Pricing an art doll to sell - always a nightmare!
There are so many people out there who claim to be artists then in the next breath they write themselves off by pricing their work at rates so low that they barely cover the cost of materials. I have come across many such people and have even asked them why they do this. They say that it is something they love doing and would do it even if they weren't being paid... or that it's just a hobby... or that they have a husband/partner who pays all the bills and so they don't need the money.
Some of us very much need the money. For some of us this is the day job. I might earn most of my income as a freelance designer but I need to earn money from my dolls as well. It's a hobby I simply couldn't afford if I didn't sell. I would need to go out and get a part time job again as I so often have done over the years.
When I first started making dolls, about 7 years ago, I never thought of selling them. In fact the very first doll I sold was just on my handmade bag stall at a craft fair as decoration. A lady fell in love with her and paid me as much for the doll as the bag she had originally come to buy. I was a bit flummoxed even then as to what I should sell for. You add up all the materials, even the power you use in lighting etc... that bit is straight forward. Then total up all hours of your time that went into making the doll... and what price do you put on that? I certainly can't ask the same hourly rate as I get for my design work, I would never sell a single doll!
Then there is a natural fluctuation over time. Back in the craft fair days I started putting one of two cloth dolls on my stall and priced them quite high, as my income was mainly from the bags I didn't mind if they never sold, a big like my paintings. They all sold. Then I the craft fair circuit went through a lull for various reasons and so I started to list dolls on ebay. They did NOT sell. I decided they were too pricey for that market (this was about 5 or 6 years ago) and there were nowhere near as many people making oddball/gothic dolls back then, certainly not in the UK. So I revised my patterns and made the head bigger, to accommodate much larger eyes (make them all about the face rather than elaborate costuming) and stopped using vintage/antique fabrics, simplified everything. I could make them more quickly and for less outlay, so priced them much cheaper. They started to sell on Ebay. I just wasn't as happy with what I was making anymore and decided that Ebay just wasn't the right place for me.
So then I moved to etsy, a better fit, and my dolls began to evolve into the cloth/paperclay versions I enjoy making now. They are incredibly time consuming. I love this method though. Last Christmas I made 5 paperclay doll torso's over vintage glass bottles and sold two immediately to friends, one I kept and the other two were listed in my etsy shop... where they have sat all year gathering metaphorical dust and favourites. If it wasn't for those favourites, and the many treasuries they have been featured in, I would just assume they aren't liked. After such a long time and no sales, I must assume it's the price that's putting people off. Today, I halved the prices of both dolls. A valuable lesson, in this bad economy people just don't have the money to spare and I again need to simplify my dolls I guess. I wonder about trotting out my original cloth doll pattern and try making that first style again maybe? I will give the paperclay a rest after finishing the dolls on my work desk and go back to where it all started and hope to finally make a sale this year! Fingers crossed!