Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's worth more than you probably think

I've realised it's been about a week since the last post- I am working on the next one, every day I read it and edit and add and delete. It's a thinker. While I'm carving it out, I'm going to post some wonderfully wise words from a very respected seller on Etsy- the lovely Dawn from Desert Talismans.


I think there are few of us here who couldn't site Dawn's shop as something of an artisan paradise. Her exquisite work in outstanding quality materials, expert craftsmanship and gorgeous photography is only enhanced further with the depth of the story in each piece. Every process in the work she produces seems to be a love letter to a place or people, and I know for me that is everything I aspire to. Even her packaging is a work of art.

Anyway! Putting the rose-strewn adoration aside, I was bowled over when Dawn wrote back to my letter asking for her opinion on the whole pricing lark. What she wrote was so heart-felt and honest that I've attained permission to publish excerpts of it here in the hope that it will affect something in you as it did me. Emphasis are mine; read on and most important- listen.

 There are two things that will have me shouting at the screen on Etsy: bad photos of great work, and prices that are too low. When new artists price their work, I think there must be some lingering mentality of competition that really does not reflect the changing paradigm of the times. What do you really want for your work? The bottom line is, you must not only respect what you create, but you deserve to make a living at it. Perhaps some people are thinking that they shouldn't be charging higher prices for what they make because they aren't professionally trained, or because they do it part-time, as a hobby or for fun. That makes no difference. What you make is an expression of who you are. Honor that, and the time and effort you've put into it. It's worth more than you probably think.

Remember that money is just a form of energy, neither good nor bad, and sometimes you just have to unplug from the mass-consciousness attitudes toward it. People might be surprised to hear that I can't allow myself to even think about money while I'm working. I can only focus on what I'm doing and do that without compromise or worrying about what others might think.

I am a shaman, and making jewelry is part of that spiritual path and is one way I send blessing energy out into the world. I always seek to be spirit-guided in my approach and am invariably told not to worry about money, to just show up and do the very best I can and not hold back for any reason. It was a little frightening at first to make that commitment and take that leap, but ironically as soon as I did, the work really began to sell and my customers came back for more...and they're still coming.

A good example is the sterling bangles I started making last year. Sterling silver Precious Metal Clay had recently come out, and it's a great medium for bangles but is horribly expensive, well over $100 for a little 50 gram pack. A bangle bracelet takes most, if not all of that, so I had to charge what I thought would be way too much money for a silver bangle, around $350 each. It turned out that I couldn't keep them in the shop, they sold so fast.

And by the way, I am actually self-taught with a few workshops thrown in. My BFA degree is in illustration, not jewelry. I don't sell anywhere else right now except on Etsy, although I have sold in galleries, shows and museum shops in the past. This is full-time work for me and right now it's all I can do to keep the shop stocked.

Anyway, this is a hugely long ramble, but I wanted to hopefully encourage others to value--and trust--what they do as well. That's what I love about Etsy: its egalitarianism. You can put your work out there however you choose without worrying about someone else judging you. And remember, all it takes is just one person to love what you do and be willing to buy it.


Wildthorne said...

Thanks to both you and Dawn for taking the time to share your thoughts on the value of the work we do. Garrett always says: "it just takes one person" too. It is an energy exchange ultimately.. where people decide to focus and spend their resources. What is the value of adornment, and to what purpose? It is all very personal I feel, but then I am an emotive individual. As I sit here typing this, one of your tattered brooches is next to me, and I can't affix a price to the time it took you to seek out all the materials (some antique and vintage), hand dye the fabrics, arrange the composition, sew together all the elements, then photograph, and list it. It is beautiful, and I would happily pay for another one in the future. As of now my collection is at 6 ;)

martinisfor2 said...

Thank you for sharing Dawn's letter with us. You and her are truly inspirational and talented people on Etsy. I am slowly walking down a different path on life's journey right now and sometimes my creativity seems to be hiding in the woodland along the trail. I look to my fellow artisans on Etsy and their blogs to keep me moving along the path toward working for me and not a corporation. Thank you Dawn and Penny for offering your words of wisdom to us all.

Anonymous said...

