'Strategy is the Craft of the Warrior' 2.5x1.5" Belt Buckle, sterling silver overlay;
Once upon a time, a long time ago and far away, Artists were considered assets. Anyone who was anyone was a Patron. Artists worked on projects for years and were funded. Real jobs, what a concept.
America is very young and so has very little respect or appreciation for the Arts. Some might say that there are big collectors and that is true. But, just like the wealthy, it's a small percentage.
Artists just want to make art. These days, that becomes more difficult. Patrons are worried, keeping tight grip of their money, artists need money to live so they can create, materials used for creating are becoming more expensive and the general public doesn't understand any of it.
Personally I've been doing some thinking about the materials I use. On one hand, I want to do my part to leave a small footprint but on the other, I want to create. This is an issue for me as all art is made from and becomes something.
Silver is a natural resource. * Spot is at $26.01 per oz today. Last year it was $17.00. When I started working with silver in the early 90s it was around $4.00. As you can see, price has become an issue.
This buckle consists of almost three ounces of silver. At around $30 an ounce my cost, that's $90. The formula for pricing is cost of materials times three which would be $270. This price includes designing, materials shipping costs, electricity, heat, water, acetylene, solder, buffing materials, cleaning materials and solutions, polishing materials, boxes, pricing, advertising and a whole lot more.. including labor. I then take that price and double it because the gallery will take 50%. Now this buckle is up to $540.00. Needless to say, I can't afford my own art.
This piece took around 15 hours to design and create. After deducting the cost of silver, I'm left with $180 to cover everything including labor. I will make about $10.00 per hour on this.
Since galleries do mostly consignment, artwork is not purchased, there is no money up front. The artist must wait for the work to sell then, as is the usual, wait 30 days for payment.
You will not see this much silver in future work. I am re-thinking my designs - I have a new strategy. Natural and recycled materials are calling. I think it is a better way for me: less guilt, less cost and, hopefully, more creativity.
Any artwork takes materials, time, energy and inspiration and the result, if it works, is food for the soul. I will always make art.
It's about quality of life.
*Spot is the unrefined price of precious metals. Charges are added when ordering sheet, wire, tubing, etc.