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pricing, can we talk

updated thu 15 jul 10


mel jacobson on tue 13 jul 10

it matters not what you make, it is all a struggle to get respect, price
and or fame. it is almost a full time job selling art work.

if you wish, you can turn your sales to others, but they take the
big hit. it is not uncommon for folks to see 60% of the sale going to othe=

we have done the 60 % talk before...look it up.
commission, taxes, fica, travel, it all eats up your bottom line.
and, many don't have a care, or a clue...they just want to sell stuff.

had a long talk a few weeks ago with a teacher of airline pilots. she made
the case that most are really underpaid. the small airlines pay almost not=
to young pilots. she said under 30 thousand a year. perception tells us t=
all get rich. not the case. they take any salary to get in the cockpit of=
commercial airplane. like teaching school in aspen, colorado.

i sell everything myself. paintings are all commission, cash. i do make
money selling art. not gobs, just that i do not give away my profit to oth=
i pay myself. i promote myself, no one else will do it. that is a given.

my apprentice just had a sale/show at the bar/cafe where she works. sold a
ton. over 75 pots went out the door. we made a few bucks. she had a flye=
sent out and did her thing. she is learning. several friends went to a
craft / art fair in town, and got stiffed. very few sales.

respect and concerns about your fame as an artist is fleeting. does not me=
much. many will run to the new kid on the, is that wonderful
stuff, then it fades fast. a few will buy, then what? they move on to
the next new thing.

i paint because that is what i do. it comes in streaks. i set out some at
every sale...get folks to comment, then they call back later...hmmm, what
would it cost to do a painting in my colors, for me? remember, i am
a pro, i can
paint in any color scheme. does not matter to me. why would i push a blac=
painting on a customer that has a red house? stupid. think of yourself as
an architect. you work with people to make them happy. then they pay you.
you don't offend them with your ego.

i sell my work at a fair price, and sell lots. it is how i make money. wh=
they come to me they know they don't have to break the bank, so they buy
three /four pots. it is not the price of the pot, it is about how many do =
sell? l learned that 50 years ago. i don't go to them, they come to
me. and they
still come and more new ones every year...the big issue is getting
new young customers.
that is why i am studying blue. i do copper red, i do purple, now
the blue pallet
is growing...young customers just like color. so, why try and sell them ta=

most artists never learn that is ok to sell and take charge of your
own life. they
think a magazine article will give them fame and fortune, a gallery show wi=
make folks flock to them...sorry, not the way it 50 year show la=
year was about new customers, not fame. i have 60 new names on my mailing
list this past year. that is golden.

those that work full time making art have to work hard to keep their name, =
their work in front of buyers. they have to sell at many ranges of price a=
many venues. they
have to work hard to gain takes years. the shooting
star artists are
like rock singers....two years...wowowoowwo, then reality sets is a long
row to hoe. miles. and, you have to do it every day, every
day. one more row,
then there are 50 more to do.

from: minnetonka, mn
clayart link:
new book:

John Rodgers on tue 13 jul 10

I'm with you Mel.

A few things:

