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"Mad Hatter Teapot"©
Lynn D. Troldahl Hershberger
Pricing Artistic Works
People write asking for advice. I have opinions! Here is one of my replies.

If you see yourself as an artist, then you need to make sure you do justice to your training, imagination, execution and other elements related to your artwork. Do not price it based solely on the size of the item, or materials costs. Do not disrespect your work by viewing it only as a manufactured item.

Often an artist will say they broke even on a show when they sold enough to pay the entry fee. But what about hourly wages for several days watching your booth? What about the cost of slides and mailing costs to apply to shows which did not accept your work? Businesses such as retail stores account for these costs of doing business, and artists often do not.

Perhaps there are a few who over-rate their work. However, in my experience, polymer clay artists undervalue their work more often than not. There are many who don't take the work seriously and whose low prices and low quality of worksmanship cheapen the public's opinion of the medium as a whole.

Sometimes even well-crafted works are priced as low as machine-manufactured items of the same type. This happens most frequently with jewelry. In my mind, this dismisses the handworked value the items have which are not present in machine-made items.

Kathleen Dustin's purses sometimes top $1,000 and if you have ever seen them in person, you know this is appropriate. Grove and Grove make amazing masks and mirrors also on this level of professionalism and pricing. Kathy Amt also fits here, and there are others. Their styles are so individual and so refined that they should demand high prices for their original, well-crafted works. Those I have mentioned here have works in art museums, which speaks of their overall integrity and quality even when compared to works of other media.

I don't know anyone making a lush living on polymer clay. I do know people who do this because they love it, and they are able to make a living which is satisfying to them based on their polymer artwork (and sometimes also teaching). Personally, I choose to be a computer consultant part-time, which allows me to create without straining to make things that "people will buy." In the past when I have made items hoping that "people will buy," they did not sell anyway. They did not have the voice of authenticity.

Thanks for listening.


Lynn D. Troldahl Hershberger

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