Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

I received a comment on my blog post from yesterday that shows I need to further clarify what I mean when I say – price is not really why people buy.  Mandy brought up the following, and it’s a legitimate position.

“Forgive me… but I respectfully disagree with one of your points. …. It’s not that I don’t value great art, but purchasing art of any kind, for any reason, is a luxury for me. So if your beautiful crocheted scarf that I admire deeply and would love to own is priced about $20 more than what I can allow myself to spend, it’s going to stay right where it is. No offense or disrespect intended, but my funds are limited and my hands are essentially tied. I may be the minority?

Having said that, in the past year or so I have started teaching myself to crochet as a hobby, and have started giving crocheted gifts. As a result, I’ve had ladies ask me if they could buy some of the things I make. I’m lost when it comes to pricing my work because I am a hobbyist, and a newbie. My materials and time are valuable, but maybe not in the same respect as those of you who are true artists and are supporting your families with your craft. I am guilty of thinking to myself that I’d like to offer my work for a bit less than some of the prices I have seen, because of my personal experiences, and because I know most people in my community and surrounding area are not likely to pay “artist prices.” Have any of you run into this, and do you have any advice for someone just starting out? I’m not opposed to one day crocheting to sell, but for now it is just something I enjoy and a way to give practical handmade gifts.”

Mandy, thank you for your valuable addition to the discussion and daring to disagree!  I’ll explain my position better below.  Dear Community, she’s asked a question of all of us, so feel free to respond, politely.

First, I’ll refer you to my article “How Much Are You Worth.”  Here I talk about the difference between novice and expert work and about sweatshop pricing. And that’s something we all have a responsibility to do something about. We have gotten used to being able to live off the work of others in low economies. And so when it comes to the actual cost of our materials and goods where we live, where it’s more expensive, we still think in terms of 3rd world sweatshop pricing.  But do we really expect anyone to live off 50 cents an hour? Or for anyone to pay off their degrees and training and education, not to mention materials and taxes and fees that way? Of course not. No reasonable person would. And yet, every time we price our work in par with a sweatshop, that’s what we do.  And in an economy that is much more expensive to live in.  I cannot usually buy yarn as cheap as the sweater you buy at WalMart.  So when I make that sweater from the materials available to me, cheap or expensive, it’s still going to cost way more, no matter what – even if I don’t charge for time and expertise at all.  And there’s nothing at this point that I can do about that.

On the other hand, in general, the market will not bear outrageous pricing.  So I would argue that there should be a natural cap to how much beginner level type work should go for.  Sticking a bead on an ear wire and slapping a $100 price tag on it better mean that’s one heck of a valuable bead.  Because we know how much skill and time went into it and that cannot alone bear the weight of the price tag.  Sometimes things just aren’t practical or there just isn’t a market for them.  Who wants to pay a significant chunk of money for a cashmere wash-cloth to scrub dishes with?  Unless you can provide some amazing advantage as to why this would make someone’s life better, this is just not likely to sell.  There’s no demand and even more, it doesn’t make sense.

We can’t always afford the work we love.

This is part of life. Sometimes that means we learn to make it ourselves to offset cost of time.  But even then, even with my level of expertise, I can’t myself always afford the work I can produce.

For example, I have a friend who has amazing wood carving skills, he literally works for the stars – several celebrities own his work. And yet, he has four kids, one with downs and says he cannot afford the work of his own hands. The materials and time and methods are all that specialized and expensive. Should he stop making what he makes? No. There is a demand for it and what he does is highly specialized and arguably a dying art. He’s really (I mean really) good at it. Would you have him instead do something he’s not good at? Not to mention take away the work that is feeding his family, and paying for the therapy his child needs for downs. Even so, he doesn’t yet feel like he can justify owning one of his best pieces yet.  The materials and expenses alone are cost prohibitive.

Now, my friend works in a highly specialized scenario that relies on the help of galleries and such, which also increases his expenses, but his story illustrates a point.

When you are in the handmade market, it’s important to price fairly and consider developing a range of products.

