The topic for consideration this month on the artist community platform that I subscribe to (Make Big Art) is [drumroll] Pricing Your Artwork.
This is a sticky subject for nearly every artist I know. Having to put a price on something you’ve created causes all sorts of emotional baggage to come floating up to the surface.
The conversations around value are timely for me. They touch on the related topic of PERCEPTION – how we, as artists, view ourselves, our work, and – by extension – our VALUE.
Last week I caught myself procrastinating on preparing a mock-up sketch for an application. The sketch was the last step in an application for a solo show opportunity at an institution. Showing at a museum is a next level opportunity for me, and therefore, kinda scary. It’s a high-stakes application that had me questioning my worth, and worthiness, to apply.
Every once in a while circumstances align and you’re presented with an opportunity that pushes you to the outer limits of your comfort zone.
You debate with yourself whether or not to leap into the unknown. The amateur part of your brain tries to search for excuses to NOT take advantage of the opportunity:
- The timing could be better.
- It requires money and physical effort.
- It requires too much time to coordinate.
- What if my idea fails?
The part of your brain that knows you’re a professional counter-argues:
- The timing will never be better.
- You have to invest to get a return.
- Opportunities like this are few and far between.
- What if my idea succeeds?
In October I had the opportunity to take a leap of faith.
In a recent deep dive into the “Art Business” file on my computer I came across a Word document that I’d created in 2008. At the time I’d been trying to convince myself that leaving a perfectly decent job to direct all my focus and attention on my art career wasn’t a completely crazy idea.
The document – titled “18 hours” (the number of hours I generally worked each week in my auxiliary arts admin job) – compares the income I was grossing to an alternate reality of making that same income solely from my creative practice.
NERD ALERT: First I broke down my on-paper net hourly wage so that I could see what my gross hourly wage was. This made me feel less slightly less irresponsible for wanting to ditch my job because I wasn’t leaving a $25.00/hr job, but a $17.18/hr job.
I recently had a conversation with one of my dear artist friends about rejection and how it can be particularly difficult to receive a “no thanks” letter during the harsh days of winter. The probability of being rejected this time of year when spirits are knocked low makes her not want to apply to opportunities, even ones that seem a good fit for her practice.
Hearing her say this broke my heart and prompted me to reflect on my own – quite long – history of rejection. I thought it would be timely to share some of the ideas that came up in our resulting conversation.
If you need a pep talk on why you might want to push through the pain of rejection, here it is.