Thursday, March 30, 2017

Panel Discussion Review

What You Should Know to Properly Value Your Art

by Diane Powers Harris


Valuing your work can be a complex and challenging task. On March 11, 2017 at NEQM the MA/RI and ME/NH/VT regions joined together to learn more about this difficult subject. On hand for the panel discussion were three experts who shared with attendees how they value art quilts. 

The discussion opened with certified quilt appraiser Vivien Sayre vsayre@nesa.com, who discussed factors she considers when appraising work and how appraised values can help in making decisions about pricing. Also, these appraisals are used by insurance companies in the case of a lost, stolen or damaged piece of art. Vivien commenced with her prime objectives. First she asks, “what is the artist challenging viewers to see?” Once she has determined the answer she, as an appraiser, must set aside her personal reaction/feelings to the art work under her scrutiny to look at the work objectively.

Some of the suggestions Vivien put forth for us in determining value are:

  • Record your expenditures, time
  • Do you have sales
  • Have you won awards/prizes at local, regional, national, and/or international shows
  • Have you received monetary compensation
  • Have you exhibited at shows, galleries, been a featured artist or had a 1 person show(s)

While crafts are at rock bottom prices right now, fine art is different and this is the category into which we as art quilters fall. As an artist you need to:

  • Determine your price
  • Make contacts with galleries and museums
  • Keep in mind, exhibiting in this market increases value 100 fold!
  • Keep records of “like” work sales/appraisal prices for comparison
  • Research value at places like Eldridge Auction House, Sotheby’s and Poke & Poke
  • Take into consideration what the market will bear
  • Factor in dollars spent on supplies, times 3 = your expenditure costs
  • Factor in “stash” fabric as what you paid for new fabric in the piece and any thread purchased as the full spool
  • Do your homework by researching similar work(s)
  • Keep records and attend different venues

Vivien concluded with reiterating how much research she, and we as well, continually need to do in order to keep abreast of trends and market prices. 

Janice M. Jones www.janicemjones.com and Sarah Ann Smith www.sarahannsmith.com shared their viewpoints about how they price their work and how the different venues where their art is sold can affect their pricing. 

  • One method for determining value - L x W divided by 1.44 = sq. ft. x the sq. ft. dollar amount determined by you. This will give you a selling price
  • Another method - a flat rate of, for example,  $1.00/sq. in. for wholesale pricing or $2.00/sq. in. for retail value
  • A third method -  time + material + sq. in. of project x 2 = value

It was stressed how important it is to:

  • Build a resumé and track your sales
  • Be objective about your work
  • Become educated as to what the market will bear
  • The selling price is the price no matter where you sell your art. In other words, do not undercut the gallery where you are represented
  • With the above said, you can have a sale to remove older works from your stock, and
  • You may offer a discount to a collector of your art
  • Be consistent with pricing/valuing your body of work
  • Above all - as so many of us do, DO NOT UNDERVALUE YOURSELF!

Briefly touched upon was insurance coverage. If you decide to have insurance coverage on your studio, be sure this covers your quilts while they travel. A good level of coverage might be, $20,000 which translates to about $220/year. While this might not cover your entire studio replacement costs, it will allow you to ship your art without including insurance to the shipping fee. This can be a considerable savings in the long run. 

You also should know whether or not a venue and/or gallery has insurance which covers your work while in their possession and during return shipping. Keep in mind there is a difference in coverage between quilts at home and those traveling.

While Chris Johnston, CIC, chris.johnston@usi.com was unable to attend, she did provide an informative handout about quilt insurance under the master policy, Society of Quilters, through the Hartford Insurance Company. This insurance covers your quilts as well as the items needed to make your quilts, and includes sewing machines. The policy covers these items anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and also includes shipping your quilts. To contact Chris for more detailed info specific to you, she can be reached at the email above or 1-800-688-7472, ext 41282.

The program concluded with a listing of valuable websites and sources for research and information


NOTE: The following documents are attached to this article:

  • The Hartford’s “Society of Quilters” Quilt Insurance - general policy information 
  • Listing of AQS Certified Appraisers in the New England Area - now known as The Professional Association of Appraisers - Quilted Textiles.