Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sticker Shock

I know we are all going through this - - - - How do I determine the price of my work? It's a slippery slope. To costly and no one will buy your work - To low a price point and your work doesn't seem valued by customers and won't sell either. Personally, I'd be the first person to agree with what a PITA (pain in the _ _ _) it all is. At times it seems like a losing proposition no matter what you do.

Often artists will go with WTMWB (what the market will bear). I don't know if that is exactly a valid pricing structure, although you have no doubt seen it in use all of the time. When I lived less rural and had access to several shopping malls all at once you could visit the same "high end" stores at each mall. Darn if the same item wasn't a different price depending on the malls location. I suppose maybe now days that is a little more difficult for them to do with the onslaught of computers and on-line shopping. But, that also makes it more difficult for artists to price their work. We function by the same set of variables. Customers can comparison shop at every on-line shop and nearly every art show. Anyone making, or trying to, make a living via the arts runs the gamut trying to compete. Trust me, I've been at this for forty years - it's never been more difficult. You have to be savvy and more business like than ever before.

So, do I think you can be paid fairly for your work. Yes, I do. But, you better be prepared to be professional and presentable to be profitable. And what the hell does that mean? Well, you have to be able to justify the price you are asking for your work. What is it that makes it unique - how much time are you spending creating it- can you answer the what/ how/ and why. Presentable ? - absolutely! Marketing isn't everything, but at times it is the ONLY thing between YOU selling or THEM selling. How are you presenting/ representing your work? Hey, I don't know why it has to be this way - life changes and the easy arts and crafts movement of 20 years ago has passed.

Check any forum for artists and ask about pricing your work....everyone has a different opinion and is willing to justify their stance. Like I said - PITA.

So what can you do? I guess what I see, and have seen, for as long as I have been doing art shows - chalk up over thirty years on that one - is that everyone has pretty much a base rate they would like to be paid. An hourly wage, so to speak. In that single hour I can make "X" number of spacer beads, for example. That would mean if I want to be paid that "X" number then those spacer beads might be worth $1.00 each. On the other hand - If I created a singular focal bead which takes me an hour to create I must charge the same "X" for it. Sounds simple, right? For the most part it is - but, it depends whether you are truly a self-supporting artist or not. Is it your only means of financial support? If it is, then the "X" number better be large enough per hour to cover life's basic needs and not just artistic supplies. These days, that's not easy no matter how you cut it. And, there are plenty of customers who do not have the disposable income that was available prior to the current economy issues.

How do you come about determining that "X"value is always the issue. In this economy would you be willing to accept a smaller wage to do the same job you might have been paid more for a couple of years ago? Wouldn't it be great if we all worked for a union and the determining wage for the art was the same for all of us - and huge! HA! Not so, and that's good too. I am not going to pay the same for a KIA as I would for a Mercedes - same goes for the art work. And around and around we go.....PITA! Is anyone truly wrong in this discussion? I don't think so.

Recently I came across a good way to figure out some of that "X" value. It still doesn't mean I'm driving around that Mercedes but with experience and practice I shouldn't be offering up my work in the KIA price range either.

And what does this all means I'm going to plug in some figures into the equation one more time and figure out where I stand in pricing my work. You can do that too, if you'd like. It's always an eye-opener when you do. One of the best articles and one of the most helpful sites I've seen for an artist is:
Design Sponge. If you click on the link I created it will take you directly to "pricing your work". Check the site out though, you'll enjoy it. Anything that helps us artists spot a design trend or aid in our desision making is always helpful to the cause. Let me know how it works for you.

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