Thursday, 23 September 2010

Interesting!

Well first of all, thank you for your responses to my little "survey" as I really did value reading everyone's opinion. The results were interesting to say the least and I felt they warranted a reply from me. I do think I may have been a little misleading when I said "I cannot charge a realistic price for the amount of work invested and I don't really mind because they have been a pleasure to make". So perhaps I should elaborate.

The process of making these brooches starts with the purchase of the white fabric. This is then printed with handmade print blocks (made by me) using a good quality fabric paint. This is left to dry before ironing to heat set the paint and then it is dyed with procion dyes, left to dry again before washing out the excess dye. This part of the process alone takes two days. The components of the brooches have to be bought and then assembled and finally the hand embroidery and the putting it all together completes the process... a pleasurable process. And no, I cannot expect a realistic price but I do expect a fair price.

So given that the materials cost more than £1 per brooch and each one probably takes about an hour to complete, what is a fair price? This is after all, part of how I earn my living and as Jackie pointed out if I sell my work at £3.50 I am earning a maximum £2.50 an hour... which is really not worth my while no matter how pleasurable the experience.

There is also the the whole design process involved which evolved from hours of research into buttons... these brooches have a story which is also an important consideration. Chrissie pointed me in the direction of an open letter from Mary Portas who address this point more eloquently than I can and she also speaks about valuing our work. These are handcrafted, unique items made with skill. We should not as artist/makers undervalue these skills or our time because not only are we undervaluing ourselves but we undervalue other artist/makers too. I don't really want to enter the whole gender debate here but I do also feel it has a lot to do with undervaluing ourselves as women, especially when engaged in what is percieved to be domestic pursuits.

And so you might ask, why I wanted your opinion if I had already decided that the price I was going to ask would be nearer £10 than £5. I suppose I wanted reassurance that to charge £7-£8 wasn't unreasonable and some of you confirmed this... thank you. For those of you who felt I should be selling for under £5, well I'm sorry but I value what I do more than that so there won't be bargain brooches appearing on Etsy. And as a comparision can I share this little brooch available from one of our leading departments stores. Very pretty, but plastic and mass produced selling for £6... food for thought!

And while I am on my soap box and talking about valuing things, if you value the arts do take time to stop by this website - Save the Arts. In times of economic hardship and cuts it is understandable to want to put education, health and care for the elderly top of our priorities. Yet cuts in the arts effect us all. This is not just about opera or ballet or pickled sharks... it is about our fabulous free museums and wonderful artistic heritage. Proposed cuts of 25 - 30% could cause lasting damage. Off my soap box now... normal blogging will be resumed soon!

21 comments:

  1. Hi Gina, I think you have very eloquently explained here why we must not undersell ourselves, well done.

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  2. I do so agree that you should sell your work for a realistic price, especially considering the amount of physical and artistic work that goes into it. Don't pile them high and sell them cheap! I used to design, knit and finish knitwear but stopped doing it when someone asked me to do a sweater and she would pay me 'about £2.50' as she said. Huh! Your comparison of the mass produced button says it all really.

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  3. I'm one who was definitely misled when you wrote "I cannot charge a realistic price for the amount of work invested and I don't really mind because they have been a pleasure to make"

    I agree that the 'right' price should be over £10 and maybe there needs to be an indication of the USP of the item on its label. But then again if you've made lots and then you sit at an art fair which has cost you £50 to take part in and none sell I'm be inclined to adjust the price and at least sell them and cover costs.

    It's a dilemma, especially now when people are being careful with their money. I usually opt for a 'real' price for large special pieces and the small 'gifts' are in part 'publicity' for my work and I accept I'm under-charging. If they are selling like hot cakes I can then put the prices up.

    Celia
    x

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  4. I couldn't comment really as I haven't lived in England for over 7 years and I could be fine here in Latvia on £2.50 and hour but not in the UK. I don't know if it would work but maybe if you had a list of prices in the department stores for comparison, it would make people think and perhaps re-evaluate what they would pay. It is that kind of comparison that brings a reality check, especially if you know where it is made. A pretty brooch perhaps made in China is still a lot of money in the pockets of those who haven't made the item.

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  5. Gina - an inspirational post script - you have voiced exactly what quite a few of the bloggers/etsians etc are going through.

    I think you are very right about "domestic arts" being under valued, I think there is a general perception of "if it is homemade it should be cheap" - but we are cheapening ourselves by not valuing our craft, and supporting a disposable society by perpetuation cheap and worthless products.

    Heaven forbid we save our money and buy something we will value !

    Sorry - joined you on the soapbox for a while :)

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  6. I too think I misunderstood, I take my slapped wrists with humility. May I still have two please?

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  7. Thanks for that explanation Gina, I think if you explain the reasoning behind a price you are more likely to sell more at £10. I personally couldn't buy a brooch for £10 due to money constaints (being in a mass produced form or hand made so no offenc intended) but that doesn't mean the right audience wouldn't.

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  8. Hi Gina,
    This is an eloquent post and something that has been on my mind recently after I read an essay called "Just say no!" It was about how artists are often asked to donate their work for events and/or have to pay to exhibit their work (in the guise of getting exposure). There are a lot of artists on Etsy who underprice their work and it is hard to compete with them. And yet, you show an example of a mass-market product that is comparatively high price/low value.
    Good luck on Etsy! May you find buyers who appreciate all the talent and time that goes into such a beautiful brooch.

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  9. I couldn't agree with you more m'dear! x

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  10. You have beautifully voiced and articulated this topic, which is one that I, like you and many others grapple with regularly. Best wishes on the reopening of your Etsy shop!

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  11. After reading your explanation I think your brooches are excellent value for money. I hadn't fully understood just how much work was involved. They are definitely 'Hand Made' and not 'Home Made'.

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  12. Well done.
    I was thinking about what one could charge for a hair accessory...then I remembered a plastic flower I saw in a supermarket for about £15 ages ago.

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  13. I certainly agree that such skilful handcrafted work should not be undervalued. These brooches are beautiful and at the very least your hourly rate should be the minimum wage (whatever that is now). I just cannot understand where people are coming from by suggesting that they should be less than £5, unless of course they just want something for nothing, in which case they can always shop at Poundland. As far as I am concerned you get what you pay for.

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  14. Very well delivered! I agree we often undervalue our work.

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  15. I agree with you Gina, well said.x

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  16. Beautifully put, Gina! I agree that your pricing is spot on. It's not as if you're going to get rich even when charging a more realistic price but at least you are recognising the amount of creativity,skill, time and effort that has gone into your work.
    I may have to visit your shop soon :o)

    xxx

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  18. Those are so amazing. Time consuming, but too cute.

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  19. What a great post you have written, so truthful. I stopped selling my handmade items a few years ago, concentrating now on the teaching side because I kept getting silly offers and was then made to feel guilty and greedy.

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  20. really interesting ~ have just emailed you.
    happy 18th to your boy too xx

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