Some days, I love the freelance thing, it makes me feel like I'm my own boss (even if I am working for someone else), and I love the flexibility, and I love being able to work at home in the basement, listening to NPR and hanging with the dog. But some weeks, when I'm trying to line up work and get contracts and committments, I want to tear my hair out and scream. That's what's been going on the last few weeks - lots of hair-tearing and screaming.
Well, I don't have any new photos to post yet, but I should have a few fairly soon.
Last Sunday, I went up to the Hannukah Bazaar at temple. I was really excited to be back there for my third year in a row, and it was my best year ever for the event. I really like seeing everybody from temple and meeting new people, and Lynn brought Isaac and I sort of baby sat while she took Caroline to religious school and then over to Nutcracker rehearsal. And yesterday, I did my first-ever show at the Guy Brewster Hughes Gallery on Main Street in the Lake Placid Public Library. Louise, the gallery manager, had warned me that some days when they hold these events, no one has any sales at all. I assured her it was all in the marketing of the event. If you don't let people know you're having the event, you won't have any sales! Well, nothing much happened in the morning, until about noon. I started to get hungry, so I told Louise and her daughter Mary Anne that I was going to walk down to Soulshine Bagel and get some lunch. The day after Thanksgiving, Main Street was packed, and I stood in line for a long time. A really long time. Until I saw Mary Anne appear at the door in a total panic, and she said, "Jen, you've got to come back now, there's someone who wants to buy your jewelry!" So, I went running back up the street to the library, thinking, this was probably only a $35 sale or something, but I wanted to make sure I didn't lose it. So, I get in there, look over at the table full of the ready-to-wear line, and see that lots of it is GONE! Then this woman comes over and plunks down 4 necklaces, one of which was a $185 piece made with antique Ethiopian Tribal Silver! She bought nearly $400 worth of my jewelry like it was NOTHING! Which leads to my latest thoughts about art and life and jewelry and pricing...
I've said this before on other forums, and I'll say it again. Craft artists or fine artists should not be targeting the same market that shops at Wal-Mart. The thing that irritates me the most is seeing artists who make beautiful work and underprice it because they are afraid to charge for their time. Time is everything. Time is money. It has taken me YEARS to perfect my technique and develop my style, and I'll be damned if I'm just gonna give it away. I wish other artists felt that way as well, because when they are afraid to charge for their time, they are doing those of use who do feel our time is valuable immeasurable harm. Firstly, they are giving consumers the idea that what we do is not valuable. My father has the same problem - when someone else out there can set up your computer for less than he charges, people get a diminished sense of value. Secondly, they are selling themselves short as well, while at the same time making it harder for artists like me who are trying to make a decent, honest living from our art to make a decent, honest living. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, "But why is it so much?" I usually answer quite bluntly that while many artists do not charge for their time, I do, because my time is valuable to me. The bottom line, lesson learned from my customer yesterday who purchased all that great jewelry without blinking: if they complain about your prices, they aren't your market. And if your market is the luxury market, great! Welcome aboard! Because sometimes I forget, living up here in an area where a "good" salary is minimum wage, that there are whole cities out there, full of people who still drive SUVs despite the price of gas and who do have surplus cash to spend on goods and services like mine.
There. I'll get off my soap box now. But I would love to hear from anyone who has encountered anything similar or even anyone who disagrees with me. This is just one of my pet peeves, and lately, it's coming to the fore. It just seems that more and more people are searching for "bargains" - take the crazy people who lined up at 3:00 a.m. yesterday outside of department stores to buy video games and leather handbags. But what they're missing out on is a sense of worth, and a sense of contributing to something bigger.
Okay, that's it. Now I've got to go upstairs and make some tomato soup for dinner.