Monday, September 30, 2013

Why Is Art So Expensive?

People, including myself have wondered from time to time what makes art so costly?  Is the artist making all that profit or is it the gallery?  How does the price break down.

So many times I am asked to donate art to charities and other events and I always want to donate to them all.  If it were possible, I would give it all away, and for years I have done just that to family and friends, plus lots of organizations and even my church.  I also want to win the lottery and grow a money tree in my backyard!  

One of my instructors told me that the best birth control in college was telling his date he was an artist.  No one wants to be involved with them because everyone knows they are starving and it is so true.

There are plenty of people who will buy art, plenty of venues to sell the art, and plenty of interested patrons if you are good enough.  One reason we struggle with money is the cost of supplies and instructions that are required to become "good enough."  You are only as good as your materials and that is the case no matter what.  A golfer can only be as good as his clubs, a carpenter needs good tools to create professional furniture, and a seamstress needs a sharp needle and strong thread.

To break down the cost of an average painting is simple...

Canvas or Board     Average price       $20  (If you use linen you can double that cost.)
Oil Paint                 Average tube       $10  (If you use cad yellow or red, be prepared to triple that cost)
Brushes                  Average cost        $10-$20  (You can expect to replace one brush per project.)
Workshops             Average cost        $250 for two days, thousands if it is a big named star instructor.)
Lessons                  Average               $20 per hour
Miscellaneous         Average               $10 for turpentine, brush cleaner, varnish, maroger, sealers, etc)

This does not include the cost for booth rentals, entry fees and so many more hidden cost.

We discuss this many times in different art groups and of course the value lies in the eye of the beholder, as they say. We also secretly wonder what makes some Picasso types sell instead of those long suffering Michlangelos.  Just plan to understand that most artist have about $50 minimum invested in their art piece.  Even that is a very low estimate and probably a small piece of work.  

So next time you see an artist selling their wares, considering being a supporter or even just an encourager of their work and time.  Because the truth is, most will sell for peanuts just to be able to continue.