It's a cool morning here. Weather front moved in last evening as forecast and the Indian Summer temperatures we've been experiencing are much lower. Not frigid, eh, definitely lower. So Houdini and I came to office and the Internet Place before heading out to feed teh Ranch. Allowed me to start working on some other things as well.
Yesterday I received an inquiry on my prices for photographs. Other than some private commissions I've not sold a lot in the recent past, and nothing on spec. I'm thinking about this anyway as the Necronomicon Art Show nears. The old reference I've got for what prices I'd ask is from the web site that isn't anymore. As in, I've not updated that site in at least seven years, so I don't put out that link very often anymore either. Still, that's one source to start the work and I quoted prices based on that listing for single-mat prints. I decided some time ago I will not sell anything less than single-mat prints as that helps protect the print itself.
Now, I generated those prices by just looking at the prints I had about and around at that time, how much it cost to get them printed and mounted then (remember, over seven years back) and added in for my time, creativity, and sort of for 'wear and tear on equipment.' As in maintenance.
See, you as a 'casual' photographer might not think of that. Someone who paints or draws, using paint, brushes, pens, ink, pencils, charcoal? They're aware those materials, much less the paper or item drawn/painted upon, are an expense. And brushes, pencils, even pens, they wear out over time and degree of use. Use them more, wear faster.
So, too, with cameras. So once a year or so my cameras are taken in to the shop for preventive maintenance. Check things like the shutter is working properly, lenses are clean internally, and such. This costs, it's part of doing business as a photographic artist. Other expenses are replacement light bulbs for incandescent or fluorescent studio lights, replacement flash tubes for electronic flash units, batteries for portable ones (some of those it may be possible to purchase an AC power adapter for studio use). And those electronic flash units, the manufacturers recommend the same sort of preventive maintenance program for those as for cameras. Now, if all cameras are in the shop at the same time, that's 'down' time. No photographs made during that period. That's OK, there's still other work to do.
The point is, that all needs to be figured into at least a portion of any print price. Took me a while to learn that little lesson.
This time around, getting ready to price things for the Art Show (starting bid on the auction, Buy It Now price...), I used the same guidelines as those I used to provide pricing info to the recent inquiry. Looked at them closer after writing them down. Again, closer, thinking, something's not quite right there. After a bit more arithmetic realised, ah. The markup isn't proportional. So Hello, Recent Inquiree (you know who you are)? If we go with those prices I quoted, you want to stretch for the bigger prints as you'll get a much better deal that way. It's OK if you don't move soon for a couple reasons, I fully understand the general economic situation and, well, later I'll feel more justified re-quoting prices. *G*
Anyway, I did a wee bit more arithmetic and looked at the adjusted markup and said to myself, Myself that looks a lot more in line with some other sales I've made, eh? Myself replied, Self, yes it does. I'm fully aware I'm not getting specific on either of these lists and for good reason. First of all, I do feel somewhat ethically obligated to honour those quotes to Recent Inquiree at least for a month or two simply because whipping off prices without doing the more in-depth analysis? That's on me, not them. Second of all, this is quite up front a part of the process, the Artist as Businessperson, that I'm still learning.
What is the proper markup? Good question. For the very demonstrably objective measures (cost of goods sold, materials including disposables) it is those specific costs. Price to print a 5x7, plus cost of an 8x10 mount and an 8x10 single mat, $X US. Add in a few additional things like transparent envelops to protect the piece in transit (or on display in a booth at a weekend art show), possibly a business card or 'providence card' that is basically I am the Artist and I Made This. A measurable amount.
Now, how much does the artist charge for the time if they're also doing the mounting and matting rather than hiring someone else? More importantly, how much is the artist time worth for coming up with the idea and bringing it to fruition? What about transport/shipping? That is a very objective measure if you purchase off a web site, say, but what if you see their work at that booth in the weekend art show? They transported the materials there, that cost them.
(Houdini is growling at something in his dream here...)
At any rate, I'm pretty comfortable with the markup I analysed. Yes, as a full-time RN I've got things like health insurance and vehicle insurance covered, either as a benefit of my employment or through my income in my 'day job'. As an independent entrepreneur, though, those are additional things which need coverage. Much less the roof over ones head and food on ones table.
Because there's one more lesson learned in this. You may not want to pay the price I ask for any of a lot of reasons. Economy is only one. Looking at my work you may say, Nice, but...
It's that 'I don't know about Art, but I know what I like' part. And what I do may appeal to you. Might not. You may like what haikujaguar or tinne or merimask or artoncamera or jeliza or cmpriest or a whole bunch more folk I read who are more at the same level in this business as I (breaking in) more than my work. That's OK, because it's not the creativity part where we as artist businesspersons are competing. We aren't even competing against each other. In fact, we aren't competing at all.
You are. Between Beer, and Art. Because I also know, whoever you are you're not going to pony up the Bread money (Mortgage or the FoodForBaby/Family) for any of this. *G*