Author Topic: What price art?  (Read 16513 times)

Offline Les Symonds

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What price art?
« on: April 11, 2015, 07:08:53 PM »
From the outset, let me say that the last thing that I want to do is to revisit the debate about how much we charge for our work. That subject has been covered already, many a time, but there is one aspect of that debate that I feel remains unanswered, and that is, how we value the artistic element of a piece of work.

I was paid the compliment, the other day, of having my work described as a piece of art. A very rewarding experience at the best of times, but this description was offered by an artist, and what she was saying was that she accepted that one of my bowls was selling at £90 because it had an artistic element - indeed, she liked it so much that she bought it. So this begs the question posed above.

I arrived at a figure of £90 by taking the cost of the materials (a particularly rough and wormy piece of alder burr) at £15, then adding a few quid for abrasives and finishing materials, so let's call that £20. Then I added £20 per hour for the one and a half hours that it took to make the bowl, so that brings it up to £50, and a few quid towards overheads. So the finished price of the bowl could have been under £60. Realising that it had a bit of a 'look' about it, I took a chance, added 50% on top and stuck it in the shop window. Eight days later it was sold.....which probably means that I could have got more.

Anyone out there have any theories on this?


Les
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Offline GBF

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2015, 07:35:08 PM »
Hi Les.

You are opening a can of worms here the is it art argument.LOL
Rightly or wrongly I call myself an Artistic woodturner as everything I make is an ornament I don't make anything useful.
The value of the artistic content as you have just found out is whatever anybody will pay for it.

Regards George
The man that never made a mistake never made anything

Offline Les Symonds

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2015, 07:40:45 PM »
.....The value of the artistic content as you have just found out is whatever anybody will pay for it.....

That's interesting, because my new venture is the first shop of its kind in quite a big region, so there isn't an established market for that sort of work. I hear lots of people talk about how much galleries charge for work in various capital cities, but these places have established markets, and therefore, an established pricing structure.

I am very mindful of the need to keep the intrinsic value of our work as high as possible by not undercharging for my work. However, I also believe that I have to be realistic in setting a price in the short-term, and then start slowly increasing that price when a market becomes established.

Les
Education is important, but wood turning is importanter.

Offline steve w

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2015, 08:20:25 PM »
a bit off subject but interesting - i have a Stainless and plastic fabrication business, many years ago my friend a metal worker contacted me as he had been asked to make a spiral shape frame with plastic forms on it - we spent the next week designing it and making it - it was delivered to a unit up town - several weeks later it was in the newspaper as the main attraction at Bilston art gallery with an Artist standing next to it getting all the credit. thing is we never made it as art but it became art when the artist said it was art.
why do i feel the need to turn a block of wood into shavings?

Offline dr4g0nfly

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2015, 08:21:46 PM »
Les,

I'll also use George's comment,

The value of the artistic content as you have just found out is whatever anybody will pay for it.

Now I'll add,

I am very mindful of the need to keep the intrinsic value of our work as high as possible by not undercharging for my work. However, I also believe that I have to be realistic in setting a price in the short-term, and then start slowly increasing that price when a market becomes established.

And start by saying when I left the Forces I did several courses, one of which was about running your own business. One thing that was brought out was the very comment you raised above, I'll start at what sells and put it up as I go. We were told that was wrong, price it at the correct level to start with.

A quote from the Guy who started the Tommy Hilfiger company, when asked what he would do different if he was starting the company today? His answer, 'Double the price, Half the quality.'

Remembering that you'll sell 10 x £10 items before you sell 1 x £100 item, you must set your prices at the level the market will support, Your problem is you are striking out in a whole new sphere of sales. George sells through a couple of galleries that sell other types of work as well, many turners sell from Home based Galleries or general galleries similar to Georges, also on-line internet sales, through Craft sales of various levels (village Hall up to Major functions) and other sales opportunities (Hotels (you did) or shops that sell craft items).

You've opened a shop, set yourself up in the public eye, in a high street no less.  

Truthfully we are all cheering for you, we want to see you do well and set the pace, you are giving us hope that turning can finally be accepted as an art form as something the public accept as items they want to buy and do buy.

You're stomping new ground, you tell us how to set the prices, but the summer season (tourists to you) is approaching, so ask yourself, could you push them up, just a bit?
Oh Lord, Lead me not into temptation…

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Offline GBF

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2015, 08:44:29 PM »
Les,



Now I'll add,



One thing that was brought out was the very comment you raised above, I'll start at what sells and put it up as I go. We were told that was wrong, price it at the correct level to start with.




Yes I think that is right is prospective customers see prices going up they will think you are being greedy and avoid you I know I would.

Regards George
The man that never made a mistake never made anything

Offline TWiG

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2015, 09:05:52 PM »
Les , this is quite an interesting question / subject with no definitive answer .  You seem to have calculated your manufacturing costs , yet what about the marketing costs ?   You are renting a premises , with rates , electricity , staff , insurances  , advertising ,display costs etc  etc  , It is these overheads that are the reason why galleries charge the commission they do !!  .  A piece of work with the right WOW factor to the right customer will often fetch over and above its "costs " and like wise a piece that perhaps a lot of time has been put in to carving , texturing , experimenting will never cover its costs , this is how it goes I guess , just getting more of the former is the secret !!   The "value " is decreed by the want of it ,  Good luck and keep it up !! Terry  ...
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 09:07:30 PM by TWiG »

