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What Is A Copy? Copycat?

This post addresses several variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails; "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. But before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this post to plan out your strategy. This post is meant to be general information, not legal advice, so if you are seeking counsel on your unique situation, please contact an attorney. 

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

What is a copy?

LightbulbsShocked and surprised when we see a copy of our work or ideas
the first step is to examine the copycat version carefully looking to see what is being repeated. 
Is it the unique idea captured by product, or is it the design of the product? If it is the design of the product, did the copycat repeat the functional or useful aspects of the product, or is it the stylistic and aesthetic parts of the design that were copied? Did the copycat try to imitate something about your product that displays your brand identity? 

Necklace copyFunctional or Useful Aspects of the Products:
If the copycat looked at your product and saw how the product worked, and decided to recreate the functionality portions of the product, you could look only to patent law for protection. Once your product is released to the public, anyone may copy the functional aspects of your product, unless you have filed for a patent and secured the rights to exclude others from that design. 


Necklace-idea-adornmentAesthetic or Non-Functional Aspects of Your Design:
The parts of your product design that were meant to be pleasing to the eye, and not serve a functional purpose are easiest components to protect from copycats. We typically use copyright laws as protection for designers, but design patents can be used as well. If the copycat recreated your unique print pattern, etching design, drawing, photograph, painting or 3D sculpture design (including aspects of jewelry that look like small sculptures) you may be able to stop the copycat. 



Is the copycat trying to make the products look like they came from your business? Could a consumer be confused in determining if you and the copycat are the same business or separate businesses? If the copycat is trying to make the product look like it came from your business or is using similar branding, we look to trademark law for protection. Always keep in mind that trademark law has two functions, to protect the business owner, and also to protect the consumer from being confused about the origin of a product. 



Document & Create Timeline:
After you identify what makes the product similar to yours, its time to document what is happening, before you reveal to the copycat that you're aware of the situation.



If the product is for sale online:

  • Take screen shots of the listing.
  • Look to see if there's a history of reviews?
  • How long ago did the copycat start selling the product?
  • Look at the copycat's social media.
  • Has the copycat mentioned this product?
  • How long ago was its first mention?  
  • If it’s a small business doing the copying, dig into the identity of the copier.
  • Do you know them?
  • Could you have seen each other at a trade show or event? 
  • Did they enter your booth, discuss your work, or attend a workshop you gave?

Get all the facts organized.

  • Figure out who's product was created first.
  • Determine if the copier had access to your work or would have been prompted to discover your website and saw your public product listings.
  • If they have repeated your functional design aspects, look to see if they have any mention of a patent on the product, such as a patent serial number. You can also use Google Patent Search for a preliminary investigation to see if someone else actually holds a patent on the design you thought was uniquely yours! 

Decide What You Want to Best Benefit Your Business

As a designer, you're probably creating products out of passion, but also desire financial success for your efforts. Sometime we can take moments of negativity, such as discovering a copycat, and turn them into a business opportunity.

Instead of approaching the copycat with hostility and anger (and a threat of a lawsuit) consider alternatives.

  • Could the copycat bring something desirable to your business, such as a new customer base or a chance to license your designs to the copycat?
  • Think strategically about how you can get the copycat, who clearly believes in your products or business to bring you into their profits.
  • Lawsuits are slow moving and expensive. Perhaps working together with your copycat will provide the biggest and quickest reward. 

Working through creative ways to benefit from the copycat’s actions brings us to our next post, sending that first letter to the copycat....

Stay tuned for the next two posts by Rachel Fischbein, Esg.

The next post will be about the Initial Copycat Communication.

The final post in the series will be about the issues of public shaming of a copycat to gain the attention of the copier.  and hopefully, generate a resolution.  

Follow this series:

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information


Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. Harriete 




Post Guest Author: 
Rachelfinal2015-2Rachel Fischbein is the founder of Law On The Runway. She primarily assists fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they build the foundations of their companies and navigate contractual relationships.  She has been published by Women 2.0 and Young, Fabulous, & Self- Employed Magazine. Ms. Fischbein is also on the board of directors of PeoplewearSF, a nonprofit supporting the Bay Area fashion industry. Rachel is a frequent presenter on topics such as intellectual property rights within apparel and jewelry designs, privacy law issues of wearable technology,
and the regulations of social media and blogging.


This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.


Copycats Cost Artist $250,000 Loss 

Alibaba Who? AlibabaMe?

Cultivating A Culture of Copycats  

The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing

Fair Use Guidelines

"I love your work and want to make one for myself"

Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of Copyright or Right to Copy

OOPS! Examples of Creative 404 Error Pages & Mistakes.

OOPS-FLOWER-Front copy 

Before tackling the technical issues of a 404 error page on your website, try to think of an imaginative idea that can turn a WWW mistake into an artistic, cleaver, interesting and entertaining 404 error page consistent with your art work, media, signature style or brand identity. 

Goof-Off-Flower-Pin-404My 404 page uses a custom made OOPS! Flower Pin (shown above). My OOPS! Flower Pin was preceded by an earlier idea, the Goof Off Flower (left).
The images for your 404 page can be anything you want it to be, but for artists and makers, the images can and should be consistent with the style of your website and your art or craft. Seems to me it is a bonus for your website if the viewer experiences something special, even in the midst of a technical error.  Finding original content is a sure winner on the web.  And the content for this 404 page isn't a permanent commitment. You can change your images anytime you want.  

Below are a couple of presentations found on the Internet with lots of great 404 page ideas.  Following that are more 404 examples from art museums that successfully use the artwork in their collections to present memorable 404 error pages.

20 really cool and creative 404 error pages from SeoCustomer.com

The presentation below has even more 404 pages (but most of them are boring and represent a functional corporate solution).
Don't let your 404 page look average. Quickly Scroll through the whole presentation as the Lego 404 page (about three quarters of the way through) is fabulous...so keep looking. 

As a creative artist and maker, your 404 Page can also reflect your creativity. 
Here is the 404 page for the Museum of Modern Art. This is what I would consider an effective use of art in their collection for the 404 page - an Edward Ruscha oil painting  "OOF" from 1962.
The 404 page for the Walker Art Center uses three paintings with the numbers 4, 0, 4 from Jasper Johns, Robert Therrien, and Jasper Johns respectively.  As you can see below, the use of artwork for the 404 ties directly into their collection. 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art takes an image from Rico 98 titled Found LOST Bird Poster (right). Thematically it fits right into the concept of a 404 error page. I am not particularly fond of all the white empty space on the page (shown below), but keeping the image small keeps all the pertinent information "above the fold." 
"Above the fold" is an old newspaper term. All the important information was above the fold so it was seen when the folded paper was sold at the newspaper stand.  In web design it translates to the fact that all the relevant information is visible without scrolling down.  "Above the fold" is an essential part of good 404 error page design.
Here is how the Minneapolis Institute of Art plays on the "lost" theme of a 404 Error page.

MINNEAPOLIS-institute-art-Lost-statue-404The Randolph Rogers "The Lost Pleiad"
 statue is perfect for a 404 error page. It is just wonderful how this marble statue from 1874 is given an unanticipated new context in the 21st century.

The MIA 404 error page also included a Google search box so that the viewer can refine their search without leaving the site, however it would have been better to squeeze all of these features including the statue credits above the fold (perhaps left or right justifying the image). Then the text and search box would fit on the other side. 
Despite my advice to be creative, keep in mind that a 404 page should also help the viewer navigate your website. Here is an example of a very creative page that fails to support the navigation purpose. 
While this is a cute picture and captures the motif
 for a 404 error page, it is a 404 fiasco, a huge website blunder. Why? Because this has no specific identity for the museum and worse, no navigation back to the website.  It leaves the viewer stranded with nowhere to go. This is a big mistake.

Your 404 page should always:
1) reinforce your identity,  
2) engage the viewer,  
3) keep the viewer on your website
The next post in the series "OOPS 404 Error Page"  is a list of recommended information for creative and effective 404 error pages and some hints to avoid some common missteps.
O.K. you've got the idea....think about the potential images for your custom 404 page. 
It isn't so hard to do after all and increases the usability of your website.

OOPS 404 Error Series and Related Posts:

OOPS! When Something Goes Wrong - Broken Links & 404 Errors

"People aren't used to women being so passionate." "It scares them."