Re: Pilots. I are one - though no longer active. I did the whole thing.
Did everything I could to get the ride - hung around the local grass
paved airport, cleaned peoples airplanes for rides - gained a little
knowledge every time. Finally was able to pay for a few lessons. My
first solo flight was in a Piper J-3 Cub, flown from the back seat. With
only one person in the Cub, it's out of CG limits unless flown from the
back seat. It was a proud day when I landed and the instructor cut off
my shirt-tail to mount on the wall of the flight shack. - John Rodgers,
First Solo- July 8, 1961!!! It was a beginning. But the pattern
remained. I flew everything I could get my hands on, every kind of
crummy little trip in every kind of crummy bad weather - just to build
the time. Time to qualify for the next round. In time, I got there -
Commercial Pilot with Airline Transport Rating it was called back then -
the coveted ATR. Later know as ATP. But my timing was off. When I was
going through all my training, and paying for the heavy stuff from
wages, and trying to build the time - hoards of military pilots were
coming home from Viet Nam, and they were getting snapped up for the
Airline jobs. Competition for those was keen, and if one was not
ex-military with lot's of time in the air, one could not compete. This
is where flying took a different course. I took a teaching job in rural
Alaska, giving me exposure to the Alaska bush flying, and that is the
direction my career went. Flew bush for a lot of years, but eventually
left it as I grew older. To many near misses with weather, mountain
passes, white-outs. crummy landing spots, rough water, in-flight
mechanical problems. Last trip out did it. Over mountains, night,
turbulence, icing, carrying a load wing ice, lost one de-icing boot,
lost the airspeed indicator due to pitot tube icing up - then out over
Prince William Sound to Cordova, AK - full ILS approach down to 200 feet
- crummy night. Fortunately the freeze level turned out to be around
4000 feet and the Ice melted before the let-down to final approach
altitude was reached. Visibility had picked up a good bit and landing
was smooth. But that night did me in. I was done. I quit flying after
some 20 odd years of it. But I can tell you - I know the feelings of the
young guys who fly, the thrill of operating that flying machine, and the
drive to get it done. I had lots of adventures - best summed up -
tongue in cheek - when someone said - "Flying is hours and hours and
hours of pure boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror!" No
truer words were ever spoken.

After my flying career ended, my ceramic career began - and has since
moved into the realm of functional pottery and mold making. For the
pottery - I follow the "Rules of the Mayor!" - For sales - 50 mile
radius from home for my sales area. Additionally I try and stay out of
Galleries ( I can't afford to stock their shelves for free - ties up my
materials at minimum) , Promotions, Donations to Charities, (I
participate in Charity Shows - where a percentage the sales goes to the
charity) Gift Shops, etc. They take too much. I do try to do four major
shows in my region per quarter, but that is enough, with every thing
else that's happening.. I'm done sell art with the usual high mark-up.
I'm selling something people can use. For pricing - the bulk of my work
sells for $50 or less. As my work gets beyond the $50 range, the pieces
become fewer, and the price does go up. I have some pieces betwen $75 to
$100 and a very few pieces which max out at $350. The bulk of my sales
is to women, and the ladies like functional things that can also be used
to decorate with. So, I make things that can be made quickly, are very
functional, and make a nice decoration piece if need be. I have a
palette of 8 colors and I mix and match between those. I make 16 gallon
at a time of each glaze, and when I make my pottery, I get on with it,
and knock out a bunch of pieces. It is designed to be functional - to
have great utility. So quick and dirty is the order of the day - but not
done cheaply, not done without quality of workmanship. I want a quality
piece to go out of the shop, but I don't take all day making it.

To move your stuff - row your own boat. There are many ways. See if you
have a state or local art association with a website that caters to
artists and show some of your things there, along with contact info -
and a link to your own website if you have one. Start an Etsy store. The
sheer volume of stores and product on Etsy creates a visibility problem
- you are one pea in a field of peas - so who can see you? But it
provides a place show and you can link to your own website from there.
Join your local chamber of commerce. It's a good place for contacts. The
list goes on. Use your imagination.

As you continue to be out there amongst them, your name and your fame
will take root and begin to spread. But if you are not "there" for the
moment - wherever "there" needs to be - nobody will ever come to know
you as an artist and potter, and when it comes time to get something
for Grandma, you won't be remembered. But on the other hand, if you are
showing your shining face every chance you get - that casts a different
light on the matter, and people will begin tracking you down to buy
something. Happens with me all the time!

So get out amongst them. Don't sweat the other guys stuff. Keep your
things in front of the customers eyes and they will eventually begin to
follow you. That's just the way it works.

John Rodgers
Clayartist and Moldmaker
88'GL VW Bus Driver
Chelsea, AL

Terrance on wed 14 jul 10


What a great story. You must have enjoyed that flying.

As for being a pea in a pea field, you are right. One has to be seen. =
I was=3D20
lucky last week. Had a young lady come by with her daughter and asked=3D2=

many questions. I let he daughter play with clay on the wheel and the mo=
took a lot of photos.=3D20

The ended up here.=3D20=3D20


It helps.