Monday, November 19, 2012

No Worries / Silencing the Inner Critic

I hope my last post didn't come off as negative! I was actually feeling pretty good, in the way that a moment of clarity can make you feel, even if the conclusion you reach isn't the one you hoped for.

I didn't mean to be mysterious or foreboding about my upcoming change; all I've decided - although it still seems like a pretty big deal in my head - is that I am not charging NEARLY enough, not nearly. In the new year I will be increasing prices for most items by 40 - 100%. Maybe more, I need to do some math to come up with the actual numbers.This is intimidating for a couple of reasons, one internal and one external. Externally, it will probably mean connecting with all new vendors: I don't know if any of the stores currently carrying my work can sell the price points that I am talking about. I have a list in my head of higher-end outlets to approach, and will need to assemble a set of images and sample pieces that represent the body of work well. That's a bunch of work but -hey!- it's no harder than what I've been doing. (As an aside, if you have been considering a piece listed on the website, now would be an excellent time to grab that, before the new prices kick in.) The larger obstacle is internal.

Maybe it's my New England upbringing, but I have a naysaying voice in my head constantly muttering, "Who do you think you are? $250 for a teapot, I guess you think you're really something!" And so on. Just choosing to be an artist at all means pushing back on that voice, but I haven't yet learned not to tag on the disclaimer, to apologize for anything that might appear as prideful - such as charging a sustainable price for my work.

I can make a reasonable number of things without any pain. I can fill the kiln once a month, even if I throw every piece in it. That's what I want to do: I want to make fewer things, spend more time on each one, and get a better price for them. Here's what I don't want to do: contrive more and more ways to make more pots in less time, just so I can sell them for price that a thrifty Yankee would deem a bargain. I look at potters I admire: Adero Willard. Kristen Kieffer. Jeffery Lipton. Jennifer Mecca. Joy Tanner. These folks aren't apologizing for charging for their work and skill. Oh, but now the inner critic is howling: I dared mention myself in the same paragraph as this illustrious company. Maybe someday you'll be good enough to deserve a living wage, she says. But I doubt it.

Shut up, bitch.

Someday is today (well, technically, "someday" is January 1). Yeah, I know I'm not Kristen Keiffer or Joy Tanner, and I don't have to be self-loathing to be acknowledge that, but - dare I say it? - I'm a pretty good potter. It's time I started treating myself like a professional. I have to, because the other choice is not to be a potter at all.

Not that that option is even in the running.
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