I love this video. It as if I was speaking with my own voice. "When I was growing up girls just didn't run in public." So true.


"People aren't used to women being so passionate."
"It scares them."

Why are women so afraid of their own power?

I have loved watching the Olympics especially the women. Women who are strong, powerful, confident and work hard to achieve their goals. They put everything on the line time and time again.

Push Yourself Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

Push Yourself Flower Pin


What information Does a Promotional Image Need?

NoCredit72AH800When you send a promotional image, do you always include a description, size, dimensions? How about a link to your website?

Did you include the price? When it's a Trunk Show or craft fair and the event is all about selling, yes, in this situation include the price.

PushFlowerah800If asked for a promotional image of your work, are you ready to send an image in the next five minutes? A successful artist or maker is always ready. The Press always wants their images yesterday.

TrunkshowmodifiedFor the SNAG Trunk Show, a couple of people sent me images. They were prepared!


"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation."
--Robert Schuller


JenniferButterfieldpendentJennifer Butterfield sent this pendant image as a TIF at 6MB.

TIP #1
 Send a JPG and offer TIFs for print as an option. 


Purse by Joan WatersThis purse is by Joan Waters. It is a great idea for a Trunk Show image or standing outside the show.

TIP #2 Please include a complete description.
Joan included dimensions and materials with the image. Good for her! This sculpture is 5' high x 4' wide, made of welded steel.


Don FriedlichDon Friedlich sent this image of his brooch. His images have a strong graphic appeal.

 TIP #3  Photos should be dramatic and eye-catching.



Shelia SummerlinSheila Summerlin sent the image to the left.

TIP #4 Always include a link to your website along with a complete description.





Amaretti72.AH800I always look forward to the TRUNK SHOW at the SNAG Conference. Last year it was a huge success.

If you are in the SNAG Trunk Show write about it on your blog, website, Facebook, or Crafthaus page. Spread the word with images of your work and others. Send me your images if you are in the Trunk Show.

My Flower Pins were available for purchase at the SNAG Trunk Show and can be found on my website.  They vary in price and for one-of-a-kind work are in a very affordable price range.  


This post was updated on March 17, 2022, to provide current links.

Graduation, Job, Studio, Is There a Recommended Direction?

Considering the time of year, this question from Eva, a student at the Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA, seems very timely. She asks:
"Do you suggest that we find a job after graduation or set up our own studio directly?"

Life Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanOf course, there are always unusual circumstances, but I think getting a job related to your field of study gives you a great experience that will ultimately channel into your art or craft. I use the term "related to your field of study" quite loosely. Life Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

Anything that is remotely connected to your interests and skills seems better than an unrelated job.


Photo of Harriete Estel Berman from 1977
Here I am sitting at a "kitchen table"
as my workbench. This grainy black &
white photo was from a 1977 newspaper
article  from The Charleston Gazette
Photo Credit: Lou Raines 



After my graduation, I supported myself for years doing jewelry repair.  Then I had a job for about 8 years working for a plating firm repairing anything that came in the door from sugar bowls and creamers to elevator rails.

The experiences increased my skills and confidence. I learned problem-solving, metalsmithing skills, hands-on exposure to diverse metalworking assemblies and fabrications from the past 200 years . . .  AND access to a very wide range of professional tools, equipment, and plating processes.  With those well-honed skills, I still do silver repair part-time.

ANDY wARHOL SHOEYou'll be in good company.  Andy Warhol worked in advertising.  James Rosenquist painted billboards. Consider the profound influence that their work experiences had on their artwork.  ROSENQUIST billboard
James Rosenquist and his mother in 1954 standing below a billboard he painted. The Red Shoe illustration by Andy Warhol.

Harriete working in the studio 2007ng in the I'd also recommend setting up a studio space immediately, even if it is in the other half of your bedroom or in your living/dining room.  Get your studio up and running, no matter how modest. Avoid burdening yourself with debt and expenses. It is more important that you start working with fewer tools and more creativity to keep ideas fresh and your mind immersed in creative expression.  If you need larger or specialized equipment, take a class at a local community college or rent time at a studio space near you.

In summary, try to get a job related to your degree, even if it doesn't pay much in the beginning.  The experience will help you learn so much along the way. You might even be able to use their tools or equipment.

Also keep working in your home studio every day. Even if you don't have all the tools or equipment that you had in school. there are always alternate solutions.  Use your most creative tool, your mind.


This post was updated on March 17, 2022.

Decision Fatigue: The Impact On Artist Productivity.

Have you ever experienced Decision Fatigue when working on your art or craft? It happens to me all the time, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what it was and why it was happening and how this was affecting my work in the studio.

Pam Yellow Butter Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

In the past year, I began to recognize that I only had a couple of productive hours to make decisions about the layers in my Flower pins, but didn't understand what was happening.  I'd just get to a point that nothing would work out. Then I'd come back the next day and layer after layer would "come together," but only for a couple of hours.

Pencils sculpture based on a bell curve about education by Harriete Estel BermanIt was happening when I was working on the curve of the pencils in the sculpture Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. I just didn't understand what was wrong with me.

It continues to happen, but now I know why and how to work more effectively in the studio.

Tu Bishvat contemporary seder plate by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.Now I am working on a new piece of Judaica (see the whole portfolio of work in progress), and many decisions to make about the gold strips.

Tu Bishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.After about four hours, if more decisions are required, I can't make much progress. It is like slogging through mud.


Does this ever happen to you?


Well, this phenomenon has a name, "decision fatigue." The New York Times published an article "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?".  It is worth reading.

Experiment after experiment proves that the brain can only continue making well-reasoned decisions for a limited amount of time. Each and every person has a finite store of mental energy for decisions whether it is exerting self-control (e.g. resisting M & M's), purchasing, test-taking, or (for artists and makers) making aesthetic decisions. 

Artists and makers usually make a lot of creative decisions when working in the studio. I am suggesting that if we recognize this limitation in our studio time, we might reschedule our day to work more effectively. We may have six, eight, or even up to 12 hours of physical work in our body, but maybe only four hours of substantive decision making.

Think smart and work smart for your most productive day.


This post was updated on February 11, 2022.

Tu Bishvat Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress


Is it ethical for a gallery to put consignment items in storage?

A reader of ASK Harriete asks:
Is it ethical for a gallery to put consignment items in storage? And if yes, is it ethical to do so without notifying the artist?

Pam Yellow Butter Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman72
PAM All Natural Butter Flower © 2011
Post Consumer recycled plastic and tin
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Galleries and stores that call themselves "galleries" rarely can exhibit everything they have in inventory. This is especially true for a venue that wants to present a more refined, organized, and uncluttered appearance. Most likely it is necessary to put some work in drawers, boxes, or in racks behind the scenes.

Password Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman72Galleries often have a storage room off-limits to customers where they keep extra work. This allows the gallery to dedicate most of the exhibition space to the artists in the current show.

Password Flower Pin (back view)  by Harriete Estel Berman
  Password Revealing Glasses Flower Pin
  Harriete Estel Berman © 2011
  Post-consumer recycled tin cans

A well-informed staff will bring out work from storage for clients interested in a specific artist or style of work.

So the answers to the questions:
......However, I would like to add some provisos to the "YES".

Amaretti Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman72 The staff should always offer to bring out more work that may be in drawers, shelves, or storage.

Work behind the scenes should be organized and accessible so the staff can find it easily.

Amaretti Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman (back view)
Amaretti Flower Pin      © 2011
Post consumer recycled tins
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

I don't think that work on consignment (and presumably for sale) should be dirty, covered with fingerprints, or tarnished. Framed items should be handled carefully in the racks. The frame and glass should not be dirty. 


If you are concerned that your work is not on display, I would speak with the gallery or store before leaving more work. This can be really difficult to do, but present your concerns in a polite manner. Ask questions rather than make accusations.
Flower Pin Cadbury Woman Picking Behind the Curtain and Top Hat Man by Harriete Estel Berman72 Perhaps, the gallery/store routinely circulates work on consignment into the display area.  If you live nearby, you could update items at the gallery, leaving recent photographs, paintings, etc. representing new work, and take home the "older" artwork. Maybe the gallery will give your work more visibility if they have "new" work to show their customers.


