The Posture of Craft - Learning to Stretch

Posture-of-Craft-Learning-Stretch

My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.

I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media.  It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.

CircuitTrainingClasslighterAt the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise.  Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week  and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.  

The-Chair-Rethinking-Culture-BodyPerhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.

From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies.  Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_CoverThis is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset. 

She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.

"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_01

With both feet on the floor,

Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.


Put left hand under left sit bone,
palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_02

Reach straight up with right arm.

 

Inhale

 

 

 

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Exhale.

Lean head to right.

Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line. 
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.

Stay here for a few breaths. 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_04

Lower head down another couple of inches,

Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.

Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_05

Release overhead arm.

Roll chin to chest.

Release the hand you are sitting on.

Leave head hanging.

Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self massage.

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_06

Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up

 

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_thumb

Repeat neck stretch on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Join me for fitness at Belmont Planet Granite as my guest for one of my classes. Contact me by email in advance. 


Drought, Water, Grass, Art, and Personal Observations

GRASS-art-droughtOver 15 years ago, I watched a neighbor rip out the low maintenance landscaping in front of their house and put in a lawn instead.  I was shocked that their idea of a perfect front yard had to be a manicured green lawn.  The lawn-care industry had so deeply ingrained that idea through advertising as a staple of the domestic environment.

That incident provided inspiration for me to make a series of sculptures and a video about the environmental impact of grass lawns. blades of grass depicted the green grass lawn

Now here in California we are in the midst of a serious drought. For the first time people are realizing just how much water lawns consume and the environmental issues surrounding lawns that compete for our drinking water.  

Blades of grass as a sculpture

It has now become "the thing to do" for houses with grass in front to have parched looking lawns.

Blades
The water battles here in the west have a long history. With increasing population and agricultural demands, this problem isn't going away.  Removal of grass lawns is becoming the norm and more water-wise solutions are considered as permanent replacements.

Gainsborough-Painting-Mr-Mrs-Andrews with green lawn.

The modern lawn was inspired by the 18th century landscape architecture of grand estates in England on which nature and humans were perceived to peacefully coexist. The green lawn dependent on a mild, wet climate was transplanted to North America despite the harsher climates and diversity of vegetation beyond the American East Coast.   

Blades of grass art sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.In America, we plant lawns in the deserts, forests, and prairie. We pour on chemicals, and emit tons of pollutants with mowers and blower equipment.

The grass \'gras\ video (below) shows the fabrication, assembly and meaning behind the lawn-size installation (9' x 9') with 32,400 blades of grass cut from post consumer tin cans.

View all the grass sculptures on my website.

The installation travels in 19 boxes. 


Control Your Prices and Avoid Price Comparisons With Your Gallery

In response to the previous post, Emily Johnson left a comment that deserves further attention. You are welcome to leave your comments as well, . . . but let's start with her questions.

Emily-Johnson-Soli-14k-ring
"Hi Harriete!
I've been moving to sell more online myself, my galleries are doing it, so why shouldn't I?"

"Locally my work sells at double wholesale. However, most of my out of state galleries do a 2.25, sometimes 2.5 markup on my work. I think that's too high." 

"What is everyone's opinion on how to keep my prices consistent? Do I raise my prices to 2.25 to keep consistent, or do I ask my galleries to stick with 2 x markup? Knowing full well that they may not be too happy about that....."

Pat-Flynn-prices-on-internet-phoneEmily's questions bring up several issues that I was thinking about when composing the previous postThe point of the previous post was that the transparency and ease of price comparisons facilitated by the internet also creates an opportunity for artists and makers to control the price point for their work.  Expanding on Emily's thoughts, I also think that some new approaches to price management with more strategic thinking are in order.
 

 

 

 

Let's Break Down the ISSUES.
What is the impact when galleries calculate their retail price at 2.25x or 2.50x the wholesale price while the artist/maker continues to maintain a lower retail price at twice wholesale? 

  • The galleries may be frustrated that artists are selling at a lower price.
  • The galleries may consider that their retailing expenses justify a higher price point.
  • If artists/makers are retailing work independent of the galleries, maybe artist/makers are not fully accounting for their retailing expenses. Have you thought about how much it costs you to stand at a retail show, or list your work online? 
  • If the galleries think the work can sell at a higher price point, why do you think that a 2.25 /2.5 markup is too high?
  • Does a lower price lead to higher sales volume and more profit?  Do you have evidence that more work will sell at a 2.0 markup? Is selling more work at a lower price your objective? 
  • What would be the impact on your bottom line if the gallery decided not to sell your work any longer because they didn't want to compete with your lower price point?


