Figuring out costs for any aspect of a wedding can be confusing (am I paying too much? Too little? How much do a DJ and 12 tables worth of flowers cost anyway?!), but figuring out what the cost of a live wedding painting can be is particularly confusing because it involves pricing artwork. Let this blog serve as your guide to what formulates the cost of a live painting, and what you can expect to pay!
For every live event painter, multiple factors will go into calculating cost. This includes:
Expenses (not counting travel)
Date and time
Size of the art/number of people in the painting
The value of the artwork itself
Let's explore each item!
Expenses (not including travel costs)
Any business had expenses and live painting is no exception! When an artist is calculating their pricing, they need to take into account the cost of materials, the cost of their storefront, and marketing.
If you aren't an artist yourself, you may not know just how expensive art materials are! Trust me, that stuff costs a lot. There's a reason artist's are starving- they have to spend all their cash on supplies! Oil paints are more expensive than acrylics, so you may see that live painters who work in oil are priced higher. Acrylics are still expensive too. And canvases, GOOD quality canvases, can cost a pretty penny. Plus there's brushes, easels (some live painters have to replace easels frequently because of the wear and tear from traveling), and all the other miscellaneous supplies that are used when one paints.
Then there is the cost of a storefront. When I say this, it can be real or virtual. Live wedding painters need to pay for their website, domain name, and business email and some artists pay for an actual studio space or office, complete with the cost of utilities. Some live painters also have assistants that need to be paid.
And finally their are marketing costs, be it printed materials like business cards, promotional materials, or ads on social media. It all adds up!
This is kind of a given for any wedding vendor. The further your vendor has to travel to get to your wedding, the more it's going to cost you. Some wedding painters price travel separately from their packages and some build it into the price. Some determine how much they will charged by how long it takes to drive there, and other's will charge based on miles. If they are traveling a few hours, the wedding painter will need to price out the cost of a hotel, food, gas and tolls. If there's a flight involved, then that really adds a chunk to the price tag.
If you want to try to save some money on your live wedding painting, try sticking to a live painter that doesn't live too far from you.
This aspect is also similar to other wedding costs. Some wedding market areas are just more expensive than others, usually having to do with the cost of living. The more metropolitan the wedding location is, the higher the price will be. Weddings in New York or San Francisco for example will have a much higher price than a live wedding painting in less populated or more remote locations. The cost of living is just higher in these areas, so a live painting working that area will charge a higher rate.
This too is just the same as with any other wedding vendor. The more popular the date of the wedding, likely the more expensive it will be. Saturday night's are the most expensive, as are certain times of year, depending on the climate of the wedding location.
Size of the art/number of people in the painting
Generally the bigger the art, the more expensive it will be. A bigger canvas is more expensive, uses more paint, and takes longer to complete! Likewise, the more people you want in the painting, the cost will probably go up. Each individual takes time to render. Some artists have packages that include a certain number of people, and some will have their package cover just the bride and groom and they will charge for every extra person you want room include. If your live event painter doesn't specify how many people are included in their packages make sure you ask! Some people don't have a limit but when you want mom and dad, mom and dad, the siblings, the bridal party, and extended family all included it's best not to surprise the painter or get surprised with an extra bill.
The value of the art itself
The value of the art is the most complicated piece of the puzzle for figuring out what you should be paying for a live wedding painting. That's because pricing art in general is complicated. There's so many factors that go into how much a work of art is worth! On top of that, the live painter is the one determining the price, not a gallery or other third party, so when you choose a live painter you have to decide if you agree with the value the live wedding painter is placing on their work. Remember too, a live painting is not just a ready made piece you are choosing from. It is a commissioned work of art that the live painter is using their time to make specifically for you.
Pricing art goes so much deeper than just saying if a painting is "good" or not. After all, this is subjective. What appeals to me may not appeal to you.
Certainly technical skill can raise the value of a work of art, but technical skill isn't just if a painting looks realistic- if that was the case artistic masters like Picasso or Matisse or Pollack wouldn't have any worth to their art. Years of schooling, practice, a mastery of color and composition are all a part of skill. So you can't just say "realistic painting=more value".
When it comes to live paintings specifically (and not paintings in general), supply and demand are a safe factor for pricing. If MORE people are of the opinion that an artist's work is good, then more people want to book them. A live wedding painter can only book so many weddings in a year. And thus, the demand for their work is greater and they can charge more for their work. So if a live painter is charging a lot for their work, it may be that they are very popular and they can afford to be picky about what gigs they take! Or maybe they paint weddings for fun, and they only consider it worth their time if they are paid at a certain threshold. Scarcity of work can also factor into artistic value- if an artist doesn't make a lot of paintings and those paintings are popular, they can afford to charge more per painting.
So as you can see, pricing a live wedding painting has multiple factors that go into it. You are paying not just for a one day service as you might be for a DJ or caterer, nor are you paying for a ready made work of art. You are paying for a performance AND a commissioned work of art to last a lifetime (or longer!).
General pricing breakdown
So this is all well and good info, and now you can consider yourself educated on why your live wedding painting price tag is what it is. But what can you expect to pay?
As a general rule, the average live painter charges anywhere from $1,000-$4,000 per painting. This puts the median smack at $2,500, give or take the multiple factors I broke down above.
If an artist is charging less than $1,000 either they are just starting out and you are nailing a great deal, or their work does not have much value (or the artist doesn't place much value in their work).
Some rock star artists can charge more than $4,000. They may charge up to $10,000 or more! If you have the room in your budget and you are in love with their work, then go for it.
When all is said and done, the most important thing is that YOU love and value the work of the artist. When it's hanging on your wall, your opinion is what is most important.