In this blog I shall delve a little deeper into the intricacies of pricing your mosaics. The pitfalls to avoid and how self belief can help. In no particular order, here are my ramblings...
Consideration for other artists
This is an issue that was highlighted to me when I started selling. I was still working another full time job, so mosaic wasn't my only/main source of income. Because of this I would make a mosiac and sell it really cheaply beacuse it didn't matter as long as I covered the cost of my materials. Another mosaic artist in my area pointed out that by undervaluing my art I was actually devaluing her work too. It simply hadn't occurred to me. You may have a different view on the matter but it's worth mentioning as we need to help and support each other in the arts.
I have books with lists of every single mosaic ever made and sold, who to, how much for, where in the world the buyer lives, some have the time they took to make logged too. This is useful because you can see how your pricing has changed over the years as you become more skilled. If you haven't increased your pricing for 10 years...you've either won the lottery or lack confidence!
Consistency is key
I hold my hands up here...I haven't been consistent in the past. Not so much to the detriment of my customers but to myself. I have held sales when I've been desperate, reducing my prices by 50% up to 75% in some cases. Life is complex though and you have to do what is right for you at the time. Not everything can be learned overnight. Be kind to yourself as you progress in business. However, the issue with emotional pricing is you are hurting yourself...
1) Because you deserve to earn a decent wage and be paid for your time.
2) You think your customers will love a sale but in reality if you undervalue yourself, the knock on effect is that your work is seen as less valuable in their eyes too.
3) Some customers will have spent £100 on a mosaic only to find that a similar priced one was reduced to £45 a few weeks later. That would make anyone mad!
4) You are setting your bar low, customers will then not buy straight away in the hope that if they hold out for a few weeks you'll be desperate enough for ANY income. Can you see how this is damaging and why art becomes devalued?
YOU ARE HIGHLY SKILLED AND DESERVE A DECENT LIVING WAGE...Keep repeating it!
"I love it but it's too expensive"
This is a tough one because as the creator of the work we know it won't be in everyones price range. It can make you feel guilty because you feel bad that they can't afford to buy from you, but it goes back to the point that you really can't please everyone. The harsh reality is that not everyone will be able to buy your originals from you. What you have to bear in mind is that it's NOT that you have priced too highly, It's simply that the person cannot afford it at that time.
I counteract this by making smaller, more affordable mosaics at Christmas time, (jewellery or tree decorations) which allows people to have a wider range and more varied price points to choose from.
So, you just smash up a few tiles and stick them down?
Think about a completed mosaic...
-Time was spent thinking of the concept, photographing subjects to reference, researching and sketching.
-Consideration is made at this point if the mosaic is for interior or exterior display as that affects which materials you choose
-Your base is selected and hand cut, then prepped for mosaic.
-Materials are chosen from a huge library of various tessera collected and purchased over many years.
-Design is sketched onto your substrate.
-Glass, tiles, pottery (whatever you choose) is selected for pattern, colour and tone, each piece is cut and shaped and often smoothed on a grinder to make safe, then carefully glued into place with careful consideration and precision to create flow (andamento)
-The finished piece is then grouted, sometimes with several shades of grout to zone and highlight areas.
-Once cured, the piece is finished with polishing, painted on the rear, then signed and dated.
It's hard work!
Mosaic is one of the most labour intensive art forms. It is hard on your hands, wrists and back. Plus the cuts! Arghhh the cuts! Literally blood, sweat and tears goes in to some of them especially the large ones! All of this needs consideration and the art world really need to see mosaic as painting with tile. When mosaic is executed really well, nothing compares to the feeling it gives the viewer. It comes alive as the light bounces off every faceted surface. Large mosaic installations are breathtaking.
I touched upon this in Part 1. Other overheads incluse Tax, National Insurance, Public Liability, Insuring your equipment, considering wear and tear on the equipment you use...replacement blades etc. One blade for my ringsaw is £90! We get no annual leave or sick pay. You can't work, you don't earn. Those who have studied, paid for online courses or workshops and bought loads of books to research. All those failures too! They are invaluable for growth and learning from mistakes is the best way to learn BUT it gets costly!
A commission is where you work with a client to design a bespoke piece, personalised for them. It is understood that it will be unique - the design never to be repeated for anyone else. This costs more money than simply buying a ready made piece of artwork from your chosen artist. The design part of the process is included in the price and is generally accepted that the artist will be paid half up front and half upon completion.
Lastly, please don't be afraid to approach artists who you love to see if they offer payment plans. We are often more than willing to do this and never judge anyone for it. I, myself have often been known to say "I can't even afford my own work!" So, I get it. I lust after art I can't afford too. Not because it's priced too high, simply because I don't have a few hundred spare!
I've rambled enough...I could go on. I bore myself too. If there's a subject you'd like me to cover. Let me know.