The future of selling:
While not every artist and maker sells directly online, it is definitely a growing trend. While craft shows continue a slow decline and brick & mortar locations struggle to maintain market share, the alternatives for selling online continue to expand and the barrier to entry is low. 


The impact of selling online:
Posted prices are expected online  -- and price comparisons are easily obtained within minutes. 

Work on consignment is owned by the artist:
If the work is on consignment, I think artist should be able to dictate the retail price. You own the work, not the gallery.  An artist/ maker can definitely specify a recommended retail price (which should be at least double wholesale to cover your retailing expenses).   

Thinking strategically, here are other options:

Option 1.
Ask the consignment gallery to purchase your work outright (at your wholesale price) and they can mark up as much as they like when they own the work.  You can also offer to stop selling the same work from your website or any other online marketplace in exchange for a minimum sales volume within a specified time frame. (See below for more on this point.)     

Option 2.
Change the wholesale approach altogether.   To avoid a direct price comparison between you and your gallery, sell a specific line of work at the gallery and sell a different series on your website.

Stores do this all the time. I discovered this marketing approach recently when shopping for carpet. After going to five different carpet stores I realized that all the stores sell well known brand names like "StainMaster" but the names for the same carpet grades and styles are different at each store.  It was impossible for me (the consumer) to make a side by side comparison on price or quality even for the same brand name. Comparing carpet from different carpet companies was equally impossible and completely overwhelming.

Artists could adopt a similar strategy to avoid the appearance of direct price competition with their galleries.  Galleries can sell a particular group of work and the artist can grant an exclusive on that style to eliminate side by side price point comparisons. Another approach is to simply change the name of the work or the series on your website, so it is harder for the consumer to make a side by side comparison.  This tactic is what carpeting and mattress companies depend on for their marketing and pricing strategies.

Option 3.
Think about prices and value more strategically. The idea of selling to a small local market is quickly vaporizing. The world is your market.  Every person is now competing with everyone else (including imported jewelry marketed as "handmade" and lifestyle purchases like a new phone). How can you create a perception of value for your work that has less to do with price?  To compete your work must standout and be unique.  Average is very hard to sell in a global marketplace. Define your market more specifically and help buyers choose your work based on factors beyond low prices alone. 


IN SUMMARY:

  • Rethink how to manage the marketing and pricing of your work.  
  • Consider selling different work at different venues (e.g. galleries and online). 
  • Avoid obvious comparisons between your website and your gallery prices. 
  • Market your work beyond local.  
  • Be more assertive in managing the prices of consignment work. 

 

Related Posts:

Pricing and the Impact of the WEB: To post prices or to not post prices??

She Sells Wholesale. She Sells Retail. Is She Selling Wholesale at Retail?

Commission Structures with Galleries - Are they negotiable?

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is Included in the Cost of Finished Good besides your best guess?

The Value of Your Work is NOT the Price of Your Work

Pricing Your Work - The Ultimate Variable in SELLING YOUR WORK has no numbers! What the Market Will Bear


Pricing and the Impact of the WEB: To post prices or to not post prices??

To post prices or to not post prices??

The debate about posting prices for art or craft on the web has raged on for years. One faction advocates that no posted price encourages customers to contact the artist or gallery.  A different faction rationalizes that most potential buyers will be discouraged if such basic information is not readily available.  Read on for my opinion on this issue...

Pat-Flynn-prices-on-internet-phoneI've been wondering... with the ease of comparing prices right in the palm of your hand.... what is the impact on the arts and craft market? Can you vary your asking (retail) price in different market niches?  

My experience in a recent eBay auction has helped gel my opinion.

 

 

Pat-Flynn-ebay

It all started when my sister found a Pat Flynn bracelet on eBay for a minimum bid of $650. We both recognized this as a great deal.  

Pat-Flynn-WebsiteWhile Pat Flynn has no prices on his web site, it didn't take much detective work to find this production bracelet #9 available at multiple locations, galleries, stores and online marketplaces with the retail price of $1,680. 


Since I was able to verify the retail price, the eBay $650 starting bid would be a fantastic price for a Pat Flynn bracelet. Would it sell for $650?  With 24 hours before the deadline, there were no bidders.

OBSERVATION #1
Pat-Flynn-HamiltonHill
It is easy to compare prices on-line from different venues even for art jewelry with a limited production. 

 

 

OBSERVATION #2
Pat-Flynn-Sam-Shaw-GalleryAs every brick and mortar retailer moves to online sales for survival, prices online will be expected, just like in the store. Everyone expects the price to be listed even for art & craft. No posted price indicates that the item is not for sale or it is already sold. The days of "price available upon request" is truly only for the most rarefied, truly one of a kind, and very high end (i.e. if you have to ask, you can't afford it).

