Exchange of Energy

Many artists have trouble pricing their work. The struggle to balance a price that will sustain your effort and will be reasonable for your clients can be extremely difficult. The topic comes up often, especially when I speak to younger artists.

I began to view the process as an exchange of energy. The energy I put into a piece should be equal to the energy put into acquiring the piece by someone else - whether by trade of goods, services or currency. If someone connects with the work on a deep level, they will be willing to match the energy.

Society has an interesting way of placing value on objects. I find it most interesting to speak with people about Simply Wood Rings (simplywoodrings.com), my wooden ring company. Recently, at the Green Festival in Chicago, I had a man approach our booth. His expression was similar to most when they first view the work. It turns out there's an evolution of responses that usually occurs in the same sequence. It goes something like this:

Confusion > Curiosity > Understanding > Joy!

Once in a while we'll have a phenomenon that occurs after the 'Joy!' phase. Shock and anger. This is usually due to the price of the ring. The man at the Green Fest said something to the effect. "Wait! This isn't three dollars and twenty five cents? How can you justify asking more than $50 for a piece of wood?"

Well, it just so happens that these are created at a small local business. The wood is cut, milled, wrapped, inlayed, finished, packaged, shipped and maintained for life and this is all done by hand! The energy put into the rings is reflected in the price, all the man could see was a hunk of wood. So the value he placed on the wood was very low, however if it was a ring made of gold the price probably would have seemed more reasonable. Value is an interesting construct of society. As the man saw it the monetary value of the ring was not equal to the energy value. 

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