Thursday, October 9, 2008

Toot that Horn!

One of my former students Jody posted in her comment on their art pieces about not wanting to toot her own horn and my reply was ‘Toot your horn loud so everyone can hear!’  Don’t know about you but I grew up with my mother telling us “Self praise is no praise at all” and I can’t say that’s worked for me in business. You need to love your own product and be confident about it’s worth; the market will do enough on it’s moderate your claims but it won’t put you above where you put yourself.

Several things have pointed this out recently – one jewelry forum I follow, Orchid, had a long couple of discussions on two similar topics both looking at quality of materials and work - perceived and ‘real’. I contributed when I read about a maker who was using paper; having had long experience in paper it struck a note, this is what I said:

“I'm firmly in the camp of those who feel what you invest in your work is it's true value whether you make it from "precious", "base" or anywhere in-between materials. However, what the market values it at can be a surprise and I've had it happen both ways.

In response to Rhonda's concern over paper - as a past papermaker making sheet paper, plant fibre jewelry, paper mache ornaments, art, etc I sympathise with your predicament - we gave up our business largely because we had set out to make items that were affordable but not cheap and we found two things - they were expensive to make in terms of our time and the market did not value them very much as most people thought "this is just paper". Yes, I also second the crafts for your kids effect! I even had one lady tell me how suitable my items would be for "retarded" kids to make! I was quite hurt, even though I tried to brush it off!

Truth is, we had presented an image to the market that also undervalued our work - we presented it as craft not art. Another producer presented their far less well-made (technically and materials content) items as art and sold theirs easily for much higher prices. Their marketing presentation and sales style beat ours by far. Some people may see it as deceptive, but it's the reality of our world.

It's a fickle world out there in the market. All sorts of things can affect what money you can get for your work - finding that balance between your costs, value you truly feel comfortable assigning your work and what the market will bear is often difficult but as many have testified here, if you are sure of yourself then you will find your customers and/or they will find you.

Personally, how I value something depends entirely and only on the connection I feel with it whether it's paper or platinum (the latter which I can't afford anyway) and I try to buy ethically but often it's hard to tell. Yes, if I'm looking for an investment for retirement, then I'd be more concerned with market value. My work follows my personal value system and I have no doubt my customers are out there for me.”

There’s obviously limits to what value you can claim for certain things – if you are already famous, then just the fact that you made something can give it immense value beyond a similar item made by an ordinary person. The unavoidable point is, essentially, you have to feel famous and work assiduously towards that status – you have to toot your own horn, but not just that, you’ve also got to know how to toot, who you’re tooting at and the tune your tooting like the back of your hand, then you’ll get the response you’re looking for.

And on that note, I have started another blog – Explore Arts – there’s a link to it at the top left of the page. It’ll have arts and crafts projects and tutorials posted about once a week. Take a look-see.

So, it’s easy to keep track of when I post and not miss anything if you subscribe to RSS (you can use Google Reader which is free or any other free reader) or you can subscribe to get emails of when I post (I’ll have that on the Explore Arts later today).

Alphabet Attitude for Today: U is for Uncover – let your light shine!

OOPs :D and since we should have a NEW letter today, lets do V is for Victorious - how we feel when we get it right!

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting reading your blog entries. Miss you in the lunch room!