Pricing! What is one supposed to do about it? I have recently been wrestling with this a great deal. I have two important events coming up – New Designers, which is a show case for arts graduates where I am looking forward to meeting all sorts of people and hoping that some of them might express an interest in my work, and City Lit Ceramics own graduation show at Candid Arts Gallery, Islington the following week to which some big galleries, collectors and ‘names’ from the world of ceramics have been invited. It is important to get it right!
Too low and I am saying the wrong things about my work. I am telling people that I do not value the effort, time and thought that has gone into it. I also run the risk of devaluing the very course on which I have been studying for the past couple of years. Too high and, once again, I am saying the wrong things. I risk insulting those artists who have been in this game for may years. Who are known in the world of ceramics and whose time and effort is valued at a particular price – way higher than I could dream of – by the world at large and which I should be wary of getting anywhere near.
So as a fledgling artist what does one do? A year ago I sold a piece for £200. I was over the moon. I thought that I had arrived! Shortly afterwards I was advised that this figure did not give my work sufficient credit, that no-one would take me seriously, that I should triple my prices. I followed this advice with considerable trepidation. £600 for a bit of fragile porcelain!!! The result was that no-one was prepared to value my work at that price and I have sold little since.
My tutor’s advice is that I should be in the region of £150 to £480. That doesn’t sound too far fetched to me. I do value my work. It has taken hours of thinking, puzzling, resolving, trying to work out how best to say what I want to say That has got to be worth something. Yet is it, really? I woke up this morning with a sense of deep misgiving about what I am putting into the final show. It is good. Yes I really do believe that. But it is not as good as it gets. I know that there is something missing – something that I haven’t made yet. So how do I price a piece which is already being pushed to the back of my mind because another germ of an idea is already filling my head? If only I had the time I could be putting something better into the show, something of real value!!
In the end I suppose it comes down to a couple of points. Firstly it has to be great news that the best is yet to come. I have a direction in which to go after the course has ended for one thing. Then there is the need to acknowledge the fact that I am showing in a group exhibition. There will be work in that exhibition which I truly admire and which I would pay considerably more for than I would for my own pieces. So perhaps I need to wait and see how the rest of my contemporaries price their work and then value mine accordingly.
It is all about ‘value’ not ‘price’ and do not be too modest, some of your work is stunning. To say you could be producing something ‘better’ is to ignore the fact that every step is a small fork in the road: not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ but a different perspective on life. Are Edmund de Waal’s later works ‘better’ than his early ones? Or do they simply says something slightly different?
I would have to ask Edmund de Waal what he thinks to reply properly!