The Price of Art

At my last show I ran into one of those people (you get at least one at each show) who picked up one of my bigger pieces and looking at my price said “wow, why so much?”

Well, I’m ok with that question, its fare to ask about the price if you are considering buying a piece of art.  So I said I price my work based on the size, number of tones and if the glazing turned out.  I added that the piece in his hand took 6 hours of work before it ever hit the kiln.  With that, he lectured me that artists can’t expect to get paid for all the hours they put into their work.  There was more to it but that was the message.

Putting a price on one of my babies is not my favorite part of the process.  I, like all artists put a little bit of myself in each piece.  My fears, my joys, my hopes and doubts mix with the oils in my hands and clay to turn into the eyes, mouth, and fins I offered at the show.  I will never get enough money to equal the value that fish whistle.  I was all ready to agree with that guy when it hit me, why shouldn’t I expect to be paid for my time.  Is my time less valuable then the person who sells me french fries at a fast food restaurant?  Why are only a few artists time worth as much as a factory worker who makes plastic toys or rubber bands?

I don’t expect for my work to talk to everyone. I don’t always get what other artists are trying to say but I don’t discount their messages value.

How were values so screwed up that the unrenewable resource of the individual artists talent was belittled and brought in question?  What can we do about it?