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 The Price of Artisan Pipes

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alfredo_buscatti

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Location : Piedmont, North Carolina
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PostSubject: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:20 pm

I am in no way saying that such artistry should go unrewarded, nor the hours/days needed to produce it. But it's a damn shame that all those pieces that make me swoon from their beauty command such a hefty price tag. Who can possibly afford them? Who buys them? One US pipe maker whose esteem in the pipe community has risen appreciably used to sell his work for about $500.00. It's conceivable that I might be able to afford this, but not a 50-100% increase.

What would I do if I had that talent? How would I price my work? Probably the same as the makers about whose prices I write.

I don't think there is a satisfactory answer to this.
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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:01 pm

when you are the best at hitting a ball over a fence you get twenty million a year, when you are the best at throwing a ball in a basket you get more. When you are the best at making paintings you get millions of dollars for them. When you are the best at making pipes you sell them for three to five thousand dollars when everything all comes together. When you realize that the shop usually takes fifty percent, there are materials to buy, equipment to update and upkeep, marketing to do ect. It is really no wonder that these guys charge what they do. The fact is you don't see many if any pipe makers driving Ferrari or even Mercedes. Most of the top guys live in modest houses and drive family cars. They make less than your average middle management at a big corporation. They are some of the best artisans in the world, and they make less than a middle manager at IBM, or an engineer at a mining company.

I too wish I could buy a pipe from Misha, or Florov, heck even Grant Batson, but I wont for a second say they don't deserve what they get, I think they deserve more. What will I charge if I am ever to reach such a level of artistry and respect? That is an interesting question.

rev
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Ocelot55

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:35 am

Ah yes. The pricing discussion. Rev is right. If you see an artisan pipe, on say smokingpipes.com, retailing for $500, odds are the artisan got paid $250 for it. Materials might be $100. He also might have invested 10-20 hours of labor in that pipe. In the end that's not much to live off of.

On the other hand, some artisan makers are so good at turning out pipes they can finish one in 3-5 hours and sell it for $500.

I try really hard to keep my prices within the range that any serious pipe smoker would be able to afford it without much pain in the wallet, but I don't know if I can realistically keep that up. Seems like the better I get the longer I spend on pipes and the more materials start costing me which drives prices way up. At this point if I managed to sell to a retailer there is little chance of me making any profit.

And there is also a belief among some that price dictates quality. Talk to Dunhill about that.
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kaiser83

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:50 am

There's always artisan cobs for the budget minded folks. I have a few pipes made by brothers here, and will continue to expand that collection (reminds me I need to do an actual review of my Tinsky since he is on BoB) because I enjoy being able to ask different folks to make a creation with just a few requests. Most folks aren't charging $500 and up for pipes, they are a good bit below that, and from awesome guys who will work to make your perfect pipe. If you want an artisan pipe just look around here on BoB at what some of the guys/gal have made and shoot them a message. Everyone I have ordered from so far has been awesome and exceeded expectations.
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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:01 am

I remember reading an interview where a pipe carver was asked how long does it take to make a pipe? He responded, "How long does it take to make three?"

His point was, that he usually on average has to throw out 2 blocks for every pipe he finishes. Considering that ebauchon blocks usually cost around $30-$40 each, that would mean that a pipe carver has on average over $100 invested in briar on every pipe he actually finishes.

As Ocelot mentioned, the cut taken by wholesalers and retailers contributes immensely to the retail price. This is one reason I love buying Moretti pipes from Marco Biagini. Selling his pipes on ebay directly negates the wholesale markup, saving me anywhere from 30% to 50%.

If you actually do the math, and consider labor and materials, most pipe carvers really aren't making much over $20 per hour. In today's economy it's easy to conclude that they really aren't overcharging for these fine artisan pieces.

