Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raising Prices? Raising costs?

I have been reading artists posts about raising their wholesale prices. Although the economy is playing a role in raising the costs for most supplies for many artists, I believe the jewelers are hardest hit.

I admit my silver and gold life was long ago, silver was topping out at $7 and gold was killing us at $600. I wouldn't have the fortitude to be making precious metals work now. But...

If your cost formula has changed, (whose hasn't?), and then, a studied change is in order. Everyone doing the shows or shopping at the shows know that these materials have sky-rocketed. I say price accordingly without emotion. You want to continue using precious metals so don't under price anything.

Jewelry is "cash in hand". It can be worn for mere pleasure or sold to buy groceries...its cash. Don't give your work away...ever. I have a story about raising prices.

An internationally known artist had the opportunity to sell some silver-chased and enameled pieces. The same works were exhibited in one of my (gallery director, Billi) exhibitions. The pieces were priced comfortably...didn't raise any eye brows. Once I shipped the show out, the artist called because he/she had an offer to sell and wasn't sure of her prices.

I had commented on his/her prices and shared what I had learned about prices exhibiting an international jewelry show earlier in the year. (My eyebrows were still raised...the insurance alone for the exhibition had been nearly prohibitive.)

The artist's "comfortable" prices suited the work at my location and the audience (summer art school). But I was well aware of the reputation and breadth of this artist's life and work. Viewed outside the school setting, the work was outstanding in craftsmanship and concept. Expressed with a master's skills. I shared with the artist that I had expected the pieces to be much more expensive than the price in the show.

The artist was doubtful and was concerned with losing the sale or selling it short of its true value. We talked, I asked about the process and about being able to reproduce such pieces. Through that conversation I was able to help the artist reconsider her original asking price which was too low. Although the artist was concerned about losing a sale, I had helped the artist reconsider...everything about the cost of materials, the creation and fabulous results in the work and how all that increased the value of her work.

The next day I received a call and the artist was ecstatic...what was $1500 sold for $7000! Changed the artist's appeal forever. It sounds like a huge jump in price but the artist hadn't considered his/her value and reputation...and that it was museum quality work that would never be reproduced. The price was absolutely appropriate.

Being appropriate is essential. Anyone buying and reselling precious metals knows the costs have sky-rocketed. They are expecting a price raise even if they hate it. It's just reality. If a gallery balks at your pricing and wants a "deal"...then they are looking through "burgundy glasses".

It's insulting to any artist, but when the costs are obvious and the markets haven't made any secret about the rise..."We buy gold for cash." So, raise your prices appropriately and do so before you go to the shows. Do you want to lose money as the year goes on? Wether the market crashes or not, it is what it is now.

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