 

THE eBay BIDDING 24 HOURS LATER... 
Pat-Flynn-final-bids-2
The next day as the bidding deadline was getting closer.....I followed it closely.  As I had discovered already, any potential bidder could easily find price comparisons to verify the retail value of the bracelet.  In the last two hours, the bidding rapidly accelerated. 

 

OBSERVATION #3
Pat-Flynn-Quadrum
Listing your prices on-line establishes value.  In this example, there was ample evidence that the asking price for a Pat Flynn bracelet was $1,680 at several different locations across the U.S., so any price below that would be a bargain. 

 

THE eBay BIDDING CLOSED
Pat-Flynn-final-bids3The bidding ended significantly closer to retail....though not quite full retail. Someone still got a great deal at $1,031 -- saving $100's off the full retail price elsewhere. I think if the eBay listing had a better photo, they would have had more bidders earlier on, but still an exciting frantic finish.

 

OBSERVATION #4
Pat-Flynn-website-9-stone-nail-BraceletPut your maker's mark clearly on your work. Pat Flynn's work is clearly identifiable not just with his signature style and materials, but because of his maker's mark in gold on the inside of every bracelet. Even for a person with little knowledge of art jewelry market they know this is by Pat Flynn. 

 

Pat-Flynn-ebay-cuObviously, the photo on e-bay was terrible (left) and the description of the Pat Flynn bracelet was unsophisticated and even incomplete.  Still they had his name in the description on eBay which brought bidders.  Your maker's mark, signature or stamp is important to establishing the value of your work.

OBSERVATION #5
With limited or no established secondary market for art jewelry and craft the possibilities of bargains on eBay will be more commonplace. People selling items from an estate will turn to eBay as online continues to expand. The potential for a discovery is there. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:
A variation on the debate about posting prices is whether pricing can or should vary in different markets. Artists and makers have often commented, "I can't sell my work for that price in my own hometown.  Shouldn't my work sell at a lower price at a local store and at a higher price in the big city galleries?"  In response, my professional recommendation is and has always been that work has to be the same price everywhere. 

Especially with price comparisons so easy on the Internet, prices need to be consistent everywhere.  This is most important where the customer can compare identical items. Price comparisons are inevitable.

And most important, artists and makers need to price their work at full retail on their website so as not to confuse their customers or undercut their galleries/stores/online markets. The on-line posted price establishes value.

THE FUTURE:
The new reality is that artists may have more control of the retail price.  
As pricing visibility on-line becomes the status quo there may be beneficial consequences for artists and makers. Quickly fading are the days that brick and mortar locations could add another 10% or 20% to retail figuring no one will notice. 

Retail prices are now viewed with the transparency of the web and the convenience of a smart phone. Price comparisons are only a search away in the palm of your customer's hand. Variations in price are immediately discovered and compared against similar to identical items. Control of your recommended retail price is now the artist's decision more than ever before.

Take the power and the responsibility of controlling the value of your work. 

Establish a recommended retail price consistent for all situations and establish the value of your work. 

 

Guide to images found online:
Pat-Flynn-HamiltonHill-cuHamiltonHill
SPRINKLE NAIL BRACELET
Nail Bracelet by Pat Flynn made with black iron and 18 karat yellow gold hinge featuring nine small diamonds in palladium settings.Price: $1,680.00 

Pat-Flynn-QuadrumQuadrum
Nine Diamond Nail Bracelet
Pat Flynn

This Pat Flynn nail bracelet is hand forged from iron and finished with an 18K yellow gold clasp. There are nine diamonds set in 18K palladium bezels that are scattered throughout the bracelet adding an element of surprise and just the right amount of sparkle. Wear this edgy hinged bracelet solo or stacked into your everyday collection. This is a truly unique collector's piece. Look to the interior for a stamped and artist signed 18K yellow gold plate!

Since each item is handmade, slight variations may occur.


$1,680.00

 


An Astounding Jewelry Discovery

One year ago the Professional Development Seminar for the 2014 SNAG Conference focused on the importance of documenting your work, Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance along with your maker's mark. History can have a short memory and recently this was brought to my attention in a very surprising and astounding jewelry discovery!

In 2006 my parents bought this wonderful necklace and earrings for me!
Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Necklace-Earrings
My parents knew I would like the colorful necklace and big earrings -- just my style. In addition, I collect vintage acrylic jewelry and lamps so they knew they had found something that would fit my tastes perfectly.   For the past nine years, the only thing that I knew about the necklace and earrings was that my parents bought it in Florida at some antique or consignment shop.

