another painting in it for me for a very small fee.

  7. I am at a point where most of my artwork is produced by following instructors’ demonstrations. When I’ve shown my work to friends, some have expressed an interest in purchasing it. Can I sell it? If so, how do I recognize that it is, essentially, a copy? My signature with “ala instructor’s name? or “with permission of…?”

    1. Hi Janet, great question! I’ve seen copies of my work posted with not a mention of me or my work. It does grate a bit!!
      I suggest writing, on the front of the piece, “copy after a piece by [artist’s name].” I would be interested to hear what other’s think!!

      1. I think you are being generous, if it only grates on your nerves. I would think “copyright infringement” might come to mind. It is something I would hate to do inadvertently, yet the rules are perplexing. Thanks for your input!

        1. You are so right Janet! When someone posts a piece that’s an obvious copy of my work without any reference to the original, it is a copyright infringement! It’s unbelievable to me that people do this! A small, “Thanks to Gail Sibley for her demo that I’ve copied here” or something to that effect would go far in acceptance of this happening. Any nod to the originator of your work or ideas is always the better path to take!
          Certainly, you would never enter a copy of someone else’s work in a show or submit it to a gallery as yours.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Other Related Posts

Headshot of Gail Sibley

Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

Join the mailing list today to receive exclusive tips, resources and inspiration directly from Gail:

Scroll to Top

Welcome Artists!

Online Courses

Pastels 101

Use this link if you bought the course AFTER Sept 2022

Use this link if you bought the course BEFORE Sept 2022

Pastel Painting En Plein Air

Art Membership

IGNITE! Art Making Members

Love soft pastels?? Then join 7000+ other subscribers and get my tips, reviews, and resources all about pastels... it's FREE! Just enter your name and email address below.

Your information will never be shared or sold to a 3rd party. Privacy Policy