Friday, April 25, 2008

Perceived Value

Silk woven shiboriHere are two photos I took this morning of the woven shibori I completed yesterday. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. Often, it takes me a while to warm up to a finished piece, but this one I liked right away.

Silk woven shiboriJoan Gold and I were talking Thursday morning about art and perceived value. My prior experience in this arena has proven that one art piece or painting that is priced higher than another will always appear to have more value -- at the very least, it will in the buyer's eye -- and therefore sell more easily than a piece that is underpriced. And this is regardless of the actual value, or how good the idea is, or how well it's executed. It's all about perception.

Part of our conversation was about the fact that paintings, or wall art, or 2-D work, almost always command higher prices than fine craft -- again regardless of the actual value or workmanship, or whether the piece is even attractive or engaging. (Some of the most repulsive art fetches the highest prices!) So I was wondering last night whether this "price for art (paintings) vs. craft (functional work)" might be just another example of the distinction between men's work and women's work. After all, historically, most painters have been men, and most craftspeople or functional artists, have been women. It goes like this: Men get paid more for work they create than women do. So what else is new?

How this discussion impacts me and my art, is that I have been weaving/dyeing textiles in sizes appropriate to be considered wearable art, but I suspect now that I could more easily sell my work -- same piece, same or higher price -- if I intend that it be hung on the wall rather than worn on the body. One would think that something beautiful with a function would be more valuable than something that could only be looked at. But I don't think it works like that in the art world. This is a rude awakening!

Another issue is that making things with the express purpose of selling them is a good way for me to avoid having to grow as an artist. And I guess perhaps I'm at that point of growth where I'm beginning to want and need to follow the ideas in my head and not be circumscribed by whether or not I think a piece will sell. In a way, I'm late coming to this idea. In another way, though, I've been attempting to earn a living with my art -- which I'm not quite, yet -- so there's a reason why it's taken me this long to get here.

The thing is, there are so many exciting and creative things I want to try and I've been holding myself back. I'm right on the edge of jumping off this cliff, that being, pushing the edges of my own creative vision and going for it. I want to try new things. And I'm going to.


Peg in South Carolina said...

vis a vis creating wall art as opposed to fabric or yardage, you have read my mind. Indeed, just today I started thinking about it again. I have (almost secretly) been wanting/planning to do this with crackle. There is so much potential here, I think. I watch your blog with great interest.

Cate Rose said...

Thanks for sharing Peg. Glad to know others are feeling similarly about busting out.
Have a good weekend!

Irene said...

I think you are right about the men versus the women issue on art. Somehow we think what a man produces is more precious and therefor more valuable. Women just make stuff.

I know that's not true and you do, but Joe Public doesn't. We all go, "Oh, look at what this man made!" As if it is some sort of miracle that he did.

Unknown said...

your post is most inspiring for me this morning, connie, about perceived value. mostly your enthusiasm gets me all hopped up as i consider my own next steps. i, too, am thinking big big big these days.

thanks for the juice!
~sue okieffe

Meg said...

Or as my friend Morag, a popular textile artist, said to me two years ago: "Meg, cut up your samples, put one in a picture frame and put a silly price on it. You will sell that one."

Cate Rose said...

Great advice, Meg!