Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PEN-CRAFT - Art of Price, Price of Art

                             The article in the PEN-CRAFT series

Silver Venetian Mask by KeshiJewelry
 Just about any local fair. The proverbial Smiths: Sally and her Sweety Pie with two kids. Chicken burger, chicken mac, chicken drums, chicken God-knows-what, fries, pork BBQ, sausages, pint of ale, coke, juice, fizzy water. Total balance – $95.99 
Satisfying the vernacular needs, one would say? Oh no – Ray-Ban, Longines, Louis Vuitton, DG, CK, TH… – Sweet Lord! All genuine!
- ‘Look Honey, that's so sweet. So cute’…..’How much for this picture?’
- ‘100 $.’
- ‘What a rip-off!’– pondering for a longer while – ‘How long did it take you? Not more than 1 or 1.5 hours I bet?....’
- ‘Well….some 2 hours….’
- ‘I'd buy this for 70$ ’… - turning to her Buttercup – ’Even I don't make 75$ per hour as a Key Corporate Financial Asset Analyst!’

Cat portrait on a stick by inameliart
I would not pay a hundred for the picture too, if you ask me… and not for 70$ either. I just didn't like it. It was something else that struck me – how do people get the idea of appraising art and craft (regardless of its true value) by the amount of man-hours? Why wouldn't anyone ask how much was actually the highly processed pseudo-meat used to make the ham sold at your favourite chain store? Has the value of child labour somewhere in Taiwan ever crossed your mind when buying yet another iThis or iThat?

Raw Stone Necklace by KABURA
In case of art or crafts that have a real flesh-and-bone creator, with his or her real fingers, hands, legs and all other skilled limbs, such valuation-themed questions are asked more often than naught. Is it the direct, so to speak, hands-on experience with the perpetrator of the desired object that arises such doubts? Is it in this kind of circumstances that we take to measure the artist's efforts with our 8, 10 or 12 hour office day? Or perhaps the impersonal factory-corporation-brand-chain offers us the primal feeling of security and belonging a single individual may not guarantee. Something like a contemporary substitute for religion-related behaviours. 

Red bird necklace by fireanna
What other explanation would you propose for our readiness to buy a millionth copy of a mug branded by a global coffee shop rather than a handmade unique specimen made and sold by the same potter. And that is in spite of the fact that the price of both is similar. Or are we frozen in the bliss of the 19th century mass production ideals, which was supposed to free humanity from poverty and starvation once and for all? You could risk a claim that the very same mug made by the very same potter would sell at ZaraHome like hot cakes. Double price!


  1. What pisses me off is that indeed, the picture itself might have taken 2 hours, but there is also the being in the fair for a day (and not making any drawings yet you are not paid to be there, you have to pay someone for that) and lots of other things you do to make your artwork "work" that are not obvious.

  2. So, the only thing we can do is just educate people...


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