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appropriate pricing

updated mon 12 feb 01


Cindy Strnad on mon 5 feb 01

I've been thinking about this thread this morning, while glazing. =
There's got to be a happy medium here. Many artists and craftsmen =
(especially potters) underprice themselves because of some weird =
self-effacement. Some idea that we're not worth all that much, maybe =
because we're really just playing.

Well, I am not playing. Sure I enjoy my work, mostly, but at the moment, =
my back hurts and I'm tired. I don't much want to go back downstairs and =
finish the glazing just now, but I will, because this is my work. And I =
deserve to receive an appropriate wage for my work.

What is appropriate depends on a number of things. First, how good are =
you? If you were a journeyman electrician, you could set higher prices =
for your work dependent on your level of expertise. If you were working =
for an employer, he or she would base your wages on your experience and =
reputation, and, one hopes, grant increases for evidence of increased =
skill and efficiency. I'm good, but not as good as I would be if I'd =
been doing this for 15 years or longer, as some of you have.

Another factor is location. If you live in New York City or Los Angeles, =
or even Denver, you'll have to charge more for your work than I charge. =
In Custer, SD, I can't command the prices I might command in New York, =
but I don't think I could find a $10 hamburger anywhere in the state, =

Yet another factor is how much you want to sell the work. I am the sole =
support for myself and my daughter, unless you count $150/mo I receive =
in child support. I used to be married to a kick-ass amateur =
paleontologist, but he left when I stopped giving him money. So now, I =
can live cheaper than before, and that's a help. But I still have to =
sell my work, so I have to price according to what the market will bear.

People work hard for their money. They want to buy things that will add =
to their pleasure in life. First off, that means food, and I don't think =
a potter is any better than a farmer. Then there's shelter, and yes, a =
potter is every bit as good as a building contractor. When all the basic =
needs are accounted for, there's a limited amount left over for =

Pottery didn't use to be a luxury. Now that it is, it can command a =
higher price, at least, but people aren't forced to buy it, either, and =
they don't care if you only made four pieces last year. If you're =
planning on 50K a year, you'd better make sure that each of your four =
pieces is kick-ass art indeed, and that they look like you spent three =
months of full-time work in their creation.

Cindy Strnad
Earthen Vessels Pottery
RR 1, Box 51
Custer, SD 57730

Jeffrey on thu 8 feb 01

I have to agree. I'm a college student and I have been underpricing my work
for a while now, but I just realized that I can't do it anymore. I had
assumed that because I am young, I shouldn't charge a lot for my work. I
realize now that the amount of time it takes for me to produce my work
hasn't been close to the amount of money I should be making. Nowadays, my
back is starting to hurt, and I got dizzy the other day while mixing clay.
While there are a lot of things to consider when pricing, underpricing your
work can be really bad. The last day of a sale, if you haven't sold much,
then you can always lower your prices, but you can't run after everyone you
sold work to and ask for more money later.


winnie coggins on sun 11 feb 01

Jeff, lowering your prices on the last day of a sale trains people to not
buy until that final day. Ones who bought earlier at higher prices and
return for more may react negatively. Your fellow craftsmen usually aren't
too keen on this or on bargaining over prices with customers as you might at
a flea market. Better to re-price for the next sale and start fresh. Also
be sure it is the right show for your work--are others with similar works
selling, or are the customers just looking. So many factors to consider.

Winnie in Columbia, Maryland