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Re: Galleries / Exhibitions / Pricing

You write;

<<So, how do you set a price?  Yeesh.  I wish there was an easy answer to
that.  A large part of it is market-driven, though that can change over
time. We have been able to bring a heightened awareness of the arts in our
community, and to educate the public about prices that are reasonable,
over the last couple of years.  With th result that we have been able to
raise prices slowly for most of the artists that we carry.  But if your
work isn't selling at $1,000, maybe that is just because the local market
will not support that sort of expense, but someplace else might.>>

This is precisely how I have ended up arriving at my pricing structure.  It
took a lot of "try and see" effort on my part over the past three years.  I
agonized over fair pricing for a loooong time.  But my market is a
depressed one.  The loyal and supportive customers, who helped me build my
business by purchasing my books, simply put, are people of simple
means....as am I.  They have supported me through my growing pains, given
me advice when I needed it, and I in turn do my darndest to provide them
with a beautiful product, using only the best materials.  The people I am
selling to ARE, for the most part, people I see in the post office or the
cafe each day.  They are the people who get as excited as I do when I learn
a new structure, find some unusual material to use in my work, or of all
things...have something published in an art magazine.  They are more than
customers to me.  They have grown with me.  The largest part of what I do
is educate people about "the book as art".

People ask me what I do, and I say that I bind books, and to this day, I
still get that quizzical stare from most.  I always give people a history
of the structure, tell them the materials that I used and how they were
made or where they came from.  Let them know if it is a traditional form,
or if I have broken any "rules" in its making, and why I felt it was
necessary to do so.  I found myself being chastised for this from the shop
owners.  They feel that by imparting this knowledge to people, I am taking
the mystery out of my work.  I disagree.  I feel that the more the
customers know about the whys and hows, the more value it will have to
them.  Perhaps I am wrong, but in my heart I don't think so.

<<As an example, we sell a _lot_ of artwork to people who are
visiting Columbia, whether because of business or tourism or whatever.
They come into our gallery and are frequently stunned by the _low_ prices,
certainly low in relation to what they might find in a large city or on
either coast.  That's because we're in the midwest, where the cost of
living (and doing business, though those things are substantial enough)
are much lower, and where the local market prices things accordingly.>>

The shop I had my work in on consignment is run by two of my friends...they
are transplants from Chicago, living here now for their second year.  Here
in Sharon Springs, we have a rather strange situation when it comes to
Tourism.  Our summer people arrive starting the end of May, and leave the
middle of August.  They are property owners for the most part, from NYC.
They come for the smallness of our village, the mineral baths, and the
peace that is here.  The shop does well during these months.  People come
in and marvel at the locally made products, and how reasonable the prices
are.  This started my friends along the path of believing that my work
should be priced much higher than it is.  What they have yet to realize,
even though they have lived through it this winter, is that when the summer
folks go home, we all still need to earn some money.  The time between
September and April is a heck of a lot longer than that of May through
August.  For 8 months out of the year, my prices have to be set so that I
can still earn money from sales to LOCAL people.  It is of the utmost
importance to know who buys most of your work when you set your prices.

<<So, pricing is a pain.  Doing the work because you love it is important,
but you should always sell it for a price that encourages you to make
another.  Otherwise you will get burned out on the work, and will no
longer love it.>>

One of my dearest friends and best customers, waaaay back in the beginning
told me something I will never forget, and still makes me laugh each time I
think of it:

"Price your work to show that the work has value to your own self....and
make sure that price isn't so unbelievably reasonable that people think you
couldn't possibly have made it yourself and that you simply imported it
from Taiwan and put your name on it."

It is a rule that works for me. <VBG>

With much respect,

Melissa Hatalsky

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