Tiffany Hill's Blog
ART IS EXPENSIVE! Many people who know nothing about art are not aware how much it cost to create art. Therefore I am going to break it down to you based on my experience as an artist. This will let you better understand why I charge what I charge.
The cost of canvas
For me canvas is the most expensive! The prices are based on canvas size. The bigger the canvas the more expensive it will be to purchase.
For example, depending on where you shop a 12'x12" canvas is worth $20 for a pack of 7, or $10 for just one, all canvas is not the same in quality, so if you buy from some places you can be paying a lot more for that size. The larger the canvas the more expensive, for a 24"x36" it can range from $30 to over $70, and if you dare buy a larger canvas than that, you can be paying over $100 for Just one! For example, here are two place I have bought canvas from in the past, Michaels and Utrecht. Click on the links to see their prices. Those are two out of many examples. Check their prices for paint and brushes too while you’re at it just so you can understand the cost of supplies.
There are do's and don’ts when it comes to buying paint. I was experimenting with different types of paint when I first got serious about painting. What I have discovered was, "GOOD" paint is not cheap, and "CHEAP" paint is not good. I went ahead and bought some cheap paint once, (I won’t disclose what brand) and I realized it was a waste of my money. What happened was it did not blend well with other colors, instead of getting a color I was looking for, I always got a brown color. Another bad thing about this cheap paint I realized after it dries, it will still move if I wet it or paint over it. In art terms the paint would lift. It also dried to a completely darker color or translucent color than what it appeared to be when it was wet. I hated it. I only paid 4.99 for one tube of paint (plus it was on sale). I had 5 tubes, so that was over $25 after taxes. I am glad I bought it because it taught me something. Now if you want good quality paint, you’re paying a lot more for it. I bought some paint called Golden for 17.99 a tube, then there is the assorted paint sets with small tubes that you can buy for as low as $20, depending on the brand and the amount of paint comes in the set you can be spending a lot more. I suggest you do your research to find out the prices, because there is so many. I use to get the sets, but now I just buy 5 tubes of paint and any special color I may need added to that. I spend about $20 a tube. larger sizes can run up to $50 or more. I only buy the primary colors, black, white and a few other colors that I know I use a lot. So paint for me is about $100 or more.
I usually buy brush sets. I like brushes from Utrecht. You can click on the link or visit the store to see their range of prices. I spend over $20 in brushes. Depending on my work, I might have to buy a certain type of brush for my project costing me more money. Cheap brushes are just as bad as cheap paint. But if you want to take the risk of a hairy painting buy you some cheap brushes. I did... I found myself plucking hairs off my painting. I’m not a big fan of hairy paintings by the way...
Mixed media can range from glitter, rhinestones to candy. Yes, I said candy. In ripleys there was a portrait made from gumballs! I once mixed chocolate and strawberry syrup in my paint for my candy land painting. Glitter can range from $1 to 10, Rhinestones are more expensive especially if you’re using Swarovski. I bought 12 tiny 6mm Swarovski crystals for $5.
Graphite pencils, sharpeners, erasers, easels (paid $70 for mines), lighting (you need to see what your painting.) frames, color pencils, markers, watercolor pens, pens, etc. They all add up. It also cost money if you traveled to get these items, you pay for gas, your vehicle and any bills that come from owning one, or mass transit. If you bought your supplies online you may have to pay for shipping.
Time and skill
Last but not least is time. When art is just a hobby, you do it for fun, you don’t care about selling it and if you do you are not worried about making a profit. A hobby is not a business because you are not trying to make a living off a hobby. Some people sell paintings cheaper than the amount they paid for the material or even give their paintings away. A hobby is to do something you love for fun and it’s not a priority in your life. If art is a hobby you might not paint often, it might take you months or years to complete a painting because it’s just not that important to set a deadline to finish it unless you’re doing a project.
If art is a business, you are putting your heart into your work, you want to present your best skills to the world, you are trying to build a brand and take care of your life and family, and you are serious about your work because it’s a representation of who you are. You charge for your time and you will not charge minimum wage if you know you are worth more. Some people charge $50 or more per hour. Some paintings sale for hundreds to millions of dollars. You also calculated how much it cost to buy supplies and materials to complete a painting into your total price. location expense; some artist pay for a studio while others have to pay their mortgage or rent. Art is your JOB, it’s can be an career, and someones passion passion. As a artist you want to make others happy by what you bring into the world with your creativity and skill. You want your art to tell a story or to bring life into a room. You want it to have a meaning or to be special (example, painting a baby or a dead relative. painting a gift for someone else to give to someone, etc.) no one wants to waste their time or money and working for free is a choice. There's nothing wrong with working for free, you can barter, work for charity, and make gifts and so on.
I hope this gives you a better understanding on why artist charge what they do, and why they charge what they charge. If you are a artist and your running a business, charge what you are worth and take expenses into consideration. There is so much more I can add in like an artist may have a busy life and take time out of the day to paint, but I will leave that up to you to think about. I hope this opened up your mind to understand art and business. If you are an artist please share, if you are not and you like this article please share with your friends.
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Tiffany T. Hill
Tiffantasy P.O. Box 525 New York, NY 10029 Customer service hours Monday -Friday 10am-4pm (201) 588-5934