Fast forward to the recent 2015 SNAG Conference in Boston.  On the final night I decided to wear the necklace and earrings for the evening activities. As you can imagine, many people wear fantastic jewelry to a finale event for the Society of North American Goldsmiths. 

It was then that my friend Marjorie Schick identified the necklace as the work of Caroline Broadhead (one of my jewelry & installation heroes).  I was stunned. I had no idea.  Marjorie recalled that in the 1980's Broadhead set up a business in London with Nuala Jamison "making buttons and acrylic jewelry for Jean Muir and other dress designers." 

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Earrings-1

Marjorie and I immediately looked carefully at the necklace and earrings in better light but found no maker marks.  We went to a computer to research further and promptly found these similar earrings (left) from the Crafts Council Collection Online with attribution to Nuala Jamison and Caroline Broadhead for C&N Buttons & Jewellery Production circa 1992. 

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-VZ-cu2Further research also discovered this necklace by Nuala Jamison and Caroline Broadhead at a Von Zezcchwitz auction in 2009.

Caroline-Broadhead-Nuala-Jamison-Von-Zezschwitz

How did Marjorie Schick know all of this information? I've worn the necklace at several other SNAG conferences and no one said anything before. Marjorie glowed with enthusiasm as she recounted her experience.  She said, "I made trips to the UK and Holland, etc. during the 1980's and spent at least two sabbaticals and a summer in London so I was meeting a lot of people AND buying a few pieces.  I enrolled at the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design and later was artist-in-residence there as well as at Middlesex University and both schools provided the opportunity to meet more artists.  I love that time period when the “New Jewelry” was happening and feel that I am fairly knowledgeable about it --- having lived it and having been a part of it." 

This has been an exciting discovery. I've been bursting to share this jewelry tale. To think that I own a necklace and earrings by Caroline Broadhead is just wonderful. I have always loved wearing this jewelry, but now appreciate it with more insight and knowledge. 

Lessons learned for everyone:

  • Put your maker mark on all your work, some how, some way, so that your jewelry can tell a story even if you aren't there.
  • Be on the look out for fabulous necklaces by your jewelry hero. Some day you may find an example at a flea market on the ground (like this story about a Calder necklace) or at a consignment shop.
  • Trust your instincts and buy fabulous jewelry for $15, $50, or if you can afford it, $5,000. Don't wait. Your eye for jewelry may be a discovery.  
  • Wear your jewelry.
  • Be knowledgeable about your fields of interest. 
  • Conferences can offer wonderful surprises (keep this in mind when wondering if it is worth going).
  • Speak with your own voice with everything you make.  

Sculpture-to-Wear-Marjorie-SchickSculpture to Wear: The Jewelry of Marjorie Schick

This is a fabulous book about jewelry as sculpture you won't see any where else. Beautiful photos, and a complete Oeuvre Catalog clearly demonstrates the vision of this unique maker Marjorie Schick. Essay by Tacey Rosolowski.

If you love color or jewelry then this book is a must! Ask your library to add it to their collection. Marjorie does not have a website and only a fraction of her work is on the web. 


Learn to keep Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance of your work.

InventoryRecordFORM
MORE POSTS about Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance can be found here.

TAKE A MOMENT to study the jewelry and installations of Caroline Broadhead.

Caroline-Broadhead-Jewelry-In-StudioCaroline-Broadhead-Portfolio-Collection


Volunteer to Make a Difference

Pin Volunteering Recognition AwardJust last week I received an award at the annual SNAG Conference in Boston, SNAG's first ever Volunteer Recognition Award. The SNAG Board says that the award acknowledges my many volunteer efforts over the years such as the Professional Development Seminars, the Professional Guidelines, and numerous other activities. 

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Receiving an award was quite gratifying, and even emotional. The introduction by Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman brought tears to my eyes. But I never did the volunteer work expecting an award -- I simply volunteered to help because I believe that any person can make a difference.   

 Going one step further, I also believe that each person in a community has a responsibility to make a contribution.

 

Harriete-SNAG-Volunteer-Recognition-AwardI understand that these are busy times and it seems impossible to find time for volunteering. I don't have time for volunteering either.  Yet, somehow, for me, volunteering isn't optional, it is an obligation, but it comes with rich rewards that can only be realized through the experience.

 

 

 



Volunteer-Recognition-Award-Berman-Jim-BoveHowever it happens, volunteering seems to create good karma.
 It connects to something bigger than one person or one hour. Volunteering makes a difference for the community, and sooner or later, it can make a difference for you as well.