Red Hots Flower Pin Back view by Harriete Estel Berman72
 Red Hot Flower Pin © 2011
 Post recycled tin cans
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

If you live far from the gallery, frequent interaction may be difficult. Shipping work can be expensive for the artist and the gallery. Call in advance and ask if they would like fresh work before shipping new work . . . and make sure that they plan to return the older work in their consignment inventory.

Keep accurate records.  Update inventory records of work on consignment.

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman The best galleries and stores send an updated Inventory Record on a regular basis.  If your gallery/store hasn't done this in a while, send them two copies of your Inventory Record with a request to verify inventory and mail/email back a signed, dated copy so that everyone is on the same page. If the gallery/store does not honor your request for an updated inventory record (every 3 - 6 months) for art or craft on consignment, I recommend that you request they return all artwork to you within a  reasonable length of time (e.g. two weeks).

This may sound like a harsh recommendation, but if artists keep leaving work on consignment without the minimum inventory accounting, you are just asking for Trouble (with a capital T).  Too many sad stories start with poor inventory management.

Does this answer help you?


This post was updated on February 10, 2022.

A Vision Beyond the Moment?

In July 2011, I was interviewed for an online e-commerce site called e-junkies. The website is no longer up but they had lots of practical and interesting information about e-commerce, trendy products, small business, and self-publishing. 


When I posted a link to the interview on Facebook, Alison Antelman commented, "This is a quote that I really like (from the interview), 'There needs to be a vision beyond the moment.' Well said!"

Password72 Do you have a vision beyond the moment?
Are you thinking beyond the making?

   Password Flower Brooch with glasses
   Post Consumer recycled tin cans
   Harriete Estel Berman  © 2011
   Diameter 3 1/8"
   Retail Price $425.


We makers typically love "making" so much that it is easy to forget the most important tool is our brains.  This is why the current knitting mania is driving me nuts ..... especially when justified with little excuses....the "pleasure" derived from the absence of thought and quips such as, "I can knit without thinking." blah, blah, blah.


ELIZABETHhOWARDThis post was prompted by a recent quote in the ACC series, Why I Make (which explores the human impulse to create).  Elizabeth Howard wrote, "When I switch on my knitting hands, I can take time off from the thoughts in my head.  Knitting - usually done haphazardly, without a clue what BOs and yos are - releases me from having to tune in (at that moment) to that always-chugging creative engine." 

My jaw dropped. This may appeal to a hobby audience, but I couldn't believe that this rationale appeared in an ACC publication. 

THE 'gOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLEY I don't want to paint knitting as the "bad guy," but this overt joy of mental separation from the making that is sweeping the craft world is just one example.  Other parallels are everywhere...IN ALL MEDIA whether working at the potter's wheel, weaving a basket, sanding wood, mixing a glaze, making handmade chains.  


  Page from Manufractured © 2009
  Recycled tin cans, steel dollhouses
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is fine if you just want to make, but many makers also want to see their work in exhibitions, shows, and books.  And that is the key, this higher level of recognition requires constant, active, thoughtful inspiration, not just aspiration.  

41+veDJYNuL._SL160_ If you enjoy sitting there happy as a clam because you are making, that is OK.   But without thought, the finished work will indeed have no vision....and I assure you....any editor, publisher, or exhibition jury will look at the work and see that it had no vision.

Here are a couple of suggestions for a "thinking while making:"


  • Plan the display of the work early. Anticipate success.
  • Construct the work so that it can be repaired if damaged.
  • Write down thoughts for your artist statement.
  • Keep the main objective for the work forefront in your mind
  • Experiment and take risks. Challenge yourself beyond "safe" work.
  • Think about the photo early while you make the work.*

My sincerest unapologetic opinion,


* The recent Professional Development Seminar at the 2011 SNAG Conference, photographer Roger Schreiber recommended that artists and makers think about the photographic documentation of their work sooner. This is especially important for fabulous photos. You can see a "preview" of the PowerPoint and audio of the Professional Development Seminar. (I am still fine-tuning the slide image transitions.) Your feedback is most welcome.

M2L_YellowFlowerScroll72. askH M2L_YellowFlowerScroll_bkah

Yellow Flower Scroll Doorpost Mezuzah
Dimensions: 7.25” length

This post was updated on February 8, 2022.

Search Engines Have No Vision - SEO for 2.0 sites.

In the previous post, we discussed how search engines can not see your images. In this post, we move on to the titles and descriptions for 2.0 sites.


Braille Search engines only read text.  To a search engine, images alone are just blank space.  But images can have text titles and descriptions that enable search engines to match your images with queries. If you want your images to be found, they need titles and descriptions.

Search_engines TEST THIS RIGHT NOW. OPEN A NEW WINDOW and do an image search for your art or craft. What do you see?

It is very difficult to get images posted on 2.0 social networking sites to show up in a search for images. If you don't add titles and/or descriptions for your images, they will NOT be found.  Don't miss every opportunity for search engines to "see" your images. Google Image Search for Harriete

Title your images with your name (or business name). 

After you upload the file, change the file name to the title of your work AND your name. (Etsy now adds the maker's name automatically.) Every title should be different, otherwise, search engines think every image is the same.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman I have discovered that search engines find my work posted on 2.0 social networking sites only if I put my name in the title.  In other words, titles should include the name of the item/object/artwork/painting AND the name of the artist and maker.

Yes, title your images on 2.0 sites should include your name (like in the box below.)

Including your name in every image title may seem repetitive, egotistical, or unnecessary, but search engines need to connect you (the artist or maker) with every image.  Images posted in your albums, sets, or collections are NOT automatically linked to your name.

(Facebook doesn't allow you to title your images, so include your name in the description. See below)

Harriete Estel Berman pin says my name. In the description, include your name (or business name).  Then add other information that describes the work, such as materials, techniques, style, color, or type of item (i.e. painting, bowl, purse).

The Internet is not the place to think that your work should "speak for itself."   Search engines can not see your images.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman If you want people to find your images, you must add text descriptions.

Here is a sample description (below) for this Kisses Flower Pin.

  SEO Image descriptions
Testing, testing, testing...
do a GOOGLE Search for your images.
Study the results

On all 2.0 sites, add text for the titles and descriptions whenever and however possible.


The next post topic is a discussion of TAGS for images on 2.0 sites.
Next week?
Coverage of CraftFORWARD on ASK Harriete.


This post was updated on January 28, 2022.

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - No change!

Last Thursday was my I.R.S. audit.  ARRGGGHHH!  We arrived at a location (which apparently is illegal to disclose). There were no signs on the building.  This felt more like a secret liaison than an appointment with my government.

Both Terry (Secretary), Emiko (Studio Assistant), and my husband (taking the picture) came with me. They had prepared the documentation for the audit and reviewed and scrutinized all the records for the year in question. NOTE the extra LARGE red bag full of our papers. We were PREPARED! We even practiced!

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to share how to survive (at least how I survived) an I.R.S. audit and ultimately heard the sweetest words a civil servant could utter,  "NO CHANGE!"  -- the best outcome you can expect.

I am not a tax adviser, just a "maker" like most of the readers of ASK Harriete who like to make work far better than keep business records.  But if you want to be in the "business of art or craft" (instead of a hobby), then accurate and complete records are required to show that you are "taking care of business."  The I.R.S. requires that you act like a business and your records are the evidence.

The previous post talked about titles. Titles are your first step in accurate Inventory Records. Think about it, every sofa, sweater, or shoe in the store has a name. Do you know what else they have? An inventory number!

PAM Flower Pins from 2010 by Harriete Estel Berman
April Flower Pin © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Inventory #
61.4L8.10/ 575

Every single item you make, whether it is one of a kind or multiple, needs an inventory number. My inventory numbers include a code that is a description, the date made, and the price.  The inventory number of this pin is:  Flower pin 61.4L8.10/ 575. This means it is the 61st Flower pin, 4 layers, recorded to inventory in August 2010, and the price is $575. Each group of work has different information in the Inventory Number. I have talked about Inventory Numbers before on ASK Harriete.


AOL earrings from 2008
AOL Earrings08  © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

INVENTORY RECORDS are an absolute must to survive your I.R.S. audit. Are you ready?

Every item needs:
- inventory number  (including date made)
date sold
materials list, cost of materials, and cost of labor to calculate your FG (Finished Goods) and COGS (Cost of Goods Sold).

