Lessons from pricing artwork in cryptocurrency

Johnny Dollar
2 min readMay 4, 2018


So far in 2018, I’ve exhibited artwork at four different shows, and priced all my work in the Ether, rather than US Dollars. This had mixed results.

UnAmerican Gothic By JohnnyDollar

For example, about a month ago at a SXSW show in Austin, a gentleman was very interested in my piece titled “Un-American Gothic” He balked at the price. He said that he “really liked it, but it was too expensive!” I replied that it was made with high-quality canvas and premium paints, and told him for how much the painting had been appraised. It was priced at 1 ETH , trading for about $500 at the time.

He replied that he knew “the price of Ether was less, but in his mind it was still $1,000.” So this made the painting feel too expensive.”

Conversely, earlier the year, at the Decentralized Art Show at the Dallas Bitcoin conference, I had a few people exclaim how affordable the art was. Crypto-currencies were near all time highs at the time.

Obviously, every art collector is different not only in their taste in art but also their buying or negotiation techniques. This customer may have simply been trying to get a lower price.

But, I think there is more to the story. Critics often state that crypto is not money because no one wants to spend their crypto-assets when prices are going up. I don’t know of any evidence of this, but I suspect that whales like to spend their crypto during bull-runs. Not just because of some euphoria from making profits, but also from the delayed effect of dramatic price changes on the mind.

Example: coinX is trading around $100 a coin for several months, when all of the sudden coinX doubles in price. The long time holder of coinX may now see things priced in coinX as discounted. The converse would obviously be true if the price goes down, as in the situation that I described earlier with the painting. This doesn’t work, a little stability seems required for retail pricing.

In the decentralized future where cryptocurrencies rule commerce, I look forward to setting my price in cryptos, but for now I will set my prices in dollars and accept cryptos as the preferred method of payment.



Johnny Dollar

Crypto-anarchist , cypherpunk inspired artist exploring themes of privacy, surveillance, copyright, hive-mind thinking, virtual-reality, and identity.