Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 12, 2013, 02:36:54 PM

Title: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 12, 2013, 02:36:54 PM
Hello.  Quick question.  I already have a pricing system for my canvas print sizes.  I had a buddy of mine ask me for a 36x48 1.5" wrap and when I was looking at my price list I had that listed for about $290.  I went online and I found some at about $200 with free shipping and archival certified material.  How!?  I want to try and compete but I just can't with those prices.  Should I drop my pricing to match up with online retailers?  Or just stick to my guns. 
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 12, 2013, 02:42:10 PM
Are you talking about your own prints or prints you would print for him from his files?
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 12, 2013, 02:45:38 PM
Sorry I should have been more specific.  Yes, I'm getting the photo's from the photographers or designers and just printing them and stretching as well.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 12, 2013, 02:57:41 PM
I am using a pro lab that charges $99 (plus shipping) for a 32"x48". You can not compete with high-volume labs on price. Instead, try differentiating your offering. It could be attention to detail, speed/quality of service, superior communication and co-operation with the client, community ties, etc. However, if none of that matters to the client, and they just want the cheapest, you either drop your price or give up.

Alternatively, you can show them this (http://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/9d742f32-4062-11e3-bf06-22000a970267-original.jpg):  ;)

Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: louoates on November 12, 2013, 06:37:39 PM
I gave up even trying to estimate canvas prices for those who call me out of the blue. Most are searching for cheap on line sources and somehow think that whatever I can do to improve their digital file is worthless.
The last estimate I gave was of an enlargement of one of my own images they saw on my web site. It was a unique shot that I know no one else has. I quoted a very good price but was told that it was double what they could get on the internet. I guess one mountain is a good as another.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Peter McLennan on November 13, 2013, 07:26:44 PM
I am using a pro lab that charges $99 (plus shipping) for a 32"x48". You can not compete with high-volume labs on price.

No $#*&ing kidding.  At that price, they're barely covering ink and canvas, let alone stretchers and labour.  Is it coated? 

Maybe they make it up on the shipping...
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 13, 2013, 07:56:30 PM
No $#*&ing kidding.  At that price, they're barely covering ink and canvas, let alone stretchers and labour.  Is it coated?  

Maybe they make it up on the shipping...

Yes, coated. Back covered with a black cardboard, ready to hang. Shipping is reasonable, UPS, between $7 and $12, depending on the size of order.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: langier on November 13, 2013, 08:28:40 PM
I won't even try to compete with Wally and Stapes and others regarding canvas...I don't even want to deal with people who are that price sensitive since they take twice the effort and want to pay half the price. Not worth the headache. I price my canvas on the high side and differentiate my work with getting the canvas out quickly if needed, properly fixed to make the print better, or mirror the edge to make the image stand out, rather than wrap the edge over the side like the cheaper places.

I also point out that the entire process is hand-done here at my studio and here in my community which sometimes score points to the quality-minded customer.

Separate yourself from the cheapies with quality, turnaround speed, skills and craft and you'll get a better return on your efforts.

Another way to up sell your work is to send the cheapies your file and let them do their thing. Take the same file, craft it well with your spin and put them up side-by-side and if you've got a better product it should stand out as such when put side-by-side. Tthen you can point out the actual differences between "price" and "quality". The website "crappy vs snappy" comes to mind...
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 14, 2013, 02:09:24 AM
Thank you Lang.  Great info. 
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Colorwave on November 14, 2013, 02:37:59 AM
I charge $.14/square inch for canvas printing and coating for low volume clients (regular clients that order frequently get a bit of a break).  A chain of framing shops near me has recently gotten into the canvas printing business and the print, coat and stretch for quite a bit less than my cost for printing alone, using an Epson solvent printer and polyester decor quality canvas.  

The framing shop values repeat customers, though, so when someone comes to them asking for accurate color or fine art quality printing, they often recommend them on to me instead of taking their money and potentially facing an unhappy customer.  When someone is focused on price alone, I reciprocate the referral.  