An itemized COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) is one of the first items the I.R.S. agent asked for on Thursday.  Are you ready for an I.R.S. audit? Do you know your Cost of Goods Sold?

We will go over COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) in the next post.


This post was updated on January 21, 2022.

Morning Heartburn with the I.R.S.


Dragon Fire Gum Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
Dragon Fire Flower Pin © 2010
Post-consumer recycled tin cans, 
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

I am being audited by the I.R.S. again. O.M.G. (as in Oh My Government)  This is the 2nd time! Two days after writing a post about the first experience, I received a notice from the I.R.S. !!!!!!!

Coincidence or punishment?  I don't know, but here I go again with a mountain of paperwork. It has taken about 40 hours to get ready. I could be living dangerously by even telling you about this, but we are supposed to be protected by freedom of speech, right? And readers of ASK Harriete may learn something from this painfully anxious and toilsome experience. 


Dragon Fire Gum Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
Dragon Fire Flower Pin © 2010
Post-consumer recycled tin cans, 
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

The only protection is accurate records.

Yes, I do have a receipt for every expense.

You have receipts for all your expenses too, right?




Williams Sonoma Chocolate Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
   Williams Sonoma Chocolate Bracelet
   © 2007 Harriete Estel Berman
   Inventory Number:   BR10.22.07
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


Here is another issue...how about your Inventory Records? The I.R.S. wants to see my Inventory Records!!!

Do your Inventory Records include every single item you made?

Do your Inventory Records include:

  • the completion date for every single item?
  • information about when you sold each item?
  • your COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) for every single item you make/sell?


Williams Sonoma Chocolate Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
    Williams Sonoma Chocolate Bracelet
    © 2007 Harriete Estel Berman
    Inventory Number:   BR10.22.07
    Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Could you reconstruct these records for three years ago?

Thank goodness I had reasonably good Inventory Records.

All my major pieces use the Inventory Record Form from the Professional Guidelines.

Smaller items like pins and earrings are kept in an Inventory List on my computer.

In the next few posts, I will go over the minimum (in my opinion) for accurate Inventory Record Information including:

  • Title
  • Inventory Number (including date)
  • Dimensions
  • Cost of Goods Sold
  • Materials
  • Hours

Photo Credit
Exhibition Record

Hey, and after we cover Inventory Records, I will be recovered (hopefully) and able to tell you what happened at my I.R.S. audit.

Have you been audited by the I.R.S.? What worked for you?

Do you have an Inventory System? What are you doing? Please tell everyone in the comments.


This post was updated on January 21, 2022.


Bermaid, the California Collection              2007
Three-dimensional fruit crate label constructed from recycled tin cans on a wooded fruit crate.
Display for three bracelets including the Williams Sonoma Chocolate Bracelet in the above photos.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen 

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

Recent correspondence with Suzanne Sippel, Retail Manager Asher Gallery at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, raised an important issue.  Many artists and craftspeople too often make a huge mistake. I have witnessed this phenomenon myself for years especially when I go to the smaller shows, exhibitions, and online.

Suzanne Sippel said, “It’s the craft shows and fairs where I find more artists who don’t understand the business aspect of what they do. They are so excited to be selling their work that they ignore or forget the “sales” portion of the transaction. They miss the distinction between wholesale and retail and absolutely forget overhead. I was very excited to read your column on including overhead, as I had not found a way to explain this to my “younger” artists.

As the Asher has grown we are representing more mature artists, and these issues arise less and less as a consequence. But it’s still a problem. I will find fantastic work by a new artist, but they would want to double their prices for me (wholesale/retail mix-up again).  Naturally, this keeps them out of my gallery, but they are still out there. It devalues all of our businesses and their own professional growth.”


64 Crayola Crayons Flower pin by Harriete Estel Berman is jewelry constructed from recycled materials.
 64 Crayola Crayons Flower pin  © 2010
 Post-Consumer Recycled tin cans
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

So what is the impact of selling your work at wholesale prices at a street fair, open studio, online, or exhibition?  If you sell work in retail venues (such as the above) and charge only wholesale prices, then you aren't covering your retail expenses.  But even more important, no gallery or store will take your work. They don't want to compete with YOU selling at your wholesale price.

64 Crayola Crayons Flower pin by Harriete Estel Berman
 64 Crayola Crayons Flower pin  © 2010
 (Back View)
 Post-Consumer Recycled tin cans
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

A gallery or store can't sell your work when they know that their customers might buy something similar from you at half the price.  It makes their retail price look like they are ripping off their customers. Of course, that isn't true, but the customer might not understand that the artist is the one making a big mistake.


Conversation M from the series Consuming Conversation by Harriete Estel Berman
   Consuming Conversation
   Conversation M © 2004
   Post Consumer recycled tin cans.
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

You heard the gallery perspective in the quote from Suzanne Sippel, but the message concerns your survival as an artist or maker. Your wholesale prices should cover your investment in fabricating the work including  hours, materials, and overhead (including overhead labor and overhead materials.)

Your retail prices should cover your retailing expenses. In the example of a street fair, you have the booth fee, travel, hotel, food, time for sitting at the booth, expenses involved in creating your booth (such as tent, cases, tables, fabric for your drape, and display expenses such as lights, fixtures, and more.) These expenses are not covered in your wholesale price. Retailing has its own set of expenses which is why there is a retail price. 


This post was updated on January 21, 2022.



Old Time Quality Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from post-consumer recycled tin cans. One of a kind and hallmarked with my iron hallmark to establish the provenance. This flower will never fade.


Create Your Own Exhibition Opportunities

ArmoryShow_poster I've been reading my way, word by word, chapter by chapter, through the comprehensive reference book,  Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. There is a section about the famous Amory Show, which I'd heard mention as many of my favorite artists from the early 20th century exhibited at the Amory Show. It wasn't until now, that  I fully realized how groundbreaking this exhibition actually was, and why.

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ What astounded me was that this show was not organized by a museum or any other institution, but by the artists. "The members of the new Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) were seeking to undercut the power of the conservative American Academy of Design by independently showing their art (and that of their colleagues) that had been rejected by officialdom as too radical. They were quite successful: the Armory Show created a market for contemporary art almost overnight."  And subsequent to this  event, "the younger generation no longer pursued Academy recognition."**

This example illustrates the merit of reading such an in-depth book.  We can learn much from history, and with some understanding, we can also gain some inspiration.  Do you feel that you are limited by the exhibition opportunities in your community? 


Sleeping Muse, bronze sculpture by
Constantin Brâncuşi, 1910, originally
shown at the Armory Show.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why not create your own exhibition opportunities? Put together your own show just like the artists who organized the Armory Show in the early part of the 20th century.  The Professional Guidelines offer guidance for exhibition sponsors along with the entire project.

Why not be your own sponsor?  The Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract (for non-commercial exhibitions) is designed for artists and non-profit Exhibition Sponsors to clearly define each party’s responsibilities. (For retail/commercial gallery exhibitions, refer to the Consignment Contract instead.)

Do be aware that sales in a non-commercial exhibition are usually a low priority.  The Exhibition is not expected to represent the artists over an extended period of time like a gallery. Instead, the Exhibition borrows work from the artists for a limited period of time, focusing on work that contributes to the theme or premise of the show.  Prices are not usually posted on the wall, although a price list may be available at the desk or upon request.

Exhibitions curated without the pressure for sales may offer an opportunity to show experimental work or work that is not viable in more conventional venues. These exhibitions often include work that is aesthetically challenging, provocative in content or concept, or made by artists not often seen in established galleries.  These exhibitions can be important opportunities to expand the audience for artwork and to educate the viewers.  

Armory painting by Amadeo de Souza Cardoso
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, artist
Saut du Lapin, 1911

Ideally, such exhibitions produce quality, promotional documentation of the artwork and possible professional reviews, and broad exposure to the community.  So while you are putting together this show, consider publishing your own catalog.


Picture of the Duchamp Brothers who helped sponsor the organization of the famous Armory Show.
Three brothers, left to right: Marcel
Jacuews Villon, and Raymond
in the garden of Jacques
Villon's n at their studio in Pateaux,
France, 1914, all three brothers were
included in the Armory exhibition.

