As to your question on pricing........
No, of course I haven't sold at the prices I am selling at now "back in the day". And I should not have. And if I had tried, they wouldn't have sold. (And in looking at some of my work from back then.....thank goodness!)
I can clearly remember thinking that I "knew something" about clay when I was just out of UMass. Thought my pieces were pretty darn OK. In hindsight, I realize I didn't know squat back then and my pots were very much barely "so-so". After a certain point of early learning, folks tend to think they "know stuff". Get full of themselves. It is when someone finally matures a bit and realises how darn much they DON'T know and what they CAN'T do so well that they finally are at a point to really blossom in their art work. This is the breakthrough point where the pricing can start to come up significantly becasue the WORK will then change dramatically for the positive.
As the work matures, the pricing of that work changes ("evolves" is probably the right term). So pricing DOES change.... but it is not random. And it tends to be slow-ish. Quailty of the work produced, name recognition, "fame", and all sorts of other factors figure in as this develops. As do decisions about market positioning.
Personally, I have to say that I can't make a $10 cup/mug. Even wholesale. When I look at annual potential pottery output, the physical demands on my body, the nature of my studio operation, my firing process, and the particular standards that I want to maintain for the pieces that I sell,....... it just won't work. And I've been doing this professionally for a LONG time now....... so I'm pretty decent at execution by now.
I talk about this subject with students all the time. It is the "why are you here" talk. Here you are investing in a professional education in a field and likely racking up student loans and such. You are spending money on an education. Your goal is to be a professional. You want to make a living at this. So you should look at what the standard of living for "middle class" professionals in various fields make. After investing in learning a craft well, you want some return on that investment.
It is competitive as he$$ out there in the art market. So the clay work and the other skills they need as an entrapanuer better be there. You better be GOOD! Work hard, study hard. Wring every bit out of your studies. You'll need it. And it will also come down to the "last man/woman standing" factor......persistence and determination.
Around here a totally unskilled burger flipper gets $10 an hour with some benefits. That is on 40 hours a week. It seems to me that as a skilled professional, folks should be looking at WAY more than that for an hourly AVERAGE for a year. WAY more. In this day and age, the $100 bill is the "new $20". Massive numbers of people drop $7.00 on a coffee at the drop of a hat. Daily. Going out for "a beer" Friday night will kill a $20 bill really fast. An evening at a movie almost requires a mortgage anymore.
Personally I think 'why would I want to devalue my education and skills to a level commensurate to those kinds of thoughtless expenditures that people make'? That is "throwaway money" for them. What I do is an expression of skills and vision....... I believe that people have to be aware of that fact and should realize that the work is special. Not a double shot with extra cream .
Hope those thoughts are helpful.
Chris gave a great example above. People reading this thread should take her words to heart. She's a smart cookie.