Also, take into consideration resale value. If a pipe is properly taken care of and maintained, a collector can smoke one of these fine pipes for years, and then sell or trade it, and recoup much of his original investment.
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Briar Spirit

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:26 am

I quite often see really beautiful pipes with high price tags and it makes me mad as hell that the price is so high, but when I consider why I am angry at the price tag, is it because I don't agree that the Artisan is charging a reasonable price for his work and I think he's being greedy or is it because I simply don't have that sort of money but want that pipe anyway so I am actually sulking a little bit?
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dshpipes

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:40 pm

Kirk Fitzgerald wrote:
I quite often see really beautiful pipes with high price tags and it makes me mad as hell that the price is so high, but when I consider why I am angry at the price tag, is it because I don't agree that the Artisan is charging a reasonable price for his work and I think he's being greedy or is it because I simply don't have that sort of money but want that pipe anyway so I am actually sulking a little bit?

Bingo! I've felt this way before for sure. I've always admired pipes by the likes of Teddy Knudsen, S. Bang, Nordh, the Ivarssons, Gracik, etc. etc. but can't even begin to afford them. It can still be a little frustrating when a pipe that grabs your heart pops up, only to see it's price tag in the thousands. Even more frustrating is when you see someone else get that pipe and get a little jealous. There are a few collectors around who are several years younger than me but much better off financially that collect the way I've always wished I could, which makes me feel a tad jealous. It's really silly, but emotions sure are tricky things.
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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:55 pm

Think about it this way, a union construction worker in California is going to make around $30 and hour, with benefits that include vacation and sick pay, and health insurance. He works hard, everyday, but does something that thousands of others can and do, do. Most of the time he is expected to have a fairly small degree of tooling, and all of the taxes and what not are taken care of by the company. Now the company bills him out at at least $75 per hour. They have to pay for the benefits, the taxes on his wages, the price of insurance ect. So now you take a normal construction worker, have him work 12 hours on a pipe that has $50 worth of materials on it, at normal construction worker wages, and you get $950

The fact is, unless you are the top .1 percent of the pipe making world, you can't charge as much as an average construction worker would be billed out at.

I struggle with this, and it will get harder as I get better and my work begins to have a reputation. I don't like it that those that are doing it tough cannot have something beautiful. Not sure how I will remedy it. 1st world problems aye?

rev
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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:29 pm

I recently bought an artisan pipe -- hand carved from bowl to stem -- on sale from a well-known shop and a recognized carver, for $150. The straight grain is excellent. Birds eye on top. Nice, thick walls. Graceful domed top. Natural finish. No pits, fills or other defects. It's a nice variation on the classic Dublin shape. I was a little reluctant to light it up, because the interior of the bowl was bare wood and displayed the beautiful grain. But light it I did, and I'm surprised how easily this pipe is breaking in. The air passage is probably the largest of all my pipes, and the gentle breathing technique fits this pipe perfectly.

In short, patience and diligence are rewarded.

Chasing the work of "name-brand" carvers is going to put you in cmpetition with buyers for whom price isn't a strong parameter.


Last edited by KevinM on Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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glpease
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:30 pm

UberHuberMan wrote:
Kirk Fitzgerald wrote:
I quite often see really beautiful pipes with high price tags and it makes me mad as hell that the price is so high, but when I consider why I am angry at the price tag, is it because I don't agree that the Artisan is charging a reasonable price for his work and I think he's being greedy or is it because I simply don't have that sort of money but want that pipe anyway so I am actually sulking a little bit?

Bingo! I've felt this way before for sure. I've always admired pipes by the likes of Teddy Knudsen, S. Bang, Nordh, the Ivarssons, Gracik, etc. etc. but can't even begin to afford them. It can still be a little frustrating when a pipe that grabs your heart pops up, only to see it's price tag in the thousands. Even more frustrating is when you see someone else get that pipe and get a little jealous. There are a few collectors around who are several years younger than me but much better off financially that collect the way I've always wished I could, which makes me feel a tad jealous. It's really silly, but emotions sure are tricky things.

I can relate. I feel very fortunate to have acquired some really nice pipes before the market went where it has. There's no way I can afford many of the beauties I see exhibited today. I got my one Sixten Ivarsson, for example, in a trade, long before anyone thought his pipes should sell for four-digit-dollars. When I was first importing Kent Rasmussen's amazing pipes, they were selling for a few hundred dollars. The first two Peter Heeschen pipes I bought (the ones which induced me to import his work for the first time into the US) were each $135. Times and prices have changed. My discretionary income, alas, has not.

