Be Smart About Art

Should art prices be listed on your website?

written by: Susan Mumford March 15, 2015 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 5503 views

Should art prices be listed on your website?

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

There’s no black and white answer to this, but it’s an important question for anyone selling art to address.

I have a word of warning for anyone who sells art for a living and is reticent about displaying prices: this is a rapidly transitioning aspect of your world and it’s high time to prepare for change.

Artists don’t like doing it because they often feel uncomfortable about the money-related aspects of their creative work, or because they’re unsure about what amount to charge*.

The number one reason that gallerists say that they don’t list prices is this:
They want prospective clients to get in touch. They say that this provides a known sales lead and starts a conversation.  Seem reasonable? The major problem with it is the assumption that such a conversation will ever take place.  

Having spent much time looking into the pros and cons of selling art online, listing prices and the like, I’ve realised that there are two clear things that happen when prices aren’t provided.

First and foremost, if there isn’t a price, the viewer assumes that they can’t afford it.

Secondly, people are simply embarrassed to ask, for the fear that it will be too much. You can imagine this would present a terribly awkward situation.

The prospective client has to go through the effort of picking up the phone, sending an email, making contact via an online form or popping into the space. It’s too much faff, particularly when so many competitors are just a click away. The majority of people won’t bother to enquire, will move onto the next site, and the next, until they find art they like at the right (visible) price.

Several years ago, I was intrigued to learn of an in-house experiment by a London gallerist. She conducted a test on her own website in presenting prices of art, taking them down, and repeating several times.

The straightforward result was that enquiries, and most importantly, resulting sales, skyrocketed when prices were displayed. She now routinely lists prices next to each and every work on her website.

As with all owners of creative businesses, the gallerist found a way to support creative output with necessary financial pay-off. Such commercial viability enables the pursuit of desired creative ambitions. Though there are still professionals in the art world who frown upon the in-your-face correlation between art and prices, many are waking up and smelling the coffee, with the understanding that presenting prices increases enquiries and sales.

Will you join the gallerist and give it a go?

p.s. Want more evidence? Online sales of art are increasing every year. Much research has been conducted into this growing field, and a good starting point is the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report (2014).   

*See blog post: Want a formula for pricing art? Stop looking - they don't work


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user name

Anya raises some good points in response to your blog. I have a feeling that sculpture may be a tad more difficult to sell on line. I would need to put up far more photos or perhaps these could be sent out in response to an enquiry.

user name

Hi Susan,
Interesting article on something I have been pondering myself. I was wondering though about the stage after putting prices on my website, and actually selling through it. My instincts say that I would still want to meet the buyer, and likewise they would want to view the work in actuality. Do you know if there has been any research into this, or do buyers seem to be quite as happy to purchase from an image on a website as from seeing the work 'in the flesh'?