That is, if you have no plans to get that highly specialized. You want your highs, your lows and your middles.  For example: I have some amazing purses I’ve made, where the blunt, literal cost in materials to me is over $150 and I haven’t even lined them yet. Their final cost will be substantial. The silk, the beadwork, the specialized hardware to make them look and work right – all of that requires not only a lot of time and expertise out of me, but also the money to acquire materials. And because I’m not a warehouse, I cannot get warehouse prices on materials either. So I’m slowly but surely investing in the work I’m putting into them. Everyone loves them. Will everyone be able to afford them? Nope. But they are my OOAK high-end specialty art pieces and out there someone will decide to snap them up. That said, I also have made some purses I could comfortably sell for $35. My level of expertise is the same, but what is different is mostly my cost in materials.

This is why it’s important to have a range of product prices and work you are doing in business, if you want to hit a wider range of customers. The fact is, it’s my work, my service and my story that will draw you to me. (My writing even.)  Either you will like my work or you won’t.

Maybe you can’t buy my high-end expensive purse.  In that case – the price data is what helps you say “no” to that particular piece.

However, that is not the same as saying no to me.

Because if I have another beautiful piece, where the materials do not cost nearly the same, and it is in your price range, you will likely settle for that instead.

And that’s one part of what I mean about people not saying no based on pricing.

Sometimes “No” Is Really About Guilt

There’s also the reality where people say no seemingly “based on price,” but it’s really based on guilt. The “it’s not you it’s me” scenario. When a customer has money issues or financial PTSD, that is not something you can ever control. And their bad relationship with money is theirs to bear, not yours. Getting their sale will not make a difference to you in the long run. You have to look at and make decisions based on the long financial picture of a business, not the spur of the moment whim.  This gets back to knowing your market and even knowing your individual show. Not everyone will feel like they can afford your stuff. If they did, then you might as well be a dollar store and have trouble paying your bills.

Newbies who are dropping their prices out of fear that they can’t get a sale is an entirely different thing from trying to price fairly. It’s important to understand the distinction. A) Price dropping like that creates an unhealthy relationship with money and it can get you into trouble with your business. B) Most juried shows forbid it and it can get you kicked out.  C) Business is risk. Don’t get into it without embracing that fact.  It’s not if you will fail at some point, it’s when.  And it’s about you learning not to see failure as a bad thing.  Becoming a business owner is one of the best things you can do for your own personal-growth.  Kinda up there with parenthood.  You will learn amazing things, whether you set out to or not.  D) People are not turning down the artist based on price as much as they are based on their experience. If you like my work, my story, my service, and if I have something in your price range you want – you are likely to buy it. Period. It’s really that simple. If you don’t like my work, no amount of dropping my price is going to make you spend money on it.

And that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone justifies their spending somehow.

I know someone who for years complained about how she hated her shag carpet, but couldn’t afford to get it replaced. carpet was her “luxury.”  And yet, she always had the latest clothes and fine jewelry to wear. It was her choice. She just didn’t invite anyone over.

Me? Hey, I value quality shoes. I’m on my feet all the time and have a degenerative genetic joint condition that causes pain. You better believe I invest in good footwear that won’t aggravate my degenerative condition. It could cost me hundreds of dollars, and I don’t care, I will work a 3rd job if I have to not to be in pain. I also value a good dishwasher. For reasons I just stated, I try to limit the time I’m on my feet. So a dishwasher that never breaks down and practically eats the garbage from my dishes is an asset I want to own. My time is worth more than to be constantly fixing something.

I know someone else who has almost no kitchen ware, but they have cutting edge materials and sewing equipment for quilting. And yet another person who values homegrown food most of all and would sooner spend $10 on seeds than on a new shirt.

We all have those things we see the value in much better than we see in others. You want to look for the customers who will value you.

Back to what I said before about fair pricing.

I repeat, we’re not talking about over-pricing.  (Though there are cases where it can be used as a management tool, but that’s another article.) I’m talking about fairness that’s win-win.  But as Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation front said it best: “You are not a sweatshop!” And you’re not. OK? So stop working on something for hours and then charging $2 to a stranger for it. It’s wrong. And anyone who supports that kind of self-abuse is also wrong. As is anyone who raises their kids to think about money and work this way.  And those 3rd world countries everyone’s wishing could get better pay will also never be better off, as long as we all help promote this lack of value for time and hard work. If you’re giving a true gift, or you’re doing charity work, that’s one thing. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

What is my hour worth?  A sack of potatoes?  A loaf of bread?  A lunch?  Or a cheap cup of coffee?