I certainly support the notion that talented craftsmen should be well rewarded for their work, but in some cases, the prices being asked by relative beginners is both ludicrous, and insulting to those who have worked long and hard to establish their position in the market. In too many cases, I've seen copycat work with copycat pricing.

I was looking at the very decent work of a new pipe maker at a show once, and shocked by the arrogance of his pricing. I enquired over things like whom he had worked with, and the names he offered were other relatively new pipe makers, some of whom also price their work according to what better-known makers charge. Interesting.

Market forces prevailed, and he left with most of his pipes unsold, but I have my suspicions as to whether or not a lesson was learned. Obviously, it just wasn't a "good show for selling..."

Rev, the union construction worker in your example has learned his trade, gone through an apprenticeship, paid his dues, and worked hard to become a master tradesman. He didn't just show up at a job site with a tool belt and a hammer demanding $30/hour. And, you're right that many beginning pipe makers struggle long to make a fair wage. But, some guys I've talked to really don't have a clue. Buy a drill press and a lathe, a few blocks of wood and some acrylic rod, and you're instantly a pipe 'artisan.' Those I know who actually do fit into that category have worked very, very hard to get there, honing their craft for a long time before selling a single pipe.

If you really want to look at price and market silliness, look at electric guitars...
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Puff Daddy
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:41 pm

For clarification - As an actual union construction tradesman (concrete) in California working at the top of the pay grade for my classification (heavy equipment operator under a Bay Area Teamster agreement), the numbers are more like $47 an hour for total compensation, including pension, vacation and medical. The company I work for (huge global corporation) can compete with the non union companies (independants with maybe 25 - 40 employees) because they work off a smaller percentage of profit and normally have the ability to take on much bigger jobs because they have the resources and ability to do what the indies can not. In many cases it's comparing apples to oranges. The indies collect the same price per yard of concrete as we do, they just give a lot less of it to their employees. They have certain types of jobs we won't bother with, and vice versa. it's a big world, too big for buttonholing.

If you're looking at a $700 Castello Fiamata or a Dunhill Christmas pipe, you might be able to justifiably (from a bohemian perspective) vent some rage over the fact that there are several people getting a cut of that price before the carver actually gets paid a small amount given his time spent on the pipe. You could even justify that this is no more than a $300 pipe with $400 of fees and overhead built in, and I wouldn't say you were wrong. but, it may not otherwise ever grace your doorstep if that were not the case. Everyone's gotta get paid, and so long as it's not a situation where some poor shmuck is being forced to grind em out for sub minimum wage while some fat guy is getting rich being the middleman, then that's just the way the apple works. Now, when Rad Davis manages to carve 4 or 5 pipes a week and net a few hundred after costs, that's just supporting a good skilled craftsman working at or near the top of his pay grade. If you can afford it, then great, you can enjoy the fruits of his labor. If you can't. then there are the inexpensive production pipes.

If the skilled carvers went away because nobody thought the pipes were worth the money, then pretty soon the production pipes would drop in quality because there was neither motivation to maintain the bar, or even a bar to recognize.


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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:06 pm

Before this turns into one of "those" conversations now that the subject of artisan pipe prices AND unions have been brought up in the same thread, here's another way to look at it:

Before they could slug 'em over the fence, figuratively, I mean, they had talent and were working hard. Maybe they had the carving skills since birth, but can't get the top briar. Maybe they can get good briar but are a little wonky on the lathe. In either case, the best artisan pipes are from the up-and-coming. The pipe Picassos before they were recognized. I have seen pipes turned by people with no clout that would make more than their fair share of jaws drop. Sometimes they give them away, if not literally, by the skinny price they ask for them--by that, we support them, paving the way so they might become recognized, or just giving them a fun, relaxing way to pass time and make a few bucks.

Consider a not-quite-yet-master artisan pipe maker, and you'll not only make their day, he (or she!) will be supported to confidently make more pipes, and you could have an early piece of piping history. Even if they don't make it that far, you're sure to have a unique pipe with a story, a great smoker, and perhaps even a friend from the transaction(s).

