Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sky Blue Heart, Greeting Cards, & Value

Continuing with the Heart Theme is "Sky Blue Heart". I sold this painting a while ago, but it is still available as a greeting card. In 2006, I licensed 12 of my original images to Arbutus Images, a wholesale greeting card company. They license work from artists all over the world. Go to their website to check them out here.

They are a wholesale company, as I said, so if you want to buy individual pieces, it's best to buy them directly from the artists. Like me, for example! Here's the link to my shop page on my website, where you can see all 12 card images: Buy Cards. I have 6 different heart images for sale, as well as 6 other images.

I am creating more spaces online to market my work, and the cards are one item I haven't promoted very well, until now. Sure, they've been on my website, now it's time to show them in other places too.

In getting so busy with other things I am building and creating, I forgot to value these creations as well as I might. However, today I sold a bunch of them through my website, along with "Blue Chord", the painting featured in yesterday's Online Arts Marketing post. Hooray! The funny thing is, and I do it often enough that it's not really funny but I have to laugh anyway, is that I forget how beautiful some of these things are. I have done them, and moved my energy onto the next 12 things. Then someone buys them, and I'm all "huh? I'd better value those!!" D'oh!

This is what blogging everyday is doing for me: helping me be more conscious and aware of the value of my work. Not just because I get praise and validation for it, heck, who doesn't want that? But more because I get a kind of neutral distance from it. I am becoming more clear about what I need to do, what I want to do, what is working. I write down my work goals for the week and each day. And when I am writing my blog I get to explore some of the spiritual issues I work on as a human being and an artist. Value is a big one.

I was given this lesson years ago in one of my first shows ever, Around the Coyote in Chicago, which is a huge group show and studio art walk each September. I was stuck in a basement gallery space with a guy whose art glowed in the dark. He would turn off the lights when people walked into our space. That didn't last long, as I can be quite fierce when need be. :-) Anyway, Mr. Glow-Art and I had our fair share of visitors, as off the beaten track as we were. I even sold some pieces from that show, including one painting to two of Mr. Glow-Art's friends, which for some reason seemed to irritate him. I also had several more shows as a result of this one.

Two men came in, looked at my work, and liked it. They looked to me like people who loved and bought art. But as they were leaving, one turned to me and said, "Your prices are too low! Nobody's going to value your work until you do." He was actually angry! I thanked him; I was speechless, which takes some doing.

He was right, and I had to begin doing some work on myself about this thing called "value". For artists, value can be such a strange thing. There are all kinds of incidentals that go into pricing work. One of the hardest things I've ever done as an artist is to raise my prices. But it's easier to do so when I look back at the pieces I sold for too little, and realize I value them much more highly now.

I have often told other artists their prices were too low also. I have been amazed at what people were willing to let their work go for. It all comes down to value, and more often it's about the individual being able to value him/herself.

This is where it gets all squirmy and dicey. (Love those words!) Self image, do I really have to work on that one to get a fair price for my work? How about even to SELL my work!

How about you, what do you have to say about this topic?

"Sky Blue Heart" 2005 30"x27" SOLD
Greeting Cards available at kriscahill.com

12 comments:

amy said...

Mr. Glow Art sounds like a character. I think pricing is weird for arts and crafts. I don't really sell art but just jewelry and other do das. I figure supplies and then how long it took 45 minutes is worth x amount. I just get desperate to sell things sometimes so I lower prices. I did stick to my higher than average prices this year at the one craft show I did. I sold one thing and it was a trade! People seemed to want a bargain and I wasn't going to lower prices so I could lose money on the cost of something. This is a hot topic I think. When it comes to freelance writing, which I don't consider art, I will only write for a certain amount.I pretty much say "show me the money" or I don't bother. Well I don't really say that but you know...:)

Kris Cahill said...

Hi Amy,
Thanks for your input. I agree with you about the venue sometimes determining what price one can get for one's work. It is great that you refuse to take less for your writing, good for you!

John (Copyright JMM 2007-2008) said...

Thank you _ this one will be book marked as a page.

Lynette said...

Ooh Kris your hearts are beautiful and in delicious color combinations! I agree that it is really hard to set a price on art and I always have a hard time trying to figure that out when I sell one.

Kim said...

love the titles of your hearts Kris...
this one is so sky blue...
and your work is so 'marketable'....
value hmmmmm......that's a tough one.....
my reasoning ...you can always lower your prices if necessary but it's very difficult to raise them....
I never exchange money with my clients on a personal level....
my partner takes care of that side as I am prone to give my work away far too often :)

Kris Cahill said...

Thank you, John, for the lovely validation!

Nice to see you, Lynette. I agree, it's hard to put a price on one's art.

Hi Kim, I agree with you about it being harder to raise prices. One thing I've learned is to not price a piece below what a similar one sold for. It's hard to not lower prices sometimes. Thank you for your kind comments!

imwithsully said...

I agree. Artists do let their work go at little or next to nothing these days. In the advent of ebay and etsy, the competition is more firece than ever, so in order to seel anything, you have to start low to get the word out there.

Sweet Irene said...

No, don't sell at low prices, it will devalue your paintings, Ask double of you had in mind and then people can always bargain. Don't write "or better offer!" Point them to you cards,if they really can't afford it.

You have to value you work and your technique,which is hard. Have paintings in various sizes and prices,so that there will be everything there for a certain wallet.

She Who Flies said...

It's a very important yet delicate issue you addressed here. Self-value and value of our work and skills is SO important yet we're sometimes made to feel we charge too much, (unlike that "angry" man who told you your prices were too low! I loved that.) I guess, in the end, the issue lies with us and what we feel our creations and skills are worth. I know that as an experienced and good translator, I refuse to work "for peanuts" as some companies would have me do. The same goes for my energy healing and intuitive reading work. I'm now learning to honor my creative work the very same way.

Kris Cahill said...

This was a really fun discussion for me. I appreciate all of your comments and tales of your experience. I'll bring this up again, I promise.

imwithsully- It's a hard one, I know, especially when it seems like nothing is selling.

sweet irene- I agree with you. This is where I've been working for a while now.

she who flies- I'm with you on valuing my skills as a psychic. And that it really lies with each of us to find that value. I like the word 'honor' that you use here.

dianeclancy said...

Hi Kris,

This is another beautiful painting!

A great topic - I del.icio.us it to be able to come back here.

This is (not surprisingly) an issue for me too. Given that I have mainly sold prints (or reproductions) (so I can license), I still need to price to my value.

People sell for so low!! But I tend to price in the mid-range for reproductions .. but cards are at the higher end because the materials cost a lot for me to print at home.

Great discussion - thank you!

~ Diane Clancy
www.dianeclancy.com/blog

Kris Cahill said...

Thanks, Diane! I appreciate how much you market and show your work. It is inspiring to me and has helped me see new ways of doing so myself.