Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Money Matters

Oil on Canvas

Since tax time is coming up, I sat down this morning and made a spreadsheet of my 2006 earnings and expenses from my art business. 2006 was my first year of selling my paintings, so it was interesting to tabulate all of the numbers and see how things turned out.

As far as earnings go, 85% of dollars spent on my paintings came from gallery sales, while 15% came from commissions. Since the gallery takes 50%, this actually means that 30% of the money I actually saw from my artwork came from commissions - to be exact, from two commissions (three paintings). Considering that the gallery sold 26 paintings, I find it funny that three paintings were responsible for 30% of my profit for the year. This illustrates how significant the gallery cut can be**. It also reminds me that while I may not love to do commissions, they're a good way to financially support my art habit.

As far as expenses go, my biggest expense by far is framing. By the numbers, I spent an average of 10% of the sale price of each painting on framing. A couple of artists I've studied with use 10% as a rule of thumb for frame price, which means that as your work increases in value, you should be able to use higher quality frames. I try to follow this, but in reality I prefer that my framing costs come in lower that 10%. At the start of 2006, I was working with two framing sources that were a bit pricier than those I currently use. Midway through the year, I got my tax license and started using a couple of wholesale framers which allowed me to cut my framing costs significantly. I'm hoping that I can keep the framing costs down to 5-7% in 2007.

Actual painting supplies (paint, brushes, canvas) were on average about 2% of the price of each painting. Other miscellaneous costs (entry fees, shipping, office supplies) ended up being nowhere near as significant as I had predicted, which was a nice surprise.

Overall, I brought home 43% of the sale price of each painting sold in 2006, which isn't too bad considering the gallery cut. One of my general art business goals is to keep this number above 40%, so I'm very happy with that for 2006 - the commissions certainly helped!

** Note that I'm not complaining about the gallery commission. The gallery I worked with in 2006 was responsible for getting my work into many people's homes, and I think they earn every cent of their commission!!


  1. That's very interesting number crunching. I'm impressed that you have such a good picture of your cost and revenue.

  2. Wow. That is impressive number crunching. The gallery cut is understandable, considering thier expenses, but it does hurt!

    Would you be willing to share your wholesale framing resources?