Find more information

Consider the outcome of the Armory show. "The artist-organizers handled all the administrative details themselves and gave up a year of their art-making time to make the show happen." Summarizing the information from page 86, of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, $45,000 of work sold.  "Marcel Duchamp and his brother, Jacques Villon, sold everything they had at the exhibition." "All the most advanced works, including those of the Cubists, were sold out...".**

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase perhaps the most famous painting from the Armory Show.
Nude Descending the Staircase
Marcel Duchamp
Painting shown at the Armory Show.


For more insight from history and potential inspiration, read the book, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft.

Ironically, Bruce Metcalf, co-author of the book, helped me by editing some of the early topics of the Professional Guidelines nearly ten years ago. How can you help your fellow artists?


* Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract

** Metcalf, Bruce and Koplos, Janet, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010, page86.

This post was updated on January 21, 2022, to provide current links.

The affiliate links on ASK Harriete may provide this blog with a few cents to keep on going and defray expenses.

Dragon Fire Flower Brooch makes your day memorable and super hot. Constructed from post-consumer, recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman, 2010.

Publish Your Own Catalog - DIY

The previous post by Guest Author Larissa Dahroug titled, Self-Publishing An Art Catalog - Thinking BIG on a Small Budget, described how she decided to create her own catalog using Selfpublishing.com. This catalog was sold during her exhibition but more importantly, it can be used to approach stores, galleries, and exhibition spaces or as a gift for collectors.  I thought Larissa's catalog was great. Using all of the online programs, computer software and the resources of the Internet now available is so much easier than it used to be.

I've published my own materials several times, it was a worthwhile effort and investment in my career. Here are two examples:

HBcat_frontcover My first catalog was a collaborative project with the Triton Museum of Art. It was printed in black and white with one color (see the cover to the left). I offered to pay for the printing if their staff did the graphic design layout (a long time ago when graphic design layout was all done by hand and color printing was prohibitively expensive). It cost me $1,000.


It was a win-win deal for both the museum and me. They were able to produce a catalog for their exhibition (my solo show), and I had copies to distribute for years.  The whole thing was my proposal from the start including the design. How else was I going to have a catalog of my work so early in my career? 

The refrigerator door on the front cover opened, to reveal the inside of the refrigerator.  I used an Exacto knife to cut every door in the front of the catalog by hand to keep the cost down.  There is a lot you can do to keep costs low if you are willing to work. 

My next opportunity to produce a catalog came when I was invited to be Master Metalsmith 2004 at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. They were willing to contribute $1,000 towards a catalog, on the condition that I take responsibility to arrange everything.

This time I produced a CD-ROM Catalog of work from 1980-2004. 

Cd The catalog included:
*Images of all work
* GRASS/gras' video
     (8:45 minutes)
* Essays by Jill Vexler
     and Deborah Trilling
* Introduction by Jim
     Wallace, N.O.M.M.

* Archive of 1984 catalog and appliance ads
* Past articles and reviews
* Image Directory suitable for PowerPoint presentations
* Compatible with MAC and PC
* Retail price $15.00 plus $3.00 shipping

The $1,000 helped defray the cost, but producing the CD catalog was expensive. There were many challenges in getting all the CD programming done in time. Just like Larissa, every big project is fraught with problems. Nothing ever goes smoothly. It is impossible to foresee all the problems you will run into.

The fun part for me was that I literally constructed the cover design in my post-consumer, recycled tin cans.  Then the metal was professionally scanned and printed. That was the fun and easy part.

The advantage of a CD catalog is that the CD and the catalog cover can be used as promotional collateral for years after the particular exhibition.  I can even add new work in a supplemental CD.  I send this catalog with all my more important packages to galleries, museums, and collectors. As CDs are currently not used as much, this same concept can be applied to a thumb drive.

Alternative catalog ideas:
Some people are using online photo albums services to produce their catalog/portfolio with hardbound covers. I-Photo and Shutterfly are two examples.

These businesses market their product as photo albums, but you can use them as your own catalog or portfolio. Each printing of your portfolio (photo album) tends to be somewhere between $25. to $35, so they are too expensive to give away casually. On the other hand, you have something very nice that you can carry around and show your work to people anytime with beautiful, professional printing.  Some artists have their entire photo album/catalog layout and text completed and simply print it on demand.  With this method, it can be updated anytime. The catalog is even listed on their website, in case a client is interested in buying a book about their work.

Another resource is Custom Museum Publishing. I was recently introduced to their company by the president,  Jane Karker. She says, "We are actually less expensive, press proof each and every job for our artists before printing (meaning we actually set up the press, proof it, send it to the artist, make color adjustments as needed). We are a small outfit but have been New England's premier art printer since 2005. We also provide award-winning graphic design. We work closely to consult with customers who want to design their own catalogs as well."

I would like to offer you more information about this company, but it will have to wait for another day and another post.

In the meantime, next time you put a show together either on your own or with your local arts organization, think about Doing It for Yourself documenting the exhibition event and your work with a self-published catalog.


This post was updated on January 21, 2022, to provide current links.

Mighty Mouse Frt72 

Mighty Saves the Day Flower Pin can supercharge your day This Flower Brooch is an ongoing series by Harriete Estel Berman from post-consumer, recycled tin cans. View my entire album of Flower Brooches by looking on Facebook or Flickr.

Should I enter jury shows? Words like "museum" and "juried" intimidate me.

Harriete...I have been asked to submit to a juried show. It's pretty exciting...but scary.  All the work and the shipping ...the prospectus is pretty daunting to a self-taught artist like me. 

Mary Anne Enriquez
  "21st Century Fusion" coat and 3 accessory
  ensemble (includes the woven boot spats.) 
 Materials: 98% recycled household trash
  Artist: Mary Anne Enriquez
© 2009
  View information about her outfit on Flickr.

     Are juried shows worth the effort and trouble?  How can they help an up-and-coming artist?  Can you give some reasons for going through all the motions?  I guess I am scared off by the words "museum" and "juried" show. 
     Thanks.  Great things have been happening to me and my art career as I follow your advice! 

Mary Anne

Juried shows provide a great experience for you and exposure for your artwork.  A definite way to climb up the professional art ladder.  In addition, you never know who might see your work.  Such shows can launch your career forward, but even so, it usually takes years to establish a name and a reputation for your work.

Keep documentation of your participation in each show and update your resume. Shows held at non-profit exhibitions spaces and museums are definitely better resume boosts than shows held at galleries. This is not to say that galleries can't put together interesting shows. It's just that a gallery's focus on selling may influence the selection of work.  Museum and non-profit exhibitions seem to show more interesting and unusual work.

Most academic undergraduate or masters programs don't teach their students about entering juried shows, although they should. Consequently, being self-taught or inexperienced should not hold you back from applying and participating at this level of exhibition experience.

The Professional Guidelines offer several documents about how to enter juried opportunities with more confidence and success. My first recommendation is to use the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine.

Here are the TOP TEN TIPS.
TIP #1. 
TIP #2. 
TIP #3.
TIP #4.  
TIP #5.
TIP #6.
TIP #7. 
TIP #8. 
TIP #9.  
TIP #10.

This document also includes an appendix with additional information:
Appendix I   Sample Contact Sheet
Appendix II  Where can artists learn about juried exhibitions, craft shows, books, or magazines to submit their work.
Appendix III  A word about publicity

Read the entire TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine for more comprehensive information.  

Additional Professional Guidelines documents titled, Juried Exhibitions and the Exhibitions: Artist Checklist, may also be helpful in reviewing a show’s prospectus before you decide to enter. Success is within your grasp with careful planning and preparation.

Stay tuned next week for more issues involved with entering juried opportunities.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.


Liquid Wrench Flower Brooch  by Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled post-consumer tin cans
Diameter 4.25”    This pin is SOLD.
 View the entire series on Flickr or Facebook.


A lot of people are not tagging photos of their artwork and craft on social networks very effectively. Sometimes a couple of tags, perhaps three or four, maybe none at all.  Are you kidding? Tags drive Search Engines more than ever.  If you don't have tags on the images of your art and craft, how is someone going to find you or your work? If there are only three or four tags and they don't include your name you are completely missing the idea. SUPERSIZE YOUR VISIBILITY with appropriate tags.

I have a suggestion for speed, efficiency, and getting the job done effectively.  I have a word document on my computer that holds all my 2.0 social networking tags for my photos. I constantly add or improve these tags, of course, but any time I post images, I can quickly open the document, copy my tags for that category and paste the tags for my photos. Then, if appropriate, I can add a few more relevant tags, such as color or theme, specific for that piece or item.