When you dare to enter business, it’s important to recognize the value of every single part of the equation. And it’s time we grow up and get a handle on what a responsibility this really is. My customers work hard for their money, every bit as much as I. My suppliers also work hard for their money, every bit as I. When all we respect each other, we create balance and everyone can win.

There is another thing though.  We tend to be worst of all about valuing the work that women traditionally do. Even we women do this to each other.  Even in this day and age.  And we need to stop and think about this when we size things up and question whether we’re guilty of it or not.

So, I leave you with a challenge. Whether you own a business or not, it’s a good exercise to help you get a handle on what you value, how you spend and also recognizing how it might be for others too.

Stop and think about a $20 bill and just what you would justify spending it on and what you would not. Would you take a friend out to lunch? Would you buy a scarf? Would you pick up some gourmet coffee or buy a pack of smokes? How about a case of canned goods? How about a skein of yarn, or a tube of paint? Maybe an organizer? Or an iPhone case?  Makeup maybe?  A couple of crochet magazines?

What things could you do with a $20 bill and would or would not do? And once you’ve thought about that deeply, then analyze each item’s true worth in terms of the value it provides or not. $20 to feed a friend, or to keep someone warm for the winter, or to help you get organized, etc..

Money is nothing more than a tool.  How do you use it?

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!



Filed under Business, Crochet Community, handmade, NaBloPoMo

33 responses to “Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

  1. To the person who asked the question: I also live in an area where most folks wouldn’t afford artisan prices. Many crafters will be happy to cover their costs and fund their hobby, giving their time for free because it is not their primary income stream. Of course, this makes it harder for people trying to earn a living at it, and some people disapprove of such under-pricing. Only you can decide what value you place on your time and efforts. As a relative beginner, you can say your current prices are x because they are effectively learner pieces, but that once you improve you might put the prices up. Another factor is speed. A beginner might take several hours to make a scarf which an expert could whip up in an hour, so if you charged for materials plus one hour of time, then that might seem fair to you even if you were taking five hours at the moment, but next year you might make more money per scarf. Or you might have switched to making other things. And another factor to consider with pricing is that if a person is selling at a fair they have other costs to cover, transport, renting the space, the time they spend standing there selling. If you are just making a single thing by personal request those costs can be taken out of the equation, so you don’t have to charge as much for your scarf as someone selling a similar scarf at a craft fair.
    If you enjoy making it, it might seem fine to charge for just materials and maybe a little bit more. But will you still enjoy it as much 300 scarves later? 🙂 Good luck with your endeavour anyway.

    I’m reminded of a joke: someone wanted to give a very rich man a luxury car (I don’t now why, but apparently that happens) but the rich man refused it as a gift, saying he would rather pay for it. So the giver said ‘OK give me a dollar for it’, whereupon the rich man said ‘wow, what a bargain, I’ll take ten!’

    I was at a venue where some people had stalls selling hand crafted goods. One was a potter and there was this one gorgeous pot I loved. Seeing me admire it and hoping for a sale, the potter approached. The price was high, I could have maybe stretched to it if I had desired the pot above all other things I wanted, there and for the rest of the month, so I decided against buying it. But I think he appreciated when I said it was a lovely thing and a fair price, just too high for me at that time. I hope I at least gave him some encouragement and positivity even if not any money; so many people either don’t speak to sellers or say it costs too much. I could have bought one of his cheaper items, but I didn’t love any of those. It was the one special thing I desired. If he’d had a smaller version the same I might have been tempted though.

    There are times I’ll haggle and try to get a price down, I like to buy antiques (at the cheaper end) and some sellers expect this, so they price accordingly and if you don’t do it you’re a fool; others are offended by it and say their prices are already fair, so you soon learn to try but not push. But there are also times when I just wouldn’t try, usually if a thing has been made by the seller (not for the antiques, obviously!) or if it is being sold for charity, or if I think it’s already a bargain.

    I think buyers differ too. I have heard it said that some people value a thing according to what they paid for it, so if it was cheap they just don’t treasure it. Personally I don’t get that attitude at all. I love me a bargain! If a thing makes me feel guilty I don’t enjoy it as much, this could be if I think I paid too much, or I felt I had paid a maker too little (if I thought that would happen, I would offer them a price I felt was fairer and if they refused, I would think of it as partly a gift, but if I didn’t try to give a fair price, then I might feel bad).

