Artists talk about pricing work all the time - it's a frightening and frustrating calculation because you don't want to conceivably out price whatever market you're in or under price your ability. There are so many what ifs in pricing work - what if no one buys my work because (fill in the blank): you're not well known, you're priced too high, priced to low, not well advertised, not young enough to be of interest, too old and considered over the hill, a woman, to progressive, not doing work people understand, too far out there, too typical, too blah, blah, blah. The list of variables goes on and on but I know there are two underlying factors that will always determine how my work sells: belief in my work and having other people believe in my work. Period. I believe in my work and I know other people love my work but I'm missing that one person who can see my work as a valuable product and is able to help me push it. Without that one person I know I'm sunk.
When I was a kid, I was brought up to believe that you had to do it on your own - all alone. My father believed that if you stood on your own two feet and worked hard you can achieve anything. That's not true. You can't achieve jack shit without other people. You can make decisions that will move you in a certain direction and may or may not effect you in a positive manner but you won't become anything without other people making the decision to respect what you do and invest whatever they can in you.
This week I was approached several times about my pricing. I was asked to lower my prices. At one instance I said absolutely not, I will not lower my price. I didn't make the sale (or, at least, haven't yet) but at least my self worth was left intact and I felt respected. The next few times I was approached and I decided to lower my price to accomodate the potential buyers but, of course, the situation(s) ended just like every other time I've tried to be accomodating: the sale(s) didn't go thru. And just like every other time after time after time after time that I'd lowered my prices, the "buyers" have taken just under the radar, back handed swipes at me in order to feel they are somehow vindictaed. The lesson: when I lowered my price my value was deminished, not just my work, but my personal value was deminished.
When you get burned once or twice you learn your lesson and move on but when it happens over and over and over again it seems life has taken on a bad habit. It can be very discouraging.
Conversly, I have sold work, lots and lots of work and at MY price. At this point, I've come to realize....again, that I'd rather not compromise myself by lowering my prices. IF the buyer REALLY wants to invest in my work they will. Period. BUT when I lower my prices I'm saying "I don't really believe in what I do and neither should you".
Artists are consistantly told we need to find another profession because we won't make money at what we do and we hold no value. I know I've been made to feel like all I do is play with crayons - but , in reality,WE are the center of humanity. Not just in an ethereal sense but in a very real, tangible way. WE design everything that makes up our world - clothes, homes, cars, computers, advertising, trends, fashion, skyscrapers, furniture, patterns, even our garbage cans have to hold a certain amount of artistry......we're reasponsible for being the back bone of any city or business any where. Rome wouldn't be Rome with out it's artists, neither would Paris, New York, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Mexico City. None of our cities and towns would hold any interest without artists at the helm. None of our human interaction would be as considerable as it is without artists. There would be no Disney, Las Vegas, Manhatttan, Goggle - everything we hold dear, right down to the Bible, has been designed by artists on some level. We build great cities, people woo us into elavating locations simply by being there.
And because of all that I'm going to try very, very hard to hold onto understanding my value as an artist and not allow anyone to convince me that I am anything but valueable - I am going to try very, very hard to remember that when I attempt to taylor my value to anyone I am diminished and doing so will put me in a place where I will never earn the right to be appreciated as an artist.