Tuesday, 27 May 2008

To Sell or not to sell

That is the question?
Well, I've been reading a few things online from Artists who are also deliberating about selling their work.
I have exhibited my work in one or two places since I graduated as a textile artist, but this was many years ago. Life got in the way for a while but I am now much more sure to the kind of work I want to produce, the problem is, who am I producing it for?
Recently I have been quite active with the online community, I started up a textile site so that I could be in touch with other textile artists, I have also just begun to get involved with swapping Art Cards. Now when I make one of these little treasures I feel as though I can put my heart and soul into it, why because I hope it pleases the recipient. I really believe that most other textile artists would appreciate the work of others so you don't mind putting so much work into it. Then I ask myself, if I were to try to sell a piece of work like this I couldn't command anything like a price that would account for all the time and effort that goes into it. So what does an artist do? If you read this and you have any suggestions please let me know, I would be very pleased to read other peoples experiences about the art market.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tricia,

I know exactly what you mean about not being able to command a high enough price to account for time and effort. It is a massive problem in the beadweaving world as people are too used to cheap imported jewellery and don't realise/appreciate the effort that goes into a piece.

I hope you don't mind, but I have just nominated you for an award. Please don't feel obliged to nominate more people.


Tricks said...

Oh, Wow, Helen, thank you so much, I never win anything, no really, so this is extra special to me, but more so because not only is it to do with my work but also because it comes from another textile blogger like myself. Thank you so much I'm really chuffed. Tricia

Helen Suzanne said...

The only way I can cope with selling art is to make it "craft". Then it becomes market lead with out destroying the creativity. I find I just can't set out to make "art to sell" as it becomes stilted and lacks that bit of magic I seek to imbibe it with. If an art piece sells after it's making process then all well and good but I do mentally transfer it in to the craft camp as I price and display a piece.

lol now let the stoning begin :D

Tricks said...

That's really interesting Helen, because I have had similar inclinations, not quite the same but I know what you mean.

I find it easier to make for someone then I can have that person in mind when I am making it, usually my heart and soul goes into that kind of piece. I think I would work well with commissions for this reason but I have never had any, which is a shame

The Art Craft debate is one that I get kind of angry about, I see Craft that is made with all the soul of Art and then I see cheap factory made immitations of what craft is supposed to be on sale flaunting itself as craft, if you know what I mean. What chance does a craft person have against all of that.
Well, I am just so glad that I can officially call myself an artist even though I practice many craft techniques, I think that the difference is that most of the time I am thinking hard about what I am doing. I find it so hard to repeat a piece of work for this reason. Every thing I do is an experiment, I'm constantly trying out new things in my work, if I wasn't doing this I don't think I would still be making anything. I do believe it has to be a challenge between mind and hands.

Thanks for another interesting conversation Helen, Cheers Tricia

Cyber Fyber said...

I had to add a comment to this post because I, too, feel many of the same issues. Pricing art or craft is difficult. I'm one of those people who consider "art" to be an expression using a non-functional approach and "craft" to be a media originally rooted in function. Period.

Thus, there are "artists" who produce great quality and others that produce total rubbage; there are "craftsmen" who produce at both ends of the spectrum too. Yet, I can't get caught up on the definitions; there's only words.

What concerns me is "quality". As an artist or a craftsman, we have all likely produced great work, good work, okay work, not so wonderful work, and totally failures. Cheap imports and manufactured "art" will always plague us. I tend to price my work two or three weeks after completing it (if possible), so that I'm more objective in determining its true quality.

Years ago my mentor, Stephen Chesley (a self-supporting oil painter) told me that if I couldn't command enough money for my time and materials, I was suppose to improve the quality of the work....and raise the expectations of the price. This is really, really hard advise!

To this end, I've built a rather impressive resume for someone without any art background at all (if I can say so myself!). Exhibiting regularly, gallery representation, juried shows, and the like raise the expectation for a higher price. It took a lot of effort and time, but I generally do sell my work profitably...but not all of it! Storage is becoming a real "issue". I often joke with Stephen Chesley that I need to have a certain amount of work "out there" just to avoid needing a rental storage unit! As for creating work, I make everything for myself....and hope that someone else is willing buy a little piece of me. By the way, this post is excellent "food for thought". Which on-line group were you communicating with about this matter?

Tricks said...

Hi Susan,
I wasn't actually communicating with any on-line group, I wrote this after doing a search to see if others had problems with selling work.

I wish now I had kept the search as reading about other's struggles really prompted me to write about my feelings on the subject.

I do believe that the art/craft debate is a perennial one. It has been there in my mind since I was studying at Art College and it obviously came up in the theory part of the course.

If only Art Colleges did more to prepare artists for the outside world, we always talked around subjects but never really got to grips with the business side of making a living out of our art.

Susan, it's been great to hear your response to my question, thanks so much for getting involved. Tricia