We had a garage sale today, our first. We placed in the driveway a variety of items that we wanted to sell and offered them at low prices. Most of these items (e.g., books, toys VHS movies, dishes) had some value left in them but were not worth anything much to us any more. Most items sold for less than their value, but everything sold for more than they were worth to us. As the hours went by I began to think about the difference between value and worth and how it relates to the sale of art. 

There is much art with great value that I consider of little worth. Likewise, I see many pieces that are worth more than they are valued. An example, an excellent carver has sold many pieces at shows. More recently she gave up shows because her pieces weren’t selling. They were priced below what I feel their value was, yet not enough people saw the carvings’ worth. If you compared her carvings based on quality and price to others, it is clear that they were a great value. What was missing were people who saw their worth. With rare exception, art is not bought based on value, but based on worth. What is it worth to experience a piece of art as part of your life? The way it makes you feel, the thoughts that it generates, the ideas it gives you – what is that worth? And yet those things have no real value (monetarily). 

As an artist, I have to place a value on my work. Value can be determined by cost of materials, hours of work, comparison with similar items. The price that I put on each piece is one measure of that value. But the buyer is the one that places worth on my art, that is something I can not do. I can do things that contribute to the work’s value by using quality materials and crafting, but worth is less tangible. Worth is the thing that I struggle with the most in my imagery, it is the thing that I want my work to have more than its value. If my work touches you, makes you feel good, reflective, emotional, then I can say that there is worth in my work and you can tell me you value that enough to make it a part of your life.

A New Day - (c) Paul Grecian




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