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To price one's own work

—is not, and yet is often the same as appreciating one's work. Setting an amount is a difficult discipline, not least for us artists who prefer to talk about moods, materials and flow rather than money.

To price one's own work

If I'm honest, I've always felt a basic sense of shame when it comes to money. There isn't an excuse I haven't come up with for avoiding addressing, or at least postponing, the question of price.

Now, when I'm doing this work, just because it's what makes sense for me to spend my time on, why mix something as profane as money into it? Why accept market conditions? Am I not devaluing my work if someone gets the feeling that I am just in it for the money? Who am I, anyway, to imagine that someone would be willing to pay a small fortune for my stuff? What's worse: imagine if people just put their heads together, smile condescendingly, and turn in the door and leave. . .

Although the saying goes that work carries its own reward, there are very few people who are able to feed their family on pro bono principles, love and spring water alone.

Perhaps because I stepped in my children's shoes in a windswept, West Jutland school yard, where (like the vegetation out here) you were shaved down the moment you raised the least bit, I have never oversold my own work.

As for the discipline of undercutting myself, on the other hand, I have always been ahead in the driver's field. Ideally, I just give away what I make, which obviously is not a particularly sustainable long term business strategy.

Although the saying goes that work carries its own reward, there are very few people who are able to feed their family on pro bono principles, love and spring water alone.

As a freelance creator and woodworker, I sell my own qualifications, my own ideas, and my own working hours.If the calculation is to hold water, the price of a given work or project must at least cover all material costs, and a decent tariff for all accrued hours. All net, of course, plus VAT.

But why—I ask myself, today, when I have chosen to hang a number of my pictures in our little artist's house—basically sell at this lowest possible price? Why not insist on the value of things, when precisely the value that one assigns to a work for all sorts of more or less rational reasons is what the buyer pays for? In reality, are you not delivering a more valuable, and thus better product, to the extent that you multiply the price by two or three without blinking an eye? Are you not doing your customer a favor by insisting that the work is actually worth more?

No one buys art, handicraft, or unique handmade furniture out of necessity.

If you buy a raw, authentic and original painting for the living room wall, what you are really buying is a lifestyle marker: a story about yourself and the life you want to live. If you buy a pair of bar stools from offcuts, or a long table from recycled packaging wood, it's not so much the furniture as the history and signal value you choose to invest your money in.

The old principle that you get what you pay for applies here.

With that starting point, I have thus (and even with a fairly clear conscience) with effect from today raised my project salary by 10%, and doubled the prices of my pictures.

To price something, purely concretely, is at the same time, in a more figurative sense, to assign some value. The last, not the stupidest place to start: If you claim and defend a high selling price to others, it is also easier, all things being equal, to attach great value to your own work.

It is not of course that I look forward to the rejections that will invariably result from my things having suddenly become more expensive. But I also no longer see any reason to fear a no, all the while I am well aware that a possible no is based on the situation and the concrete work at stake—not on my own self, and my way of prioritizing and living my life.

Thus the words for now. To be continued, I think.