While exploring the city today I stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant for a bite to eat and to add a quick sketch to my travel journal. I wasn’t overly impressed with the results, but the process is what matters the most to me. There was a young boy who couldn’t have been older than 7 years old hanging out at the patio as well while his mom was working. He was drawing at the table across from me and I was endeared by the shared interest.
After a while, the boy suddenly shot up and crumpled his paper, grumbling to himself. He ripped it up aggressively and threw the remnants on the ground, stomping on them and his marker in a dramatic matter that made me wonder if I should tell him not to give up. After his initial drawing was thoroughly destroyed, he got up and for a moment I thought he was done with art indefinitely.
Until he returned with more paper. This kid drew and destroyed several more sketches, each time ripping them up to stomp on in the same exasperated fashion. Wow, I felt that. What struck me about this action wasn’t that he was destroying his art, it’s that he kept getting up for more paper to keep trying. It was a beautiful reminder, you can hate your art, destroy it if you want, but keep turning more pages to try again.
A big part of making the step into self-employment and starting your own business in general is knowing what you’re worth. All too often I see artists and aspiring creatives pricing their work and their skills for much less than they are worth. Pricing your work and figuring out what to charge for a certain project can be one of the most difficult aspects of the self employed artist. Underpricing your work is not only harmful to yourself, but it also negatively affects the market because it lowers the value of the work around you. If you keep your pricing at a healthy rate with maybe just a slight competitive edge, it raises the value of the artist’s community as a whole.
Tips for pricing and knowing the value of your work:
Account for cost of materials as well as overhead. Know how much your supplies cost, what your overhead is such as rent, utilities, the gas it takes to get to the post office, how much it will cost to ship, and how much the packaging and shipping materials cost per item.
Be realistic about how long it took you to make something and charge for your time to be a liveable wage. This includes brainstorming the idea as well as the actual production time. Don’t discount your time because you love to do something. If you are an artist, the community as a whole needs you to be an important component to our modern day culture, don’t act like what you do isn’t important to society because art is a huge part of innovation and helping people to think outside the box, and therefore create change and progress in all aspects of our society.
Know your value at wholesale and retail prices. If you are selling a product or small runs or artwork, you want to be able to approach small businesses and boutiques that will want to sell your items at higher prices than what they bought them for. The general rule is that wholesale is half of retail, so take your numbers from the previous two tips, and that is your wholesale price, multiply that by two, and that is your retail price. Don’t sell yourself short.
This topic can go on and on, but these are the basics, and remember, it’s not about being greedy or finding fame, it’s about being able to create change in your community by offering creative and innovative services. It’s important to build growth in your own community so that it can have living and working artists that contribute to society as a whole. So on that note, let’s make 2014 and the coming years the New Renaissance! Keep working, growing, becoming inspired, and finding new solutions to our communities’ issues.