This is a follow up to my popular blog post on how to price craftwork. There I argued that context was everything and that price can not be separated from context. There is I think an idea in the craft world that things have some form of inherent value, some things unquestionably achieve higher prices or are in more demand. Often shortage of supply causes prices to shoot up just look at the difference in price between a 15 year old and 46 year old bottle of Balvenie whisky.

balvenie-46-year-old-1968-cask-7293-the-balvenie-dcs-compendium-chapter-one-whiskyIs one really worth more than 200 times the other? is it to do with any objective measure of quality? clearly the 46 yr old is very special but most of that price differential comes down to context and very limited supply. There are people out there disposable income who love to own something of quality or have amazing experiences that they know few other folk can afford.

Here are two experiments from the worlds of art and music that show just how important context is. If ever I begin to feel overly proud of my work I try to imagine it sat in a cardboard box in a car boot fair and wonder whether anyone would pick it out as being anything special. No people are buying my work because they like what I do, how I present it and they want to support me and I am very grateful for that.

So the music experiment, would a great concert violinist playing a £3.5million Stradivarius be recognised if they played in a subway?

more details here  

And the art experiment, here is street artist Bansky who’s pieces sell for tens of thousands of dollars selling original paintings on a stall in Central park. Devoid of the usual art world context they are suddenly worth $60 but even at that most folk don’t buy.

I have friends that think that it is somehow dirty to try to add value to their craftwork by marketing, that it’s somehow more worthy if the customer discovers the craftsperson, fights their way to the door then begs them to sell them something. Well if you want to play a £3.5 Million Strad to nobody or fail to sell Banksy’s for $60 go right ahead. The truth is everybody is doing some form of marketing, we are none of us selling at the cardboard box at a car boot fair price, like it or not marketing is part of the job of being a craftsperson in the 21st century, do you want to do your job well or badly?

Author Robin Wood

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