Cool


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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:10 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
Before this turns into one of "those" conversations now that the subject of artisan pipe prices AND unions have been brought up in the same thread, here's another way to look at it:

Before they could slug 'em over the fence, figuratively, I mean, they had talent and were working hard. Maybe they had the carving skills since birth, but can't get the top briar. Maybe they can get good briar but are a little wonky on the lathe. In either case, the best artisan pipes are from the up-and-coming. The pipe Picassos before they were recognized. I have seen pipes turned by people with no clout that would make more than their fair share of jaws drop. Sometimes they give them away, if not literally, by the skinny price they ask for them--by that, we support them, paving the way so they might become recognized, or just giving them a fun, relaxing way to pass time and make a few bucks.

Consider a not-quite-yet-master artisan pipe maker, and you'll not only make their day, he (or she!) will be supported to confidently make more pipes, and you could have an early piece of piping history. Even if they don't make it that far, you're sure to have a unique pipe with a story, a great smoker, and perhaps even a friend from the transaction(s).

Cool



Nicely put, Kyle.
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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:17 pm

Yeah I was thinking more along the lines of a drywall guy, and not at prevailing wage jobs.

As for apprentices that is another thing, you don't really get paid for doing your apprentice work as a pipe maker. In fact some people pay for their apprenticeship. You make jack shit, and often you don't really have any journey men besides you to help you out. And that is discounting the fact that many pipe makers started out doing wood work or some kind of art work before hand. Is my years of construction work, sculpture, artwork and high end carpentry completely worthless? And again, we aren't even factoring in the fact that the shop takes half.

Of course I am always biased towards labor, but I think for the ability and artistry that is shown in pipe making, these guys are not at all getting over paid. I mean the closest thing to a rockstar pipe maker is what? Ivarsen? Eltang? I don't see them throwing parties on their yacht

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Puff Daddy
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:56 pm

I think we should form a pipe carvers union. I was going to suggest Pipemen's local 69 but quickly realized we'd attract the wrong sort of crowd, especially in San Francisco. Maybe Briarsmiths local 1, which covers everything from the equater north, and the equater south, except Jamaica, cuz you know dey got der own pipe bidness goin on down dere mon afro

Rule 1) no dues, bring booze.
Rule2) no pension but there a couple of kots in the back room if you need to crash.
Rule 3) no bullshit. Make a good smoking pipe in whatever physical form fancies you and set a fair market price for it based on your level of expertise, the quality of your materials, and the time you put into it. Factor in a fragment of shop costs, internet service and the occasional bottle of single malt.

Quarterly union meetings will be held to adress grievances and to evaluate new membership (greenhorns). If a brother has sold a pipe and the buyer has written a grievance about it the pipe will be lit and passed around the cousel. If said pipe turns out to be fine the customer wil be roundly lambasted and told to bugger off and go back to stealing lucky strikes from his mommy's handbag. If the pipe turns out to be a real turdknocker, then the carver what made this mess must immediately buy a dram for everyone in attendance and pay back the poor chap in full and appologize to him for bringing shame upon his house.

Then the call goes out for the dancing girls as the free bar is opened and the meeting is called due to pipe elevation issues. All other matters to be continued unil next meeting, gavel falls, where'd that little redhead get off to?......

Briarsmiths local 1, that's how we roll Cool

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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:23 pm

but I don't have the money to be buying rounds everytime I make a shitty pipe

Sad

rev
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:51 pm

When you gather your start up funds and begin your prioritized allocations, you simply settle on a method of buying two bottles of Lagavulin to every twenty blocks of briar. This should see you through your apprentiship, secure your appearances at the union functions, and serve as the catalyst at that moment when your apprenticeship years have been fulfilled. It's quite simple. When the grand high potentate calls you forward to the foot of the carved briar throne he'll simply ask if you've got more briar or more Lagavulin in your workshop. If you've no Lagavulin left but you've still got a pile of pale billiard stummels, they'll send you away to an interview at Walmart to begin your new career, one you're better suited to. If, hoever, the answer is that you've sold off your stock of pipes and had to pay nary a dram of the peat brine in pennance, then you get shown the secret handshake and the party immediately moves to your house, cuz that's where all the good whisky's at Smile

