First, the news: I’m participating in VivaWoman’s July VivaBella Giveaway. Amongst a slew of other beauty products and accessories, one of two lucky winners could be wearing my Khloris Earrings, which I originally retired but remade especially for this event. Check out the post to find out how to qualify.
Now that that’s out of the way… here are some humble personal opinions I really can’t bottle up any longer.
I’ve never believed in selling off my work at a discount just for clearance’s sake. That’s why I’ve been running giveaways, and not sales. In fact, if something hasn’t sold for a while, I’d be more inclined to keep it for myself, give it away or even take it apart to reuse the components, but not to try and hawk it off at half price or something. What sort of message would that convey about my work? That I myself don’t even like it that much and am desperate to get rid of it? That I insist on pushing my work onto you? That I padded the pricing enough to still be able to live with myself after a discount? That the value of a piece of art (yeah I know it’s subjective) can be so easily chopped and changed? Etc etc. Maybe I’m biased but I can’t really think of any positives, please help me here.
I’ve been asked many times whether I’ll have a sale, or even just very directly “can I have a discount?” – I suppose buyers just try their luck because they want to get more (perceived) value for money? What a lot of people do not appreciate is that indie crafters (and there are many who constantly underprice their gorgeous work, it’s painfully saddening) typically don’t have the same devoted sales & marketing department or wholesale clout or practice the crazy markups that big retailers do. That’s why shops can afford to have several sales each year and still make money (or not, I don’t know – some shops’ merchandisers definitely need to be fired). We do, however, take great pride in our productions and they are made with the love, care and creative spirit you just can’t buy from dingy little sweatshops. But the sad truth is also that we now live in a world where there is always a sale going on at any time (offline or on), so consumers are used to being able to buy cheaply-produced mass market goods at 10-20% off on a normal basis.
Trent posted this and updated it a couple of days ago to include his views on the giving-away-music-for-free vs the pay-what-you-want model in the music industry – it resonated deeply and I feel would be applicable to any form of art in general:
This is your art! This is your life! It has a value and you the artist are not putting that power in the hands of the audience – doing so creates a dangerous perception issue. If the FEE you are charging is zero, you are not empowering the fan to say this is only worth an insultingly low monetary value.
Most people will try to get away with what they can; only a very small minority is socially aware enough to be a conscious consumer. But an artist needs to maintain integrity, self-respect and self-worth in order to continue his chosen path. I mean, that’s why you are stepping out and doing your own thing, instead of being cooped in an office doing what your boss demands or what society dictates or expects. Or at least, that’s a scenario some of us aspire to.
Obviously, people are going to feel differently from me – I do believe it all depends on one’s own personal objectives (more revenue? higher profit? brand awareness? artistic recognition? just a pastime?), so I’m not out to condemn anyone. As long as you do things on your own terms – not because it’s what other people are doing – and you are happy doing it.