Here is an example Flower pin and the tags:
HBerman_orangeBlue50Year_flowerW HBerman_orangeBlue50YearBACK_flowerW 

recycled tin cans, jewelry from recycled materials, harriete estel berman, harriete, estel, eco, harriet, harriette, earth day, april flowers,  flower, green, recycle, upcycle, eco, trashinista, earth day, brooch, pin, san mateo, san Francisco bay area, jewelry from tin cans, colorful, advertising, packaging, consumer society,  Blue, Orange, anti aging, watch, fifty,

Look at the tags closely. There are lots of perspectives to enable someone to find this image of a flower pin by Harriete Estel Berman.

First, since my name is commonly misspelled, I include misspellings in my tags. People often seem to remember my name as Estel. So I put Estel in my tags.

SanMateo I put the same words in my tags that I (or other people) use to describe my work, such as recycle, upcycle, trashinista.

Note that I include both San Mateo and San Francisco, two ways to describe where I live.

For this flower pin I would add the following tags specific to this flower pin: blue, orange, anti-aging, watch,

In situations where the number of tags is limited, mix up the combination of words. For example, on Etsy tags are limited to 14, so I put my name in the tags in different ways on different pieces.  All I need to do is get people to my shop. Flickr allows up to about 75 tags. I don't know if there are limits to the number of tags on Crafthaus. Just prioritize the order and go for it as fast as you can.

I know that there are lots of online discussions about the best keywords, but I don't think that is as important as putting up a variety of tags. Use your own common sense. How do you describe your work? How do other people describe your work? OK. You got it. Those are your tags!

Now open your photo albums on each social network site and tag away as fast as you can. Make your images into superheroes traveling at the speed of light around the world, and working 24 hours a day.


This post was updated on January 19, 2022.

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

This is the last post (at least for now) about variables in pricing your work.  In previous posts, we discussed how to calculate your expenses and a profitable price based on concrete facts. Find this information in the left-hand column on ASK Harriete. Look for the category titled: Pricing Your Work.

The last two posts discussed Reputation, and  Perceived Value/ Media Bias. This final post about pricing will discuss "What the Market Will Bear."

Multi-colored April Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
Multi-colored April Flower Brooch ©2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: emiko oye

What the Market Will Bear is an old refrain but is interconnected to Perceived Value, Media Bias, and Reputation. If you are selling your work in a high-end, exclusive store where the clients are expecting to pay higher prices for prestige, exclusivity, superior service, etc, then this clientele will support a higher price. Yet the same items in a lower-end store would be perceived as overpriced or inflated due to customer expectations.

Many times I've heard artists and makers complain that their local small-town gallery or store will not support the higher prices they need to charge for their work.  That may be true, so perhaps you shouldn't be selling at that location. The other option is to work with local clients so they understand why your work costs so much. (A topic for another time so ASK Harriete.)

Tiffany is a familiar example of an established market. Tiffany the famous jewelry store, sells very expensive jewelry. They have developed a reputation that is so exclusive that the hallmark, the identity of the manufactured (not even handmade) jewelry, is marked on the exterior (instead of inside) as on the bracelets (below). People buy the exclusive brand identified with Tiffany's little blue box.
Tiffany bracelets with the Tiffany hallmark on the exterior.Every artist and maker regardless of their medium has something to learn here - the value of the maker's signature or hallmark in selling your work. This means signing all your work, every time, and placing your work in the appropriate marketplace. Establishing a reputation takes years. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep in mind that all work should be sold at the same price all over the United States. Artists and makers need to find a location, gallery, store, or online marketplace that sells work in the price range they need to charge and keep that same price all over the United States.  This is one of the strongest factors in supporting your prices.

The Q & A podcast during the Professional Development Seminar Houston SNAG Conference touched on these issues.

What do you think? Your comments are most appreciated...I will try to respond to all the pricing comments in one post soon.


This post was updated on January 18, 2022.
I hallmark all my work. You can see this on the back of this pin very clearly. Your hallmark or signature assures the collector that they bought your work, not an impostor, look-alike, or copy. Learn why I use a hallmark that looks like a domestic iron on my web site.April Flower by Harriete Estel Berman
April Flower by Harriete Estel Berman


Pricing Your Work - More Variables that Count but Don't Include Math

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.


Harriete Estel Berman April Flower Brooch is purple, pink and blue.
PURPLE blues Flower with lute center
April Flower Pin © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: emiko oye


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.


Harriete Estel Berman Flower pin in brillian yellow orange with black says Grand Slam in the center.
Brilliant April Flower Pin © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver
Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: emiko oye

Media Bias
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.

Red April Flower Pin Wheat © 2010
recycled tin cans, sterling silver
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: emiko oye

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.



April Flower Brooch in multiple colors fills our artist's passion for color. The perfect gift of timeless sentiment the center says: "Past, Present, Future". This flower will never wilt.


SNAG regularly provides opportunities in jewelry and metalsmithing for current SNAG members.  

Can I make a suggestion? Subscribe to this blogs feed (in the left column). It is the only way you can be sure not to miss last-minute opportunities that are sent my way for readers of ASK Harriete.

This post was updated on February 5, 2022.

Multi-colored April Flower Brooch with Coke motif

Harriete Estel Berman April Flower Brooch in multiple layers, many petals, with Coca-Cola motif.
Harriete Estel Berman April Flower Pin with Coke motif really makes your day sparkle.

The last April Flower post in honor of Earth Day is one of my favorite flowers. It is a profusion of multi-colored petals and a strawberry red center. The 3 ½” diameter brooch layers include contemporary Coke advertising with red and white letters and petals in multi-colored green, blue, and orange.  BACK: is a Vintage Cola-Cola tin with red with white lettering, aqua, white with abstract star detail, but this flower will never get confused with the real thing. The last April Flower Brooch post is in honor of Earth Day...but I have lots more and love making them. Maybe I will post a few more in the coming months.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Red April Flower with Orange Wheat Flower

Red April Flower with Orange Wheat Flower is a beautiful red zinnia color suitable for a man or woman. This bloom will never fade though it is the hottest in fashion trends to combine colors, patterns, and floral motifs. Look for the layer with gold links from an Elizabeth Arden tin as just one of the many petals. The back is from a "Creme de Grand Marnier" tin which is really hard to find.  Send a message when you wear this pin of confidence and exclusivity at just 2 7/8" in diameter.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Blue, Yellow and Orange Flower with Celestial Seasoning Center

Harriete Estel Berman April Flower in honor of Earth Day in blue Yellow with Celestial Seasoning never stops blooming.
Blue, Yellow, and Orange Flower with Celestial Seasoning Center is a metaphoric combination of blue and yellow “Celestial Nights” delights day or night in blue and yellow. On the back, you can see my hallmark so that you know it is a Harriete Estel Berman one-of-a-kind April Flower pin. At  3.1/2" diameter, it is the size of a real flower though it looks larger in the photo. This post was updated on January 14, 2022.
Harriete Estel Berman April Flower in honor of Earth Day in blue Yellow with Celestial Seasoning never stops blooming.

