Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Pear Saga Continues

This survey in pricing has been fascinating. I heard from over forty people, and all looked at the same pictures, and had the same limited information. This lack of information frustrated many. But I wanted to start there. Why? Because when you go to a show you will probably not have all the information you are seeking before you make a judgement about the price. You will see the price and react if you think it is way out of line. If it is perceived as low, you may buy it right up without asking many questions. If the price is perceived as too high, you will also not ask questions about the amount of time that went into it, etc. It is probably only when the price is within the range you think is appropriate that you will begin to understand more about the process, and examine the piece in greater detail.

Formulas exist for calculating price, and they are a good place to start. But understanding what the market will bear is also important. But, this does not mean that you need to price your work so that every person who desires your work could afford it… can’t afford to do that! It is a handcrafted item. In most cases, it is one person, in their studio, making the work. There is a limit to how much can be produced. If the price does not reflect this fact, you are shortchanging yourself.

I had the pear in question at the Craft Boston show with a price on it. For those of you who went to the show, you may know what that price is. I am going to hold off on sharing my final pricing decision with the rest of you until a later date. I want to take this journey without that distraction. First, let’s look at some of the ways people calculate prices, or assumptions made about the pear, and how that was reflected in the final price.

The range of answers, and associated conclusions was wide. I hope you can read these without judging another person’s approach or answer. Look at it as a way to get inside the head of someone passing through a show, and assessing the work. Everyone comes from a different set of experiences, and those experiences are what lead us to our conclusions. We will not all agree on the “right” answer. But I hope as we move through this discussion about price, we can start to close that range of a fair price, a bit, and that we will gain a better understanding of why one person thinks the prices on work are too high, and another gets frustrated by people's reactions to their prices.

Here are some excerpts from some of the emails I received:

I personally triple my materials cost, add my hourly rate and depending
on how much of myself is in it I may double the total, then again I may
multiply by four. In order to compete in the market, you must also
consider "perceived value

I'd say you have about $50 worth of clay in it. Add 3 hours to condition clay at $10 an hour. ($30). Then, for your creativitiy, drawing the Koi and the cane embellishments, and your originality, I'd add $100. So, my total, to sell this piece directly to the public would be $180. If sold through a store, it could be priced at $300.

I have taken into account that you must have quite a bit of clay, paints, and assorted other materials involved in this project. I'm sure you also have hours of loving labor involved. Unfortunately, unless you sell your work in galleries, I think it is very difficult to get paid for all our time. But in fairness to art and the artist, I am putting $49 on the pear.”
“I come up with a price, then I would hear my crafter friends say:"double it." And it usually works!

it appears to have some transfer work, back carving etc. I have no clue what it was sculpted over, and if that was more than a "free" find I would raise the price a bit
above this, but woud say about $45 (mind you, I wouldn't pay that, I am with your mother, and if I loved it would try to do something similar myself.....”

you didn't mention how much time you spend on the pear but I would imagine that you spent at least many hours if not days on it. The drawings on it have to be considered art. Considering that and all of the materials I would put the estimated price at $250.00 US. Sounds like a lot of money but if you don't value your work no on else will.

This looks like a fine museum piece! I would probably price it anywhere from $59 to just over a hundred depending on the market area.”

a great formula which has become my mantra:
cost of materials + time + 10% = wholesale
(cost of materials + time + 10%) x 2 = retail
I'm going to base my price on the assumption that you do these in an assembly line fashion and it probably doesn't take more than 5 hours (10 per week) to do any one piece once you've done a prototype

In my next post, I will share some information about time, details, costs, overhead, etc. We will do some math. That will fill in some of the holes that frustrated many.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I am really enjoying reading this whole blog line.

I didn't submit a price because I am honestly terrible at that sort of thing.

This thread is helping me see where I fall in this discussion, and I am suprised at myself!