Five Dollars — or Twelve Thousand?

Last Sunday Joanne and I went to a big art show here in Nashville.  50 artists had been invited to show and sell their work.  You might say I’m a novice when it comes to understanding art.  So I walk in and I see a $3 canvas with maybe $2 worth of paint on it.  Thus my starting point for seeing the value of a piece is about $5.  Or we could measure it or weigh it to get another measurement of what the price should be.  Then I glance at the price and see that it’s $12,000.  And I ask myself what takes the value of this piece from its true cost of $5 to $12,000?  As I roamed around this show I saw the artists standing in front of their work.  And as I talked with those artists I began to hear the stories behind the glass pieces, the sculptures, the pencil sketches and the painted pieces.  I saw them with new eyes and agreed that the value was certainly more than the raw cost of the materials required creating them.

What about the services you provide?  Many people are paid $12 an hour for working diligently at a job.  Is that a reasonable return for what you offer?  If not, why not?  The art piece that was $12,000 was created by a 90-yr-old lady with an incredible history.  She is known the world over and she only does a few works each year.  People wait to have a rare opportunity to purchase one of her creations.  So it appears reputation and limited availability add to the “value.”  Also, she has a recognized name in those circles. 

We also talked with a young guy who creates beautiful works of glass.  3-D flowers and images give the illusion of real flowers being captured forever in his designs.  Suddenly the $595 for a small vase became not only reasonable but perhaps even a bargain.  His unusual imagination, creativity and skill took his raw materials and formed a valuable end result. 

At another booth the paintings of birds stopped us in our tracks.  It appeared you could touch the very bird this artist had painted.  She proceeded to share with us her passion for birds and how her love and compassion for them helped her see the world from their viewpoint.  Her paintings reflected that commitment to excellence in showing the world what she saw in those birds.  Her excitement conveyed a spiritual energy that just exploded in both her conversation and her work.

The question then is:  How are you using the highlighted characteristics above to increase the value of your services?  Is your “value” $5 or $12,000?

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2 Responses to “Five Dollars — or Twelve Thousand?”

  1. Josh Says:

    Great post, Dan. My wife and I were at an independent film festival tonight, and I thought about your post. The creative energy that goes into the films produced by these passionate people is astounding. Anyone can purchase a digital video camera, pull some friends together and shoot a movie. Great movies, products, services are a result of passion, imagination, creativity and skill.

  2. Keelhaul Says:

    Art, in any form, is a window into the soul of the artist…..Every completed piece of work is a part of the artist they wish to share with the world. No matter how trivial or simple the piece may seem, when it leaves the artist it takes a bit of them along for the ride. That has great value in the heart of those blessed with the ability to create the works and validates their existence.

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