Joseph Herbert on sun 24 jun 07
So, I was in the "Art in the Park" thing in Columbia MO a couple of weekends
ago. Purchased a mug from a teacher at the current studio I frequent and a
necklace slide from a jeweler. She claimed to be from Minneapolis and
claimed to not know of Mel. She must have been misrepresenting one or the
other of those things.
Anyway, I asked about how the event had gone for her and she seemed
satisfied. She remarked, somewhat spontaneously, that she used to make and
sell things that cost less - $20 - and she was a lot busier. Now she sold
things that are more costly -$100 - and, while less buy, seemed to have
about the same amount of money from an event.
I expect that she also spends more time with each of the fewer customers
and, as a result, may have more repeat business, although she didn't say
I have held forth here before that part of what we sell, besides the well
made item, is a part of ourselves. One could argue that a competently
painted impressionist painting of some subject would have the same artistic
value as one of Monet's haystack paintings, and one might be accurate in
that assessment. However, we were talking about money. However competent
the painter of the hypothetical work was, if is name isn't Cezanne, or
Renoir the money paid for the two paintings will not even be close. Orders
of magnitude different.
The buyer of the Monet is buying the perceived value behind the name, of
course the painting is pretty good, too.
Where does that leave us and our compared-to-Wal-Mart pots? Not in a
particularly good place when price is the determining factor. But it is
not. We have our stories and our selves to sell. Beware of
commoditization. (Like that one?) One of the reasons IBM originally quit
the personal computer business was because the product was becoming a
commodity in a market where name did not matter, only price - the market at
that time could not support the margins they felt necessary. So they
stopped. I guess they started up again later.
While many of the things we make have the same general form as the myriad of
Wal-Mart objects, we cannot allow that comparison to be drawn and still
expect to survive. It is really that which is unique about you, expressed
in your work, that is worth the higher dollar or maybe even an living wage.
Make good stuff, mark it high, and be meaningful to your customers.
Lee Love on mon 25 jun 07
On 6/24/07, Joseph Herbert wrote:
> While many of the things we make have the same general form as the myriad of
> Wal-Mart objects, we cannot allow that comparison to be drawn and still
> expect to survive. It is really that which is unique about you, expressed
> in your work, that is worth the higher dollar or maybe even an living wage.
When I lived at Northern Warehouse Artists Cooperative, I competed
for customers against oil painters, printmakers, fabric artists and
photographers. My work was relatively inexpensive comparied to an
oil painting, even my high end (sometimes the photographers could
compete and folks making small fabric things.)
Lee in Mashiko, Japan
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." -
Henry David Thoreau
"Let the beauty we love be what we do." - Rumi