|Clover, and lots of it!|
For a long time, I have been preparing, a post on pricing. Not because I am expert on this, but because I make a living from being a printmaker, which in some way, must qualify me to at least have an opinion on the subject. Right or wrong, here it is:
* Printmaking, was originally invented, for the very reason of making multiples of art in such a fashion that it would become available to the masses. So, printmaking was invented, to make art cheaper......yep, there it is..... cheaper, that is what "available to the masses" actually means.
* Having worked at a prestigious printmaking studio, we were well schooled in calling a print, an original print, as opposed to a reproduced print, an offset reproduction, where masses of prints come off a press, with no intervention from a human hand. I believe that is what sets printmaking apart,
from other forms of making multiples. It is also, what printmakers constantly struggle with, as the very word print, in said masses minds, conjure up the hated offset press ;o) and we are always trying, apart from to the few, to explain what an original print is, and why it can be called an original print. For me it is as simple as, that human hands made an original print, an etching, a linocut, a mono print, a wood cut..... a human hand inked a plate every time it was printed, a human hand corrected/made errors when printing from a plate, that was also made by human hands, marks were made with knives, stylus, brushes, etc etc..... and in making those marks, we earn the right, to say that this is an original print, don't you think?
* Right, so there it is... on the one hand, printmaking came about to make it possible for more people to buy something to hang on their walls, and at the same time, we should never forget that those things to hang on the wall, were made by artists... the printmaker!
* How to price this..... the multiple image, the handmade image......
First: I think it is VERY important, to persistently carry on with the mission of explaining what an original print is. For me, that means, including a little/large flier with each and every print, that explains what an etching/linocut etc is! In clear terms! Feel free to use my exact wording from my fliers if you want, you find them as a thumbnails with every linocut in my www.artcanbefun.etsy.com shop, or for my etchings, in my wwww.mariannjohansenellis.etsy.com shop.
The flier, is great for explaining what an original print is, and I think it also serves a very important purpose, for example when giving away a print as a present, it makes the receiver understand what they are given, and the giver feels that "more value" has been added to a gift of original art explained! I have heard this over and over again from people who have bought prints from me, the flier is super important to them!!
* This post, is maybe needless to say, more directed at emerging printmakers, than at already established printmakers, as they should have their pricing in order, or sorted out for them by the various galleries/ shops etc that they work with. I think it is always very important to listen to the person who is going to be selling your prints to the public. Ahhhh, you think, but of course, and yet, I have seen many times, how artist come very prepared and quite rigid about their pricing, not wanting to hear words of advice. Fine, this post is NOT for you ;o)
* you can always go up, it's hard to come down......... this has been my measuring rod always. I tend to believe, right or wrong, that I sell very well, because my price is "right" for the public I turn myself to. I am very humble, when it comes to pricing my prints, I am not a "fantastic" artist, but quite good at what I do, I like to sell, it is a driving force for me in my creative process, so why be so expensive?
I have looked and sought advice on my pricing from many different people, before settling on a level that seems to mean, I sell very well, and I make enough to live from what I do.
2 stories to illustrate this post:
1) a friend of mine, recently participated in an open studio event, he is an emerging artist, with a clear vision of what he does, and I love his work. It was priced very well, even low, in my opinion, and during the event, he sold a lot. Somewhat to the chagrin of his fellow artists at the event......
who thought his prices were way to low. Now, if you are a "new" artist, not so tried and tested, would your objective in participating in an event like that not be to be seen and ultimately to sell, as every piece of yours hanging on someones wall, is going to be "advertising" your work? By pricing yourself well, you make that happen many times over. Each and every client, is going to tell how wonderful you are, after all, they bought a print from you..... and in that fashion, you become more known. My friend was very happy with the event, and I can understand why, because it is an avenue to higher prices...... sell well, and you can 'justify" a rise in price, simply by being in demand.
2) more than one student of mine, have participated in events, soon after coming to the world of printmaking. At these events, exhibitions, a sort of peer pressure has made for, in my mind, ridiculous prices.... so either nothing was sold, (which is very disheartening) or even worse, some family member or friend, bought a print, making it very difficult for you to now correct your pricing!
It is easy to over estimate yourself, but if you can listen, there are good reasons for not doing it.
Don't agree, or indeed do agree... I'd love to hear your thoughts!
All the best