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docweathers

Narcissistic artists sell more art for more money

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18 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

You see this a lot with social media. Instagram is full of people who make good-but-not-great work yet have tens of thousands of followers because of the beauty of their images, not because of the work. The question is whether or not all those followers actually translate into sales.

They do translate into sales, but the people with like 10,000 followers and posting whimsical artistic mugs that take 8 hours to make aren't able to sustain 10,000 followers with goods.  I think it's a lot different than maybe a production potter who has a lot of things to sell but maybe aren't as "one of a kind".  So yeah you're selling a kiln load of 80 dollar mugs but they took you way longer than a production Potter selling 4 20 dollar mugs.  I think Instagram is more important for these 80 dollar art mugs and less important for production potters.

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1 hour ago, docweathers said:

My point is that there's a lot more than the art itself the controls the perceived value. Many times I have thrown a pot in my trash barrel because I didn't like it or didn't come out like I hoped to find a similar pot by a famous artist that is selling at a high price.

This is most apparent in some of the bizarre simplistic paintings that sell for millions of dollars. It's high status to own the painting of a famous artist and there's an implicit assumption that if you are a famous artist you see beyond the rest of us to some higher plane of beauty, which is BS.

So to sell your pots for more you have to do more than make better pots.

Your comment brings up an important distinction.  When someone buys a painting for millions of dollars, it is normally, I think, to a large degree an investment. When you invest in something, in the sense that resale value is a huge consideration, a lot more than aesthetics enter the calculation. 

I would have thought that almost no sales of functional pottery are about investment.  The artist may well matter in the sense that the artist's story may be part of the pleasure of using the mug, but it isn't a Jeff Koons-like situation.

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People buy things because they want to have them, for whatever "reasons." The perceived value can have many factors: quality, scarcity, beauty, relevance. Things that have been hyped up by un enduring values lose their appeal as those values inevitably change. 

There are many* potters whose work, functional and non, are collected for high prices. Some, like the Japanese National Treasures, can command large prices while they are still living. 

Generally, the more middlemen between the artists and the buyers, the higher the cost, but less of that revenue goes to the artists  (or their heirs).

 

*But still, quite a small number compared to other sculptural media and 2D.

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On 2/12/2019 at 8:22 AM, docweathers said:

I was hoping some of you would recognize my atava. It is from Michael Angelo's painting of God and Adam on the Sistine ceiling. 

So you have heard the words of God about selling pottery.

Recognized your face, but hard to say your name.

Must have missed that quote - care to enlighten us??

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On 2/12/2019 at 3:47 PM, Min said:

Throwing out another thought regarding the pricing issue, the question of narcissism or naivety. I think it takes years to actually “see” a pot. It has often been brought up how many of us wish we could take back pots from friends / family / public that we made in our early years of clay. At the time I’m sure we all thought our work was great, pots sold or were appreciated as gifts which in turn validates the work. What I think this can lead to is less experienced potters basing their prices according to what they see other potters pricing at. In their eyes the quality of their mugs etc is comparable to the more experienced potters work therefore priced comparably. Is this narcissism or inexperience? Does it matter?

Well said! I've always felt that as long as a new potter only sells professional pots then their pots will be as good as anyones. Might take a lot more potting to get 50 great pots and more complicated forms might be elusive but no excuse for a bad pot being for sale no matter how long you have been potting. I thought I understood this and have always been hard (or so I thought) on my inventory, but I recently grabbed a box and removed about 30 mugs and tumblers from the rack. My partner thought I was going a little overboard but they all some subtle flaws that got by me, not perfectly round mouths, handle a bit off-center, a small glaze defect etc... I couldn't believe they had made the 'cut' to begin with ... yet many were really nice (I'm having coffee out of one right now and its a nice mug, one of my new favorites).

Now I'm kind of back to square one on this 'seeing' a pot as you put it. I'm not really sure how 'perfect' I want my work to be. Sure I hate to lose inventory but its more than that. I'm not trying to mimic machine made pottery at all but rather make an alternative artisan made option.  Its obviously easy to closely examine each pot and toss it if it's not perfect and a poorly thrown or too heavy pot is obviously junk but how far should that go before you are kind of missing the point of hand made and just throwing out nice work?   

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I think it's interesting that there was very limited response to the core message of the research articles. The essential message was that how the artist himself presents his art affects the value of the art. (First article)  However, this can be overdone in the artist presentation and it turns into bragging. (Second article).

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10 hours ago, Stephen said:

too heavy pot is obviously junk

And yet, I go out of my way to make small bowls that often weigh well over a pound...and are only 4-7" and do not have pretty feet!  I mean, they are real clunkers! And I submit are not junk!  So there.  LOL  :rolleyes::D:P

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I’ll argue that the first article shows correlation, but doesn’t prove causation. I don’t think it looks deep enough at the whole structure that supports those results, and it seems to be reinforcing a lot of toxic myths about artists. 
 
The big failing I find is that the artists they’re talking about weren’t presenting their work: others (dealers, representatives, auction houses and galleries) were doing it on their behalf or posthumously when the works commanded those outrageous prices. 
 
