Saturday, July 19, 2008

Awards- from others and from ourselves

Some time ago I was the very grateful recipient of this lovely award...

...given to me by the faery-dusted Michelle. Thank you so much, Michelle! I am so happy to have aroused such commendations in you, I really am most chuffed. This is my first award!

As per the duties of accepting the award, being in detail...

1. Display logo and link to who gave it.
2. Nominate at least 7 blogs.
3. Add links to those 7 blogs.
4. Leave the nominees a message that they received the award.

So here below are the blogs I've nominated for an award. I have so very very many blogs who make me emit high-pitched noises and shuffle my feet for the joyous things they are, but I am especially enamoured by...

Jen Worden - A true creator, she's inspired me lately to make things just for the sake of making. I often have trouble with this- I judge myself constantly and as a result often get nothing done because it's 'not good enough'.

Sepia Art Studio - a found object jewellery artist (and more besides) with beautiful simple designs and a real elegance.

Red Velvet - One of those rare blogs that sees me scrolling up and down the same entry 3 times, just to soak in all the wonder! If one day I make a wristcuff that even slightly reminds anyone of one of her glorious pieces, I shall be overcome with the rapture.

Florizel - I can't understand a word without the translator, but there is always something gorgeous to marvel at. One of those blogs were you discover something new in every post and need a minute to recover!

Secretleaves- I only discovered these darlings last night and have yet to fully explore them. It's one of those places where I need to warm up; get a cup of tea, go to the toilet, take a moment...prepare myself, and in the end I almost can't look because everything is so heart-skippingly awesome. Their Flickr is making me emit high-pitched noises of delight.

Brandywine- Another recently discovered artist with so much wonderfulness. I am so utterly ill with jealousy over her studio!

Daily Poetics- An amazing blog, and an even more amazing Flickr.

And now I would like to talk about something that's a thorn in the side of alot of artists trying to make a living with their craft- pricing.

Lately I've been wondering if I charge too little, considering the time it takes to sew a cuff, and that's not counting the time it takes to lay out the materials, hand-dye the laces etc (which can be a 1-4 day process on it's own), and find the fabrics (which is getting harder and more costly) .

All my cuffs are hand-sewn, no machine work at all. It takes me 2-3 hours to sew up a cuff, and that's only after I've laid out the scraps in the design I'm happy with. If I made a cuff from start to finish- from selecting the fabric, dying it, laying it out and sewing it- I think it would take me 48 hours. That's 2 whole days in a row, with no sleeping, eating, answering the phone, going into town to pay the bills or all those other things we do when we could be crafting.

The thing about pricing is that sometimes it's not as easy as multiplying your supply cost by ten, or doubling it and charging your hourly wage. For alot of artists, people are buying more than just labour and materials- they're buying talent, soul and thought. I wish it were as easy as just slapping together what looks pretty, but it's not. It's about instinct and colour conundrums, then thinking that you know you have the perfect trinket for that cuff, but where is it...? Then you finally find it and it's not as small as you remember it, so you need something else...

Alot of people might say 'well that would be quicker if you were organised' and they'd be right. But it would take the soul out of it, and that's something I simply cannot do. I find the element of truth in my work is being able to dig through baskets and boxes and piles on desks and bags in tins and finding just the right combination of stuff. It's like piecing together a map to an ancient civilisation, the parts of which have been scattered to the wind too long ago, and it's your job to find them again.

Of course one of the biggest problems with pricing is fear that you're pricing yourself out of the market. It's no secret that people are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, and I'm trying to make a living selling expensive things that people don't really need. As it is I wonder that if I were cheaper people would buy more, but that only damages me and brings down the value of my output, to phrase it coldly.

Besides, it's well known that low prices put people off, they equate high prices with high quality and low prices with low. In the same twisted logic that reveals we don't trust the figure $10.00 but we trust 9.95, people assume that if your work doesn't cost much, you're clearly not of any value and therefore not worth wanting -because we only want what others want. Except me, I always want what others want to throw away! I expect a few of you can relate to that, dear reader...

Since writing this yesterday my mother came home and told me her co-worker (who has seen my work) wanted me to know that I under-value myself. Hmm...I thought, validation? I then spent a few hours updating the prices in my shop, and am now charging what I feel I deserve for each piece, not the lowest price I can manage and still get by. As if finalising the validation, I received a huge order last night. The biggest order I have ever had.

So in conclusion- value yourself. Realise your materials and your labour and your overheads of rent, gas, electric (internet!) etc...but don't forget to value your talent. For real talent, true talent (such as those listed above) is a treasure more than silver and gold, and is something people will (willingly and rightly) pay for.


Carol Emma said...

Good for you and congratulations on your order!

The psychology of pricing is so interesting.
One summer I noticed my earrings were not selling at craft shows - good earrings - sterling - pearls - gems - no sales. I asked a friend who was a world-class jewelry shopper - what could be the problem? Your prices are too low, she said. Hmmm. So I raised all my earring prices from $22-$28, by TEN dollars to $32-$38 - and you’ve probably guessed, they started selling within the hour!! Seems the higher prices had actually made them more attractive!
I maintain that people looking for excellent hand-crafted goods are not looking for bargains. The more you value your own work, the more it will be valued by others.

Your work is beautiful and worth every penny and then some!

Judy said...

Thanks for the award and congrats to you - I feel very honoured indeed. I love love love your blog have been all the way through it - almost - very inspiring. And that purpley dyed material - omg - I adore it. I had oly bought some dyes to do some stuff myself last week, now to find some time to do it.
on the pricing thingy - don't undersell yourself - its manic on ETSY - people fighting to undersell. I think it is bad for all the hours people put into their art. You are in aus and we have to buy everything at much higher prices than our USA counterparts.
Ciao for now

Brandy said...

Thank you so much for the reward! I am in awe of your work. Oh the places you’ve been! I’m jealous of all the museums you haunt! I feel you on the pricing thing. Its such a big struggle for me. Recently I was told I had “such cute little prices.” Ouch. I really analyzed some of my prices and realized I wasn’t even making money on some things! You are right about raising yours. You can SEE the soul in your work. Its all so lovely. I’m so GLAD you found me!



Jen said...

Thanks so much for the award Penny-Elizabeth. Yes, pricing is always difficult - I tend toward the lower price for smaller items hoping that it will allow first-time buyers to be able to collect my work.

Your cuffs are wonderfully unique and creative and should be considered works of art rather than "craft". And priced accordingly!

lotta said...

Thank you, thank you for addressing the pricing issue in such a thoughtful way. It is a big dilemma, but I think you got it. I am so glad I found your blog through secret leaves. I'll be back to admire your beautiful work.