    Sorry this has turned into such a long comment! 🙂

    • This is a great addition to the discussion KnotRune! Thank you for chiming in!

      Agreed, I might see if there’s room for flexibility in an antique market where it’s expected to haggle. That’s an entirely different business animal from handmade. But in the handmade market, I don’t ever do that. Occasionally a fellow artist will say – hey, if you buy 4 you get one free or something like that. I support this kind of bargaining, because it allows us a chance to sell in bulk and saves us time and money in the numbers. Something that we don’t often have the luxury of. But even so, I let the seller decide if that’s something they can do or not.

      When you’re doing juried shows, there really is a cult following that takes place. These people (in the cult) are the market you want to please most. They are not occasional buyers. They are more like show groupies. And they are there for the experience, the culture, the environment. And they are your and the show’s biggest fans.

    • Mandy L.

      I appreciate your point of view, KnotRune. 🙂 I particularly enjoyed your comment about how you said “I think he appreciated when I said it was a lovely thing and a fair price, just too high for me at that time.” I think that was a wonderful way to put it, and I will definitely use that in the future. It’s so much nicer than just looking and walking away or that awkward silence.

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  3. Authors struggle with this all time, not to mention with people pirating their work because they can’t afford to buy it. It’s always a struggle to find the price that is fair for the reader and for the writer. My sister-in-law told me I was charging to little – LOL – so I went in and raised my prices. Because you are right. I need to value my work first. (Coming to you from BlogHer and NaBloPoMo). Oh, and I love artisan stuff and yes, if I want it bad enough, I’ll pay for it. 🙂

    • Hi Pauline! Thanks for adding to the discussion! I love that you added your experience as a writer. I believe that in general we’re talking about the woes of the right-brain led business. The more creative and service oriented fields all seem to struggle with being valued!

      Hey, congrats and good luck on NaBloPoMo!

      PS Visited your blog! ::instant fan::

      • thanks, Julia!!! I totally agree. Our creative self has a very hard time with the commerce aspects of running a business. I do think men tend to be more pragmatic. My hubs says it is because they compartmentalize. I really need to learn how to do that. LOL (Love your blog, too!)

        • I think there’s also that part of our society in general that is still transitioning from old ways we once thought about women and their place in society. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we couldn’t vote in the US. Or weren’t allowed to be commentators in the news, etc.. In the grand scheme of human history, our stepping into the limelight like this is very new. We’re still battling the challenges and feelings in some ways that our mothers and grandmothers felt.

          Hey btw Pauline, – I gotta tell ya – I don’t think I would have found your book or been drawn to your story if you had not commented on my blog and then shared so much of your personality on your own blog. I’m totally going to check your book out now (I love steampunk and SciFi) simply because of that. Which gets back to my point earlier – it’s not price that draws fans. Nope. It’s you. 😉

          • good morning, Julia! I’m back! (I checked out to read yesterday and refill my word well. LOL) Thank you for your kind words! I try to have my blog feel like a conversation. If we’d had lunch or something. LOL While I’m not old enough to remember when we couldn’t vote, I have lived long enough to have seen our roles evolve. So yeah, there is definitely some of that in all this. But I do think it goes further than that. When art bumps into commerce, stuff happens. In the end, we all have to find that place for ourselves. I think discussions like this are healthy, because they remind us that the value of what we do is more than $$. That what we sell or charge for it is just one measure? There is the satisfaction of the endeavor, the joy it brings to our lives. Creating is more than the money. But it is also okay to charge for it. (Not sure this even makes sense. It is Monday! LOL)

            For me, I would write, even if no one paid me a penny, because it makes me happy (should I admit it makes me happy to wreak mayhem on my characters?), but yes, I also love making money writing. And yes, that is me on high wire… LOL

            • I like how you put that Pauline: “When art bumps into commerce, stuff happens.” And I think you’re right about figuring out all the value parts of the equation.

              One of the things that often strikes me is that in human history, our service areas and our artists tended to be supported by sponsors of some sort, or not at all. It was the only way they survived. People like Mozart were supported by others so they could do what they do best. Our local healers, priesthood, etc – they were cared for by the town or someone so they could be dedicated to their calling. Today, we aren’t obligated to find ourselves a rich sponsor or community to let us be our amazing creative or serving selves. We can do it on our own. And I’d say more of us can succeed in these fields today than ever before. But still, you’re on your own to do it.

