at The Attic–

So, I’m at The Attic, which is a coffeehouse/used bookstore near The Art Garage and is just off of Main Street.  I’m sitting beneath their art wall and thinking thinky-thoughts and killing time before I go volunteer at The Art Garage at noon.  <–See, this is me totally plugging the places I like to go.

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The opening at The Art Garage was nice.  My sculptures totally did not look like anyone else’s work, but I’m not entirely certain that not looking like anyone else’s work is a good thing.  The In-Laws the Wisconsin Edition say that it’s good.  The Husband say that it’s good.  Me?  I’m not so easily convinced.  Maybe my art is too different to be successful in this area?

I’m totally the only person who could be stressed out by this, but I always seem to need something to stress out about.  Why not stress about this, right?  At least, it’s important to me.

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But, something that I noticed at the opening that kinda worried me was that my pieces were so much more expensive than other artists’ work (mine were also far larger than anyone else’s)–and it wasn’t just because my sculptures were so much larger either.  I think that it may be the classic instance of artists under-pricing themselves.

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Now, as any artist knows, pricing one’s work is the most torturous endeavor ever.  Critics, professors, fellow artists, openings, grant writing–all of these things pail in comparison to self-pricing.  And, a lot of it seems to stem from none of use ever being told a formula for pricing.  Anything our art school mentors tells us seems to be vague and unclear.  I think the clearest I had ever heard was something along the lines of “figure how much it cost to make and multiple that by seven” (*potentially a very bad paraphrase).

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Mind you, this was not told to me.  It was told to ‘Lainy.

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‘Lain’s fair-going parents (they’re Feywood) told her something similar about pricing, but it was more like “figure out materials and time and then tack an extra 50% on it.”  Again, I potentially really misheard this.  ‘Lain, please feel free to chime in with a clarification.

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The most consistent–and probably fairest–pricing formula that I have found has been on Etsy by daniellexo with a complimentary article about discomfort in pricing by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl on Oh my!  Handmade Goodness, and it comes out to something like this:

Cost Price (Labor + Materials Cost) x 2 = Your Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

So, basically, the price of materials and labor–how much an hour do we make as artists?  I’ve read it’s best to think in terms of $10-15/hr.  I don’t think this is terribly unreasonable since, as artists, we are highly skilled and trained practitioners.–multiplied by two equals your wholesale price, i.e., the price that people would pay if they were buying a large stock of your pieces to sell in their stores.  Multiple the wholesale price by two again and that’s the retail price, or as I like to think about it since I don’t make a whole lot of multiples (yet), the price for an individual, unique piece of art.  There was another pricing formula that I had that said that the formula should look like this:

Cost Price (Labor + Materials Cost) + 10-15% of cost price (to cover utilities used like electricity) x 2 = Your Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

That 10-15% covers any utilities that you used like electricity or water–things that a lot of us take for granted in the art-making process.  I can’t really bring myself to use this second formula yet.  I barely can get myself to use the first formula, and I still end up short changing myself because I’m not used to keeping track of the amount of time or the cost of the supplies used to complete a piece.  I’m getting better, but it’s still really hard.

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The problem is that under-valuing your own art doesn’t just hurt you, but it hurts other artists because potential buyers end up with a skewed notion of what art should sell for.  And, really, accessibly art for all:  isn’t that why we all have smaller, less expensive pieces or prints?

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The formulas take a long time to get used to, and if you’re anything like me, you’re totally going to experience severe sticker-shock and thing “how can my pieces be worth this much and who in their right mind is going to buy them?”  I’m still thinking like that.

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Also, remembering that if you show at a gallery, they take a percentage of your sale to support themselves, so you’ll likely have to accept the loss from your pocketbook or you’re going to have to tack on that percentage to the existing price.  <–I haven’t been able to make myself do this yet.

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According to formula one, unnamed friends:  narwhal should cost $1200 (really, it was higher, but I knocked it down a little).  Most of that happens because it is completely hand-sewn, and that takes forever.

Please excuse the blurry photos.  The Father-In-Law took them.  *sigh*

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According to formula one, unnamed friends:  from the 100 acre wood should be $1400.  Similar reasons apply.

Yes, this is me mugging for the camera.  To give y’all an idea of scale, I’m just under 5 foot (a little more than 5 foot in the shoes I was wearing).  *refrains from blurring me out of the photo*

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So, I feel like they are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over-priced, but I also wonder if that’s just me being insecure and small.

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I do think I need a time-clock.  A really big one that goes kachunk and ticktickticks and dings.  Make myself clock-out of the studio.

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What do y’all think my little artist-y friends?  Do you think that these formulas will help you?  Do you feel like you’re work is totally under/over-priced based upon them?

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2 thoughts on “at The Attic–”

  1. I’ve never actually thought about HOW they’re priced…I’ve just always known that 99% of original art was too expensive for me to buy, but…I’m kinda poor. So, you know. Basically, this is a fancy way to say that I’m no help at all. But I adore what you do, Trie!

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  2. You’re very kind, Mr. Viewtiful. You and Boyfriend should come up to ArtiGras and ArtStreet. Loads of affordable art and loads of artists selling prints of their really expensive original work. I’m a print person because I will never be able to afford a $3000 canvas. Maybe if I talk to them about an art-trade…

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