Friday, May 2, 2008

Are Hobbyists Bad for Business?

Pricing of art/craft work is always a hot topic, with some people feeling that those with lower prices undercut the market and hurt the professional artist. I am not of that opinion.

There are several different types of Artisans.

Type one is the Professional Artisan. They create out of the love for their craft, and charge accordingly. Sales are not the priority, they are driven by creation, but they are supported by the income derived from their work.

Type two is the Hobbyist Artisan. They create for the fun of it, to pass time, maybe hanging out with a group of people and all doing the same thing at the same time. They sell their work simply to finance doing more of it. Their time is of no value, they seek to recoup their costs for materials so that they can do it again tomorrow.

Others work hard at what they do, trying to generate much needed income to help support their families or themselves. These people are stuck in the middle, being underpriced by the hobbyists, and not feeling like they can't sell enough at the higher prices.

It's tough to be in the middle. I learned a very long time ago that people either want to buy the cheapest, or they want to buy the best.

One of the co-op's that I am involved with recently had someone that knitted apply to be juried. Her work was of excellent quality. Her prices were between $15 and $20 for something that would take her about 6 hours to make. She was rejected because her items were inadequately priced for what we were trying to do.

Items that are inadequately priced skew the marketplace for everyone, but in this internet world that we live in, it is an inevitable issue that the folks in the middle will continue to have to deal with. People with the top quality work will continue to get top quality prices as long as they have the backbone to ask for them.


Unknown said...

What an interesting thing to think about! I have never given much thought to the hobbyists. Maybe because I kind of fit into that category at the moment, while I am stuck at home taking care of two kids. I want very much for my artwork to bring in a good income, eventually, but am happy at the moment to just be recovering my cost and maybe a bit more. But I would never sell myself short and charge less than I deserve! And I completely agree that it is unfair of other artists to do so!

Gray Eyed Scorpio said...

Food for thought!

glorydaze said...

Hmmm... so very true. I am one of those middle people, (however I don't know if I would call myself an artist). I am having issues with the pricing of my bags, and have discovered this; lower price = more sales = a lot of hard work = small income, and higher price = less sales = not much work = small income.
I am very impressed with your photos by the way and with the fact they have scored small parts in movies! Well done!

f2images said...

Very interesting topic. I've struggled with my own pricing in my etsy store. I feel that if I'm going to demand a higher price for my prints, then my images need to be objectively in the upper tiers of my peers. They, of course, are not there so my prices are kind of in the middle. I also work full time at a pro photo lab, and see exactly what your saying as it pertains to the wedding/portrait photography world. It is sad but true, that the people in the middle both price-wise and quality-wise are struggling the most. With any product, I think it's really important that people make an emotional connection, and that will usually lead to a sale.