 


Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-JunHelp out and you will learn so much, meet new people, people will get to know you, and perhaps open up new opportunities.

 

 

 

Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Every organization needs help with jobs from big too small. Whether focusing on your local guild, national arts organization, school, or neighborhood, ask if you can help. Membership dollars (if any) cover only a small part of operations for most non-profit organizations. Organizations like SNAG can only thrive when volunteers help.

Speak up and volunteer your opinion. We all benefit when we share information, our experiences, and even our mistakes.  It can be reaffirming to have others validate that we all have so much in common.

Our work and our community become more meaningful when we work together.

VOLUNTEER IDEAS:

  • Volunteer for your local arts organization like SNAG
  • Volunteer to help out at your next guild event.
  • Need something from your local arts organization? Ask if you can make it happen.  Using the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see."  
  • Give Blood - One hour out of your day can save a life.
  • Volunteer an opinion.
  • Volunteer at your children's school.
  • Volunteer at ResearchMatch.com  to participate as a healthy control subject  in medical research. It's easy and free.
  • Volunteer to clean up your neighborhood.

Volunteer, and you will have made a difference.

PHOTO CREDITS:

SNPin Volunteering Recognition AwardAG Volunteer Recognition Award Pin designed by graphic design student Ross Tanner, Grand Valley State University. Fabricated by Ross Tanner, and Renee Zettle-Sterling, Associate Professor of Art and Design at Grand Valley State University.

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Photo Credit for photos of pins: Renee Zettle-Sterling, SNAG Past-President 

 

Harriete-SNAG-Volunteer-Recognition-Award

Photo Credit: Boris Bally, SNAG Conference attendee, SNAG Conference speaker and maker.  

 

Volunteer-Recognition-Award-Berman-Jim-Bove

Photo Credit: Jim Bove

 

Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun

 Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin


Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin


The "G-day" is here. Is your site "mobile-friendly?"

April 21st is the day that Google threatens to reduce the visibility of your website or blog in search results if it is not "mobile-friendly." 

Below is an image of an email that I received from Google Webmaster Tools. Sounds pretty scary to me.

Google-Mobility-Issues

I have been reading posts about this April 21st Google deadline for weeks, listening to podcasts, and knew this was coming, yet did nothing until last night jumping into a "beta" version of Typepad so that I could format all the colors and choices myself. 

The issues surrounding mobile usability could have a profound affect on how your business will show up in Google search results. For example, Google says that 100% of my website pages have mobility issues. This is a nightmare!

In summary, the reason for this mandate is that more and more people are  using their smart phones and tablets to access the web. 

In the next few weeks, I will try to bring some of the pressing issues forward as topics.

If you haven't signed up for Google Webmasters this is the time. Learn about Web Fundamentals from Google. 

Mobile-Friendly-TestTry the free Google mobile-friendly test for any page on your website.  Let me know what it says.

 

From Google:


Yikes! Avoid Auction Pricing Confusion

US-Fundraising-Auction-Terms

During a recent series of posts about Fundraising Auctions,
 readers asked for clarification on some terms often associated with auctions and pricing practices. In addition, many of us enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow and listening to their "experts" who use various terminology for the items being appraised such as "at auction", "replacement value", and "insurance value".
 
Us-eye-with-tearYikes this is potentially confusing
.... and when each of us is left to our own interpretation, the misunderstandings may lead to disappointment, frustration, and pricing disasters for artists, makers, and sponsors.   

Part of being an advocate for the arts is trying to avoid confusion. As artists we want the pricing of our work to be consistent across all contexts (if possible).  Consistent pricing is a worthy objective.  Erratic or inconsistent prices may confuse potential customers, collectors, or clients -- or may cause them to question their own judgement if prices seem to vary arbitrarily.  This is especially true when price comparisons can be made at a moments notice by looking at the internet on their phones.

Here are the most common and generally accepted pricing terms and definitions:  

Us-RETAIL-PRICE
"RETAIL PRICE" 
is what the gallery/store/exhibition sponsor lists as the selling or retail purchase price in the catalog or on the “price list.” 

 

Us-wHOLESALE-PRICE
The "WHOLESALE PRICE" is the cash amount that the artist expects to receive as payment. This is sometimes called the “artist price”, but I'd recommend never using the term "artist price" because it may imply different things to different people.  The "wholesale price" might be calculated with a formula (such as 50% of the Retail Price or a 50/50 split with gallery, or 40/60 on consignment), but ultimately wholesale price is the payment that the artist expects to receive.  If the gallery/store is purchasing your work at wholesale, then they may decide to mark up your work with a different formula all together. 