Value has been created in these instances  by people other than the artist, or the inflated values, anyways. The people creating that artificial value have built it in part by playing up romantic notions about artists needing to be “visionary” and “iconoclastic” and “misunderstood.” No one wants to hear about the artist that put in a solid work day, went home to their happy marriage and family and paid all his or her bills on time. They want to idolize the tortured drama of someone’s disfunctional, womanizing, substance abusing mental breakdown that resulted in a stint in debtor’s prison because it makes a much more interesting story. 
 
If you’re talking about making your own money and setting your own prices and not the Art world doing it for you, confidence or even arrogance plays a part in that. I don’t think that a disregard for the feelings of others or the need to be the center of the universe does, which is the more clinical definition of narcissism. It probably could be argued that it could work, but it’s not a good system if you want to be a healthy human being who makes art (or pottery), and has return customers. 
 

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11 hours ago, Stephen said:

Now I'm kind of back to square one on this 'seeing' a pot as you put it. I'm not really sure how 'perfect' I want my work to be. Sure I hate to lose inventory but its more than that. I'm not trying to mimic machine made pottery at all but rather make an alternative artisan made option.  Its obviously easy to closely examine each pot and toss it if it's not perfect and a poorly thrown or too heavy pot is obviously junk but how far should that go before you are kind of missing the point of hand made and just throwing out nice work?   

So for me, if it's something I care about looking all the same, or I have made multiples to a gauge, it's pretty easy to visually pick out the smashers.  

For individual pots or things made to be unique, it's more a factor of durability and aesthetic to me.  If it looks good (rim not warped, handle not wonky) and is durable (rim not too thin, even thickness, no glaze defect) I tend to keep it.  Who knows if I'll later toss it out, but several times I've kept mugs and bowls and later fell in love with the look and made multiples.  We will see when I actually start selling or running out of space.

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Th' discussion weren't bad, tho', were it?

Not goin't'argue that the "essential message" ain' got some truth to't, nome - just brings back m m memories - bad enough that where the results are MEASURED that value/perception can be so influenced by the "presentation of self" ...ain' it? Well?

I worked in production environments, where the results are countable/measureable - it's   right   there  - an' still, the "personality" wins (up to a point, per your selection of articles). I coached swimming, over 22 years, your results are right there - the event times - an' still, too many "personalities" win (an' too many of them are abusive...).

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Four dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable have been delineated: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement. 
 

I wrote a big long discussion I had with my neighbor and lost it all.  BOOOOO.

Well, long story short: the difference between narcissistic personality disorder and confidence is pretty obvious by looking at the first paragraph here.  This is the traits of narcissism from wikipedia.

As an artist you are imparting your persona directly into an object and giving it life.  The object is you, and if you need to sell it, you need to sell yourself.  

As far as diagnosing a psycholigical disorder via signature size, it's just ridiculous.  Correlation vs. causation at it's worst.  Just look here if you're interested in how it is diagnosed.  I think it's also important to say that actual narcissists are singarly focused on their own success and admiration and have no empathy for others.  I'm sure we all know one or two, and they will burn any bridge they see as beneficial for the short term.  Of course this behavior is beneficial to the narcissist because personal relationships are only there to serve their goal.  In the real world this will quickly earn you a reputation with most as a ########, but if you have skill to back it up, and obtain a following, the stars will align. 

I do think that celebrity in general is associated with narcissistic traits.  Celebrity and narcissism reinforce each other, so it's only natural.  These are probably the most obvious examples from the study.  Whose work gets into Sotheby's or Christie's?  Really good artists, or celebrity artists?  Im sorry but this study has some really glaring holes on the surface.  The first being diagnosing mental disorders by signature size, the second being only pulling from a self selecting pool of celebrities.

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Here's some more research demonstrating that this is a general phenomenon, not restricted to the arts. I brought this whole topic up to suggest that artists could improve their income not by just improving their product by providing a more self laudatory presentation. That might be using the artsibabble language that you find art critics using. Also providing a classier display and other marketing framework. Learn to look proud of your work.

Here is a link to an article in the Atlantic that says:Chief executives with bigger signatures make more money ... but only for themselves.

Chief executives with bigger signatures make more money ... but only for themselves.

The use of signature size as a general indicator of narcissism is widely used and well established by high quality research in psychological research.

I really think that the fine refinements in the quality of work between a middle grade and a very experienced expert potter are only meaningful to other partners and not to many buyers. So spend some time learning how to sell your stuff gently and not sound like a braggart.

Edited by docweathers

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20 hours ago, LeeU said:

And yet, I go out of my way to make small bowls that often weigh well over a pound...and are only 4-7" and do not have pretty feet!  I mean, they are real clunkers! And I submit are not junk!  So there.  LOL  :rolleyes::D:P

point taken! I should have said unintentionally heavy. 

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On 2/14/2019 at 6:55 PM, LeeU said:

And yet, I go out of my way to make small bowls that often weigh well over a pound...and are only 4-7" and do not have pretty feet!  I mean, they are real clunkers! And I submit are not junk!  So there.  LOL  :rolleyes::D:P

BW 3c--.jpg

I too go for the heavy look, and fact, in my work and prefer it. 

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