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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:06 pm

Marginal pricing for discretionary purchases is veddy interesting. You can go on the internet and find perfectly satisfactory briars for less than $100. (Let's ignore MMs for the moment.) You can do a bit more looking and buy a nice artisan briar for less than $200. Or you can go to one of the en vogue carvers and pay $1,000+. What exactly are you paying for as you move up the price ladder?

If I may offer a possibly apt comparison -- Two painters, a few years back, shared a studio. The venture was only a borderline success, because they had different ideas of what they were doing. Artist I wanted to find and bring to market painters who were on the verge of a breakthrough. He was primarily an agent for other artists, but also handled his own painting and sculptures. Artist II had mastered a dozen or more basic seascapes and repeated them them with minor and major variations. You could call him and order a painting with colors to match your living room. The man is an oil-painting machine, and a good one. His mantra is, "I don't paint to decorate the gallery. I want people to buy them and take them home."

So they went their separate ways, one as a broker for other peoples' work, the other a one-man painting factory. (It's a lot like the history of Italian pipes.)

Pipes are like that, I'd say. The price is dependent on the consumer's perception of value. If you want something attractive to hang on your wall, you can go to a tourist shoppe and buy s print. You can go to Artist II, and he will sell you a signed original that you and your family will enjoy. Or you can go to Artist I and buy something unique for which you pay a premium.

What's "fair" and apprenticeships and union affiliations don't have an impact here. The world of pipe carvers is, I'm afraid, full of 'mute inglorious Miltons.'


Last edited by KevinM on Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:21 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:07 pm

I really don't see a problem with a craftsman asking whatever price they want. *shrug* No-one's forcing anyone to pay. If work is priced way above what the quality would imply, they will probably not be very succesfull selling their work, but if that's their preference then I don't really see a problem. I don't see it as arrogant either. A craftsman doesn't owe anyone anything because they have made something desireable.

I find pricing paintings the worst part of the process. I know I can sell with my prices, but if the potential buyer doesn't trust their own judgement and eye, they might be turned off by the lack of credencials. And some are not, it depends on the person. Learning to not to feel guilty about pricing as I see fit and just has been a lot of work. I don't owe my paintings to anyone with any price, even if someone likes them. I am far more willing to give a painting away than to sell it with a price I'm not satisfied with. Selling with too low prices would leave such a sour taste. I'd rather just keep painting and forget about selling than do a deal I feel would mock my work.

Perhaps I'm a bit biased here too!
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the rev

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:29 pm

beetlejazz wrote:
I really don't see a problem with a craftsman asking whatever price they want. *shrug* No-one's forcing anyone to pay. If work is priced way above what the quality would imply, they will probably not be very succesfull selling their work, but if that's their preference then I don't really see a problem. I don't see it as arrogant either. A craftsman doesn't owe anyone anything because they have made something desireable.

I find pricing paintings the worst part of the process. I know I can sell with my prices, but if the potential buyer doesn't trust their own judgement and eye, they might be turned off by the lack of credencials. And some are not, it depends on the person. Learning to not to feel guilty about pricing as I see fit and just has been a lot of work. I don't owe my paintings to anyone with any price, even if someone likes them. I am far more willing to give a painting away than to sell it with a price I'm not satisfied with. Selling with too low prices would leave such a sour taste. I'd rather just keep painting and forget about selling than do a deal I feel would mock my work.

Perhaps I'm a bit biased here too!

my mentor told me that if you sell a painting for less than it is worth you not only devalue yourself, and your painting, but also your other customer's paintings. If someone really wants a work, and they cannot afford it, you can gift it to them, or give them a small discount but do not insult your other customers or the work

of course this all becomes subjective, but I get what he was saying

rev
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KevinM



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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:43 pm

I find pricing paintings the worst part of the process.

