Pricing Your Work - The Ultimate Variable in SELLING YOUR WORK has no numbers! What the Market Will Bear
Good Galleries Gone Bad - Don't Let This Happen to You - by Victoria Lansford

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

After almost six weeks of posts about Pricing Your Work, there is still an important issue to discuss.  The VALUE of your work is not determined solely by the price of your work, or by the work that sells the best.  In other words, do not confuse your best selling item with your best work.

Pure Pin by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
  Pure Pin © 2008
  Recycled tin cans, sterling silver rivets,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Your best selling item may be because of a modest price, appeal to a large market, great color combination, current  fashion trend, or numerous other reasons irrelevant to artistic depth or quality.

Golden Girl Bracelets include Mrs. Fields, Jazzercise and Barbie; all three bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
   Three Golden Girl Bracelets: Mrs. Fields,
   Jazzercise, and Barbie © 2009
   Recycled tin cans, sterlingsilver, brass,
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Price, in my mind, is NOT a demarcation of value. As an artist and maker, developing a distinctive personal voice, signature style, or repertoire of technical skills is so much more important.

Your best selling item rarely leads to better work.  It only places the pressures of the marketplace foremost in your thoughts. With the Internet, there is a huge rush to sell everything we make.  The numerous online markets drive everything to have a retail price attached. This could be a big mistake.

Golden Girl Fruit Crate functions as a jewelry display by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
  Golden Girl Fruit Crate with 3 bracelets
  © 2009
 Recycled tin cans, wood, brass,
 sterling silver, handmade paper,
 Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

One of the readers of ASK Harriete recently commented how she used to keep her work in the studio and study it for a while. She found it helpful to live with her paintings in her studio to help her appraise the artistic value of the work. With time she could appraise its value more effectively.

Sari Grove said, "I had the luxury of hanging my works all around & I could look at them for a long time before I had to price them...The looking increased my sense of perceived self-worth so when I had to price I was very confident asking for a thousand dollars, even right at the beginning of my professional career."

Black and Gold Identity Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
  Black and Gold Identity Necklace © 2006
  Recycled tin cans, Plexiglas, 10k. gold,
  electrical cord, polymer clay,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


To really hit home,
let me say that just because no one buys your work doesn't mean it isn't any good. The history of art and craft media demonstrates hundreds of times over and over that work with no market when first created, is now highly valued. This has happened in all mediums.

Black and gold Identity Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
  Detail of Black and Gold Identity Necklace
  Recycled tin cans, Plexiglas, 10k. gold,
  electrical cord, polymer clay,
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 2006
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

In recent years, there seems to be a frenzy of making lower priced work, cheap and fast, anything that will sell in this terrible economy.  Yet I still believe that it is better to invest in quality, careful design, and thoughtful consideration.

Judith Pin fabricated as a present by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans.
   Judith Pin made as a present
   Recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Is it possible that your work may have greater value as a gift? How do you feel if you make something for a friend or relative and give your work away? Are you ever able to make exactly what you want with no compromise? Can you ever take your time to do the best job without the clock ticking? Why is it bad to have one job to generate income (or even a couple of jobs to earn our living), and then take time for our creative efforts, free of the demands of cheaper is better?

Can creme rise to the top, or is everything just bland in this "sell it now" homogenized environment?  I'm even wondering if there is any value in making work when it does not reflect the best we can be, do or make? What do you think?

Harriete

P.S. Have you watched "Not Just Another Pricing Lecture" from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar.   After you watch this YouTube, don't miss the lunch discussion, "NOT JUST ANOTHER PRICING."  Really great insights and revelations surface in this discussion with the audience. 

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