Offline seventhdevil

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2015, 09:17:04 PM »
a bit off subject but interesting - i have a Stainless and plastic fabrication business, many years ago my friend a metal worker contacted me as he had been asked to make a spiral shape frame with plastic forms on it - we spent the next week designing it and making it - it was delivered to a unit up town - several weeks later it was in the newspaper as the main attraction at Bilston art gallery with an Artist standing next to it getting all the credit. thing is we never made it as art but it became art when the artist said it was art.

that's plagiarism, you should name and shame that artist...


i have no idea how to price "art" as it were but there are only a few pieces that i make which i personally deem artistic. when i sell my work i try to sell it for what i think i can get for it. for commissions i will always have a set price as it's easy to go by and no one can argue. the bits i make of my own accord are different though and if i can't sell them at their original higher price i then try to flog them at lower prices to get some cash in and rotate the stock. i only do one fair a year and this year i'm turning loads of bowls to my usual decent standard but will not try to charge top dollar because it's as bryan says, you will sell 10x of your smaller £10 bowls before you sell your £100. in saying that i did sell one last year straight away for the £200 i was asking for it but it was a 20"x9" brown oak beauty. you could have called that one art as i had turned it wet and let it dry to a sort of boat shape which they loved.

my fair is at eton college so there are plenty of people going round with loads of cash in their pockets.

Offline TWiG

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2015, 09:20:50 PM »
In fact Les there is a superb example of this in Dragonfly's post on Yandles show today   The off centre Sycamore bowl with the piercing and carving was less than half the price of the darker ( sorry not sure of species as not English ) bowl to the lower right !

Offline bodrighywood

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2015, 09:49:40 PM »
One thing that may be wrong is that names sell. The pieces mentioned from the AWGB stand are made by two different 'artists' and the bowl, the expensive piece is by a better known turner. In your position Les I would think that you can set the levels yourself as you are in a way the figure head shop for wood art in your area. Thinking that something won't sell if I charge *** for it isn't a good reason for charging less. One thing I was told by an experienced sales person who was used to selling £150,000 kitchens was that if it has a high price on it people will assume it is top quality and worth it. Sell for a lower price and people will judge it to be of less value. Your main customers are unlikely to be fellow turners so much as Joe public and whilst you will always get the "I can get a bowl like that in Te**os for a tenner" comments at the end of the day selling it as an art form inevitably increases its attractiveness and its value. Whatever you do don't sell cheap and increase prices gradually or you will get the same attitude as George mentioned. I have found that people who really like something that is more expensive but can't afford it will often end up buying something that costs a bit less.

Pete
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Offline TWiG

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2015, 10:11:12 PM »
Pete , ...yes the turner is better known .... amongst turners perhaps ,but would a potential customer know  (or care )  I chose them as an example as to how a piece with a great deal more work ( obvious to most  people ) should in theory  command a higher price , but in this case  and many others is not always so , but it is one thing asking a price but another actually selling it !!!    There are a few pieces in Yandles gallery  303 .. that have been in there for years , one for about 4-5 years I think  and I feel that situation is not acceptable neither to gallery or artist ..Terry  ..

Offline The Bowler Hatted Turner

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2015, 10:19:52 PM »
Looking at the two pieces above I know that the pierced plate was on sale for £185 and the bowl for £450. IMHO more work has gone into the pierced piece than the bowl although arguably more skill was used to make the bowl. So are the prices correct?
    Surely an artistic piece should be classified by it's usefulness so in that context no bowls can be included as art and the value of any piece is what the maker perceives it to be? Now whether it will sell at that price or not is a different argument altogether.
       I have a piece at home that goes to every show I do, it is priced at £285 and I will not drop the price (by much) as it is worth every penny of it. Eventually someone will like it enough to buy it at that price and it will be worth the wait and the investment by the customer. It will become a family treasured piece that will be passed down a family line for generations to come,so £285 is a small price to pay and the long wait is not important as I know the satisfaction I will feel when it eventually sells. This piece was priced purely on labour costs and finishing oil and then doubled just because it was/is a nice piece. Is it art? it can be called anything you want to call it..especially if you are the one paying!! ;) ;)

Offline Les Symonds

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2015, 10:20:48 PM »
....Yes I think that is right is prospective customers see prices going up they will think you are being greedy and avoid you I know I would...

I'm very aware of that, George, but my bowls are very individual.....no tow are ever the same - or even very similar. I'm still experimenting and trying all sorts of designs, so it's going to be difficult for any customer, no matter how savvy, to compare one bowl with another. I display about 15 bowls and 10 sets of candlesticks ( plus a couple of hundred smaller items) and the bowls vary enormously in their size, timber and design, so replacing a bowl that sells with something, and adjusting the value if I feel that things sell too easily, shouldn't ring alarm bells.....hopefully!

Les
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Offline Graham

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2015, 07:07:50 AM »
I have said many times that I would not want to put 'cheap tat' on display in my home. If you sell 'art' cheap then it automatically becomes 'Tat'

The problem is that 'cheap' is different for each of us.
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Offline GBF

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Re: What price art?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2015, 08:39:10 AM »
£450  00 For that bowl I would not give that for it if Jesus had made it.
Somebody is living in cloud Cookoo land if they think it will ever sell for that sort of money.
It is all very well holding out for top money but mostly you will hang on to it for ever better to sell more at a lesser price as long as you are making a reasonable margin.
The coloured Macrocarpa bowls that I make yesterday are going to Somerset Crafts after commission I will get £45  00 each The blanks cost me about £2  00 each and I can make one easily in an hour .That means I am earning approx £43  00 an hour not bad I think and in a couple of weeks they will be sold.I could hold out for £80  00 each convinced they are worth it because they are art and never sell them no profit in that.
I made 5 yesterday in about six hours that is approx £215  00 not bad for an old boy from Burnham on Sea  LOL

Regards George
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