While escorting my missus through various galleries, I've noticed that artists tend to set prices based on technique and amount of detail which roughly translates into "creative time invested." Problem is that it's possible to put a lot of creative effort into a painting that, in the end, isn't very good. I've heard painters say they destroy a canvas rather than lower the price for one they're not satisfied with. True or not, I can't say. Buyers are all over the lot, I'd say, but "Wow!" value plays a persuasive role. Some paintings just stop you in your tracks, and it can be hard to say exactly why. Like pipes, I'd venture.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:21 pm

the rev wrote:
beetlejazz wrote:
I really don't see a problem with a craftsman asking whatever price they want. *shrug* No-one's forcing anyone to pay. If work is priced way above what the quality would imply, they will probably not be very succesfull selling their work, but if that's their preference then I don't really see a problem. I don't see it as arrogant either. A craftsman doesn't owe anyone anything because they have made something desireable.

I find pricing paintings the worst part of the process. I know I can sell with my prices, but if the potential buyer doesn't trust their own judgement and eye, they might be turned off by the lack of credencials. And some are not, it depends on the person. Learning to not to feel guilty about pricing as I see fit and just has been a lot of work. I don't owe my paintings to anyone with any price, even if someone likes them. I am far more willing to give a painting away than to sell it with a price I'm not satisfied with. Selling with too low prices would leave such a sour taste. I'd rather just keep painting and forget about selling than do a deal I feel would mock my work.

Perhaps I'm a bit biased here too!

my mentor told me that if you sell a painting for less than it is worth you not only devalue yourself, and your painting, but also your other customer's paintings. If someone really wants a work, and they cannot afford it, you can gift it to them, or give them a small discount but do not insult your other customers or the work

of course this all becomes subjective, but I get what he was saying

rev

When I was an exhibiting artist, that was my M.O. If someone really loved something, but couldn't afford to pay, I'd often give it to them. Partly this was because I wanted my art on their walls, not back in my own studio.

On the other hand, a woman came to me and asked if I could give her a little break if she bought three large pieces as an anniversary gift for her husband. Heckyeah, I gave her a deal, though I did ask her not to tell anyone. And, I went to her place to do the installation. That one sale made the show for me.

Pricing is an interesting thing. Here's an extreme example:

I once bought a Spanish Army surplus overcoat. The thing was really nice, and a true bargain at under $20. I got a lot of use out of it for several years.

One day, I was shopping in San Francisco with a friend, and she wanted to go into Neiman Markus for some unknown reason. Whilst she was shopping for chotchkies, I went to the men's department. There, on the rack, was the exact Spanish Army topcoat, only fitted with a Nino Cerruti label and a $1200 price tag. Same fabric. Same pattern. Same construction. Same lining. You know that if *I* could get the things for $20, they paid a lot less originally. But, it cost them a few pence to have that label stitched in..

(I briefly considered buying all the surplus pieces I could find, stitching in a fancy label, Atelier Gregoire, setting the price at $500, and putting up a card table outside the store...)

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Harlock999

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Location : Los Angeles
Registration date : 2010-10-22

PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:44 pm

glpease wrote:
the prices being asked by relative beginners is both ludicrous, and insulting to those who have worked long and hard to establish their position in the market. In too many cases, I've seen copycat work with copycat pricing.

I was looking at the very decent work of a new pipe maker at a show once, and shocked by the arrogance of his pricing. I enquired over things like whom he had worked with, and the names he offered were other relatively new pipe makers, some of whom also price their work according to what better-known makers charge. Interesting.

If you really want to look at price and market silliness, look at electric guitars...

I've thought this for a while, but I don't think I could express it so eloquently.
New pipe artisans seem to popping up on the scene almost on a weekly basis, and some, not all, seem to be charging prices incommensurate with their experience level. In some cases, new carvers with less than a year of experience want to charge equal to someone like Claudio Cavicchi, or J.T. Cooke.
More than anything, I wonder who is buying, because the carver is free to charge what they like. Is there market speculation going on, with collectors wanting to get a piece by a hot new talent before his/her prices really go through the roof? Do pipe collectors see themselves as patrons, nurturing the talent of young artists, and willing to spend large sums on unproven talent to do so? And by unproven, I mean someone who may not even be making pipes in the near future.