              I’m like you in that I’ll do one of my three main creative things I love (crochet, write or make music) whether anyone else gives a care or pays me or not. (This blog is an example of that.) But the fact that anyone might pay me for it, is just awesome. If people supposedly value what I do, certainly it would be nice to at least get an occasional cup of coffee out of it or something. 😉 When I first started selling crochet, it was almost by accident. Initially I thought, well – I guess if it at least pays for my yarn. After all, I can’t stop making and my family is all crochet gifted out. Well, almost. I keep coming up with new things. Today, of course, my views have matured a lot. Growing up with my dad and grandfather as entrepreneurial examples helped a lot, but inexperience is still youth in the business world. You have to learn some things on your own.

              I was planning to address the “it’s ok to charge” thing in an article today. I hear guilt in people’s voices way too often and that needs to stop. I’ve been studying this whole psychology of why we do this money/guilt thing and it definitely seems to be women far more than men. Honestly, I think it’s part of why we still tend to be paid less than men for the same work. Our own guilty attitude about ourselves holds us back in many ways. We will even say, “I would do this anyway,” as a justification not to be paid!

              We provide value to society, we have a right to not just paid a little for that, but well paid. Sometimes I hear people talk about only wanting to make “just enough” to survive. And well, I don’t want to live in that kind of state. Anymore than I want to buy less quality food. I want to thrive. I don’t think if people thought about their words, that they really only want to just survive either. They just wish to emphasize that they don’t want to be greedy and yet they just want to be without financial worry. And ultimately, I think that’s the freedom we all desire. Not to worry about where our next meal comes from, not to carry financial burden, etc.. Or feel guilty that we spend our “work time” in creation mode.

          • Carmel Johnson

            And because of this comment I’m checking out her blog now too. (steampunk! SciFi! Woman! Must check this out!)

            • I can’t add to “our” thread anymore, so will chime in here. LOL The need to eat/survive part is where it gets sticky and why I always support fellow artists doing what they need to do, whether its pricing or whatever. Loved your comments and the discussion (oh the tales I could tell about my adventures with guys in publishing. O.O). One thing that hasn’t changed (and thanks heavens for it) is how women naturally form communities of support and knowledge sharing. So glad I did the blogging challenge because I wouldn’t have found your blog. 🙂

              • Thanks for the heads up Pauline! I changed my settings to allow for more comments.

                I love your point about women naturally forming support communities. It’s so true, we really do!

                That’s another thing NaBloPoMo is also good for. Meeting people. And let me tell you, I have met the coolest people thanks to crochet. Even when they don’t!

  4. Doug

    Excellent reply!
    Esp. important are the parts about sweatshop economics and value placed on work typically done by women.

    To the person who disagreed:
    You make a very good point about the amount of dedication/effort/etc. that a hobbiest puts into their work and those that a professional (someone making a living off of that) does. And in some sense that is a fair and proper thing. It’s a slippery slope because the consumers are not very well educated and may not be able to discern the difference in quality of materials or workmanship.
    As an example, I’ve been making hats for a charity sale. A few of them have been “pre-sold” by folks who saw them in advance; one of the early buyers had a friend who saw the hat, happened to be in a dollar store, looked at the hats there, and then later remarked: “Wow, your hat is so much better, it feels nicer, it’s thicker and warmer and better made.”
    In that case, someone actually was able to see and feel the difference, but I think, as you asked, that they are in the minority.
    Julia did such an excellent job, I think the only point I would highlight is that the cost of an item is easy to misunderstand. It’s not just the price of materials and of time, but all the other parts of running a business. Comparison with sweatshop products is toxic to everyone. My suggestion to you is not to sell your items to friends. Money between friends is very problematic. Doubly so when you’re just starting out, as you will be inadvertently setting expectations that you yourself don’t even realize. My suggestion based on what little you have said would be to find a charity you love and ask for a donation to that organization in exchange for your item. (I could go on much longer about this technique, but this is already a very long reply as it is).

    • Doug, thanks for adding so much to the discussion!

      I love the idea of using a charity to benefit when you are uncomfortable with charging friends money. I do know fellow artisans who have a “family circle” discount they will do and they will add close friends to that circle.

