Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Red in Back, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20
I was thinking that I'd continue yesterday's topic of pricing my art by saying how hard it is to place value on my work. But I realized that's not really the case with me. I am insecure and self-conscious about many things but interestingly the art I create, that is an expression of myself, is not one of them. I think it's because I know how subjective it all is. I am really not offended at all when a person doesn't like my work. I'd prefer that they not say "your paintings suck" right in front of me, but really, how can I expect everyone to like it and want to buy it? I am terribly picky about what art I like and what art I will buy and hope, and expect that others will also be as discerning. I want the person who does buy my art to value it and enjoy it, not just have it as decoration.
Having said that, I now feel comfortable in saying that, of course I think my prices should be much higher than they are. But I am realistic. I am just starting out really, despite having an art education and being, ahem, a bit older that the average emerging artist. I show my work in mostly smaller markets, and in tourist areas where the amount of money that is spent on original art is generally lower. I have yet to break into a "blue chip" gallery where my work would command higher prices. So I am reasonably satisfied with where things are right now, because, despite raising my prices substantially twice in a year's time, my sales have increased and I feel pretty confident that my art's value is increasing. It must, because I literally cannot produce more paintings than I already do, so in order to earn a decent (I will settle for half-decent) income I need to sell my work at higher prices, eventually anyway.
I also treat the business side of all of this as, well, a business. At first I didn't. I was concerned about covering the costs of framing, materials and my time. So my prices were too high and I didn't sell enough to cover any of those things. When I looked at the situation again, I decided to approach it as a small business, something I have had some experience with. For the first few years, my time didn't count. It was a given that I would devote as much of it as I could, because that is what you have to do with a start-up business in order to get it off the ground. The same thing for supplies. I needed many things those first few years; paint, brushes, panels, printing, slides, office supplies, studio equipment. I viewed those purchases as seed money, an investment, one that would take years to see a return on. While I have yet to actually make a profit, in 2005 I did have enough income to cover my expenses, which was pretty dang good for my second full year of painting.
The part of setting prices for me that is stressful and difficult is not that I am placing a value on myself. It is that I am concerned about moving forward, without too many missteps, and not wanting to alienate potential buyers as my prices climb. And even though I am confident about my work and its value, the last thing I want to do is to keep justifying my prices to everybody and their brother. THAT is stressful.