Possibly the hardest part about being an artist full-time is trying to figure out how much I need to charge in order to continue doing what I’m doing. Problem for most of us is that we’re artists, not accountants or bookkeepers. Personally, my money management and planning skills are abysmal.
Obviously there are the material costs – paint, glass, ink, papers, mats, frames, boards, bags, etc. OK, that’s easy. Then there’s the overhead of running my studio – electric, heat, computer, etc. So far, so good.
Now I’m doing shows about every other weekend… first there were the application fees just to be considered and juried in or out (usually $25-$35, some want $50 and up, which is insane). How many shows did I apply to? Dozens. Several dozen. I can’t quite remember. Some are online apps, some are email, some are snail mail, some are fax. OK, now it’s getting a bit more complicated. And they all have to be paid early in the year. THEN there are the actual booth fees for the shows I get into and commit to. THOSE have to be paid early in the year, too, which means that I’ve shelled out thousands of dollars long before I get to see what kinds of sales I make at the shows.
You don’t want to know what those booth fees are.
Finally there are the expenses associated with each show – travel, food, lodging, etc. Having to pick up a doohickey at Lowe’s just before the show opens because my doohickey broke. Those I’m not so great at either, just ’cause I’m so focused on getting the show set up, run, and broken down I tend to leave that to retrospective bookkeeping (digging out wads of receipts from twelve different bags or pockets when I get home).
But those are things everyone has to deal with, more or less. I am just organizationally-challenged. But I’m getting better at that because I have to.
I’ve kept my prices low as much as I can, to cover all of the above. But you know, I realized that if I have to sell several of my beautiful creations just to make back my booth fee, that’s just basically handing my babies over to the promoters. Yes, they’ve found new homes with customers that I trust will enjoy them and have their homes enriched by them… but for me, all I’ve gotten is out of the red. Sometimes not even.
Like I said, I ain’t no businessman. I’m an artist. I spend a LOT of time on each piece, as you all know. Why haven’t I fully valued the time I put into crafting each piece? ‘Cause I’m dumb.
With that, I’m giving everyone fair warning that my prices will be going up. To fair market value. And hopefully to something that will help me continue to do what I love and what you enjoy.
As I said, it’s fair market value. Why should people buy art at prices higher than the mass-produced pre-qualified pre-chewed and pre-interpreted stuff you can get at Target? Art is worth much more than paper, gas, doohickeys, and show expenses. I look around at the artwork we have collected over the years from other artists and feel the beauty, hard work, individuality of expression and taste they’ve created in our home and in our lives.
From an article from artbusiness.com:
* Art is a powerful form of expression not only for the artists who create it, but also for those who own it. Art allows people to express their individuality and to represent their beliefs, feelings, hopes, convictions and philosophies in socially (and visually) acceptable and redeeming ways.
* Art encourages people to ask questions, introspect, think about new ideas, experience fresh new perspectives and most importantly, it encourages us to take brief moments out of our busy lives to reflect on more than just the mundanities of our daily existences.
* Art improves our quality of life. All you have to do is think about the difference between a room with bare walls and one with walls full of art.
* Art inspires us to think about and even visualize how life might one day be better than it is now.
* Art stimulates conversation, dialogue and interchange even between total strangers who might never otherwise say a single word to each other. It gives people permission to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and impressions that they might not ordinarily share.
* Children are fascinated by art. Art prompts children to ask questions and encourages them to fantasize, imagine, explore and expand their perceptions of reality, and to dream of unlimited possibilities. Art teaches children how to be creative and have fun with life and gives them permission to do so as well.
* Art personalizes and humanizes the places where we live and work. Art revives lifeless interiors– homes as well as businesses– and transforms them into unique, beautiful and engaging environments.
* Most artists live very modest lifestyles because to them, making art and making the world a more beautiful place is more important than making money.
* For those so inclined, art can be used to signify wealth, success or power and can even be used to intimidate. For example, imagine a CEO’s office appointed with a big bold, vibrant, dynamic painting hanging on the wall directly behind their desk, and two imposing larger-than-life sculptures strategically placed around the office. Anyone who sits and meets with this individual must also contend with their art.
* An original work of art is not only visually appealing, but it also radiates the personality, abilities, creativity, insight, inspiration, technical mastery, attitudes, and at its best, the brilliance and genius of the artist who created it. People who own art are not only able to experience, but also be inspired and uplifted by these qualities on an ongoing basis.
* An original work of art reflects, enhances and sometimes even magnifies the personality of the individual who owns it.
* Original works art have a certain energies about them that reproductions and mass-produced decorative items simply don’t have. You know just by looking at it that another human being made it, and not a machine.
* An impressive or extensive personal art collection can be likened in microcosm to that of a great museum, and certainly increases the esteem of the owner among his or her peers. In fact, many of the great personal art collections either end up in museums or become museums in and of themselves.
* Art makes people proud to live and recreate where they do. They point to their museums, public artworks, galleries, non-profits and cultural institutions with pride.
* Art makes people proud to work where they do. They point to their corporate or workplace art collections with pride. Seeing original art in the halls, lobbies and offices of their corporate headquarters has unconditionally positive, productive, inspirational and uplifting effects.
* Owning original art has unequivocally positive effects for those who own it. Simply put, it makes life more livable.
* For business people who like to make profits, either directly or indirectly, know that many people decide where to spend their time (and money) based on the art that businesses have on display. For example, commercial spaces such as restaurants, hotels and meeting places often attract people because of their impressive art and interior decor.
* Art is environmentally friendly, energy efficient and easy to maintain. It does not increase global warming, use fossil fuels or need to be serviced on a regular basis, and it’s certainly not just another expendable commodity destined for the landfill once it outlives its usefulness. Art never outlives its usefulness. In fact, it only gets better with time.
* Across the country and around the world, artists move into troubled or blighted neighborhoods or parts of cities that have fallen on hard times and revitalize them with their artistry. Property values increase, new businesses move in and the overall quality of life in those areas improves immeasurably. Sooner or later, the public at large discovers these wondrous transformations, and in some cases people actually travel great distances to visit these creative oases. In other words, buying art and supporting artists serves far higher purposes than simply decorating your walls. Your ongoing support provides artists with the means to continue improving the quality of life for us all.
Thanks for hearing me out, and thanks for your continued support.
P.S. I’ll be honoring the show prices up until 7/25/17, when I hit the road again. If you saw something you would like to buy, find it on my website shop and/or email me. -CB