Hamburgers

So I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of making what people want. Not like ‘make it in blue’ or what ever but make items that people want. This was reinforced by my last outing to a craft show and seeing all the lively sellers, contrasting them with the withdrawn and slightly hostile sellers. Putting aside attitudes, good attitudes compared to bad, I thought about the fact that people selling a lot were making things that people want. This directly contradicts my BFA (I skipped an MFA, you sell or you don’t. I have never been interested in teaching.) indoctrination; to wit, You must make what you must make, make what you are moved to make, THIS IS ART. So the fact that 95% of people who get an art degree work in other fields is a given.

Tonight I was reading around and stumbled across this, http://ittybiz.com/selling-what-people-want-to-buy/ Now it might seem obvious to make things that people want but to me, the slow one, it has come after almost 25 years of beating around the bush.  In a world, the art world, where sales and awareness of the market are four letter words it is difficult to conceptualize what it means to make what people want. The big contradiction is that most artists, I throw ceramicists into this group, are gung-ho to find a gallery owner that will toot their horn, sell their work but are rabidly against doing it by themselves. Not across the board but in general.

How does this translate to the work I am doing now.

I am now making large platters and bowls, about 35-40 cm or jars larger than 60cm. in height. They are a challenge and interesting to make but I am also packing away some of the same I made before that I didn’t sell. The thought I have had lately is on pricing. During my last craft outing I adjusted some of my prices down to see if I would sell more. Now I have never thought price sensitivity is a big problem. My experience at the craft show says there is a problem. I am thinking about either setting a target price I want to achieve for a kiln load and doing prices accordingly, adjusting everything so I can make a living wage on firing say twice a year or some other method to start moving more work. If I do that I wonder if I will still qualify for my “artist” license. I once read an interview of George Clinton. He said he would flip hamburgers if it would keep his children from going hungry. The mighty Clinton saying that really impressed me. I am not close to flipping hamburgers but maybe I can think more about what people want.

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