6 thoughts on “The Business Of Art

      • In the world of high-end wristwatch sales, I often had to deal with customers telling me how much they were going to pay for a watch. E.g.- I would work out a price on a $5,200.oo watch. I would shave 30% off retail, which was the absolute maximum I could do. So, my price would be $3640.oo.
        Customer would;
        A) Snatch the calculator from my hand and calculate a price closer to 50% off retail price.
        B) Tell me that they only had $3,500.oo to spend, after looking at an array of watches in the five to seven thousand dollar price range.
        C) Say something like; “Listen dude, I know how much these things cost to manufacture and your price is way too much, etc, etc.”
        The list goes on. It was a daily occurrence in retail, and it was pretty much the same when I worked in hospitality, but I can fully understand that many people cannot see the worth or value of a creative endeavour. You point to a newly-built house and tell somebody that a builder has charged $250,000.oo to build it, and you hand that same person a paperback novel and tell them that the author was paid $250,000.oo to write it and they won’t see or understand the work that was involved in writing the book. Too many people lack imagination and therefore they can’t place a value ON imagination.
        If creativity was easy, everybody would do it.
        Best of luck, BB.

      • I had one client tell me on an occasion that I finished a project rather quickly, such that the limited time didn’t seem (in her mind) to warrant the fee for my service. I told her that my dentist charged me almost two-grand to pull two wisdom teeth, and it only took him ten minutes to do so. She responded by reminding me that a dentist pays a lot of money and some number of years to become a dentist. I told her that it took me my entire life to learn how to do what I do. So why is the dentist’s seven years of education more valuable than my lifetime of education? (In the end, I told her that I should have charged her more for being able to complete the project quickly, rather than drag my feet, as others might do. She was happy to have not had to pay more for my efficiency.)

        The reason that people don’t value creativity is because not just anyone can claim to be a dentist or an astronaut; however, anyone can pick up a brush and claim to be an artist. Of course, not all such persons can claim to be a good artist, but clients who want a “deal” would rather pay little for bad art than pay more money for talent which took someone a lifetime to gain. This is why artists are a dime-a-dozen, and why it’s so difficult to make it as an artist. Also, every year that clicks by means I have thousands of graduating kids moving into the workforce who are living with their parents and willing to work for nothing, which drives the wages down for the rest of the industry. Of course, there are a fortunate few who land those dream-jobs that pay well, but such gigs are far and few between. When I get someone who tells me that their neighbor’s kid will do the job for next to nothing, I just tell them to hire their neighbor’s kid. They always get what they pay for.

        Regarding your retail experience, those who think that something should be sold at a hair above production cost have obviously never taken the risk to produce anything themselves. Such people seem to be unaware that the person behind the counter still needs to get paid, the retail-space rent needs to get paid, and all while the store owner is placing his own assets at risk in order to open and operate his business, which is why he deserves to reap the benefits of the profits made from a sale. There is no such thing as an objectively “fair” margin.
        When faced with a customer who thinks a product should be sold at near-production cost, it would be interesting to see what they would say if you suggested that their own wages be set at whatever it cost them to drive to work, e.g., “Well, Mr. Jones, it only cost you a sawbuck worth of gas to get here today, so that’s what we’ll pay you to work for the day, plus, we’ll throw in a ham-sandwich.”

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