What’s It Worth

by Steve Earp

Twice during the last two shows I have been asked by customers about how I place value on my work.  The second time was due to the presence at the show of another potter who makes (somewhat) similar items but at phenomenally lower prices.  As I’m generally best at coming up with replies several days later, (it helps to spend hours alone driving home from a show) here’s my stab at it.

In particular, when comparing two potters’ work where one is considerably cheaper, the question of value is relevant to both potters, ie; not just “why is yours so expensive;” but equally “why is the other’s so cheap?”

There are probably several things that could be said.  For example, given the costs involved and the nature of the art market economy, I really don’t know how we can do retail at bargain basement prices and stay in business for too long.  Or I could go into a painfully long and overly aesthetic discourse on how I try to “go the extra mile…”

But perhaps a more straight forward response would be to ask the questioner to think of the item sitting on their shelf five years from now.  Will the fact that it was “kind of cute and really cheap” be enough to care whether it collects dust in the attic?

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1 Response to “What’s It Worth”


  1. 1 toni park (GiddyGirl.Design) November 18, 2011 at 5:46 AM

    Steve, this is such a tricky situation. I think your “attic” analogy is perfect.
    I used to excitedly inform others about ways in which ceramic objects might be valued – and I’m no less excited on the subject years down the track – but I don’t push so hard anymore. I suggest that the price tag is what the piece is worth to me, what I would be willing to pay for it… What I think someone should offer me to part with it. I don’t mean to sound obnoxious. I just love what I do and know that sometimes it’s quite hard to let go of my ‘treasures’.


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