Bright Yellow Flower with center in Hot Pink with Neon Green dots

Harriete Estel Berman Bright Yellow Flower with Hot Pink Center and Neon Green dots is one of the brightest and gay April Flowers from recycled materials. A hot fashion statement that sizzles with sunshine.
Bright Yellow Flower with  Hot Pink Center with Neon Green dots is one of the brightest and gay April Flowers I made from upcycled, post-consumer refuse transformed into the spring and summer fashion statement. I love the fact that it uses a combination of the most mundane materials transformed into amazing, irresistible flower pins the size of a real flower at 3 1/8" in diameter. The includes a hot pink heart tied up with a black bow.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Pink April Flowers with Center Couple Dancing

Harriete EStel Berman April Flower with Couple Dancing in Honor of Earth Day.
Pink Flower with Couple Center of Victorian Soldier and Lady dancing is romantic and one of the few April Flowers in pink petite size at 2 ¾” diameter. Constructed entirely from post-consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day 2010. This year our Earth Day was a huge success with a vast improvement to the appearance of our neighborhood island.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Tootsie Roll Candy April Flower with Past Present Future Center

Tootsie Roll Candy April Flower with Past Present Future Center by Harriete Estel Berman.
April Flower Brooch is a sophisticated range of oranges and reds including Tootsie Roll Candy with Past Present Future Center. Perfect flower pin for business to every day. The perfect fashion for updating your spring wardrobe was made in honor of Earth Day 2010.  A flower that will last for years, the bloom will never fade at 3 1/8" diameter.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Brilliant Yellow Orange April Flower with Grand Slam Canyon Center

Harriete Estel Berman April Flower brooch blooms for your many seasons with recycled tin cans.
Brilliant Yellow Orange April Flower with Grand Slam Canyon Center is a California Poppy color with multiple layers of petals in black, pinks, and green. The most mundane materials are upcycled and transformed into this spring fashion statement the size of a real flower that will last far beyond one season at 3  5/8" diameter.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Yellow April Flower with Black and Gold Floral Center

Harriete Estel Berman Yellow April Flower Brooch is constructed in honor of Earth Day 2010.
Yellow April Flower with Black with Gold Floral Center is a soft range of butter yellows made from candy, cracker, and ribbon candy tins. You can see the nutrition label used as one of the layers.  The back is from a tin printed with Almanac. All assembled as a symbol of thinking green for Earth Day by Harriete Estel Berman. What did you do for Earth Day?

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Names, Names, What's in a name?

Bobby-name-pin copy

Can I make a recommendation? Pick one name and stick with it! Recently, a reader asked me if she should change her name....it was rather long with first, middle, and then two last names....first husband, second husband.  Maybe it was serendipity, but a couple of other readers contacted me with similar questions at about the same time.  The concerns run the gamut from worries about whether their names were too long or too short, easy to remember or confusing, easy to spell, too common or absolutely unique. What's in a Name?

Doug-Name-pin-no-backgroundIf by chance you have a common name.
...such as Adam Evans, or Don Low, then try using your middle name permanently for all correspondence.  I decided thirty years ago that Harriete Berman wasn't unique enough, so I started using "Harriete Estel Berman". The fact that my name "Harriete" is spelled a little differently also created some spelling error problems -  and a unique identity - the yin and yang of every name.


Irene-Red-Door-Consignment-Gallery-800The primary importance is that your professional identity gets established.  This takes time and consistency.  Every single account for all your social networks, correspondence and email, websites, and your signature should be the same (or at least as similar as possible). It doesn't matter if your name is complicated or uncomplicated, stick with one name.




BrigitteAs another example, I met Mary Anne Enriquez through her photo-sharing group online as "urbanwoodswalker", but there was another email "Waterswirl56", plus her name.  Through months of correspondence, I was confused ...until I realized that this one person had several online identities, five email names, and at least three different names on social networking sites. No wonder I was so confused. If you want to use a more poetic moniker such as Mary Anne, why not go with "Mary Anne Enriquez - the Urban Woods Walker." This develops a much clearer identity, sounds almost like a book already.

TerryMost social networking sites will now allow you to even use your name
instead of a number. Try your best to use one name or a variation of that one name for everything.  Stop switching it around for different sites and social groups. I know sometimes they have a limit on the number of letters, require different formats, or that your name may be taken.  Just do the best you can to create one professional identity.

If I were starting over, I would work for even more consistency in the way I formatted my name. This is why I am writing this post. I am giving you my words of wisdom gained from experience. Learn from my mistakes.

SARA-72For people just starting out and looking to establish their professional identity as an artist or maker, pick one name (possibly including your middle name) and then repeatedly use the same name for your website, email, social networking, and Etsy site. Professionally, I do not recommend selecting cute or fancy names for your "shop" or website.


KarenThink about how effective one name is for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Eileen Fisher, and Vera Wang. Each one of these designers started somewhere small and unknown to develop their identity. You can too.   


GlennIf the fashion world doesn't relate to your work,
think Picasso, Modigliani, or Voulkos. One name can carry you through the various phases and development of your work.

Pick one name and try one format as close as you can for all sites, tags, keywords, photo descriptions, exhibitions, and shows. Skip the cutesy shop names and online identities.

Creating an identity for your work and your name is part of your "recipe for success".

Harriete-Estel-Berman-nameHarriete (with an "e" at the end) Estel Berman.
Examples of my professional contacts are below:

Find me on your favorite social network.


This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Yellow Flower Black with Gold Scrollwork Center in Honor of Earth Day

Yellow April Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman is available for purchase. Constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day and thinking green.
Yellow Flower Black with Gold Scrollwork Center
in Honor of Earth Day is a Marigold Yellow color and the size of a 3" flower. The multiple petals are cut very carefully with no sharp edges, the steel makes this pin strong and rigid. It is NOT made from aluminum cans which are flimsy and fade quickly.  View all my April Flowers on Flickr.

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.. 

April Flower in Baby Blue Flower with Pink and Green Diamond Center

April Flower Baby Blue Flower with Pink and Green Diamond Center was constructed by Harriete Estel Berman from post-consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day. This fashion statement for spring is 3 1/8" in diameter, about the size of a real flower. I was in high school for the first Earth Day. We walked to school and walked home following the flower child goals for a green earth in 1970.
Photo Credit: emiko oye

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Protecting my Step-by-Step Jewelry Designs?

Luci Wilder sent an email with numerous questions prompted by the recent post and article in Lapidary Journal, Jewelry Artist, April 2010 written by  Sharon Elaine Thompson titled, Intellectual Property. Her questions were divided into two separate posts. This is part one.

WilderDenmark in Silver
Denmark in Silver by Luci Wilder
Sterling Silver,
unakite, found object
rt Nouveaux broach possibly Goerge Jensen.

Hi Harriete,
If I design a piece of jewelry and release the design for public use through publication in something like Step by Step Wire Jewelry, is it protected from commercial reproduction?
Luci Wilder

If you write step-by-step instructions for making artwork, it is a reasonable assumption that people will sit down and follow your instructions. That is why you wrote the instructions,  right? 

Now you want to control what people do with the finished product. Perhaps only beginners or hobbyists need step-by-step instructions and they will not claim that this is their design for commercial purposes.  But a published design probably increases the risk of being copied.

Have you considered a proviso at the bottom of the instructions? Something like this:

These step-by-step instructions are provided by (your name) and (name of magazine) for educational purposes only. Duplication of this design for commercial purposes including, but not limited to, selling, reproduction as a published image in a book, magazine, or internet or reproduced as a production item in multiples, is prohibited.

New Yankee Workshop BACKGROUND: There is a long history of selling patterns to the public. This dates back to 19th century women's magazines such as Ladies Home Companion that included patterns for clothing, embroidery, and quilting in the magazines. As another example, going back to the 18th century there were many books published with decorative motifs, pattern books, and templates for furniture and household decorative arts.  Current television programs such as the New Yankee Workshop and The Woodright's Shop all offer patterns for woodworkers. Some of these shows offer patterns for purchase, others offer step-by-step instructions for free online with the presumption that the television show makes its revenue from another source.

As another example, Alabama Chanin produces one of a kind line of clothing but also wrote a series of "how-to" books such as Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style with her methods spelled out in detailed instruction for the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) makers. (Look in the right-hand column of this blog to see her books.) She also teaches workshops when she visits a city for her more exclusive trunk shows at the stores that sell her clothing line. She generates a following and revenue stream from each venue. These are just a few examples of patterns and step-by-step instructions. I could keep going for pages and pages.

In all the above examples, including Luci's, it is unethical to claim such patterns as your own for commercial reproduction.

While step-by-step instructions have value as a tutorial for education or creative inspiration, the final product should be for personal enjoyment and never be exhibited outside your home or claimed as your own creation.  It is unacceptable to take anyone else's pattern, kit, or product and sell or publish it as your own design.

Project-runway To avoid entirely the "pattern/step-by-step" issue, the garment design contestants on the television show Project Runway are not allowed to use any patterns from outside sources. All the work needs to be an original design from start to finish. Clearly, the television producers realize how important it is for the contestants to produce entirely original work from start to finish.

My recommendation for anyone in Luci Wilder's shoes would be to select from the following options:

  • include a disclaimer  as suggested above;
  • create special projects that are very different from your own art or craft so that you do not think people are copying your personal style or identity;
  • discontinue creating step-by-step instructions (if this issue bothers you);
  • let go of this issue and make sure you feel that you were properly compensated for creating the step by step by patterns in the first place.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Luci Wilder's questions and additional posts....this issue is quite complex.

