Currently I’m transitioning into producing art jewelry; but I make
my living as a commercial sculptor and prototype painter (mostly
toys and housewares).
When I started out (years ago), I worked for someone else and made
almost nothing. Then I started my own business, and made twice as
much the first year; then doubled that the following year. The past
four years, it seems to have leveled out.
Pricing is and always has been a concern. I’m very good at what I
do (licensors almost always approve my work on the first submittal),
but I’ve always had to charge less than my competitors for two
annoying reasons – I’m female (in a male dominated, competitive
profession), and I’m a single-person studio instead of a large shop
with many apprentices (large shop owners always whine to clients
about overhead – always forgetting that it was by their own choice.
Being large allows them to take in huge volumes of business, paying
apprentices low wages, and gaining a rather large profit margin for
All of my work is freelance, and pricing is all by competitive bid.
If the client has enough time, they might also choose to have the
product prototyped in China, where prototyping is often done for
free, as long as production takes place at their manufacturing
So what do I say to myself as a “pep talk”? I remind myself that I
always do quality work – the best that I’m capable of in the time
allowed. I remind myself that money either means little to the
client, or that it means everything, and that either response is
possible at any given time. I remind myself that any choice the
client makes is either personal (they like me and like to work with
me, or they like my competitor because he takes them to nightclubs)
or not (they hate their job and just need to push the work through).
I remind myself that it’s really a “craps shoot”, and my price
either matters or it doesn’t.
For the clients “on the fence”, of which there are very few, I will
explain the benefits of hiring me, and allow them their choice.
(That’s what free will is all about…)
In the end – and here’s the dorky part – I believe that the
universe loves us and the universe wants us to succeed (you know,
like the weeds that grow in the cracks in the asphalt on the