Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Knicker Theory....

.... or how to put a value on art.

I love buying hand made from designer-makers. I'm not as interested in bagging a bargain as I am looking for quirky and quality crafts but this is how I assess the value of the item before I buy (bear with me).
First, I calculate how many pairs of store-bought knickers (panties) I can get for the same price as the craft item.
Then I compare the price of those knickers to the price of the craft. I then take into consideration that I am paying for: cost of materials, time taken to make the item and (most importantly) the skill, talent, training the artist has used in making the item.
OK, so it's a bit bizarre but, by comparing a beautiful piece of silver/ceramic/glass/textile to something mundane like knickers, puts the purchasing of hand made into perspective. After all, you can't love or treasure knickers forever (they wear out)! How do you value your work?

So you don't know how much to charge for your art. Here is a list of what should be included in the price:
The materials
The time taken to make the piece
The energy (power, heating and other overheads)
The years that artist has taken to become a specialist in that field (study)
The design of the piece
The talent that hand made artist has to create the piece

Remember that hand made will possibly be a lot more valuable and last a lot longer than mass produced (unless it's edible hand made of course)!


  1. I love the knicker analogy - had never really thought of it like that before!

  2. I think that many handmade artisans forget/neglect to include their own time. Once you take away all the actual costs that go into making a piece (for me: glass, electricity, oxygen, propane, findings), then you should be making a resonable hourly wage, just for starters.

    I do think there is room for that to be raised based on design and experience, but that should be the base number. And when that means that you make less per hour than someone flipping burgers, you might need to rethink things a bit.

    Although my larger pieces are a culmination of hours of work, my smaller pieces are not as time-intensive. I have a hard time imagining that a piece knit over hours of work should be sold for $15-$20.

    I have also found that work that is priced appropriately is often thought of as of a higher quality than those 'priced to sell'.

  3. Thanks for the advice. It's always hard to price your items, especially when people who don't understand how much time went into it are your buyers. Fine artwork is even harder to justify the price.

  4. Now as an analogy goes, it just misses me, I'm always commando (can't afford pants). but every second of every day can not be brought back, if it takes 30 of them to work out a cost, then add that 30 seconds in to the cost too.
    I have a spread sheet that list every single cost except time and materials, they are on a seperate spreadsheet. At the end of the day, no one will give me my time back, so if i used it to make something, then it needs paying for

  5. Very valid points about what to consider when pricing. I was talking to a painter (well reowned artist) the other day and he told me that there is no way he could charge a large painting based on the time it takes him, could be months in the making. He also told me that he never considers including materials, although he will now. Maybe it is different when it's comes to different crafts.

  6. Good reminder for all of us. Love the "knickers" analogy.

  7. I'll take your knicker analogy into consideration next time I'm ready to price something up for the shop. Brilliant! Elaine