Nanban kiln, lunch and disintermediation and a strange bug.

I realized yesterday as I was looking through a antiques store in Naramachi that what I have been interpreting as a collapse of the Imari market, save the higher end, is actually the process of disintermediation. The trend setter is being bypassed by the Internet. The buyers on the Internet are deciding what is ‘fashionable’ and what they are willing to spend on it. From the perspective of a seller of antiques or handmade ceramics it looks like a problem but it actually pans out as a great opportunity.

The store I was in yesterday is run by a guy I know from antiques auctions. He is an Imari specialist and since I like and am studying Imari I occasionally go into his store and make a nuisance of myself. I compare the prices he has for his work for what I am getting when I sell on Ebay. I don’t put Imari on Ebay I like and know to be worth more than what Ebay will support. I put it in my Go Antiques store.  The realization I had is his store is a great example of a ‘mediated’ venue. Of course the guy knows a lot about Imari but the prices are more reflective of what the customer is willing to pay for his knowledge. In the world of Ebay the prices reflect what the non-specialist is willing to pay for pieces they decide are worthwhile. Stripped of the knowledge base. That isn’t to say there aren’t collectors scouring Ebay. The opposite. But the venue allows a transaction that is direct, no mediator.

This is the same great opportunity for artists. The opportunity to present ones work without the traditional mediator, i.e., the gallery owner. There is a corollary to this. Price. Just as the mediated Imari is more expensive the mediated ceramics are too. I have been experimenting with price and found some very interesting things. My opinion is that there is a basic problem in pricing work as an individual the same as a gallery would. That means my work has to become cheaper. Ouch. But not really. On a recent visit to Morioka Shigeyoshi I got a furnace blast of insight into what it means to keep work instead of selling it. He has more work in stock than he could possibly sell in his or his children’s lifetime. I am working to figuring out a formula on pricing that will make those that buy my work  and me happy.

Lunch was falafel made from scratch.


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