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pricing... from wendy to wendt

updated wed 15 aug 01


Brad Sondahl on tue 14 aug 01

I remember having a conversation in person with Michael Wendt where he
encouraged me to price my pots higher, so I think he is sensitive to
some of the issues Wendy is addressing.
I find it interesting that in most cultures the potter is a marginal
player at best--selling pots for miniscule amounts, whereas in our
affluent culture there is an attempt to put crafts on a pedestal and
overvalue potters' talents. It's not like we're filling a real
need--pottery is still dirt cheap at Wal Mart. Many of our customers
are merely enjoying the flaunting of their conspicuous consumption of
which handmade pots go with pre worn jeans (I'm not keeping track--this
is probably passe) and Ford Expeditions.
I think that while it's true that amateurs sell at lower prices,
most of their quality is worse also (since they haven't made 1000's of
pots like pros have), so it tends to work out that you get what you pay
for. Doing craft fairs or producing any craft is a hard way to make a
living, and that can be extended to all the arts. But it doesn't do any
good to rail at basic economics--lower prices sell more pots*.
In my case I have kept my prices low, and have a steady flow of
sales from my home/studio. I spend almost nothing on advertising, but
get great word of mouth from my customers. I have intentionally chosen
this route, as I did not seek to produce yuppie trophies, but everyday
useful functional items.
I think there's been a tendency in the arts to outprice things to
the point that only a special cadre can afford to enjoy it. I'm
thinking of theatre, where tickets prices mean that the hair in the
audience is mainly bluish, but not spiked. The arts would be healthier
if every family could afford to participate. Art fairs were originally
an attempt to facilitate this (putting local artists amateur and
professional in touch with a wide audience)--though the dynamics of
their growth has tended to be that they now put on a big party at the
artists' expense, and that the increasing expense of doing shows has
contributed to higher prices.

Brad Sondahl

* There is a limit to this. For example, people who want to buy a
wedding present have a price range they want to spend. I used to have
people not buy my pots because they weren't expensive enough for the
gift they wanted to give...
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