It's foolish to try to offer your services at prices that compete with high volume mass market demographics unless you compete on their terms.  I think it is possible to offer higher quality printing at higher prices without getting sucked into a low margin battle that you are likely to loose at.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 14, 2013, 08:36:38 AM
Hey Color let me see if I get this right.  A 16x20 measures to about 320 square inches.  And at $.14 a square inch, that would come out to about $44??  Am I doing something wrong with my calculations?  Seems kind of low prices for a canvas wrap. 
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 14, 2013, 01:22:25 PM
... at $.14 a square inch, that would come out to about $44?? Seems kind of low prices for a canvas wrap.  

Actually, that would be about 60% more expensive than what the lab I use charges for a 16x20 ($28).
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Kanvas Keepsakes on November 14, 2013, 02:43:03 PM
Wow.  Ok then I guess I won't complain about my pricing then.  I lowered it a little and it's still way above $.14 a square inch.  :)
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: chez on November 17, 2013, 10:52:01 AM
Now you are making a big assumption that the cheaper priced print has a lower quality. Before I started printing for myself, I sent out to have my canvas prints done and the quality and turn around time were fabulous. Cost was almost as much as it costs me to print my own now. Like any mom & pop shop, it is getting harder to compete with the Internet giants out there.

It's the same concept of people going to places like B&H to purchase their equipment rather than getting personal service from their local shop.

I won't even try to compete with Wally and Stapes and others regarding canvas...I don't even want to deal with people who are that price sensitive since they take twice the effort and want to pay half the price. Not worth the headache. I price my canvas on the high side and differentiate my work with getting the canvas out quickly if needed, properly fixed to make the print better, or mirror the edge to make the image stand out, rather than wrap the edge over the side like the cheaper places.

I also point out that the entire process is hand-done here at my studio and here in my community which sometimes score points to the quality-minded customer.

Separate yourself from the cheapies with quality, turnaround speed, skills and craft and you'll get a better return on your efforts.

Another way to up sell your work is to send the cheapies your file and let them do their thing. Take the same file, craft it well with your spin and put them up side-by-side and if you've got a better product it should stand out as such when put side-by-side. Tthen you can point out the actual differences between "price" and "quality". The website "crappy vs snappy" comes to mind...
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: smjphoto on January 02, 2014, 12:03:53 AM
I don't see anything about a wrap or even stretching for .$14/sq in in Colorwave's post. Is, in fact that included?
Stuart
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Colorwave on January 02, 2014, 01:42:26 AM
That is the price per square inch for the total canvas trim size, meaning that it counts any border.  I normally print 2.5" borders for 1.5" deep stretchers, so that means a 16" x 20" gallery wrap is billed at 525 square inches (21" x 25").  At $.14, that is $73.50.  Stretching is extra.  For 16" x 20", stretching adds an additional $43.00, for a total cost of $116.50.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: jferrari on January 02, 2014, 08:41:49 AM
Just as a point of reference, I sell wholesale only. My price for a 16" x 20" ready-to-hang gallery wrapped print, 1.5" depth, with serial number plate and Tyvek dust cover is $35.60. My clients will pick up their orders at my studio or, if they so choose, crating/shipping is available for an extra charge.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: smjphoto on January 02, 2014, 11:58:06 AM
Jferrari: wow, that's really economical by my references. Can I ask what kind of printer and canvas you use? Do you varnish the canvas w 2 or more coats?
I'm just trying to compare "apples to apples".
Thanks
Stuart
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: jferrari on January 02, 2014, 04:56:40 PM
Jferrari: wow, that's really economical by my references. Can I ask what kind of printer and canvas you use? Do you varnish the canvas w 2 or more coats?
I'm just trying to compare "apples to apples".