 

Us-INSURANCE-VALUE.
Insurance value may change depending on the circumstances, so be sure to clarify precisely what is intended by both sides.  If there is ever an actual a claim for damaged work the insurance company will demand proof or documentation to validate the amount of the insurance value.  Documentation could be an invoice for selling similar items at a wholesale or retail price depending on the circumstances. A photocopy of a check or even a credit card invoice for a purchase can work. Another option is an appraisal.

Typically, "INSURANCE VALUE" for most artists, galleries, and exhibition sponsors equates to the wholesale price. Most insurance companies will only pay the artist the wholesale price if the work is lost, damaged or stolen during shipping or at an exhibition because this is what the artist would receive if the work had sold.  

However, "Insurance value" steps up to the retail price IF the artwork is sold at retail. The invoice for purchase at retail will be the documentation an insurance provider wants to see to establish the insurance value at the retail price.

Insurance Value is a term often used on Antiques Roadshow and in that context it is equivalent to what it would cost to replace the item. In that case, it is usually a high retail price because of the difficulty in finding a replacement for a rare or unusual item. 

 

Us-rESERVE-pRICE
"Reserve Price"  

The Professional Guidelines Committee recommends that the auction sponsor set a “reserve price” for work offered in an fundraising auction. The “reserve price” is the price below which the artwork will not be sold. This reserve would ideally be 80% of the retail price. The artists should be offered 40% of the retail price for their donations. The art organization will receive 40% of the retail price for fundraising and the collector has the possibility of receiving a 20% discount. Work sold above the retail price (as a result of generous bidding) creates additional revenue for the auction sponsor.

 

Us-MINIMUM-BID
"MINIMUM BID" is the starting point in the bidding of a “live” or “silent” auction. The Professional Guidelines recommends that the minimum bid start at the wholesale value. In practice this is rarely done. Bidding often starts very low, so make sure to clearly specify a reserve price to avoid having your work sold at auction at an embarrassingly low price. 

 

Us-BID-to-OWN
BID TO OWN” is usually full retail. If the bidder decides to place a “bid to own” early in the auction, no further bids are accepted. This is the winning bid.

 

 

US-At-Auction
"At auction"
 is often heard on Antiques Roadshow when they are giving a value for an item. Most of the appraisers are talking about a competitive live auction scenario at an auction house specializing in that type of work.  However, in practice, most winning bids at auction houses are often closer to wholesale (unless is it a rare item with a lot of competitive bidding). 

Don't let Antiques Roadshow terminology or their references to rarified auctions mislead you as an artist participating in local area fundraising auctions. These are two different animals.  

Antiques Roadshow has a whole page "Understanding Our Appraisals" that is worth reading. They also have a page How to Speak Auction. Keep in mind they are not talking about Fundraising Auctions, but the terms do sometimes overlap or they are confused. It is definitely worth taking time to understand the auction pricing terms in all contexts to be informed.

In the future, I would avoid use of the following terms because the definitions are vague or interpretations vary irrationally. If you are invited to a show or exhibition and see these terms in the prospectus, ask for clarification.  

  1. Minimum Value
  2. Artist Price
  3. Fair Market Value


 

 


RELATED Posts:

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money

What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

What Does Minimum Price Mean?

Fundraising Auctions & Conflicting Interest

Tis' the Season for Fundraising Auction Requests


A Mistake in the Last Post

I made a mistake in the recent post. The link to the video for the email version was to the wrong video. 
OOPS-FLOWER-Front copy

Go to post on ASK Harriete "Perceived Risk vs. Actual Risk of Speaking Up Counter to the Status Quo?" and watch the video there....

OR...here is a link to the youtube video titled,  “One Simple Skill to Overcome Peer Pressure” by The Behavioral Science Guys  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-U6QTRTZSc

Sorry about this mistake.

EXPLANATION: The email version of the post doesn't seem to embed videos, so I have been trying to include a text link.  That link was wrong. 

Goof-Off-Flower-Pin-404

Flower Pins by Harriete Estel Berman are all one-of-a-kind. Find the entire collection of Flower pins available for purchase on my website.  


Perceived Risk vs. Actual Risk of Speaking Up Counter to the Status Quo?

Perceived-Risk-vs-Actual-Risk
Given the many facets in the career
of an artist and maker, there are always instances when reality diverges from expectations.

During 35+ years of experience, I have learned and witnessed the benefits of well written contracts with galleries and exhibition sponsors.  Contracts certainly help to clarify anticipated circumstances, but alas, not every possible scenario can be or will be anticipated. 

