Getting ready for a local art show/sale, I communed with some fellow potters concerning pricing.  As expected, I received both high and low recommendations, both with reasonable and logical thought.  I opted for the lower end and received some comments at the sale about my work being under priced.  But I appreciated one comment more than others from a lady who thanked me for making my work accessible to those that could not afford the majority of items at the sale.

I enjoy making things from clay, but I also want others, who enjoy what I do, to be able to afford it; therefore, my current approach to pricing.  I do have the advantage that I am a hobby potter and only have to reclaim my cost; I don’t have to earn an income to support myself.      

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Comment by Carl Ray Crutchfield on January 1, 2014 at 6:07am

did some "research" this AM on ETSY.  Cheapest mug I could fine made by potter was 6.00 plus 6.00 shipping, most expensive was 60.00 plus 6.00 shipping.  interesting that the very cheapest and most expensive mugs overall were commercially produced.  Assuming you ignore the shipping cost if these were sold at a show, 6.00 - 60.00 is the range.  Looking over what was for sale at the show in which I participated, my price was the lowest at 10.00, highest price I saw by another potter was 28.00.  Mine were not mugs, rather cups at 8 ounces.  Not sure what any of that means.  Did note that some of the ones at the sale were very poorly crafted, another issue entirely that bothers me more than price.  The attitude that hand made warrants high price regardless of craftsmanship seems to be rather widespread.

Comment by Norm Stuart on December 31, 2013 at 11:08pm

Have you seen the price of ceramics from Viet Nam. Admittedly most of it is slip-cast, but with a beautiful artistic shape and eye-popping glazes being sold for $17.  If it weren't against my ceramicist principles I'd have bought some myself.

Not too long ago one out of every eight adult Californians had a real estate license.  And real estate agents don't have the same steep start-up costs that potters do.

Comment by George Lewter on December 31, 2013 at 10:31pm

Consider the economics. If there are 20 professional potters for every hobby potter, then the hobby potter selling low has little effect in the marketplace. If the proportions are reversed and most of the pottery is priced below what can generate income, then hobby potters could actually be forcing professional potters out of business. This hypothesis is simplistic, in that there are a wide range of skill levels exhibited by hobbyists and for potters who strive to make a living with their clay creations. And quality probably does have some effect on how salable the work may be, as well as what prices it might command.

I believe there is a fairly large quantity of under-priced pottery in the marketplace that is exerting downward pressure on pottery prices in general. It probably does drive some (or a lot of) people away from this uniquely satisfying profession. At the same time it forces professional potters to step up to the next level, so they can stand clearly above the crowd, and justify higher prices. 

Unfortunately, marketing acumen does not seem to go hand-in-hand with the artistic temperament. The satisfaction of "giving" our creations to people who like them, but can't afford them is what we marketing dunces are left with. We can always put on a red suit, and say ho, ho, ho, and really get into the spirit of giving.


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