It makes me uncomfortable to talk about money. Especially when it comes to my own work. I guess on some level I feel I shouldn't have to explain myself or that it is unsavory for an Artist to talk about it. Perhaps it is but I feel it is important to offer some explanation of why things are priced the way that they are. If I don't talk about it then how will anyone know?
I know that people often suffer "sticker shock" when they see the prices on my work. I have been selling my work professionally for thirteen years now so I have a pretty good idea of what people expect to pay when they see an object that is made from clay. Especially if it is in the shape of a bowl, vase or plate. Even I do it. I have that preconceived notion in my head too, equating function with frugality. So when someone writes to me and asks "I would like to buy your large bowl, how much is it?" and I tell them $320. Often times I get no response in return which I interpret as "it is so expensive... How can she charge so much for just a...bowl?!" I have read it on blogs too, I love her work but it is too expensive for my budget. I understand that it is shocking and this does not upset me, $320 for anything requires some thinking about before splashing out.
What goes into the making of those ceramic bowls, vases and plates is a lot more work than usually meets the eye. Anyone who has taken just one pottery course usually gains an immediate appreciation for the labor that goes into making ceramics. I often hear things like..."I took a pottery class intending to make all of my Christmas presents and all I ended up with is an ashtray...and I don't even smoke!" Any object successfully made out of clay is highly deceiving. That is the beauty of the medium. It gives off the air of simplicity, ease, some say a calmness but in truth the mastery of making things from clay that look that way require an immense amount of skill. People who work with clay do it because they love it and also because there is a bit of the masochist in them. When people say to me you must be so happy to "play with clay" I want to well ... scream. I rarely "play with clay" and really it is not respectful to the craft. In fact I heard Oprah say it the other day (did I just admit that I watch Oprah!?) while she was doing a spot on Jonathan Adler. He just smiled and was gracious but I wondered if that statement made his blood boil just a little. Anyone who is serious about the medium knows that there is nothing playful about it at all. The outcome may look playful in some cases but what goes into making it is a whole lot of work. Plain and simple...work!
When it takes me hours to make, paint, etch and glaze just one piece and then throw it into a kiln, not just once but twice and it may or may not turn out that is what goes into the cost. Also consider the cost for studio space, equipment, materials, education on top of the hours spent making the work. Honestly I don't think any ceramic artist/potter ever charges enough when you compare the hours they put into making their work to lets say a lawyer or a computer programmer. Those are professional realms where people rarely question their hourly wage. (we don't like how much they charge, but never the less we accept it). Even though those services provide as much function in our lives as the bowl we eat our cereal out of every day.