Epson printers (pigment not dye) on poly/cotton blend canvas. Make my own strainer frames. No longer varnish the prints, too much hassle. I use a vacuum press applied, over-laminate film. I live smack dab in the middle of downtown nowhere and am charging what the local market will bear.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Paul2660 on January 04, 2014, 02:18:06 PM
You can also safely assume that many of the low price leaders are now on solvent printers.  This cuts a huge amount of the cost for them as they no longer have to coat, and can handle the prints immediately with no danger of rub off.  It's pretty hard to tell the difference now between a print on a solvent canvas with a glossy finish from a coated/matte or glossy canvas print.  The newest Epson's are very good machines and have come a long way.    This is of course a non-archival solution and no one yet really knows how long the solvent inks will last.  They make a print that can be placed indoors or outdoors, is very durable and appears color fast. 

Also, if the shop is printing on a glossy canvas without coating it, IMO you are just buying trouble in the long run.  Most glossy canvas I have tried has a much more fragile top coat and in the long run if you don't coat it then you will tend to see problems down the road. 

These same shops can also produce huge photo prints on traditional photo paper, that will not out gas and have sizes well beyond standard poster paper for around 25.00 a print. 

Shipping is also advantageous for them instead of you, since again they have a high volume, get a better UPS rate and can buy the shipping boxes in large numbers and store them. 

Also a lot of these same shops are no longer stretching with a staples, but instead using the instant wrap style bars.  These hold the canvas edge with glue and can produce a very nice finished piece, and you can knock one out in 1/4 of the time on sizes like 16 x 20, 18 x 24 and 20 x 30, which is the main sizes that people seem to want. 

The volume that these type of shops are printing to is simply too hard to compete with.    They are using cheap labor that once trained can produce the product in a way that the consumer is happy with.

The consumer perception of printing seems to be pretty much the same as their perception of photography, i.e. it's so easy to do, all you do it connect the camera to the printer and hit print. 

Paul Caldwell



Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: louoates on January 04, 2014, 02:36:46 PM
Paul, great summary of current canvas print technology. The era of selling large canvasses at a profit for most photographers has been over for some time.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Colorwave on January 04, 2014, 02:48:02 PM
Yes, Paul, it's almost impossible to successfully compete against the volume players using solvent printers on their own terms, and I certainly wouldn't want to try.  I have a local branch of a chain of framing shops recommend me to customers that want quality and longevity, even though they sell their own custom stretched canvas gallery wraps made in house.  Their prints are equal in quality and price to those made for Costco, so we each occupy different niches of the food chain.  Just as I wouldn't want to have a low priced hot dog stand next to Costco, I see competing with their print offerings in the same way.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: bill t. on January 06, 2014, 07:36:15 PM
I distinguish my canvases by supplying them at very large scale framed in impressive, 3 to 5 inch wide frames that would make Peter Lik envious.  Sofa-sized through boardroom-size, that's where the action is.

I have a shop system that makes those easy to produce, the cost to me is not dramatically more than a set of stretcher bars.  The canvases are mounted, which is also a very efficient operation.  For not much more time and effort, for a given price calculation I get a price point not too far above wraps, with much higher perceived value.

Large scale framing is a tough nut to crack and gives you a significant competitive edge.  Customers almost universally place a very high value on large scale framing (say 30 x 60 on up) and do not classify it in the "we can get that for zip down at Costco" category.  It's still something special much like large wraps were 5 years ago.  And the notion that professional framing is wildly expensive lives on, I milk it for all it's worth.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Alan Klein on January 10, 2014, 02:33:59 PM
I am using a pro lab that charges $99 (plus shipping) for a 32"x48". You can not compete with high-volume labs on price. Instead, try differentiating your offering. It could be attention to detail, speed/quality of service, superior communication and co-operation with the client, community ties, etc. However, if none of that matters to the client, and they just want the cheapest, you either drop your price or give up.

