Thursday, June 10, 2010

Price vs Value

"Let me know when you pay $2500 for a ceramic rabbit." This was a response to my Facebook post of  a show I'm having at Red Lodge Clay Center. The show is online with the corresponding prices. I don't know this gentleman but he doesn't seem to value my work. If I'm interpreting his statement correctly, I wonder if he questions all art that's priced higher than say $25, $50 or even $100.  He may have a legitimate criticism of my work and if so fine. Any price would be too much if he believes my art doesn't measure up to his artistic standards. But to dismiss my work as too expensive because he can't afford it, then he needs reconsider his values.

I'd buy a $2500 piece of art and have. One of the most difficult purchases we ever made was several years ago when my wife and I purchased a butter dish. I was attending grad school, we had no money and were in dept. My wife and I huddled in the corner of the exhibiting gallery and deliberated over the price and decided that the sacrifice of giving something up was worth owning the beautiful Ellen Shankin butter dish. It wasn't $2500, but should have been relative to the income we were making at the time. We didn't "need" it, an inexpensive dish from Walmart would have accomplished the same task for much less. But we value beauty and high craft. We have made other "painful" purchases since, but this was the most challenging. That dish is still in use 15 years later and the story behind it remains.
I have a friend that  builds bicycles by hand. Jon of sabrosa cycles lives down the road in St. George and his bikes are expensive. They cost as much as my "$2500 ceramic Rabbit" or more.  I'd own one and will someday. The craftsmanship is impeccable and the ride is outstanding.(I'd go for the "twentyniner/hard tail") I own a nice bike as it is, but it's mass produced. His bikes are made entirely by hand and Jon has developed his craft through dedication and a desire to always improve. Also, by purchasing one of his bikes I would help pay for the next batch of tubing so that he can continue to improve as a bike maker and craftsman. I've been in his "Bike Studio" while he works and he puts those hand files and that sand paper through their paces.

Recently, an original Marvel comic sold at auction for a few million dollars. A guy I work with would pay that amount if he could, he grew up on comics from the fist issue and loves them. He puts a high premium on comics. I on the other hand would pass on a comic for the purchase of say a Don Reitz pot, a Peter Volkus vessel or a Lisa Clague sculpture. Not as pricey as the comic, but getting up there. Again, this is what I value.

I came across this quote from Oscar Wilde while thinking about this subject, "Most people these days know the price of everything and the value of nothing". We all have a value structure that holds some things in higher regard than others. But if you question the price of a sculpture, be consistent and question the price of other less meaningful potential purchases.

It may be awhile before I can tell my friend that I spent $2500 on a ceramic rabbit or it's equivalent, but if enough folks out there value what I make, maybe it will be sooner than I think.


Sabrosa Cycles said...

The misses and I have always said that if we ever, somehow, make it rich - our little one will be the last to ever know. The things that we value most have no price tags. Besides, I betcha you could pick up a lot of chicks with an Olds like that'n.

MattyT said...

I dont think anyone, especially someone you dont know, has the right to question the price of your work. Its always frustraiting to me when people say things about the price of my work.

Nick Wilkes said...

Have you sold the tortoiseshell hare?

Russell Wrankle said...

The hare yo ask about is at Ohio U. on display in a group exhibit. The last I heard it was still without the red dot.

I hear ya Matty, they just shouldn't buy it if the price doesn't match their value system.