I've been selling my jewellery for what seems like forever. I feel like I've learned lots over this time, that I've grown as an artist. But mostly, it's been hard. I guess the latest lesson has been to value my work. That may seem like a strange thing to say, given I have just marked down most of my jewellery.
For many years now I have attempted to treat my art as a business. I read every blog, every business tip out there, I did the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (an Australian Government small business assistance plan), worked hard at getting my jewellery into shops and galleries. I did ok, but it was never successful and after NEIS ended I felt very disheartened. Ok, truth be told I had a minor break down. There is nothing that breaks you down as an artist quite like being told your work is overpriced. Its even harder to hear when its coming from gallery and shop owners who expect the right to take 30% or more. Its hard to stay positive when you can't sell your work.
So, over the last few months I've been really looking at where my time and energy has been going with this. I've had a massive creative block for close on a year now and I can see its tied in with how I feel about my art. Working from the soul, and creating one-off work just doesn't seem to be 'commercially viable'. But really, that's not the point. I want to create something you wear with pride, not just for a season. I have been doing this a very long time, I'm not a newbie. I am experimenting all the time, but that doesn't mean my work is somehow poorly finished. I love nothing more than custom work, creating something someone has dreamed up.
So why the mark downs?
I have had my jewellery in several shops and galleries over the years while also selling online, and so I've had my prices at 30% commission prices online (roughly, some more or less depending on how salable I felt they were) to make sure my work was selling for the same price everywhere. In some situations this meant I was making a very slim profit, as the commission was 50%. But as I have realised that in the last year nothing has been selling in these shops and galleries, and I don't have the time to create (or follow up) like I used to, I'm turning all my attention online. It will (hopefully) give me more freedom to focus on creating for love, not on how affordable it is or if I will cover my costs.
So, hopefully change is a good thing once again. I already feel lighter, less pressured. Time to go with the flow I think.