The 800 Pound Gorilla, Let’s Get Him Out of the Jewelry Studio!
Hello again. This is Part II of “How to Talk to an Artist,” a blog series about wanting a special something custom made just for you. Last time, we spoke about having the confidence to approach an artist to ask for a custom order. Today, let’s talk about making that order!
Since I am an artisan jeweler, I am going to use jewelry as my example, but this would be true if you wanted to order any custom art, painting, sculpture, glasswork, pottery, woodwork, any art!
So what is stopping you from asking for that order? Well there is an 800 pound Gorilla in the room, and that is price. It seems to be the biggest hurdle for both customer and artist to jump through, and often stops an order before it begins.
My thought on this, from an artist’s point of view, is to discuss this first and foremost, even before hearing what the custom order is going to be. Most often, a customer has an idea of what s/he is willing to spend on something for themselves. For example, I got an order the other day, where the customer says, I really always wanted a gold bracelet, a big cuff that has a flared shape, and is about 2 inches wide, with a pretty wavy pattern on it. So I asked her, what did she think it would cost for something like that, and she answered that she thought that would be about $200. Unfortunately, if that were to be made with gold, the material alone would have been approximately $1400 with gold prices the way they are. But instead of discouraging her, I mentioned some ways she could get the look she wanted, using gold-filled metal or gold plated metal, and perhaps she could be happy if the cuff were 1.5 inches to 1.75 inches wide. I would make a prototype in brass, and she could see, or maybe she would like it in brass, which is a gold tone. But because price was out in the open, it became fun to discuss the possibilities! She made an order, and ended up paying $225.00 for a gold-filled metal bracelet that was 1.5 inches wide, and she couldn’t be happier.
In other words, we found a way to fulfill her desire! And it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable!
What do you think about this? From either an artist’s point of view or from a customer’s perspective? Are you willing to talk about pricing first? Let me know in the comments section what you think!