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underselling/pricing--thoughts on

updated mon 24 jun 02


Kay Howard on sun 23 jun 02

I've read all the posts--it seems clear that this is a difficult =
subject--sex discussions are no longer taboo-money, however, appears to =
be the last great taboo. Thanks to those who have shared their prices =
and methods of pricing. I guess I can be considered subsidized--my =
husband has social security and a (very) small pension, which blessedly =
allows us to purchse health insurance cheaper than on the open market =
(still takes more than 1/2 the pension). We could survive without clay =
income, but hardly live, if you get my meaning. 8-9 years ago when I =
did my first art show, I was a nervous wreck putting my work out there =
for others to examine, critique and maybe buy. I wanted to say "you =
don't really want to buy that, do you? What if you get it home, and you =
hate it? etc" to think that someone would actually give me money for =
something I had made was mind boggling. (In retrospect, the fact that =
someone did buy some of those things is still boggling! My God--that =
stuff is still out there--with my name etched in stone!) =
Anyway--underselling--at this first show there was a potter who was =
selling as fast as she could wrap--$5, $10 country functional stuff =
kinda boring but technically better than anything I could do. I didn't =
know she was underselling. She was just selling. I made my expenses and =
thought I was in heaven. She is still at that same show and so am I. =
Her stuff looks exactly the same. Mine doesn't. I don't care what she =
charges-which is relatively the same as before. I charge more. There is =
a place for everyone. If I thought she wasn't making her pots, then I =
would get excited (I can get get on a real big soapbox over buy-sell in =
a place that it isn't supposed to be.) It's her back. And she is =
underselling only herself. There are 5-6 repeat potters at this show =
every year and we all have our niche. =20

Pricing--I don't have a system per se but I do try to stay =
consistent--consistent with what I see others at my same level of =
experitse charging, and especially internally consistent within my own =
body of work. My range is $15-$200. 95% under $100. The $15 are =
individual hanging leaves. They fly out of the booth by 3's and 5's and =
if I charged by weight I'd almost have to give them away. I choose my =
markets with care. I said in an earlier post that I do some Howard Alan =
shows. Some of his shows are in pretty upscale areas. I bomb there. =
I'm not pricey enough--like the little vases in an earlier post. Venue =
is critical to pricing IMHO. But I don't change prices for specific =
shows. (If I get called off the emergency replacemnent list for Ann =
Arbor I might be tempted to make an exception to that rule!) With what =
I am currently doing, I feel my prices are fair to me and to my =
customers. My definition of ethical pricing. A fair exchange of value. =
I've raised my prices a little this year, about 5-10%. If I get an =
espcially nice piece, I put an arbitrarily higher number on it. OK-so =
Im only consistent up to a point. When my work changes so will my price =
tags. (I used to have $7 mini trays).

We all make choices and we live (or go broke) with those choices. I =
would like to think that the person next to me at a show has made their =
own stuff and is not a starving artist. I want us all to be =
successful--and one criteria is that we are able to make enough money to =
be able to continue providing beautiful things for others to live with =
and enjoy while enjoying whatever standard of living feels appropriate. =
I personally no longer apologize for charging money for my works--they =
may not ever be masterpieces--but they represent time and money and =
effort that has been expended, and they are the best I can do today. =
And they are better than I did yesterday! And besides, let's be =
honest--if this is your day job, no matter how much we love it, there =
are times when it FEELS like a job, with pressure and stress and =
timetables to meet--and bills to pay and miles to go before we sleep...=20

So let's not pick at each other--we all fit somewhere on the spectrum of =
being--artists, entrepreneurs, full-time/hobbyist, whatever.
I think this thread has been really good, if only to make us all think =
seriously about how we each value ourselves and our work. And to think =
about how our actions may affect others. For heavens sake, let's not =
undersell ourselves--or for that matter get too big for our britches! =
We are all in this together folks--can we please act like it? Good! =
Thanks! By the way, hearing about those $400 tea bowls gives me =
something to aim for-and be in awe of! BTW2, no way would I make a mug =
for $5-even if I could throw them consistently--

Per an article in Sunshine Artist awhile back--if it doesn't sell, raise =
the price =3D)

Kay Howard Leaves, leaves everywhere--sorry to ramble so--I'll be =
evaluating those price tags this week-end in Grand Haven, MI next to =
beautiful Lake Michigan. =20