Why is ART Expensive?

Today’s post is not just for Artists, but also for those interested in art. Often enough we come across people who want to know why we charge as much as we do for paintings or commissioned portraits.

Well, we don’t start off with very high prices. First of all, we artists change or update our prices with time. There is a reason for it too. Let me start with an example. Suppose I quoted Rs. 1000 for a graphite sketch 7 years ago. I would quote Rs. 3000 now.
Several things justify this price.

  • The amount of time I have spent improving my art. My graphite sketches from 7 years ago don’t look nearly as good as they do now. There is more detailing in my work now. You can see for yourself.
  • I made graphite sketches on A4 size copier print paper before. A few years later, I used papers from a sketch pad which were of a superior quality. Now, I use the best paper there is that is available in India, so obviously, it costs more. As long as we are talking about paper, I would also like to mention that graphite pencils also come in various quality. Most of you (and I’m addressing my fellow Indians here) must have heard of HB, 2B and H pencils that we used in school. We artists use a variety of pencils to do a graphite sketch like 10H, 9H,..,..,..,..,H,..,2B,..,..,8B and so on.
  • Prices of art supplies keep going up.

You may ask why street artists at art fairs charge as less as Rs. 300? Well, for the same reasons I have mentioned above. Paper alone costs me that much or more.

Comparing a few of my works from before, to my current works

My First Textured Painting(6 yrs ago)
2 years after my first textured painting
My painting Made in 2013
My painting Made in 2017
My First Landscape Made in 2016
Landscape Made in 2017

It is not wrong to ask an artist why their art costs that much. Its your money you’ll be spending/investing. So it is your right to ask that artist. And it is their duty to answer you. But, don’t undervalue the artist. And know these things I have mentioned above, before you judge them.

Think about it. You may spend Rs. 3000 on an evening out with your partner, but you think it is too much when you have to pay an artist who probably spent hours or days making a portrait for you. Does it seem fair?

Well, that is just about graphite, the cost is less there compared to Acrylic paints or Oil paints. When you are paying for an artwork, you are not just paying for the cost of raw materials(Canvas/Paper, Paints, Other art supplies).

You are paying for the following

  • The skill of the artist, the amount of time he/she has spent perfecting the skill.
  • The amount of time the artist has spent making the particular artwork.
  •  The idea/imagination behind the painting, that came out of the artist’s head.
  • The amount the artist has spent on reference photos(if they have used any).
    Just to elaborate on that, My collection of bird paintings had to come from a variety of reference photos which were bought from the photographer. I had to pay the photographer because he spent hours trying to capture the perfect image and also spent on his equipment. So, I cant just paint something that he captured, and make money out of it and not give him any credits. That would be stealing.
  •  The amount the artist has spent on art classes.
  • The amount of paint/art supplies the artist has used, to learn that art.
  • Finally, the raw materials the artist has used in making that particular painting that you are buying.

So the next time, you tell someone “Hey I make that much because I spent so much on my Engineering degree” or something like that, remember, the same applies for artists too.

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Author: Sylvia DSilva

I'm an Artist, You wouldn't believe I have a M.Tech in IT. I'm fascinated by Art, Fantasy, Magic, Myth; Yup , I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. I'm a paintbrush and a nail polish addict. I am Rebellious. I love traveling. I love architecture. I love scuba diving and sea food. I wanna backpack through Europe. I have a tattoo on my wrist with my husband's name on it and a Paintbrush in the same to represent ME. Oh yeah, I cry while watching an emotional scene in a movie, I cry after a visit to an orphanage BUT it doesn't mean I'm weak. I'm one of the strongest people I know. I'm a proud Army wife, I've lived in Jungles and had Elephants ruin my kitchen garden; I see chitals, Nilgais, Hornbills, Peacocks, and many more on a daily basis. I've had experiences No Civilian would ever have in their life. The only thing I hate is people telling me what to do and how to live my life, when I don't really need their opinion.

4 thoughts on “Why is ART Expensive?”

  1. Lovely blog post, I love art, I am not a seasoned art buyer yet, but I hope to learn more about art and art buying, thank you for your blog post. I love the mermaid and the seahorse theme.

  2. Very informative and beautifully put through. I am about to start selling my work and was very hesitant regarding pricing , always thinking from customer prespective but with your words I gained confidence to quote a price which justifies me too. Thank you.

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