Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Valuing Your (My) Work as an Artist/Business

This post is not out of desperation, but rather explanation...

As you'll soon note and if you had noticed from my prior post major changes are happening here at Faith Works.  Having read through about eight or nine articles concerning pricing (thank you Etsy.com) I decided it was time to put that resource to good use.  Even when I was selling on Etsy I rarely went through their blog, despite it being chockful of good pointers from the staff and myriads of sellers.  But having recently re-thought where I stood with my business endeavors I decided it was more than high time.

First beast to tackle...pricing.  Like some dread ornery dragon pricing one's work can be super difficult for an artist.  If you have read through articles this point is usually touched on, as is that of most artists underpricing themselves.  Now yes I bring it up here but I also go into some of the important points that are part of the reasonings behind these issues that don't necessarily get covered.  Sure as an artist I underprice myself...but why.  Obviously the only way to fix it is to get to the source otherwise I'll continue whatever habit is causing it.

I think for me the biggest issues is the way in which I, and many other artists, think about their work.  Knitting for example.  It's been around quite some time, lots of people in lots of countries do it.  With the plethora of information available between libraries and the internet both via written texts, pictures, and YouTube videos it's easy enough to learn.  Just get a stranded fiber (it doesn't even have to be yarn) and two knitting needles (or pencils, pens, chopsticks even) and go to town.  For the knitter, you know how to do it so it doesn't seem like that big a deal.  It's not that hard frankly.  But you can't simply look at your artform from the perspective of someone who knows how to do it...to quote one of the articles ' "You are not always your target market." '  After all, chances are if you can do it you would rather than paying someone else to do it.  Sure this doesn't promise that you wouldn't as a knitter buy someone else's knitting.  Maybe you really like that sweater or shawl or cardigan and don't have the patience, skill, time, or resources to make it yourself.  Or perhaps you just would like to support them and don't mind buying it simply because it's easier.  Regardless, if you have a decent amount of experience in knitting you know how long it takes to do a large piece like that cardigan by hand.

The other portion of it comes from considering that that garment in the store was likely mass produced, likely by some machine or at the very least for ridiculous cheap labor.  Chances are the person who makes the sweater you see hanging on the rack didn't do it strictly by hand or from scratch.  The fiber was made synthetically, machine processed into fiber, which was put through another machine to make the fabric, and possibly a final one to sew.  What could add up to 80 actual man hours with the use of machines and assembly line processing takes a fractional amount of that time.  So of course that sweater is only 20.00-25.00, that had you made it start to finish could have realistically cost twice that.  Mind you even many handmade crafters don't tend the sheep, sheer, spin, knit and then sew every thing they make, it's still a good deal more work than what a machine can do.  So in essence you really can't compare the amount of work put forth between the two.

So it comes down to the fact that I, as an artist & crafter, get paid for what you don't/won't/can't do.  There's nothing wrong with this, there are plenty of things that the average person doesn't do or knows little about and the purpose of any training or education allows someone to do it.  So as long as it gets done by someone yourself or someone else it's fine.

In general my items are not for the faint of wallet or quick fixers.  Walmart and Target serve those needs.  I make fine quality, heart felt gifts be they for yourself or someone else.  When you buy from me you get an experience, not just a product.

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