...serenity in motion

Establishing a value; It is based on your perspective and that of your collectors

What establishes value on something?  How do we come to appreciate one thing more than another?

As artisans, we all struggle with pricing so that we can sell and pay our bills while making enough money to keep doing what we love. Some artists charge a flat fee per inch but when you are a sculptor or other mediums that are not flat work, how do you use a formula like this?   I have mentioned one organization that teaches; hours x hourly wage + cost of materials, tota of that x 6 for retail and half of that for wholesale.  Some artists look on me with awe at such a formula.  As a pastel artist, it doesn’t take me as long to create a piece as it does them.

Ultimately, value is given something when someone pays for it.  When I worked in a gallery, people used to ask me why the work was a good “investment”.  I would be up-front with every one who asked this question.  Art is not a good investment.  That is right, I said it.  You only get money out of art when you sell it.  If you really love it, you won’t sell it; therefore, it isn’t going to ever give you a return on your money.  The collector would stop and think hard about what I said.  I can’t say I sold to everyone after that statement but it did take the “investment” question off of the table.

When someone asks you why your work is worth investing in, it is the most personal thing they are ever going to ask.  They are really asking you if You are a good investment.  Are you collected? Are you going to keep creating and selling?  Is your name recognized and will it bring them prestige hanging on their walls.  I will admit, these are not the people I want buying my art.  As much as they spend on my art, they aren’t truly invested in it.  I want my art on the walls of people who appreciate it.  I want them to love it so much, they consider it something they will list as inheritance. 

Value is based on how much you are invested in something; whether financially, intrinsically or emotionally.  The picture you see is a bronze sculpture next to the artists teddy bear.  The stuffed bear is something she has had since she was a child and she will keep it until she is no longer invested in earthly things.  The bronze has a monetary value established by buying history established by collectors.  Which one will she be quickest to part with? Which one do you think?

Perspective, history, material, provenance, and market will establish a value on anything but ultimately it is about the person who owns it and what someone will pay to influence them to release it.  I know this doesn’t help an artist but just maybe, it might help a collector.  What are you willing to give up to have something?  Ask yourself that the next time you face off an artist over the hard work in front of you.  Remember, it is an as much an honor to purchase that hard work as it is to sell it to you.