Pricing art is one of the biggest headaches for myself and I believe many other aspiring artists.
First you need to work out the price and unfortunately realise that until you are better known you wont be able to do art as much as you’d like. Then comes motivating to curious people why that’s the price.
Art is expensive (when only coming from a fresh artist) because it takes a lot of time to make it. And about half of it might not even be the part were you are actively painting, sculpting or creating. A big chunk of time goes into contemplating the idea- what are you going to make? Why should you make it this way instead of that? And if there is an underlying deeper meaning than of course you will have to set aside time to figure out and make sure that comes across to the future audience. After this comes the design phase where you sketch and play around with composition. This is a really tricky part because this is where you for the first time have to consolidate the idea, something intangible and abstract, with a physical form of some type. Often what we imagined one way will not always translate the same once on paper and need reworking to match the idea and then more revising to keep up with the concept. At this stage you might need to go back to it again to make sure the result looks the way you want it to. This can happen several times over as the idea often expands and evolves as you work on it. Then comes the the time you spend actually painting which can range anywhere between weeks to months or even years if it’s a more complex project.
I recently told a colleague from my day job, who was commenting on the price of one of my pieces; Imagine what you earn in a day. This piece took me over 6 months to complete, every evening after work and almost all my weekends, every week. If I put together the amount of time spent, severely rounding downward it equalled two months of full time work, not to mention not having any spare time at all for half a year or counting any of the design work. Now imagine what you earn for 2 months of work.
Even if we imagined me paying myself minimum wage of £7.50 an hour this would come up to £2400, and you would be hard pressed to find many of my work in this price range.
Everyone knows that it is expensive to hire a plumber. This is because the work they do takes time and you want somebody you are sure is qualified so they don’t end up doing more damage than good. This all makes sense to me, though I hope I wont have to invest in a good plumber in the foreseeable future. Changing a lock is another one of those commonly known expensive services.
I remember a couple f years back where I couldn’t find my room key and had to reluctantly call a locksmith to come change the lock. This costs around 100 pounds and upwards. From what I understand this is within the norm for this type of service. However isn’t it weird? The work they do only takes 5-15 min and these days you can find videos on youtube how to do it yourself and it doesn’t seem that hard (apologies to all the lock smiths if a lot of training goes into this). The lock they put in is likely mass produced or at the very least not made by the smith himself, so I would imagine that majority of the cost is for the labour itself. This is all based on assumption for the sake of argument and I might be getting it all wrong but bear with me. The point I’m trying to make is this; even though these two services are expensive most of us would invest in them as and when needed and (reluctantly) pay the price.
However when it comes to art the necessity just doesn’t seem to be there for many people? Why is that?
Is it because a lock or plumbing fills important functions whereas art is just for decoration and you can get by fine without it? No, all wrong! When you find the right piece for you, art is so much more than some colour on your walls or something to balance your Feng Shui with. It could be the source of calm and tranquillity in a hectic life or that something that sparks a smile and a giggle to keep you going through the mundane. It could be your inspiration and the reminder that you need to take that next step, the zen in a vortex of chaos. Simply put art is something that can give you happiness.
So why is it we are less willing to invest money on our own happiness than a leaky pipe? Admittedly one is slightly more urgent but only just. Cause how can your happiness not be urgent and just as important at the least, to a mere pipe? And when it comes to filing a function one takes care of your waste and the other of your contentment, how can they even begin to compare?