“Only $25!” Beth exclaimed. “That is TOO low.”
Beth used to own a gallery, so I’m inclined to take her pronouncement about pricing my fused glass as something more than mere flattery from a fellow artist.
I had already been through this discussion with two other artists while I was setting up the display of my glass pieces for the community art show. I had landed on $20 and $25 for necklaces, $25 for small standing pieces, $45 for 5 by 7 standing pieces, and $75 for 8 by 10s.
Beth scanned my price list. “No,” she said. She told me to raise the prices to $75 for the 5 by 7s and $95 for the 8 by 10s.
I was reluctant. I want these pieces to move. I want them out in the world. I want people to buy on an impulse if they like it.
After more discussion, dragging in another artist and a former gift-shop owner, I agree to raise the smallest pieces to $35 and the 5 by 7s to $50, but leave the others as they were.
This is the agony of selling art. How to find the price level that matches the value of a piece with your potential market? But without setting the price so low that the art is devalued?
A gallery would normally take about 50 percent of the purchase price, forcing artists to sell at higher prices. This display was for a community show held by the art club, so full payment goes to the artist, who only pays annual dues.
People in our community, many of them retired career professionals, are said to have deep pockets but short arms. I didn’t want to price it past their reach.
Visitors are more likely to splurge, but there’s no way to be sure how many of them will come to the show.
I watched how people move through the show. I saw a couple make several full circuits, discussing and pointing at various pieces. They stood for a long time talking about one of my $50 pieces.
They left without buying it. I found it a little difficult not to run after them and negotiate.
Would they have bought it if I’d priced it at $45? Or $40?
By the end of the evening, I’ve sold two $20 necklaces – one to an acquaintance, one to a stranger – and two standing pieces – one to my friend Barb, the former gift shop owner, for $50, and the other one to Beth. For $35.
One friend has commissioned a necklace from me, and Sara wants a larger standing piece for her dining table. And it’s only Friday.
I was hoping to sell two pieces the whole weekend. The dollar amount doesn’t matter.
People find value in my art. That keeps me going.
Today’s penny is a 2007, for the first piece of art I sold here – a canvas print of a photograph of the underside of a leaf in Bali, titled “Rain, from Below.”
[UPDATE: I sold another small standing piece on Sunday – Bluebird – for $35. Grand total for the weekend: $160.]