Most recently a misunderstanding arose with a Fundraising Auction where the pricing format was far outside the usual parameters.  I was deeply committed to participate and had already shipped my work, so it was a surprise (shock!) to learn that I would be negatively affected by an unexpected auction structure.   

Harriete-turning-her-backSo the question arises...Should I speak up and risk alienating the auction sponsor, primary donor and staff? What are the perceived risks or actual risks for speaking up? Should social pressure cause me to just be quiet, conform and follow the status quo?  

This video "One Simple Skill to Overcome Peer Pressure" from The Behavioral Science Guys offers amazing insight into the social dynamic of peer pressure. And remarkably, it suggests a method for speaking up that might work next time. 

Honestly, at the time, the fear of perceived risks was stressful -- very stressful.  All the possible risks seemed to outweigh the immediate benefits.  But I did speak up -- and ultimately the outcome of my effort changed the pricing, not just for my work, but the pricing policy for everyone.  Actually, by raising the issue in advance it gave the sponsor time to consider the merits and choose a different plan.  

Was it easy? No. Did the other artists benefit? Yes. Did the sponsor benefit? Yes.

Speak up for your community.



RELATED Posts:

What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

What Does Minimum Price Mean?

Fundraising Auctions & Conflicting Interest

Tis' the Season for Fundraising Auction Requests


What is "Fair Market Value" at a Fundraising Auction?

An upcoming fundraising auction informed me that they intend to use the term “Fair Market Value” as part of their auction pricing structure.

This term - "Fair Market Value" -  was a huge surprise.   Frankly, I had never heard of it in art auction, it confused me and gave me great cause for concern.  I wondered why would they use the term "Fair Market Value" instead of the much more familiar "Retail Price?"

I wonder... 

Has anyone ever heard the term “fair market value” when pricing art or craft?

Have you ever seen the term "Fair Market Value" used at a Fundraising Auction?

I’d like to hear your comments or opinions about the term "Fair Market Value" under the given circumstances. 

Your comments and reply are most welcome.

  Shopping-cart-Fair-Market-Value-Gavel

Background surrounding the circumstances.
I had never heard of the term "Fair Market Value" used instead of "retail price" in a art/craft retail context
 and it leaves me concerned that the use of this term sets an awkward and misleading precedent.

Then of greater concern, the sponsor also said that they intend to use an automatic formula to calculate "Fair Market Value."  In the original invitation, artists were asked to state a specific price as the artist's "minimum price," however, the term "minimum price" was never defined, and the artists were not informed how the "minimum price" would be used as a factor to automatically calculate a "Fair Market Value" as 3 times the artist's "minimum price."   

 Minimum-price-fair-market-value

It is as if the auction sponsor believes that every artist is identical and the pricing of every work is reduced to a fixed formula -- with no prior knowledge of the artist's comparable prices for similar work. 

Using the term "Fair Market Value" at an auction has further irony when you consider that most Fundraising Auction sell artwork at below normal retail prices potentially eroding  the "Fair Market Value" for all work by the artist.  

 

If you are not familiar with the term Fair Market Value, a description of this economic term is provided below.

"What does Fair Market Value mean?"
For this question, I pursued some diligent research and asked a qualified, entrepreneurial, business expert, my husband, to provide further insight into the term. 

To define the term "Fair Market Value" we need to differentiate between a liquid market and an illiquid market." 

“Fair Market Value” is easily determined in a liquid market when there are multiple identical items sold repeatedly, such as gallons of gas or mass manufactured items. Thus the transaction price of multiple purchases indicates the Fair Market Value.  Common examples include the real estate market, valuation of cars, and stocks.

FMV_large-for-blog.001-300x225This rather pedestrian description of "Fair Market Value" was taken from a website that focused on appraisals of machines and equipment."...the consensus was that the “fair” part of “fair market value” is redundant. Market Value, by definition, is impartial, honest and legitimate."

“Fair Market Value” is not easy to determine when selling an item that has never sold before such as one-of-a-kind art or craft. When there is a very small, very limited market (i.e. with no previous retail sales of identical items), the situation can be described as an illiquid market. When selling art or craft, "Assets in illiquid markets still have value and, in many cases, very high value, but are simply difficult to sell."  In such circumstances, an estimate of Fair Market Value may be reasonably determined by negotiation, or an impartial third party, a gallery that represents the artist/maker or a qualified appraiser. 

  Never-Let-Your-Eyes-deceive-Truth


What Does Minimum Price Mean?

