I have read numerous places and overheard and been a part of many conversations about pricing.

The most common things I have heard are: women, women artists, all artists in general fall subject to underpricing their work and that higher pricing adds value to your product.

Now I agree with both of these statements to some degree but they just don't seem to sit right with me and my photographs for some reason.
My passion is photography and making jewelry. I get unmeasurable joy out of sharing these passions with people who buy my work. Nothing pleases me more than imagining my art adorning the walls and bodies belonging to beautiful souls who connect or get something from it. I am not really interested in marketing to someone who wants my work just because the price is high enough to tell them it has value. I want to have prices that feel fair to me and my efforts. I am pretty happy with my jewelry prices for the time it takes to make the pieces and the cost of supplies. I am not as sure about my photograph prices.

I can't get out of my head that my Cotton Candy Photograph has been looked at over 800 times and featured in a few spots online yet it has not yet sold. Why is that?

It makes me a bit sad. Yesterday we went to an arts fair. There were a lot of customers milling around. I was particularly interested in seeing the jewelry and photography booths of course:)
I liked most of the photographers work. It was a juried fair and the photographers had good displays and work.
I was surprised (and it may have been a unique occurance to this fair-I am not generalizing or making an assumption that all photographers at all fairs are equal) that the photographers there were sitting or standing in their booths looking miserable. There were lots of people looking at the photographs and then walking out without making a purchase. Their prints in bins had grungy worn labels from being handles over and over. Most unframed matted photographs were between $40-75 and the framed photographs were upwards of $175. I didn't see lines forming or sales coming out of their booths. I saw a lot of people walking out empty handed.
It made me think about how pricing works. About what I would want my fair experience to be like if I decide to do one in the future. Do I want to price my work at what people say is "the right price-the desireable price", and then sit around waiting for that one person who may buy? Or do I want to see the joy and light on peoples faces as they walk away with a photograph that moved them that they will hang on their wall because it was priced at a cost they felt they could afford for the amount of joy it brought them?

I truly truly want to have people enjoying my work. I still have so much to learn about taking photographs and am unknown. I know that there are photographers that are very skilled and very very busy selling prints at high prices because they are in demand. They have been noticed by many people and their prices reflect their popularity. I think this is fabulous and I would love to be there too someday. It means people derive that amount of pleasure from having one of their photographs-to pay that price.

But until I get that sort of popularity and demand I want there to be movement and sharing occuring with my work. I don't want to have all the stickers on my work getting grungy from being handled over and over but never bought.

Now if I was selling my original drawings or only one print of each photograph well then the price would be higher. If I was in the darkroom developing my prints by hand or having the film scanned then of course the prices would have to be higher.

But I can order multiple prints for a reasonable cost. I am not swamped with business to the point where I need to increase my overhead (more hours of babysitter) to get all my orders out.
When that happens an increase in price will be warranted.

But right now all I want to do is share the joy my photographs bring me.

So to begin I am putting 3 prints on special in my shop as an experiment. I am also changing to all prints having free shipping.

I am going to see what the response is.

Maybe it will make sharing my joy a bit easier.

edited to add***** I have been fretting a bit about this post since writing it. I feel some unease that the words didnt fall on the page as they are in my mind. That I have come across wrong. That maybe my work isn't selling because it sucks-yet I can't write that here because all you lovelies keep listening to my insecurities and giving me your support.
I was comforted this evening to know that I am not alone in some of these thoughts and worries. Nina at Ornamental and Christine over at swirly girl....thank you for being open and honest about your journeys. They brought me comfort tonight.
"I have very mixed feelings about the idea of trying to pursue a level of success that will ensure that many people cannot afford my original work. I am not interested in undervaluing the work I do, but I feel like I am straddling two worlds, or maybe the better term is two mindsets - one, which I lived by for a very long time, was about wanting to share my work as widely as possible and earning an income was all about volume. The second is also about wanting to share my work as widely as possible, but earning an income is more about developing a strong enough following as an artist that my work commands higher prices and therefore volume is not the goal. " Christine Mason Miller


Blogger turquoise cro said...

Happy Sunday Sweetie! I never know what to price my Cro stuff! hehe I wanted to tell YOU I think your photos are as good as those in that Trunkt!!! I never heard of that even but was I ever SURPRISED! to seeeeeee a WV gal's work in there! It just caught my eye enough to click onto her to find out more about her! Thanks! Sweet Pea! You younguns' keep me INSPIRED!!! I will LOOK at their jewelry sometime but I bet yours deserves to be on that site too! Keep Creating Thea!!! Your Cosmos photo cheers me up whenever I LOOK at it!!! (((((Thea)))))

10/14/2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

i love that print! ih ave been eyeballing it forever! i know what you are saying. i have talked to christine just last week about pricing. i can't wait to get my necklace!

hugs to you girlie

10/14/2007 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Thanks for posting your thought process on pricing. I just opened my Etsy store this weekend, so this issue is fresh on my mind. I could really relate to the part where you said you want to just get your art out there, circulating in the world.

I'm not trying to support myself with my Etsy store. I'm probably not even making back my investment in materials, and definitely not in the time it takes. But that's fine with me. I'm just excited to have my work out there.

Anyway... thanks again. :)

10/15/2007 2:02 AM  
Blogger Boho Girl said...

hey baby...i am so glad you consulted Swirly on this matter, as she has been a huge source of support with this area in my life as well.

we're all just beginning and their are a plethora of beauties out there that have been at this longer than we have and have so much wisdom to share!

we'll figure it out but between now and then, be gentle on your heart and your creations because they're beautiful and deserving of so much love and tenderness.

love you, toe to toe.

10/15/2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger megg said...


Living with an artist (oils) I have had lots of experience with people talking about the cost of art. I am as torn as you about availability vs. income. It's a tough call to make. There are a lot of people taking pictures right now - but you have a unique vision and an amazing eye for the beauty in life... my advice is to price yourself to sell (but not be undervalued) and to start getting your name out there and build up to charging more. That's how artists work and you are definitely an artist!!

love you. believe in you.

10/15/2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger PixieDust said...

Ah, this is a tricky one, yes? Your work is beautiful and should certainly not be undersold (I think I just shot myself in the foot by saying that! heehee!)...



Hope you got the song file that I emailed...

10/15/2007 3:26 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

I think this is such a common issue we have as artists of any kind - how to put a dollar value on what we do.

We spent yesterday wandering through open studios and feeling dumbstruck by the prices. Not that each item wasn't worth the asking price, but more that it would be such a luxury for us we couldn't even imagine writing the check. And yet, each artist should be compensated for their time, energy, expertise, supplies.

I can hear the concern in your writing and can't help but wonder if it's part of the "growing pains" that are part of becoming more than you already are.

10/15/2007 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an old joke that I have thought about often. It goes like this: a woman gets on the elevator. She pushes a button. The doors close but the elevator doesn't move. She waits a few seconds then thinks, "Hmm... Maybe I didn't punch the button hard enough." So she pushes the button harder and waits. Nothing. Then she says out loud, "What am I doing wrong? This elevator isn't moving!"

Ok...same scenario, this time it's a man.

The man gets on the elevator. He pushes the button and the doors close. The elevator doesn't move. The man punches all the buttons at once and says, "There must be something wrong with this *&%#! elevator!!"

So....for anyone slow on the uptake, women always figure something is wrong with them when things aren't going how they expect. Men always blame something OTHER than themselves.

OK...so, girl, stop thinking you are doing anything wrong. I know many women who doubt their abilities and few men who do (grr!). But there are women who are unwavering. The best example of this is over at Superhero designs. Check out her prices and wording. That's one girl whose got her thang on ;-P

10/16/2007 1:28 AM  
Blogger belleandboo said...

What an interesting read Thea. I feel exactly the same way, I have freinds that tell me (if they didn't know me) they wouldn't buy my work as it's too cheap, yet I have orders from customers that tell me it has taken them weeks and weeks to save up enough for 1 piece....funny ol' world?!

10/16/2007 2:56 AM  
Anonymous ceanandjen said...

You worded this perfectly honey. It's tough indeed; however, I think that where you head is with this right now is just perfect.

I am REALLY just starting out and I have this same conversation with myself. Too high? Too low? Is my stuff crap? Um.....

You spill all you want here, because we do believe in you and the beauty that is your art. Those thoughts are part of this process, frustrating as that is. And, there are those who have done it much longer and are a great source of inspiration on an entirely different level as well.

Thank you for sharing your perspective and yourself.

Love you.xoxoxo

10/16/2007 2:42 PM  
Blogger Michelle (a.k.a. la vie en rose) said...

honey thank you for always putting it out there

10/16/2007 3:02 PM  
Blogger Swirly said...

So many of your points are so true...there is much wisdom here and your words are helping me figure out my own difficulties with pricing. I am honored you quoted me! I think this is an incredibly important dialogue...in fact I had it with another amazing group of artists just this past August and it is a terribly common conundrum for all of us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, and thank you for your beautiful, beautiful comment on my blog today. Made me weepy.

10/16/2007 8:21 PM  
Blogger brittany said...

I am in the same boat--art in all it's many forms is not a necessity. It is there to inspire and enjoy, and sometimes (probably most times) if there are people out there like me, they love what they see and don't purchase because they don't often spend money on themselves that is just for pleasure. (aside from eating at a good restaraunt) I have looked at your work and loved it over and over and over. Yet I have yet to buy my little self something, because I just don't buy myself stuff when the kids still need new winter coats... and sometimes with art it is hard to choose something for someone else because everyone has such individual taste.

price reflects the value, but if it's too high, then your market goes way down and fewer people will buy. Now I'm babbling, but I totally get the dilema.

by the way, your stuff is beautiful and just keeps getting better and better.

10/17/2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I have to tell you...as an accountant this is the ultimate dilema of pricing anything - volume versus price and does either one represent the intrinsic value of what you are offering. It is hard enough to do this when there is no emotional attachment to the work...good luck with this

10/18/2007 8:58 AM  
Blogger daisies said...

its definitely tricky ... i saw a photo hanging in a coffeeshop the other day with a price tag of $175 ~ in my opinion it was overpriced and it made me question whether i even liked the photo which seemed to pale in comparison to other work i have seen for far less. on the other hand, i think that it is far to easy to undervalue our work and price it lower than it should be ... its tricky and i know that i don't have a handle on it at all but i think that art should be accessible but an artist should be compensated as well.

in the indie music scene, it is common for musicians to be underpaid ... there is a growing movement of discontent with this especially among musicians who have 20+ years of experience, who play yes because they love it but also they provide a service. most artists and musicians don't "make it big and command big dollars" and artists and musicians shouldn't provide music and art for free either, ~ when you break down the time spent learning, rehearsing, making, shaping, the money spent on instruments, cameras, etc ... well, it goes without saying that we are all 'hope junkies' but lets not forget that it is also a business and time and money goes into our instruments and learning ... if you factor it all on, most artists and musicians are making well below minimum wage, poverty level really ... i'm just saying ...

i don't mind paying for an artist's time, for a product that i love ... and i would rather pay an artist than a corporation and i am not alone in this ...

sorry for the ramble ... like i said, i don't really have any answers but i have been thinking about this a lot and i guess it bears a lot more thought ... am so glad you are writing about this, its so very important : )

you are such a beautiful inspiration ... xox

10/22/2007 2:09 PM  

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