As do many regions in the country, I attended “First Friday” after a hiatus of several months. You see the City of Denver decided to detour traffic around the six blocks that make up the Santa Fe Arts District. For the first time in my memory of this monthly event attendees were able to get off the 3 ft wide sidewalks and wander the streets without fear of being maimed! It’s about time.
Consequently I had more foot traffic through my studio than at any other time. I was holding court; speaking to three or more groups asking about my work. My last project included designing and producing a functional pipe that when not being used serves as a bit of ceramic sculpture. A young woman I suspect to be in her early twenties after hearing I was charging $150 for them asked “How long did it take to make it?”
This is not the first time I’ve been asked this question and it always irritates me. There’s no question what she’s thinking. Obviously she’s equating the price tag by some mythical hourly rate that she can wrap her little brain around determining a value! This is of course idiotic.
Let’s see……I began learning the art of throwing in high school and knew immediately this was my calling. I spent two years in a partnership throwing dinnerware and other functional work. I committed to seven years of school learning and accumulating experience understanding what works and what doesn’t. Then there’s been the last four years. This has also been a learning experience as technology and techniques continued to evolve and change during my 34 year absence. I had to make the doll-head mold, make the stem mold from a woman’s high heel and attach them. Fire and decorate, then fire again hoping like hell it didn’t fall over in the kiln.
How do you honestly answer the question of “How long did it take you to make that?” In actually tracking the time from start to finish not counting kiln time the doll head pipe took about eight hours. That answer implies I’m charging $18.75 an hour so I immediately raised my price to $200.
HOW DO YOU EQUATE VALUE TO AN HOURLY WAGE?….You don’t.
Unfortunately those wanna-be patrons of the arts or the ‘unwashed’ working hard for a living, have little to zero experience of falling in love with a work and must find a way to possess it. For the majority of these people factoring in a $200 pipe into their budgets when a $20 glass pipe works better becomes a no brainer. They’ve taken my pipe which they’d prefer, and relegated it to its primary function basing value on that rather than as an art piece….ATTENTION WALMART SHOPPERS!!