If you have any ideas or suggestions regarding this issue please leave them as a comment. I would like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say. Do you use step-by-step instructions? Fine. Do you sell or promote work created following a step-by-step project as your work? What do you think are the consequences of this action?

This post was updated on January, 14, 2022.

April Flower Nutrition Brooch as a special commission from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman in honor of Earth Day.Harriete Estel Berman's April Flower Nutrition Brooch back view shows the nutrition label.
April Flower Nutrition Brooch was constructed entirely from nutrition labels from post-consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day 2010 by Harriete Estel Berman.  This image shows the front and back.
Photo Credit: emiko oye. This April Flower pin is sold.
Stay tuned for more April Flower pins on ASK Harriete.

Fair Use and Copyright Infringement Highlighted in Jewelry Artists Magazine



White Cambells Carnation Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman.
 Campbell's Carnation Brooch © 2010
 Post-consumer recycled tin cans by
 Harriete Estel Berman.  This April
 Flower Brooch is sold. 
 Jewelry.  Photo Credit: emiko oye

We've had a lively discussion about copyright, Fair Use, and intellectual property on numerous occasions. You can find all the posts on Copyright Issues here.

Our discussions have been noticed by others, as indicated by an interesting article titled, Intellectual Property in Jewelry Artists Magazine April 2010 issue.

2 Nicolas Feuillatte Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Bracelets
©  Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This article covers many issues including, copyright and trademark including a fabulous layout of my work.
(Check out the thumbnail images of the article below.) Find this magazine issue at your local bookstore or library.

The article even references my practical list of Fair Use Guidelines that itemize key factors in a brief and easy-to-understand format.

Stay tuned for two important questions from Luci Wilder prompted by this article (in the next two posts). Lucy raises critical concerns regarding the use of step-by-step instructions published in books and magazines.


This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

TItlePAGE.72 Page32.72 Orange and Yellow Identity Necklace constructed by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.
Page34.72 Page35.72

Learning Digital Skills - What's the best way?

 Fossil Purple April Flower Brooch  with peach, purple, and ocher   © 2010
 Post-consumer recycled tin cans.  Posted in honor of Earth Day.
 Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye 

Lots of people ask me how I learned to work on my own website.  My answer: I (like most everyone) have to learn by doing.  And, yes, it was frustrating at first (for several weeks). But each frustration was overcome and the bits of knowledge began to coalesce into skills and gratification. 

Bnr_120x60-lynda-border To get started, a friend or mentor may be best for some people to learn the basics.  I prefer to just jump into the frying pan and start by learning how to use Dreamweaver using Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) as my virtual tutor. All of the lynda.com lessons are video tutorials divided into manageable bits mostly two to five minutes in length. Lynda.com let me learn at my own pace at any time of day or night which was very practical in my chaotic schedule. The online instructions could be repeated over and over with no frustration on the instructor's part or I could jump ahead to a new topic or search for solutions to a particular issue.   

It has worked so well for me that I have also learned Photoshop, Illustrator, even Flickr, and Twitter with Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning). 

It is the best method I know of to show you how to increase your software skills. If you are like me, reading instructions from a book to learn how to use software is really difficult (for me almost impossible).

ThreepinBERMAID72GRAdded Benefits   Learning these software skills adds benefits beyond just your website. My newly learned Illustrator skills enabled me to learn how to format documents for a laser cutter when I was experimenting at the TECH Shop. I also jumped over to the Corel Draw tutorials because this software was used to run the laser cutter. On the right, you can see several pins made on the laser cutter from recycled game boards for the Pin Swap at the SNAG Conference. 

Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is essential for editing your photos. The online photo editing applications may be good enough for your family photos, but they don't offer enough tools for professional quality images of your art or craft. You need the flexibility and tools that Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) offer to fix your photos.

Get the skills you need as a professional artist with Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) on your home computer. No commute. No driving, no parking, no appointment necessary.


This post was updated on January 14, 2022, to provide current links.

 (Back View) Fossil Purple April Flower Brooch  with peach, purple,
 © 2010      Post-consumer recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day.
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye 

Kiss Center Green April Flower Brooch in Honor of Earth Day

April Flower Green Kiss Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman is jewelry using recycled materials.
  Kiss Center Green April Flower Brooch © 2010 is constructed from post-consumer 
  recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman in honor of Earth Day.
  Photo Credit: emiko oye. 

Thinking green and being green can be all in one with this upcycle fashion statement. Look really closely, I even figured out how to use the lid of a peanut butter jar!
Guess which layer!

This post was updated on January 14, 2022.

Simple lighting to photograph your work.

Sayumi Yokouchi wrote a letter asking two good questions.  I have paraphrased her questions and will answer the second one here.  (The first was answered in a previous post.)

Sayumi Yokouchi red coil neckpeice
Circle Drawing: Coil Neckpiece Red  © 2009
Found Wire, sterling silver
30 x 26 x 3 cm
Artist: Sayumi Yokouchi
Photo Credit: Ralph Gabriner

Dear Harriete,

Perhaps it is time for me to start my own photoshoot so I can get the images the way I like.  I'm ready to invest in a digital camera + lenses + a simple lighting system.

What would you recommend?

Sayumi Yokouchi



The photos that I take in my studio are limited to small less expensive items that aren't worth spending a couple of hundred dollars on for professional photography. In these studio shots, I use natural light from two translucent skylights with southern exposure and a window nearby. This provides bright, white, diffuse light in the middle of the day.

Flower PIN by Harriete Estel Berman in Hershey Red with peach centerDiffuse natural light avoids all the problems that can occur with photo lights. You can duplicate this situation for yourself by photographing your work in a location that would be in direct sun, but wait for an overcast day. This provides bright diffuse light. This is my super simple method.

The location for your super simple photoshoot can be inside near a window or outside in a location that would be in direct sunlight. BUT, it must be an overcast or foggy day to have diffuse light. (I said that twice because it is so important.)  Photographing work in the shade is NOT an alternative because this creates a blue cast which won't look good.


The problems caused by artificial photo lights include harsh shadows, blown-out highlights, and the need to color balance the light source for correct lighting. Using photo lights greatly increases the difficulty of getting a great photo especially when your work is shiny, glossy, or metallic. In addition, purchasing photo lights is a significant cost.

Do NOT use the flash on your camera to photograph your work. 


If you want more information on using artificial light sources,  Steve Meltzer has two books that can help you with your photography efforts. They are both shown in the right column of this blog. His information is always practical and relatively easy to follow. CLICK ON THE BOOKS Capture the Light: A Guide for Beginning Digital Photographersand Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles: Take Great Digital Photos for Portfolios, Documentation, or Selling on the Web (A Lark Photography Book) to see if Amazon.com even has a used copy to save you some money.

The next blog post will be about how to use "bounce cards" to reduce deep shadows and improve the lighting conditions during your photoshoot. This blog post will be authored by my photographer Philip Cohen. He shoots all my work which you can see on my website.

Two documents in the Professional Guidelines may also improve your images.

     Guide to Professional Quality Images

     Working with Digital Images Effectively

  • The books in the column and shown above are affiliate links. Clicking on the links and buying through Amazon.com could possibly provide this blog with a few pennies to keep on going. Thanks for your support.

This post was updated on February 5 , 2022, to provide current links and update content.

April Flower Brooch in Honor of Earth Day


  Harriete Estel Berman's April Flower Brooch Flower PIN in red and yellow with Cheez Whiz and black center.
April Flower Brooch in Red and Yellow with  black Center    © 2010
Post-consumer recycled tin cans. One-of-a-kind pin.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye
SOLD   April Flowers Brooch pins are available for purchase. Please inquire.

This post was updated on January 13, 2022.

April Flower Brooch in Honor of Earth Day

Every day through the month of April I am going to post a new Flower Brooch in honor of Earth Day. Constructed from post-consumer recycled materials, each brooch is a combination of this spring's fashion focus on flowers and prints.

This post was updated on January 13, 2022.

April Flower Brooch Blue and Yellow constructed by Harriete Estel Berma from recycled tin cans in honor of Earth Day
Flower Brooch Blue and Yellow with Purple Center     © 2010
Post-consumer recycled tin cans.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye