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Art for free.

There has been a recent discussion on a creative page I’m a member of. It is about trying to get the public to understand why art costs what it does. People aren’t willing to pay the asking price for art. They want it for free.
People think they can make whatever you have made themselves for cheaper. They don’t understand the time and training necessary to create that piece of art. Or, they try to talk you down on the price. They want Tiffany quality work for Wal-Mart prices.
Now, it doesn’t help that there are a lot of people who say they are artists who put out terrible work and charge high prices. Millions of dollars for a Jackson Pollack piece? Really? It is paint, thrown at a canvas. A child could do better.
I once read a story about a jewelry designer who was dealing with a difficult customer. The customer balked at the price of a wire and stone necklace – pointing out that the price of the items was a lot less than the price on the necklace. The artist sent her a box with a spool of wire and the stones. The necklace was reduced to its parts. The customer called and complained. The artist pointed out that if she wanted it to be put together, she could do it herself, since all she was willing to pay for was the materials.
There is a lot more to art than materials. There are the years of learning and polishing the craft. There are all the mistakes and wasted supplies, learning how to perfect a new technique. There’s a lot of time and energy put into being an artist. It isn’t something that just happens. A good artist makes it look easy. It isn’t.
There are also incidental costs to art. Shipping supplies aren’t free. Marketing isn’t free. Display racks aren’t free. The same is true for pop up tents for art shows. Entry fees are rather steep. Then you have to schlep your stuff to the show and back, in containers, that again, aren’t free. There is wear and tear on your vehicle and yourself. It all adds up and has to get factored into the cost of the art.
I have found that I enjoy the transaction more if I’m selling to another creative person. S/he understands value and doesn’t haggle. So maybe that is it. We need to actively teach other people to engage with their artistic side. They will understand how much work is involved, what quality is and isn’t, and they will become artists to boot.
Perhaps some artists won’t like that idea. Perhaps they think there will be competition. Perhaps they think that if everybody can do it, then they won’t have a monopoly on art. But then I think they might make art for the wrong reason. Everybody should make art. It is healing to do.
I honestly think that if more artists taught other people to be artists, then the public would be happier to start off with, and more understanding of what goes into making quality art. Then they’d be willing to pay real prices for real art.

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2 thoughts on “Art for free.

    • So I’m thinking it is up to us to fix that. If I’m telling a person a story and they don’t understand it, it is my fault for not explaining the story in a a way they understand. The burden is always on the person giving the message. Our art is our story, is our message. So we have to educate the audience, right? By the way, I’m totally with you on the idea of God working through us to make art. I use my writing more than my visual creative side, but I’m leaning more that way.

      On Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM, betsybeadhead wrote:

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