I was sitting in a waiting room this week, working on a knitting project and conveniently wearing at least 2 items I’d made myself. It sparked conversation and I got the question I get every once in a while. After “Did you make that?”is sometimes “Do you ever sell your work?”
I love artists, artisans, and locally created/ hand crafted items. Etsy is a totally awesome market place to facilitate all that. I’ve know people on all ends of the spectrum from starving artists to thriving artists, those who do it full time and those who create on the side.
The great debate in the crafting world is how much to charge for your work. Is it art or craft? Do you charge based on time it takes? Can you make something that is cheap or easy to reproduce or is everything one of a kind?
As an artist, to sell something I would need to cover my time and materials, and fit in feasible window in the market. Fine art pieces can realistically do this. Fiber arts, however are a whole different story.
The latest fad to blow up the hand-made scene was “messy bun hats”. A few friends got offers for up to $25-30 per hat to make them. That price point seems to be in line with what how much you would spend in a store for a hat. Using relatively inexpensive, chunkier yarn and depending on how quick the knitter, that’s not a bad price to cover materials and time. Good.
A lace shawl (where my knitting tends to spark the questions) takes me at LEAST 20 hours. To make the lace look really good I use thinner yarn, tending to be higher quality fiber so it holds up to blocking and keeps its shape afterwards. To break even, I’d have to charge upwards of $100. Note the word UPWARDS; to make a profit on it would be even more. Most people aren’t willing to pay that much. There are some Etsy shops offering this type of thing anywhere from $50-$150, so my ball park isn’t that far off. I do wonder if those items move…
I must admit, I fall into the trap of not wanting to pay that much for a hand made item, too. I was recently looking into a buying a present for a kid and didn’t want to spend the time/ effort on making it myself. I looked at the retail websites and thought the products looked poorly made, so I flipped over to Etsy. And there I wasn’t willing to pay what people were selling them for. To be fair, their prices were actually very reasonable- I even thought “I would charge more than that!” But I had a smaller budget for what I wanted to spend on this occasion. I mean, I appreciate artisans and AM willing to pay more for a handmade/ small independent or local business… but I don’t need to for everything!
Have I ever sold things?
I have never sold any of my work where I created what was in my brain, then found a buyer. Most of those pieces are solely my artistic expression for that purpose and are not for sale. The price to move my heart to sell one of my “babies” would be astronomical.
That being said, I have created pieces by commission, both charcoal drawings and small knit items. Having a specific buyer and talking through the work involved, we were able to arrive at a mutually agreed upon price.
Would I sell something?
Probably not off my body or walls. If you like what you see, I might be willing to make you one of your own…
Do I give things away?
Yes. Actually, I give away most of the things I make. For my friends and family, I will put in the time and effort to make something special for you. I won’t do it for just anyone, or for every occasion. Sometimes it is hard to part with those items after spending all that time on them. So If I give you something, appreciate the gift.
Fun fact: I have given way 78% of my completed projects since I started tracking my projects in Ravelry.
What about you?
Do you create for yourself or others?
Is it for the process or the finished product?