This topic is super-controversial in the art world. Traditionally, artists were more likely to attempt to snare a customer before they even knew how much the piece might cost – to get them so enamored with the art that they couldn’t NOT buy it.
But in practice, this just doesn’t work.
Let’s look at it from a psychological standpoint. Think about all those times you’ve walked through the mall past the jewelry stores. And you see a pretty, glittering piece of awesomeness behind glass. It’s shining and it’s next to other fancy-looking jewels. How many times have you gone into the store and asked how much that awesomeness is?
For most people, the answer is NEVER.
Most people will never ask if something looks expensive. And the truth of it is that half the time, they think it’s more expensive than it is. Our minds are practically programed to assume we can’t afford nice things (though you’ll see slight differences in this from market to market). Seriously, this phenomenon, if you can call it that, presents itself even in wealthy people.
Do you want your customers popping by your virtual window of a website to look at all the pretty things and saying, “Oh I bet that’s super expensive.” before they close the browser window?
That answer is a big, fat NO.
When you don’t have a price next to your art, you’re subconsciously telling potential customers that it’s “too expensive to say outright” and that you would need to talk to them first before divulging your high prices. The more suspicious of your potential customers might even think that you would quote the price differently to different people, seeing how much you could get based on their economic status.
On top of all that mess, there’s a whole ‘nother layer of human psychology:
We are lazy.
I’ve talked about this before, but it still rings very true in this pricing dilemma. If they have to contact you to find out how much the piece costs, 99% of the time they just won’t do it. Too much work. It’s annoying and it gives them time to talk themselves out of the potential purchase.
And they “know” that if they did contact you to ask how much, they’d feel almost obligated to purchase even if it were too expensive and then they’d feel awkward and frustrated having to tell you they couldn’t afford it or come up with another excuse to avoid embarrassment and, AND, ANNNNNNNDDDDD….
That’s way too much pressure.
Get over your fears. Your stressed-out insecurities that your prices might be too high for a customer or too low for a New York gallerist have no place in a real, honest-to-goodness business.
Also consider that in most gallery spaces, when the work is for sale, a price is listed in the corner of the tag denoting the details of the piece. The gallerist knows he’ll make more money if the price is easily found.
What’s going to work the best is to let people know right off the bat what they can expect.
People who can’t afford it (who of course would never end up buying even if you did ensnare them in a sales conversation) will admire your work and move on, not wasting your time thinking you might make a sale if only you can talk about the piece in the right way or convince them how good it would look in a particular room of their home.
People who can afford it will know and immediately start seriously considering whether or not they want to own it, without the added pressure of your desperation for a sale breathing down their neck, and they’ll be much, MUCH more likely to make the purchase because it’s completely of their own volition.
Doesn’t that sound better than this dance you’ve been doing?