      That said, I find that for me it varies and I feel each situation out. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s not. There’s family I could never charge money to. It would just be weird. My mother-in-law for instance. I can’t imagine charging her on any planet. My brother on the other hand – he and I are both entrepreneurs just like our father and grandfather before us. We “get it” inside and out. So we never have trouble paying each other as appropriate, though always at a discount or just materials or something like that. We barely even think about it. Another close friend and I always barter. I really value her services and have tried to pay her before, because I really know how much value she gives me freely. She won’t let me, because she feels I also give her so much value. So we are forever favoring each other back and forth in a very beautiful and comfortable way. And then there are people I will be grateful to forever and may never be certain if I have shown them the depths of gratitude I feel. Just take it step at a time.

      There’s nothing wrong with discounting for friends and family. It’s usually your public you have to worry about boundaries with.

      • Mandy L.

        Two excellent points, and I thank you very much for sharing them! 🙂 I love the idea of charity, as there are a couple that are close to my heart. Since a couple of the requests have been from church ladies, I think that would be a great alternative to having to create a premature pricing list. 😉 I’m not sure where I’ll go from here – I may never sell on a larger scale than just requests made from friends and family – but this idea will give me some time to think it through.

  5. I think you bring up a good point, you need to charge based on your materials, time and expertise. I am, by no means, an expert knitter (I would say I’m past decent), but my big infinity scarves are $45 a piece. In the long run, the person who buys the scarf will buy it because it’s important to them, not because of my price or because of their views on luxury. Buying handmade items is just as subjective as taste in art or fine wines. Not everyone agrees and not everyone will buy, it’s just finding those people that value your item more than the money they pay for it. Nobody buys things to get ripped off, they buy things when they get more value out of the item than the money. So, you’re right, it’s not about charging less, it’s about charging smart.
    And to Mandy, I’ve been selling my pottery for almost 5 years and I still want to kick myself every time I price something at what it’s actually worth. I’m working toward learning how to price things and it’s hard, but if you want to make any money off your stuff, you have to do it. I’ve gotten to the point where I say a price and my partner negotiates a price with me because he’s my outside perspective, he sees more value in my work than I do and it’s teaching me to value my work more. You will always see yourself as a beginner until you own up to your expertise.

    • Love, love, love your response Ben. Thank you for sharing it! I will add that having a formula, or a structure to how I price (having rules) helps me stick to my guns. When everyone is treated fairly, everyone feels better. Just like I do have a cancer patient, senior citizen and military discount that I will use where appropriate. But I’m strict in who I will allow that discount. It’s not meant for everyone, but it allows me to give back in ways that matter to me.

      • Mandy L.

        I love your idea of having an outside perspective, Ben. I may have to ask someone outside of family to get a good, unbiased one. 🙂 Julia, your discounts are brilliant!

  6. Andrew Rodriguez

    Although not an artist by profession (at least not yet, I’m working on my first novel at night and on weekends, and lunch breaks), I feel the pain you mention in your posts in a somewhat different way. As a technologist, actually a manager of technologists, I get the “Hey, my computer has a virus, can you help me?” or “I bought a computer at a garage sale, can you hook it up?”. I realize there is a difference between service and art – people mess up something, and don’t know how to fix it. However, a similarity is that they often do not appreciate the time it takes to fix a problem.

    Here is my pragmatic side speaking – it’s all about time. Time to develop the skill, time to dream up the craft, time to develop the craft, time to prepare the craft for sale. And time is a finite resource – so in the end we are simply bartering our time. By no means am I dismissing talent, which, in my opinion, is the value side to our commodity. (Remember, I said that is my pragmatic side, feel free to disagree, because my creative side does.) When you distill it down, as referenced in the blog post – it really is about about time.

    A person may state that they cannot afford something they value because of limited funds. I value 20 year single malt scotch, and it is outside the scope of my funds, at the moment. But I do not find myself trying to haggle with the bartender so that I can get a 50%+ discount. What I find myself doing, as I did just a few weeks ago, is stand before the display case and admire it – show it respect – and think to myself, “Maybe one day, maybe one day”.

    The problem is that sometimes the consumer decouples the value of the product and the value of the artist. (Now for the psychology side of me.) I’ll go far as to say is that they objectify the product while dismissing the identity of artist. I’ll dare to say that to such a consumer the object represents not the art, but an item to add to the collection of souvenirs. Such a person becomes a consumer in the literal sense. Such people can be identified because they become irritated when you don’t drop you prices to what they feel is “reasonable”.

