When I started out as a painter, my collector base was about 2 people (one was my mom, that I gave a few paintings to on various occasions, and the other was a mom of a friend I went to school with).
The first painting I actually sold was done at a live-painting performance; me and my friend were part of an awards ceremony in high-school and had a live-stream of us painting and creating clay sculptures that was projected in the hall, where the ceremony was taking place.
It was a 100×120 cm colourful canvas with pop-art style pigs painted upside down, and the word “Klabase” (meaning sausage in a rural Slovenian dialect) written in giant bold letters across the whole canvas — you can probably tell I was on a rigorous intellectual path back then.
After the ceremony, a kind lady approached me, with her then freshmen son by her side, and inquired about buying the work. I was ecstatic. For me, to think anyone would want to have something I had made — he even told me that he really liked the work and wanted to hang it in his dorm room — was an incredible experience and probably influenced my decision to further pursue the arts, immensely.
Needles to say, I sold the work for about a kebab’s worth — I think it was actually 10€ — so my friend and I had a nice celebratory dinner as the big artists that we were— both even ordered a can of Pepsi on the side.
It’s imperative we set our prices high enough to be able to afford the basic necessities of life, but 16 year-old me had no idea, because no-one had told him that he might have gotten 100€ if not more for the same work.
I had no idea that I could’ve had a kebab and Pepsi dinner for a whole month or shared it with all of my friends and family instead of a sum total deficit of about 50€, because the fact that canvases and colours don’t really grow on trees kinda eluded my happy and hungry mind.
And the nice lady was absolutely prepared to pay more. While I do not know what her mental price bracket was, I am quite certain she wasn’t aiming for the low end in terms of the street-food compensation model.
There are a lot of pricing models out there that work much better than the one I had used to calculate my work’s value and all can usually be divided into three kinds: labour- or hourly-based, project-based and value-based pricing.
In tomorrows blunder we shall venture onto the vanguard of capitalism — eyes gleaming with 1984 optimism, we shall stare down the angst of postindustrial man and discuss the virtues and troubles of the labour-based pricing model, so none of us ever sell a painting for a bloody kebab.