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Summary of Zoom meetings on Pricing your Work

We have had 3 Zoom seminars with Aotearoa Quilters on how to price your work. The seminars were great and concluded that there is no right or wrong way to price your work. However, there were some strong themes to come through which may assist you in the future:

  • Consistency: regardless of the venue you may sell your work in, your price should be the same full retail price for every venue. Why,  you may well ask , when different venues charge different commissions? Because it can cost you a sale!
    • Purchaser – they may see the work will be exhibited at different venues before deciding to purchase. They will want to see the work at the same price as they saw it in the first venue as anything else would be confusing.
    • Venue – they may not take your work for sale again if they see it cheaper elsewhere.
    • Family/friend purchasers – you should still sell your work at the same price even if a family member or friend ask you the price. They need to understand the time and effort and cost involved in making the work and that if they buy it then you have lost the opportunity to sell it elsewhere for its real value. You may be pleasantly surprised to find they may still purchase the work
  • Pricing recipes: there are various methodologies out there that different people use as a starting point to pricing
    • So much at square inch or square centimetre. How much is your decision but often A $1 per square inch is used. Therefore if your work was 30 X 30 inches it equals 900 x $1 then your guide price is $900. You also need to consider:
      • Complexity of the work: you might adjust the price up or down slightly depending on the amount of time you have taken to make the piece. A lot of hand applique or thread sketching can take a lot more time so you might do your base calculation, then add on some more for the extra work
    • Calculate actual cost: add up the actual cost of the materials, batting, backing, and thread used. Add on small amount for electricity (overhead) used. Then add on an hourly rate for the time it has taken for you to make the piece. E.g. $110 material cost, $20 overhead plus $25 x 20hours to make = $500. So total cost is $110 + $20 + $500 = $670.
    • Either way this is the price you may wish to receive in your hand so if exhibiting add on the commission to this price. If you are going to be exhibiting at various exhibitions or galleries then add on the largest commission or be prepared to take less in the hand.
    • Also visit exhibitions and galleries and get an idea on how others are pricing their work – remember it’s not to criticise but to try and understand how they came to their number!
    • For some people they just want to get their money back so they can make something else so sell for material costs or a little bit over – if this is you then its okay to do this but think about others exhibiting in the same exhibition and wanting to sell for more and the message you are sending to would-be purchasers of all
    • If a well-known artist then there is often a premium you can add to your base price
    • Sometimes you are guided anecdotally by what you sold pieces for in the past
  • Venues: as quilters we tend to undervalue our work. Nancy Crow said “if you don’t value your own work then no one else will”. This is very true.
    • Galleries – people who visit a gallery are purchasers of either traditional or contemporary art. They are looking for a work for their home or as a gift. They do not think “oh it’s a quilt therefore it should be cheap!” They make a connection with the work and then decide if it’s value for money to them.
    • Quilt exhibitions – people who visit a quilt exhibition can be other quilters but can also be members of the public, so again they will look at a piece differently. I have purchased work of other NZ Quilters at exhibitions when I have loved the work and thought the price value for money to me. I felt it important to purchase at the exhibition so my fellow quilter did not feel obliged to consider selling to me at a lower price because they knew me. This made it a fair purchase for all.
    • People going to different venues e.g a local group exhibition vs a gallery setting sometimes have different expectations re the price of a work. However it is important to keep your work at the same price.
  • Marketing yourself: your artist statement is important to the viewer to help them understand your work. It helps them make a connection to you and the work. If you are at the exhibition, it’s important that you are able to speak about your work to them in a professional manner e.g. a beautiful traditional bed quilt you would talk about the colours you used and why you chose them, the same about the design and what inspired you. The same with an art quilt. Remember beauty is different to everyone and people want to be able to talk about the piece they purchase – they want a little bit of you as the artist and maker.
  • Other avenues to sell your work
    • Your website – put the price on the work otherwise you create a barrier between you and a possible purchaser
    • Facebook
    • Set up an Etsy shop
    • New Zealand Facebook pages
      • CHOOICE – NZ made products
      • NZ Art
    • Sell cards / calendars etc of your work – other mediums sell their images in a variety of ways so why not textiles?
    • Local artist trails – have an open studio
    • Local art shows
    • National Art shows
  • Quotes from those participating in the seminars
    • Value yourself
    • Artists in other mediums were annoyed that textile work was sold cheaper than they were selling for – wanted the pricing increased!
    • Be consistent with pricing
    • Don’t undersell yourself
    • Think about your competition – people who buy art also spend on dinners and vacations. It’s not just other art.

Catherine McDonald