Rock/Hard Place

When I was at the Refinery this morning, retagging all four scarves that didn't sell at their special show and reworking the paperwork, a woman came in to browse in the gallery shop, did the rounds, picked up an artist's business card, and rang the artist as she was walking out the door. I didn't hear the rest of the conversation.

Goodness knows it's hard to make a living in art/craft, but then I'm not naive enough to imagine she called him to, errr, congratulate him on his lovely work with such urgency. I, too, have been asked for a lower price than gallery prices but I don't undercut galleries, and if/when ever I open up an online shop I will put the same price for like items, and/or make something very different, real one-offs.

As aficionados, a lower price is always nice, and I get a kick out of meeting the people who made an item I like. But then as makers and buyers, there is bad manners, isn't there?

When I was away, the second, (I think) Art Expo took place in Nelson. I went to have a look last year at their inaugural, and it was big and crowded and had a lot of paintings. My understanding is, the people who took over the old Arts Marketing hosts this, but I haven't kept up with them. If the group/event felt craft-friendly in my view, I may have considered taking part in the good old Martin Rodgers days. What I've been hearing on the grapevine is, the Expo as a whole did good business and some artists made a killing, but galleries in town are struggling as a result.

The thing is, we makers have to sell our work and make money. And it's not a bad thing for makers to talk to people and gauge what they are after, even if "they" (and it's always "they" and now "we") have bad taste, don't understand what we're doing, or heaven forbid, think it takes just a couple of hours to weave a small scarf; I know we've all heard this.

But still, as suppliers I think we have an ethical responsibility. Galleries selling my work know me and my work to varying extent, and I stay in touch with them to let them know my thinking behind a series or what I've been thinking. Galleries in general work hard to present pieces/makers as unique/personal to seduce visitors to part with their money. Mine are my agents.

I repeat, I don't know the rest of the conversation from this morning. Maybe the lady wanted something bigger, or in red; maybe she just wanted to see where he works. Maybe the artist told her he can't possibly withdraw the work from the gallery and sell it to her for less. Maybe they went to grade school together for all I know. But I can't deny there is the possibility a maker gets deposited between a rock and a hard place. And they come without warning.

End rant.


margery meyers haber said...

A very good rant, Meg.

Laura Fry said...

I don't sell at a lower price from my studio either. Doesn't help anyone but the buyer. :(

Meg said...

On the one hand, I feel a smidgen of sympathy; times are hard, only a very select few makers can make a living in NZ whereas we DO love to give one-off hand-made gifts. On the other, and I can't emphasize this enough, it is SO simple and straight-forward; be ethical, both sides!!!

Anonymous said...