It has happened again!
Even after all my years of experience and  advocacy for artists &makers, vague terminology has caused a rift and something akin to gut wrenching experience. My reputation is on the line. Months of work may vaporize. And all because of vague terminology.  

While I can't reveal much about a volatile situation at this point, I have a question for everyone.

What does the term minimum price mean to you?
Minimum-Price

Here is an example text providing context:

"As in past years, the artist will keep 50% of the proceeds with the other 50% serving as a fundraiser.  The artist is responsible for setting a minimum price for the artwork."

My question for today is what would you consider a "minimum price"? 

Does minimum price mean:

  • wholesale
  • below wholesale
  • retail
  • below retail

What would be your assumption?

How do you define the term minimum price in this context? Please leave your response or opinion in the comments below.

More questions soon.

Warning
WARNING:

Never accept an invitation, contract or agree to participate in a show/exhibition when all the terms are not clearly defined.


Fundraising-Auctions

The PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES has four documents about Fundraising Auctions:

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Checklist for Artists

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Recommendations for Collectors 

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Impact on Galleries

Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Alternatives for Art Organizations

 


Without Photos, Does My Art Even Exist?

Recently I unpacked an old piece of work knowing it had never been photographed.  Beautiful work that I loved -- and had shown in my own living room.  But the work was never photographed ... and usually sat in it's box in a closet.  

To my dismay and a wrenching insight, I realized that without photos, how would a collector, gallery, or exhibition ever know of their existence.  In effect, outside my own memory, the work did not exist.  

Godiva-no-image

If an artwork isn't photographed nor documented, and no one sees it, does it exist in the age of information?  

With no photos the work can't be shown on my website. I can't sell the work or tempt a collector without photos.

Without photos, if damaged, I can't even make an insurance claim.  I am usually so cautious that even if work is being photographed for an exhibition, I have photos taken before it is shipped.

Godiva-upside-Down-oVER

It turns my world upside down to think that for 11 years, these chocolate cups just sat in a box.

Chocolate Godiva Cups from recycled tin cans in blue and gold by Harriete Estel Berman

Then one step further.  Professional quality photographs are necessary, if you want the photos to represent the quality of your work. 

Whitman's Chocolate Cup constructed from recycled tin cans in light powder blue, and gold by Harriete Estel Berman

If you have not documented the work with your Inventory Record,
then it is not part of your oeuvre. Yet, we want to be remembered for our work! 

Documentation is everything in the age of information.

Chocolate Cups—Whitman’s & Godiva © 2003 Harriete Estel Berman
Two chocolate cups constructed using recycled tin cans from chocolate candy products. The cups are filled with luscious "hot chocolate" made from polyester resin. Additional materials include:  10k gold and aluminum rivets, brass and stainless steel screws.

Whitman’s Chocolate Cup: 6” height x 4.5” diameter base x 4.75” width at top
Godiva Chocolate Cup: 6” height x 5 5/8” diameter base x 3.75” width at top

Retail Price for each cup: $985
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen 2015

 

RESOURCES from the Professional Guidelines

Guide to Quality Photographic Images

Inventory Record: Documentation and Provenance  

Working with Digital Images Effectively


Finding Your Signature Voice

Maker-Magic-Develop-Voice-Designing
Connie Fox has just published her e-book -- Maker Magic: How to Develop YOUR Voice Designing Art Jewelry. The PDF copy of her book arrived New Year's Day. What a fabulous way to begin the new year. She has invested significant effort in trying to help makers find their own voice. 

I wonder if people assume that finding one's own voice or signature style should be easy, but nothing is further from reality. The difference between developing a signature voice and being lost is . . . lots of practice. With practice and experience comes the confidence that with extended effort, the answer will be found. 

My experience is that many tests and trials are thrown away to see what works and what doesn't, but with enough practice, a solution will be found and that special insight will be realized.

The post "Creativity & Creative Confidence" offers two interviews and another book that I found particularly inspiring on the topic of creativity.

Creative-Confidence-Unleashing-the-Creative-Potential-Within-Us-AllThis first interview is with Tom & David Kelley of the design and innovation firm IDEO speaking about their book "Creative Confidence - Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All." 

Now it is a new year -- 2015.

Back to the studio for me as I press forward to complete new work. You can see all my trials and false starts in this Flickr album.


Harriete

P.S. In an effort for full transparency, Connie Fox included one of my bracelets in her book, which is how I received an early complimentary copy of her book.
Identity Bracelet from post consumer recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

Identity Bracelet: Bloomingdales collage with black & white radiating stripes and UPC collage
Harriete Estel Berman

Post consumer tin cans
Retail Price: $1,947