I was panicking. In the first 3 hours of a group show, I saw other work sell and concluded my work was not good enough to sell, so I should lower my prices.
My fellow potter, a long-time teacher and artist knew exactly what was going through my head. And that’s when he said, “Stop second guessing yourself.”
Did I listen?
No. I went and lowered my prices on several bowls. In the end, they did sell. And I lost money that I could have made because I didn’t believe in myself. I let my mind talk me into believing that my work was worth less.
My mind still keeps telling me the same thing, every time I go to price my work. I worry. I fret. I measure and try to use a formula that multiplies inches by dollars. One artist uses $6 an inch for vases. So a 5” vase is $30. That seemed fair to me, especially since my thrown vases were never very tall. But now that my lily vases have reached 14” tall, that makes the price $84.
Again, the voice. The second guessing. The worry about worth.
Even though my very first lily vase sold for $75 right out of the kiln. I’ve since sold out of all the lily vases and spent a month making more for new venues coming up this fall. But again, I worry.
I measure. I do the math, multiplying by inches to dollars. If I use the ‘inches times dollar’ method one artist uses, I come up with awkward prices like $38, $42, $79. Another artist uses a ‘by 5’ method which means her prices start at $20 and go up from there. I like the ease and evenness of doing everything by 5’s. It just feels better. But again, I worry: are my new little wine cups worth $20 each or should I price them at $15?
Here’s what I decided today: Math can’t measure creativity or heart.
I love detail. Texture. Sculptural elements. Color. And every piece I make comes not just from my hands but from my heart. I want design and function, yes. But I want more than that. I want each piece to feel good to the touch, delight the eye, bring whimsy, delight or mystery.
Even so, it still comes down to value. To you, yes. But maybe, more importantly to me. I need to stop guessing what is a good price or a fair price or a price that will sell.
And see instead, the value of my work, and of my own worth.