Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Do Crafters and Artists Do This?

I could have called this Rant #4. Well I think I'm up to #4 or is it #3, but who's counting? But I am hoping to not be totally incomprehensible, as my son calls those my "incomprehensible rants". Therefore, I am hoping this won't fall into that category.

The other day while searching facebook for new fans for my facebook page, I came across another crafter, who shall remain nameless. I have now been thinking about this for two days and figured writing it down would make me feel better. This person was making handmade jewelry and had some fringe necklaces that looked hand sewn. They were not as elaborate as the ones that I've been doing or as others that I've seen. She didn't use as many beads or, obviously, take as many hours to make it. But still, she was selling a handmade necklace for $10.00. How much was she paying herself, maybe, $2.00 an hour. Is that all her labor is worth? Is that all mine is worth, or any other person who is making handcrafted items?

Never mind just the labor of making the item, how about the time and money spent to sell it? She was obviously on facebook looking for fans for her page. She has a shop on Etsy, so she has to pay a listing fee, and a percentage when she sells it. The monetary amount may not be much, but it takes time and effort to promote and sell.

Why should crafters or artists (I have known some who do the same thing) feel they should be willing to just give their work away? I understand times are rough, but they are rough for all of us. Until the right buyer comes along, I'll keep what I make. It's ok. I value my efforts a little bit higher than zero. Does this person think she will be able to sell more by keeping her prices down? Well maybe she can, but what's the point.

In all fairness to this unnamed person, she is not the only one doing this. I'm just using her as an example. Most crafters underprice. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather see someone overprice their work than underprice it. And, I'd rather see that overpriced item sell. At least, it makes a statement that someone's work for any handmade item or painting or drawing is worth something. I think right now it's backwards. The public seems to think if it's mass produced it's valuable and that one of a kind, unique work should be sold on the cheap. And, I think, that as crafters, we are fostering this kind of thinking. Hell, maybe we're completely responsible for it.

If I followed her example, I'd sell my necklace that I'm posting here for $40 and lose money. I refuse to do it. I've told other artisans to raise their prices when I see them selling items for less than they are worth. Maybe not everyone loves what we do and won't pay our prices, but there will be someone that will.
Well I think I'm almost done, errrr, ranting. Maybe. If anyone out there happens to read this, please let me know what you think. You can disagree with me, I won't get upset....much. Maybe I'm totally out of line, but I really don't think so. I think this can, at times, be a dull, ugly, unhappy world and maybe, just maybe, when someone makes something that another person thinks is beautiful, it makes things ever so slightly less dull, ugly and unhappy. I think that is certainly worth something.


  1. I think we have all had the urge to lower our prices if sales are low.
    I don't want people to think I don't value my work, though. How can they value it if I don't? I know how many hours and how much effort go into a piece, even if a customer won't see it at first.
    One problem is if this is not your day-time job, people often think you should give it away cheap because you enjoyed making it. It's your hobby, you had fun - why should you want to make money on it on top of that?
    But still - it's everyone's own decision and you can't force them to change it.

  2. I understand exactly what you're saying. But I think the mentality of "it's a hobby" is why we get in trouble. If I wanted to keep it as a hobby I would just give stuff away to friends and family. I wouldn't be taking the time to sell it. Even if it's a second source of income, once it's being sold to the public, it becomes a business, no matter how small.

    And yes, it is everyone's own, personal decision on how much to sell for. I am just venting. (:

  3. I do understand what you are venting about, there are times it frustrates me greatly. I wish all handmade peeps would value their talent and realise they deserve to paid properly for something that is uniquely theirs.
    Would you expect to buy a pair of handmade Italian shoes for $10? Of course not!! So why would you expect to people to only pay you $10 for your handmade necklace?

  4. I also have an additional comment for the first response on here. Since when can someone not get paid for doing something they love. Do we have to hate and despise what we're doing before we are allowed to make a living from it. I don't understand that mentality.

  5. "The public seems to think if it's mass produced it's valuable and that one of a kind, unique work should be sold on the cheap."

    I don't think it's this so much as mass produced has cheapened hand made. People don't want to spend a lot these days, not here anyway, because what's the point when you can get some that's kinda like it but not quite as nice for a tiny fraction of the price in Primark (UK version of Target, kinda)

  6. I have seen items that are priced way to low and gosh awful items that are priced way too high! I wish there could be a happy medium somewhere. I try to keep my prices reasonable since I feel I am almost directly selling to my clients and I do keep my items out of boutiques so the prices arent too high. But I have to make a little to support my jewelry making habit- when high quality beads are free...maybe I can think about lowering prices!

  7. Here, here, Bernice. A lot of work goes into a handmade piece and not only the physical act of making it, but the underlying art and intellectual property, therein. It's as if artisans are frightened of asking for the right price for the right piece. If we don't value our art then why should anyone else. The old addage of, 'you get what you pay for', should and does apply to handmade as well as other areas of commerce. As you say, if people dont want to buy it at a fair price, then that's up to them. But there are plenty of people out there, who appreciate the work that goes into handmade pieces and the underlying talent and art required to make them.

  8. I actually think that sites like Etsy encourage the mindset of undervaluing handcrafted products. It is kind of like the Walmart mentality. We buy from Walmart because it is "cheaper" but they don't buy American when they say they do, they undervalue their employees and often receive huge tax breaks. So we get the junk we pay for in every since of the word.

  9. I have to spend time looking for pieces to use. I have to clean it up,figure out how to design it, then how it will be assembled.The assembling takes a lot of time. My vintage people will never be cheap. They are art. They are creative and they take time and care. I have been discouraged about my sales on Etsy, but when people see my art in person, price is never an obstacle. If I don't appreciate the work and time taken, who will?

  10. I have a tough time with the pricing question. I do however use places like ebay for marketing drives and then i will drop the price because for that particular piece im not look for profit but am looking for exposure. An example is a recent post for a piece that too just 2hrs to make - i set it at 99 start price and got over 700 viewings in a week! Thats 700 who know who cherished stained glass is now and a result in my book - oh and it sold bor 10:00, so i covered costs etc in the end anyway. But I agree with Bernice - We all pay the market price for petrol/Gas, electric, plumbers, fines, food....So, why do artists have to drop their prices just to get a sale on that day when the person paying the full price may only be days away..Its not wrong to be proud of your work and if you are selling it then you absolutly should be proud of it.

  11. I agree that we are worth more than meets the eye. The problem is there is always some beginner desperate for the first sale who will do it for almost nothing. It may not be as excellent as your item or drawing or whatever, but sometimes the customers are not trained to recognize quality!

  12. I so agree with you. I am learning to price my items better.And I actually do factor in all the costs it takes me to produce the item, my time, and a few other factors that weigh in. I am not giving my items away but some might think I am not pricing high enough. And I am with you on "the right person will come along" see the worth of it and if like will buy. I have been selling for over a year now online and am still learning. But I also don't see how some are making anything with the prices they charge?