Alternatively, you can show them this (http://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/9d742f32-4062-11e3-bf06-22000a970267-original.jpg):  ;)



She had the same art teacher I had.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Alan Klein on January 10, 2014, 02:40:09 PM
This reminds me of the old joke about two guys talking about their widget businesses.  One asks the other how he can make a profit when it costs him $5 a widget but sells it for $4.

Well says the second guy, I make it up in volume.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: markdauber on January 14, 2014, 09:14:15 AM
Bill,
could you further discuss the "shop system" and that the canvas is "mounted"?  Mounted as opposed to stretched?
Thanks
Mark
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: PeterAit on January 14, 2014, 10:29:19 AM
I gave up even trying to estimate canvas prices for those who call me out of the blue. Most are searching for cheap on line sources and somehow think that whatever I can do to improve their digital file is worthless.
The last estimate I gave was of an enlargement of one of my own images they saw on my web site. It was a unique shot that I know no one else has. I quoted a very good price but was told that it was double what they could get on the internet. I guess one mountain is a good as another.

It's depressing. We photographers tend to have an inflated opinion of our own work, but still! My favorite (or least favorite) is when a woman expressed interest in one of my prints at a show "because it matched her decor." 
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: bill t. on January 14, 2014, 01:05:41 PM
Ah, but one mountain is NOT as good as another when we're talking about a LOCAL mountain versus some generic, far off mountain.

Images of local scenes sell like hotcakes, in the local area.  Almost all my photographs are of the local landscape, and I have easily sold many 1,000's in my relatively small city to people who are thrilled to see their familiar environs glorified to sofa sized pieces in their homes and offices and institutions.   "The Apotheosis (http://files.libertyfund.org/img/TheApotheosisLincolnAndWashington1860s-450.jpg) of Where You Live" should be the title of all your pieces.  So to all you nearby competitors: go out and shoot arches and the slot canyons, please!
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: Justan on January 14, 2014, 01:56:47 PM
Quote
It's depressing. We photographers tend to have an inflated opinion of our own work, but still! My favorite (or least favorite) is when a woman expressed interest in one of my prints at a show "because it matched her decor."

The image has to match the perceived needs of the buyer. Their needs are all that matters. It is often an impossible task.

Quote
Ah, but one mountain is NOT as good as another when we're talking about a LOCAL mountain versus some generic, far off mountain.

At my last show one prospective customer was interested in what I have of Mt. Rainier, our local icon. I have several, all of which are captured close to the mountain from 3/4ths the way around. This particular customer would have none of it. It was not just the mountain, not just the time of day, not just the time of year, but the particular angle they wanted to match. You see, they have a house about 100 miles north of the mountain, and they want something wall size that is like the roughly 1” bump on the horizon they see when looking out their door. I have a good seller that is slightly N/NE and they want one that is just slightly N/NW. Uh huh.

A long time art shlepper told me that when a customer wants a way out, they will always contrive it, even when it doesn’t exist. Such are the needs of buyers.
Title: Re: Pricing Canvas Prints
Post by: bill t. on January 14, 2014, 03:17:53 PM
could you further discuss the "shop system" and that the canvas is "mounted"?  Mounted as opposed to stretched?

The LuLa hard discs are positively clogged with posts about mounting canvas.  Enter "miracle muck" into the "Search..." box at upper right and step back quickly.  The best posts are of course mine, but there are admittedly others on this forum with interesting takes on the process.

As far as my so-called "shop system" goes, it is simply a matter or minimizing procedural steps and distances between boxes of moulding, the Phaedra miter saw, and the table where I join frames together, and also of having adequate shop table space.   I'm 1 for 2 on that.  Remove as many unnecessary steps and as much wasted motion as possible, and you have a system.  Sometimes a simple modification to things like where you keep you hand tools and how many times you have to turn around can save an hour a day.  One of the biggest time and fatigue saving revolutions for me was simply never having to do a 180 degree turn while holding a stick of moulding.