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I have recently retired teaching art and now want to work more seriously in my own studio. I have sold things here and there over the years but tended to share my work as gifts. Now that I have the time I want to put things in a few galleries and shows. I am at a loss with pricing. Anyone have any guidelines with prices?? or what to expect as far as consignment percentages?

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I am pasting this from a reply I wrote in the discussion about what your time is worth.


Pricing is a stumbling block for most potters ... experienced or newbies. We have fabulous potters just about giving their work away because they are afraid to raise their prices or they don't recognize the worth of it or they want to make pots everyone can afford ... etc ... and newbies charging way too much or too little.

You can't charge by time ... heck if that worked, people who did cross stitching or tatted lace would be millionaires ... and the reverse ... if you can throw a bowl or create a sketch in five minutes should it only cost a dollar?

Raw materials doesn't work either ... our raw materials are too inexpensive.

The best course for most potters is to take a "WAKE UP" tour of your local mall shops and department stores and check out what they are getting for machine made stuff. Yikes! They ask that price even though they make ten thousand of them. Crate and Barrell and Williams Sonoma don't even blush when they ask that price for imported production wares.

And notice something else ... more and more of them are trying to look hand made ... little flaws, glazing unevenness, childlike art. They know people want hand made.

So notice this work and ask how yours measures up. Maybe drop into a pottery shop and check out the level of skill there and decide if you are at that level. Ask yourself what you think of the prices and if it would be worth it for you to make similar items at that price. How much product could you make in a month and would you be able to pay your bills if you charged that much or only got 50% of that price due to wholesale or consignment fees. (Consignment fees are regularly 50%, sometimes 40%)

Many potters I speak to are scared of wholesale even though it is a very convenient way to earn your living. It is a viable option and should not be trashed without consideration. You just sit home and make wares ... ship them out ... someone else sells them 24 hours a day and deals with the customers. The reluctance to give up half their money stops the thought from proceeding to the math of finding out you can still make money at the price you decide is wholesale. Believe me, it is a lot more pleasant than sitting in a booth fielding customer comments.B)

I also have more information on my website regarding "marketing your work to galleries".

Whatever choice you make approach pricing as a project ... something to research, think about and learn. Then re-think and re-learn if your work sells or doesn't.

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First I agree with everything Chris said. Pricing is a tricky and vague subject, even for veterans sellers. My advice is to decide on the types of galleries and shows that you want to try, then spend some time hoofing it to these venues and looking at all the other pottery, paying close attention to the prices. My other advice is to just go ahead and accept that this will always feel like guessing to some extent, and you will spend the rest of your pottery life tweaking and adjusting your prices, trying to get it right.


As for consignment percentages, 50% is normal, sometimes you can get more than that, but never accept less. Consignment comes with a lot of pitfalls. I think it's ok if you are just starting out with galleries. But if your work gains some traction, stand up for your rights and do wholesale only.


We may have discussed the problems with consignment on this forum before. Or if anyone wants to share advice (or warnings) about it, please do!


I wrote about my last consignment gallery on my blog a few years ago ....





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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest JBaymore

Thank you so much for posting this John ...


No problem. I thought is was well done and worth sharing here in the "Business" section. It cuts to the chase.





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