I often get asked just how a piece of art gets priced for the amount it does. Retail art pricing is much like any other industry or business; many factors go into the final retail price. Assuming you're not looking at a "world famous artist", a few of the influencing factors most art collectors will run into are:
1. Materials. The price of the materials can have little influence to lots of influence on a final price. For example, precious metal jewelry is heavily influenced by the price of the gold, silver, platinum, etc. used to make it while, the price of the oil paints a painter might use doesn't impact the final price as heavily.
2. Quantity. If there's only "one" of something, you can expect to pay more. Artists that sell prints of their work generally will have a lower price per single item versus a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Buyers can also expect to pay more for limited edition (number produced is specified) versus and open edition (no end) series.
3. Production methods. For example, artists that have their giclee prints professionally printed will charge more since it costs more to them to have the higher quality print (versus printing off a home printer system). The benefit to a collector is that these professionally printed prints will last a lifetime.
4. Demand. Yes, supply and demand applies here too. If an artist cannot keep up with the demand for their artwork, prices will go up.
5. Time involved. This is probably the hardest one for art buyers to consider when buying a piece of art. Sometimes artists will spend 10, 20 or 30 hours getting the perfect piece of art. Even at minimum wage, that makes a piece of art cost $50 to $150, before supplies are even included.
6. Business overhead. Just like any other business, artists and the art galleries that represent them also have fixed costs they must cover to keep a shop open and operating.
These are just a few of the starting points that influence art's retail price. If you want to learn more about art pricing, get to know your favorite artist or art gallery. They can be an invaluable resource to helping you with your art knowledge, including art pricing.