This is perfect--this subject has been haunting me for several days. Thank you!

fanciful devices said...

this reminds me quite a bit of the awesome comment by shipwreck in the last post. this is so fascinating : "Remember that money is just a form of energy, neither good nor bad, and sometimes you just have to unplug from the mass-consciousness attitudes toward it." I have so many psychological issues towards money. once as a child me and my dad saw a porche and he said "its sad that in a world with so much hunger, such a thing should exist." that hit me like a bomb, and ever since, luxury, high-price items were a symbol to me of callousness towards the suffering of others. anyone who bought themselves expensive things were assholes... so... i dont wanna be making jewelry for assholes i guess is my thinking. but all cultural creation, all art, needs there to be a wealthy class to consume it, at least historically... and art's good... so....
gotta think about it some more.
also fascinating, "I am a shaman." i sort of really identify with that.

Anonymous said...

You said "I can only focus on what I'm doing and do that without compromise or worrying about what others might think."

But I hear you judging others for too low of prices and bad pix (in your opinion). Maybe they feel exactly like you. Maybe they want to sell low or not fuss with learning about pix, but mostly don't want to worry about what others think.

Please allow others the same freedom from being judged by you.

I hope you will take this to heart,

Anonymous said...

ps I could easily buy a Porsche. I am not a martyr. I mean really people! Go help those people or shut up already. People of class donate money and time quietly.

How do you know if the dude driving that Porsche didn't recently loose his son in our military conflicts to protect our country? How do you know that the dude himself didn't spend many years in Uganda (because he can afford to) and help little children?

You are judging the wealthy and are lookin' mighty hypocritical!

Anonymous said...

pss (I promise this is the last one)
Marina: "its sad that in a world with so much hunger, such a thing should exist."

In America we feel this kind of thinking is kin to communism. But maybe your dad was raised in a country which didn't expose him to higher thinking...I dunno...

Such a thing is magnificent (especially if you have had the luck to drive one)and we also feel strongly about helping those with less. Just because you don't hear me saying I help the less fortunate doesn't meant I didn't, and A LOT!

Sparrow said...

Wow, I thought it would be sooner than this that we'd encounter Angry Anon. Who seems rather upset by the idea that we're judging people- perhaps it touched a nerve. 5 internet points awarded for the combination use of military heroes and communists AND for all the judging about judging.

I would delete your comments Anon, but I think it's best to leave them here so we can all enjoy the stupid. If you don't like what's being discussed, you are welcome to leave.

Blackwillow Boho said...

The way I see it we're just judging ourselves but I won't digress into a discussion led by someone hooked into a different agenda than is actually being discussed here.

Your series of posts have been very useful to my rational mind. My creative mind likes to play around when it gets the time and my rational mind needs to jump on board and actually make me some money from my self-taught skills. Just recently I have used my formula and not shied away from the end cost (ok, maybe a little but not so much) and guess what? The pieces sold and so my confidence has been bolstered a wee bit more. I eagerly await the next in this series and I thank you for putting so much time and effort in. x

fanciful devices said...

i mentioned the story as the beginning of my fucked up attitude, not as the example for all to follow. after all, i make jewelry- luxury items! also, sparrow is addressing a problem that is across the board affecting all our maker friends, she wants us to start valuing ourselves. she's not being judgmental.
Plus i was brought up by people who'd been the victims of this countries military conflicts, so... great example margie. higher thinking? my dad's a fucking biophysicist. he was reading encyclopedias when he was 3. (thats true.)
and we *were* kin to communist, we wanted everyone to share, so what? and yeah those ideas were a huge bust, but not because america was better thought-out, but because a power vacuum attracts mobster-style government where bullies win out. we are trying to question our assumptions via this series of posts and comments, you should analyze yours as well.

Chris said...

Thank you for your thoughts on pricing and sharing Dawn's wise words. You've buoyed me up and echoed something deep inside. Yes, we must value our time and vision. One way to do that is to not underprice our work. Bless you!

Anonymous said...

Marina lol Yep, you are right! Who thinks at the crack of dawn before coffee?
Cranky Margie ;)

fanciful devices said...

that was awesome margie. no one ever admits they're wrong. you rock.