October 26, 2011

Integrity and artwork pricing

or Show some respect!  My uphill battle selling art.

I premiered my latest creation "The Wheel of Deluded Existence" at Derek Bisbing and Jim Laing's House Gallery show titled Horror 2. I feel it was a tremendous success, so much so that two drunken attendees insisted they love my painting, and had to have it even if it was unfinished. I was highly flattered.  Then one of the ladies became really belligerent referring to herself as a  "bitch" <---(her words not mine).  I was stone cold sober, so I can say with great confidence that it was mostly over the price tag.

Fact: There was no price. I simply stated how many hours had been put into the piece so far. 50 hrs. to be exact.  I explained that the work was not complete an that the final price would reflect the additional hours I hope to put in in order to make the work exceptional. She went as far as telling me, the artist, that I would ruin the work if I kept working on it more.  Expect at least 30 hrs. more on this one!

 Above: The Wheel of Deluded Existence @ 50 hrs.
Photo by Derek Bisbing

They said they wanted it anyway, as is. I couldn't let it go unfinished especially at the price they were willing to offer. Now at this point is when I realized that some people are going to be cheap and really low ball you and disrespect you to get what they want. These are not the type of people I want to deal with, and especially not the type I want owning a Brian Batista original. I asked how much my 50 hrs. were worth to her? No reply. So, I asked what 50 hrs. of her time would be worth. Hell, she could even trade something....No answer. I said if she wasn't willing to offer anything remotely close to $1000 for my 50 hrs. (that is equal to $20 per hr. -art materials) She should not bother talking to me about it.

That's why I don't just put a price. People scoff and judge the work differently if the price is too high or not high enough. Its a real art killer. There was no resolution, just dancing around the issue of me not listing a price. "Make me an offer."  What resulted was pussyfooting. However, they were so emotionally attached to the fact that I put my hours of labor over a definitive numeric value that they just couldn't let it go. It did not help them avoid embarrassment with the small change they were willing to trade.  They insisted that since the painting wasn't finished it should be cheaper. Seriously?!

I learned a valuable lesson here after a friend turned to me and said "did I just see you NOT sell your painting to them". I nodded. I was not valued by this person, and underneath it all....... neither was my work.  Sure she loved it, but not as much as it is worth.  I'm not making stuff for a pitiful $10/hr. plus materials. At the end of the night,  she still asked me for my card. I told her to visit Market Collective where I was selling prints, where she could pick up something she could afford. BAM!

 The result of this event is helping shape my artistic business practice: 

I'm the type of artist to work on something in great detail. I do not  make short pithy ideas or contemporary "one liners" that can be sold at an inflated price. My work takes DEDICATION, SKILL, CONCENTRATION and EFFORT to produce. For this piece I tallied up the hours on the top of the painting as I went! It can take a surprising amount of TIME to paint something. So far..... 50 hrs.

I think this is the way I will label my work  from now on. This is my profession and people are constantly under valuing my skills and efforts.  On the other end are the artists who give the rest of us a bad name, selling lazy crap for millions of ddollars. I'm willing to trade my 50 hrs. for 50 hrs. in their craft and take $ out of the equation all together. It may be a luxury but it's my integrity:

I decide who gets my work. I decide if the deal is fair and I decide if the painting is done!

If you like my work and what I have to say, I just created a facebook "fan" page, click here to 'like'!


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