This ASK Harriete post is part of an ongoing series of posts about pricing your work.
The final price for selling your work needs to take into account several intangible variables.
A few variables that come to mind include:
- Reputation of the artist (covered in the previous post)
- Perceived value
- Media bias
- What the market will bear.
They are all inter-connected but I will try to offer you some examples below and in the next post.
Perceived Value Have you listened to the podcast from the Professional Development Seminar program titled, Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work? The subject of Perceived Value came up when Andy Cooperman was talking about a pair of earrings. He said that in the end, despite calculating a price he should charge to cover his expenses when he took the pair of earrings to a gallery, the gallery would decide whether the earrings would sell at that price.
Bruce Baker continued the thread of the conversation with the illustration that it didn't matter how long a student spent on a certain pair of earrings....that a pair of earrings with "so and so styling" and in a specified metal will only sell within a particular price range. It didn't matter how long it took to make this pair of earrings. Figuring out the Perceived Value is mainly experience, ongoing market research, or sometimes intuition.
Unless you are truly breaking the boundaries of materials, techniques, or reputation, you will be subject to comparisons with similar work in a similar material and in the price range of a particular market.
Media Bias is what I call the fact that people will pay more for gold vermeil (a fancy name for gold plate) than sterling silver, as one example, or favor gold and diamonds over jewelry made of non-precious materials. This has nothing to do with your pricing formula. It is more a Perception of Value (see above) by the consumer.
Media bias occurs in more traditional fine art mediums also. For example, oil paintings usually command higher prices than acrylic. Taking this one step further, fine art media such as painting commands an irrationally higher price than craft. Glass often sells higher than other craft media.
Artists and craftspeople can decide to ignore this Media Bias and work in their choice of materials. Or perhaps we need a movement for change, but this media bias has a long way to go before it disappears.
IN SUMMARY: In my experience as an artist for over thirty years, the variables of reputation, perceived value, media bias, and what the market will bear affect the actual selling price of your work whether that price covers all your expenses or not.
Francesca Vitali wrote a paragraph about her experience speaking at the Professional Development Seminar. She titled her speech, "The non-exact science of pricing", and said, "I’ve been a scientist for the most part of my adult life and as such, I believed there is a formula for everything. WRONG! Being an emerging artist proved to me that pricing my work is indeed a non-exact science. There is no unequivocal formula, but there are important guidelines that can help."
The next post continues this discussion about pricing variables and the marketplace. Does the location affect the perception of value in the marketplace?
P.S.In case you missed it over the past few weeks ASK Harriete has covered several issues involved in pricing your work. We have discussed Overhead, Overhead Labor, Mistakes Made by Artists in Pricing Their Work, along with a Pricing Formula Based on Your Tax Return and much more. You can find all this information in the left-hand column on ASK Harriete. Look for the category titled: Pricing Your Work.
You can listen to the recording of our speakers from the Professional Development Seminar, Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work.
This post was updated on January 18, 2022, to provide current links.