    I’m not suggesting that all who haggle are sociopaths – not exactly all… – some, perhaps most, but not all – and keep in mind that there is a degree to sociopathic behavior, and various comorbidities that add the spice to our personalities. I digress, my point is that haggling is sometimes part of the experience – from a consumer perspective. For many, it is part of the shopping ritual – and prices should be set accordingly. Much like vending machines that accept credit cards, they account for the surcharge.

    And while some art is overpriced, due to comorbidities of a different sort, the consumer, at times, needs to test the artist to ensure the value of the art, according to the artist. And then comes the whole complication of economics – supply and demand – and marketing, brand recognition. Those that sell the same product at a fraction of the cost, because they do it as a hobby, not a profession. For the artist, they must answer the question, which is more important – art or business?

    Jeffery Deaver, my favorite writer, takes that business approach. He studies the market and writes to it. He adjusts his work – his art – so that he can make a living. At the other end of the spectrum are the countless number of writers who do it for the art, and without consideration of the potential for sale or public acceptance. I say both are artists – and each artist must come to terms on exactly what they want out of their art.

    For me, I am writing because I enjoy it – the planning, the research, the writing, the editing, the final product. But I want others to enjoy it too – so I’ve kept an eye on the rules of writing to ensure I’m developing a somewhat decent story, not to put my readers asleep.

    As art varies, so does the artist, and his/her inspiration, motive, and desired outcome.

    • Love the super thoughtful addition to the discussion Andrew! Thanks for adding the deep perspective! To me, keeping tabs on the pulse of the market is essential to what I’ve been calling fair pricing. The market will only bear what it will bear. So no matter the “art” of it, if an item is out of tune with the market, it will not sell. Like my example of cashmere washcloths.

      I would say also that we’re additionally talking about human psychology. Because certainly there are cultural differences in the world that dictate how and why we buy what we do. Obviously I share an a more Westernized opinion. For me, pricing is a combination of value to me and value to my customer. It’s the win-win equation. There has to be value for both of us.

      And your example of technologists completely applies! I’ve been trying to group service fields into this whole equation. Because as you say, we are talking about valuing time. My massage/yoga/martial arts and other fields all struggle with these issues too. And I guess ultimately, it does come down to experience and education. I know how I feel when someone brings me a magazine photo of a sweater on sale at Macy’s and wants to know if I can “knit” it cheaper. (I don’t knit either.) hell no I can’t possibly make it cheaper than Macy’s sale! I can’t even buy the cashmere that cheap! It’s not really that they mean to be so off base, they just don’t really know better. Kind of like the tech noobs who think anyone who uses a computer can fix one in an hour. I’m not even a techie and I get those questions because I have friends who know less about them than I!

    • PS I also wanted to point out Andrew that I see a lot of parallels between tech artists and musicians/artists/etc.. Seriously always have. Different kind of brilliance and I philosophically tend to think that learning code and the language/culture of tech actually helps in understanding ways things work well in the world and the ways things won’t. 😉 It’s kind of like music or a performance. When the pattern is right, the results are amazing.

  7. Great discussion. This has been really helpful. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their very thoughtful and informative opinions.

  8. Mandy L.

    This has been such a great discussion to be a part of. Thanks, Julia, for your patience with my response and your thorough explanation. Thanks, also, to everyone for your comments as well. I have taken away some amazing ideas and some new perspectives that I may not have ever had otherwise, and a better grasp on what to do going forward as I grow in my crochet journey. 😉

    • Mandy, I’m so glad that you decided to respond and found it a helpful and positive experience. Thanks also for your part in the discussion, because it’s important too! I actually love questions. Because there’s so much that can be said, but without direction, it may never come out. When I teach, I always worry about talking over people’s heads. Questions help me to be a better teacher and communicator! And they teach me things too. 😉 I hope this helps you launch and please, keep up the dialog. It’s good for all of us!

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  13. Kathy

    I give reasonable discounts for multiple pieces but not for one piece. So if someone wants something that is more than they want to or are able to spend I encourage them to bring a friend or two and pool their resources. By bringing a friend they are providing me with a new customer and I am providing a discount that is built into my pricing (and marked that way on my earring board) for anyone to use.

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