artist or artiste? it’s all in the money…

Cash Tree by GM tree courtesy iStock

…or is it? Since attending The Art of Earning Live in February, I have been very aware that I need to change my prices (go higher) and attitude towards money – both in earning it and spending it. We have been taught in our culture that money is what we must strive for, and it is the root of all evil. Take the lyrics if this once popular song (Used in commercials still). Money, money, money, money…

Towards the end of the Art of Earning seminar Adam King said to me:

“You should not be selling anything for less than $1,000.”

I am unsure if he meant that literally, or as a metaphor for selling myself short, i.e. not valuing myself and my work. Either way I get it. If I am going to be a real artiste (*by my definition, a higher level artist) I need to act like one and price myself accordingly. I need to take myself and my work seriously! My highest priced item currently is $255, the lowest $25.

I talked with some friends about the idea of taking away all the tiny prints, 5×5 and 5×7 for instance, priced at $25 and only selling 8×10, or even 11×14 and above, at a higher price. Two of them vehemently disagreed. One said, What about the people that can’t afford more than $25, and what if they want to start small and see how it looks before buying big? Being one of those in the category of “can’t afford” currently, it is hard to say I am out pricing myself and some of my friends.

So, what if my “ideal customer” is not me and my friends?

Hmm I have to admit it makes me a tad uncomfortable, and so does the fact that, due to medical bills, and the awareness I may not live to a very old age, I need to earn more than ever before. My husband earns enough to keep us afloat when things are going well. Add the co-pays we are dealing with and we are more like knee-deep or more. I don’t need worry about money to take up my time when I am trying to heal. So, what is the solution?

It is time to take myself seriously, and hope my friends will too. I am an artiste!

(“Artiste,” as it turns out, is just French for artist, although it can indicate a musician more so than a painter. I however have always seen it used as if to indicate an artist of higher caliber.)

What does this mean?

  • I am going to be hiking my prices.
  • I will only be showing and selling my very best work.*
  • I will only be showing at venues that support the value of my work.**
  • I will stand behind the work, and why it is worth what I charge.

Does this make sense to you? Do you price art with respect for your self and work?

For me I think the key is in how I look at it. As I say in the title, it’s all about the money…or is it? Well it is not. It’s all about the value. I put my very best self into my work, and price it like a sale item at a garage sale. Well, not quite that bad, but you get it. If I feel the work is gallery or museum worthy I don’t want to price it as if I’m selling at Target.

If I don’t take myself seriously no one else will, right?

There is one other troubling aspect to this decision. What do I do with the work I am currently selling at too low a price? It seems wrong to sell it at a higher price when people have purchased it for perhaps far less (I have already raised my prices once or twice).

Would you be upset if you purchased something for $100 and found out it used to cost $25?

I am keeping this short and sweet as it is difficult to sit at the desk these days. (For any of you that have been following there is good news! My spinal fusion has been moved up to this coming Wednesday the 9th. I will likely be unable to post in two weeks as I am scheduled to, unless that new laptop falls from the sky, or they start growing on trees.) I look forward to returning pain free to continue this discussion.

Please let me know what you think here in the comments! I really need your opinion.

From the Heart,


* I do not have a lot of pieces in my shop, but I do have some mediocre pieces there while I keep hidden some of my best. Time to purge my portfolio.

** For instance, no craft fairs where there are crocheted toilet paper covers, OK?

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