Welcome to Our Nonprofit Site . . .

We are glad you found your way to our site. All images on this site are copyrighted, and if you want to use any of them, you need written permission from us. Enjoy our site! - Anne Copeland, Director

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Are You Really Earning With Your Art?

You have made a sale, and you feel rightfully good about it.  You may have priced your work by the square foot and it seems to be a decent amount. In your own area, your work may not sell for much more. Although it is a consistent way you can create a value, may be an inadequate method, for basically what you are looking at with that method is how much time it takes to create a square foot of work.  But that square foot is not the total time involved in making the piece.
The following table gives you a clear idea of what you are actually making an hour for your work based on the number of hours you have put into it.The top row of dollar amounts (thousands) is the total you might earn, and how that boils down in terms of how many hours you put into it. Might be good before you get too excited about that sale to see how much you REALLY earned.
Artwork, "Wabi Sabi" by Anne Copeland

Total Hrs Total Days $1,200     $1,800     $2,500   $2,800     $3,200    $3,500    $3,800    $4,200 
100             8           $12.00    $18.00     $25.00    $28.00     $32.00    $35.00    $38.00    $42.00
200           17             $6.00      $9.00     $12.50    $14.00     $16.00    $17.50    $19.00    $21.00
300           25             $4.00      $6.00       $8.33      $9.33     $10.67    $11.67    $12.67    $14.00
400           33             $3.00      $4.50       $6.25      $7.00       $8.00      $8.75      $9.50   $10.50
500           42             $2.40      $3.60       $5.00      $5.60       $6.40      $7.00      $7.60     $8.40
600           50             $2.00      $3.00       $4.17      $4.67       $5.33      $5.83      $6.33     $7.00

When you are looking at the time it takes to create your art, you need to consider the actual design work, the time spent selecting the fabric and other materials, as well as any time preparing the materials to work with them.  You also need to be taking into account the dollar amount spent for equipment (even if you have used it for many quilts), electricity, and all other expenses related to the creation of the piece. And there is time spent setting up your machine and other equipment before you even start sewing.  If you keep accurate time of your actual work related to the piece, you may be surprised to learn how many hours you have actually spent. You may have taken classes or purchased special books to gain the skills to make your art.  Those costs should be divided across the number of pieces you create and sell in a year.  Other expenses such as professional services (quilting, binding, etc.), slides, postage for mailing, insurance, taxes, and of course commissions, ultimately need to be deducted.

The more original your design and the more complex, the more you should receive for your work.  Why should someone making original art be paid the same wage as someone working at MacDonald's?

Some artists claim that their quilts would not sell if they were to raise their prices. Yet at the same time, there seems to be an unwillingness to move out into the wider world of mixed media, and to explore alternative marketing methods.

Quilters, whether art quilters or regular traditional or contemporary quilters, are certainly no longer making quilts in the same ways they once were.  Techniques and technology have vastly improved, enabling quilters to make some of the finest quilts since the beginning of the 20th century.  So why should values remain for the most part static? I cannot think of any other thing that has not gone up in price even though the items themselves are not necessarily made as well as they once were (unlike art quilts), or with the same quality of materials they were in the past (again, unlike art quilts). So why should art quilts not advance in price too?

One solution is for quilt artists to continue to explore new quilt sales venues.  Join your local non-art-quilt associations and actually attend the meetings.  When an opportunity to exhibit in a mixed media environment comes up, take it.  Form support groups of art quilters and discuss alternatives to get more money for your work. There ARE alternatives, both in the markets you approach and the means you provide for people to purchase your art. But first and foremost, you have to get it in your mind that your time and work is worth more.