What could be more excruciating than when someone remarks, “Your artwork is too expensive.”
It feels like such an abrasive opinion about the value of your work that it seems almost impossible not to take it personally. How in the world are you supposed to answer? That’s why many artists are left staring at their shoes without a clue what to say next.
If you’re in need of a good response, we’re here to help! There are actually plenty of options that can make you appear professional, not defensive.
Take a look at these 5 different ways to handle the awkward comment, “Your art is too expensive.”
1. Try to Close the Deal. Selling doesn’t always come easy, right? Sometimes it takes a little convincing. And, while you might understand what goes into making a piece or why you landed on a certain price, a potential buyer might not.
The key is to stay confident and genuine, not defensive.
An honest question like, “Would you like to know what goes into the creation process?” is a great segue into discussing the kind of skill, vision, materials, and time it takes to create your pieces. Then, politely share some of the honors you’ve received over your career that would speak to the value of your art.
You can even go as far as to explain your pricing formula. This reassures buyers that you aren’t just taking a stab in the dark and inflating prices.
Hopefully these points will open their eyes to the value of your work and erase any doubts they may have harbored.
2. Let Them Walk Away. When a customer pulls the “your art is too expensive” card, sometimes the best course of action can be to let the sale go. If you can tell they are more focused on shaming you into a lower price than understanding the true value, then they probably aren’t worth your time or explanation.
If you find yourself in this situation, it can be hard to stick to your guns. Your natural reaction might be to drop your price just to land the sale. But, always undermining your work can make you feel even worse in the end.
Just ask artist Melissa Dinwiddie who, like most artists, is all too familiar with the situation. Her suggestion? Have the confidence to stand by your work and say, “If you like what I do, this is what I charge. If you don’t want to pay it, you don’t have to buy it. Period.”
Plus, if someone thinks your work is too expensive, they probably aren’t your target customer.
3. Ask About Their Budget. If a customer shies away from your higher-priced work, turn the table on them by asking what price point they are more comfortable with—then direct them to your smaller works or lower-priced prints.
Offering multiple price points can be a great win-win situation: buyers of all budgets get to take home your pieces, while you rake in more art sales without compromising your original prices.
If someone is genuinely interested but truly can’t afford your work, hand them a business card or sign them up for your email newsletter. You never know who will eventually turn into a paying customer!
4. Embrace the Teaching Opportunity. Not everyone will have the stomach for this option, but educating a skeptical buyer about the art world is a viable option.
Start by asking if they’ve bought original art before, then go into detail about what makes collecting art a good value. An explanation about your growing collector base and the need for consistent gallery pricing might shed some light on how important it is to not undermine your collectors or other artists.
In many cases, buyers simply aren’t aware of such complexities in the art market. But, the more people understand, the more it cuts down on artists being quizzed about their prices.
5. Say “Thank You”. This is a reaction they may not be expecting. But, turning their negative comment into a compliment about your success is one path to creating a positive spin on the situation.
Playfully divulge that you never dreamed you would become so successful and how humbled you are to have come this far in your art career. And, who knows where the conversation will go next. You can always follow up with another one of these responses.
The biggest takeaway?
Hearing that someone thinks your artwork is too expensive can feel like a stab to the heart. But, you don’t have to be caught like a deer in headlights when it happens. Preparing yourself with a few courses of action will make the conversation go more smoothly, sometimes even ending in a sale!
Don’t forget, no matter what response you choose, say it with sincerity, professionalism, and a smile.