Updated: May 13, 2019
A while back I asked the question, “How much would you charge for a piece that took 15 hours to make?” in my Instagram stories. And honestly, I was surprised by the answers I received! They ranged wildly from $40 to $500, with one person even telling me that that’s too much time to invest in a single piece and other people saying they’d charge a lower price, even though they know their time is worth more.
Over the past few months, the topic of charging for your time and value has come up on Instagram. I’ve loved hearing makers thoughts and learning from the community. It’s also made me realize I’m not accurately pricing my work based on the time it takes me to complete a piece. While my pieces range in size and design, each one is a unique piece of art that takes hours to make because I believe in quality and detail.
So how do you accurately price your work? Katie of Salato Designs shared that she uses the formula $20/hr + 4x material costs. Does this formula work for everyone? Probably not, but it's good to have a base hourly price and add in costs for materials. I've had other makers share with me that they have a standard base price for a design and then charge an hourly price on top of that.
Markets are where I make a majority of my sales and I often get asked two questions. One: how long it takes me to create a design and two: why aren’t my designs priced by size. The simple answer to both these questions is that each design is unique and takes a different amount of time to create which is why each piece is priced differently.
I’m not great at keeping track of exactly how many hours I put into each piece and I find it rude when people ask this question. I know they're not trying to imply criticism or devalue my time, which is why I can often be heard politely explaining that my pricing is based on design and time. But this frustrates me, because they don't ask these same questions of the candle makers, pie bakers, or painter. I also wouldn't walk into an art gallery and ask how long it took a painter or sculptor to make their piece of art and why they’re charging $3,000 for it. Because embroidery and fiber arts are handmade and traditionally women’s work it seems like buyers feel they can question the time it takes to create a piece and the overall price.
There have been so many times when someone explains how much they love my work, then look at the price and tell me it's too expensive. And others where attendees share how they know how much time and energy goes into each piece, yet when they see the price they laugh.
I make all of my designs because I am passionate about fiber arts. This passion, however, doesn’t mean I am going to devalue my work by not charging for my time. From now on, I am trying to do better at accurately accessing the time each piece takes to create and pricing accordingly.
When we as a small business arts community accurately charge for our time we uplift each other. We help others see the value in our work. We support our community so that it can grow and flourish. Value your time and your worth as an artist. Don't let anyone make you feel badly for pricing what you think is appropriate.