Mural in Tampa Florida by Hoxxoh, Nico, and Remote curated by CLRTY Agency

Mural Pricing — From and Artists and Buyers Perspective

Can something as complex as Art, ever be standardized — can we come up with a formula to determine the value of an artists work?

Tony Krol

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Buying art is a labyrinth of complexities, just as collecting it or cultivating a successful career as an artist is. Let’s set the stage: this article centers on murals as an art form, given the burgeoning global Mural Movement sprouting from New Contemporary Art. This movement is reshaping how the public engages with artists worldwide. While we use ‘murals’ for simplicity’s sake, it’s crucial to grasp that Graffiti serves as the backbone for this global mural evolution, gaining both popularity and value driven by the internet and social media.

The pricing of artwork boils down to supply and demand, intertwined with artists’ historical career trajectories. As artists refine their craft, their distinctive style gains traction, propelling them from selling thousand-dollar pieces to commanding twenty-thousand-dollar works of similar scale.

The starting point for art’s price tag? It’s often free. Just as a fledgling band may perform their inaugural gig gratis, a budding muralist might offer their first mural pro bono, while a comedian hones their craft at open mics. Artists must invest in evolving and enhancing their value — it’s an intrinsic aspect of the art world’s dynamics.

In this realm, artists metamorphose into celebrities, entertainers whose creations resonate authentically with audiences. Authenticity becomes the cornerstone of art’s value, shaped by longevity, practice, and stylistic evolution. Authenticity is the narrative that aligns with the artist — a tale spun from moments of inspiration, crafted in the flow state, embodying the artist’s unique voice.

Murals are extremely popular because of social media. However for those seeking out a muralist, they generally don’t know where to start with pricing, and some artists beginning to paint murals also sometimes don’t know where to start to begin charging for their work.

THE BASELINE 5ft x 5ft any surface. 1K:

As artists hone their skills and expertise, they rightfully transition towards monetizing their craft. A baseline expectation for mural projects from an experienced artist (one who at least has one completed mural they are happy with, and other people are happy with also) exceeding 5 feet in width or height should start at a minimum of $1000. Similarly, property owners seeking muralists should anticipate allocating a budget of at least $1000 to ensure fair compensation for the artist’s time, talent, and resources.

Some (modern) Art History Facts: Muralists are moving modern art forward.

The DIY culture catalyzed the emergence of the present-day New Contemporary Art Movement, stemming from the roots of American Folk Art. It evolved independently of the defining characteristics of the Pop-Art Movement, giving rise to the American Graffiti Movement. This New Contemporary movement encompasses Post Graffiti, Street Contemporary, Urban Contemporary, as well as influences from diverse subcultures such as Hip-Hop, Punk Rock, Skateboarding, and the Underground Rave Scene. Additionally, it integrates modern technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, alongside the ever-evolving digital space. Further, it reflects shifts in fashion trends, notably the evolution of Streetwear.

The current global Mural Movement, some call it Street Art, some call it Graffiti, some refer to it is just Murals — is within the New Contemporary Art bubble, but also ever-evolving rapidly with the world.

PRICING ART

Art, while fundamental to our perception and understanding of the world, remains enigmatic when it comes to assigning value. This enigma extends beyond visual art and murals; it encompasses all forms of artistic expression.

Consider this: What price are you willing to pay to witness your favorite band perform live? Or to share the experience of a newly released movie with friends? How about immersing yourself in the surreal wonder of Meow Wolf or attending a Phish concert at the Las Vegas Sphere? Or perhaps traveling to witness a beloved artist perform at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre? All of the experiences mentioned above vary in cost, because of the many factors invovled.

The value of art is multifaceted, and artists navigate this complex landscape when determining pricing. Their work’s value is influenced by their experience, mastery of their craft, and the authenticity woven into their creations. Authenticity, in this context, goes beyond technical skill; it encompasses the artist’s genuine expression and intent.

Artists cannot be reduced to mere laborers; they are akin to entertainers, offering experiences that resonate deeply with audiences. While pricing art is subjective and influenced by various factors, pricing murals within the art world adds another layer of complexity to the process.

This is why a 5 foot x 5 foot mural by one artist can be $1000 and $20000 by another.

HOW IS ART VALUABLE, AND HOW DO ARTISTS DETERMINE PRICING

As stated above: The pricing of an artist’s work is determined by three key factors:

  • their level of experience
  • expertise in their craft
  • authenticity inherent in their creations. Authenticity encompasses not only the artist’s skill and technique but also the genuine expression and intention behind their work.

What about Square Footage?

There is a “general” square footage starting point for a lot of artists, but their square footage starting point is different based on their experience, style, and skill level, even personality.

When purchasing art, you’re not merely acquiring a piece; you’re investing in an extension of the artist’s creative vision. Artists transcend the traditional label of skilled laborers; they are akin to entertainers, offering personalized experiences that reflect their unique talents and perspectives.

This is why: Pricing murals cannot adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach.

Laborers vs Entertainers:

Comparing muralists to house painters overlooks the nuanced nature of their craft. While both involve applying paint to a surface, the experience of commissioning a mural is more akin to hiring a favorite band for a private performance. Artists can vary in their approach, ranging from tradesmen focused on technical execution to celebrities, actually celebrated for their distinctive style.

Start with $1000

Looking for a mural to be painted on any surface at any size as a starting point? Start at least at $1000. A small back yard fence, at least 1k, a gate, 1k, a small exterior wall — start at 1k. This is the minimum investment for a serious artist.

For murals, pricing typically starts at a baseline of $1,000 for artists with established portfolios. This minimum reflects the time, skill, and materials required for even modest, tiny, projects. From there, costs escalate based on factors such as mural size, artist experience, representing agents or contracting agents, complexity, surface type (e.g., stucco, brick), location (interior vs. exterior), and accessibility (e.g., ground-level vs. requiring lift equipment or scaffolding or swing-stages).

Looking to hire a muralist?

To streamline the process, provide artists with details such as wall photos and desired concepts upfront. This allows for accurate pricing and ensures alignment between your vision and the artist’s expertise. Ultimately, fostering open communication and mutual respect between clients and artists is key to a successful mural commission.

If you’re looking to hire a muralist — consider also being a collector of their work, commission a painting that you can take with you if you ever leave the place where the mural was painted is a great way to ensure you have a piece of art that becomes an asset, even an investment asset. Build a relationship with an artist, consider becoming a collector.

If your’e a developer, get a muralist or artist involved early in the process — this way you may be able to stack costs, such as having exterior building painters only paint a primed one-pass on a building surface, or building in a mural cost to the front-end of the building cost rather than an added expense afterward. Also consider that murals can be marketing projects. A great artist produces a great headline.

Also, remember that collecting art, if you know how to navigate the current art movements that are driving innovation forward, can be an amazing investment strategy. Art is currency, because it is a snapshot of what is Current in Culture.

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Tony Krol

Artist, muralist, and owner of Mergeculture Gallery in Tampa Florida. I write about connection between art and spirituality.