As an aside, my band played not too long ago, and a lady asked how much our cd's cost. I told her $5, and she asked me why they were so cheap. I told her they weren't very good. She laughed and bought two.
Now, are my carefully handcrafted songs worth $5?
I couldn't possibly say...
Are they worth more or less?
Who knows...
Not being in a position of having to live off of my art means that I don't really have to decide what it's "worth"...

Oh, and guitar prices?
Yikes!!
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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:01 am

Harlock999 wrote:
glpease wrote:
the prices being asked by relative beginners is both ludicrous, and insulting to those who have worked long and hard to establish their position in the market. In too many cases, I've seen copycat work with copycat pricing.

I was looking at the very decent work of a new pipe maker at a show once, and shocked by the arrogance of his pricing. I enquired over things like whom he had worked with, and the names he offered were other relatively new pipe makers, some of whom also price their work according to what better-known makers charge. Interesting.

If you really want to look at price and market silliness, look at electric guitars...
Is there market speculation going on, with collectors wanting to get a piece by a hot new talent before his/her prices really go through the roof? Do pipe collectors see themselves as patrons, nurturing the talent of young artists, and willing to spend large sums on unproven talent to do so? And by unproven, I mean someone who may not even be making pipes in the near future.

I believe this is exactly what is happening.

In addition, recently a well known author has stated that the reason some artisan pipe prices have gone the roof, is that artisan pipe collecting has become a popular fad among wealthy Chinese businessmen. He also speculates that when they tire of the flavor of the month, and possibly move on to another hobby as they have done in the past, the bottom may fall out of the market.

Couple this scenario, with other popular authors speculating on a particular up and coming pipe carver who's pipes they favor, and you have a situation that is ideal for some opportunistic entremanure to come along and try to capitalize on the situation.

However, the reality is, that there ARE some very talented up and coming pipe carvers, who are selling pipes currently, that are a fantastic bargin at their current pricing. As they mature, their work gets appreciably better, and there will be a transitory phase in their work, when some of their best work can be had for a song.

The fact that there are these type opportunities being offered at pipe shows, and some collectors are buzzing about specific carvers, means that there are opportunities for mediocre carvers to sell mediocre pipes at outlandish price points. I'm sure that seasoned pipe collectors can tell you many stories about pipes that were sold for exorbitant prices in the past, only later to see the bottom fall out of the market on a particular carvers pieces.

It's really no different than people buying electronics and such, and then only 2 years later seeing that same product sold for 30% of what they paid. The value of a dollar is relevant to the person who earns it, or never earned it, as the case may be.

In spite of the fact that some pipemen with poor judgement will lose thousands of dollars while enjoying the hobby of pipe collecting, I believe overall this is a fantastic time in the history of the hobby to be a pipe smoker and pipe collector.

Good old common sense is always useful in any endeavor, and the reality to it is, that a pipe is a piece of wood with a hole drilled through it, that you take one end, and set on fire. I expressed this sentiment to the owner of a pipe shop recently, and he looked at me like I just kicked his elderly mother in the stomach. geek

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:36 am

You guys are parsing the symptoms of the root problem : inflation.

Back in the 1960s, "smart money" started speculating in collectables -- old masters paintings, rare postage stamps & coins, Tiffany/Faberge stuff, Stradivari violins and similar items. Because they held their value against inflation and even appreciated.

A great Strad that sold fairly for $20,000 in 1962 now fetches somewhere around $10,000,000.00 I can remember a model home (stick-built, with a brick exterior) a builder put up that year with a sign reading "This house on your lot for $9,999.99"

It's a wolf pursuing everyone that's eating more and more of the weak, the unlucky and the elderly. What we're really discussing is whether this maker or that one (who has precious little choice about the costs involved) "deserves" to put bread on his family's table by making pipes and selling them for enough to make it worth his time, energy and cost.

And what a bummer it is that fewer and fewer people can afford them.

What a Face
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