Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Taking Advice for What It's Worth

It's sort of a funny thing to give people the advice to question advice, but that's what we're here to do today. So make sure you even take this with a grain of salt.

You see, Monkey + Seal are big fans of taking advice and well-meaning suggestions and that sort of thing in context. Why? Because no one knows you like you know yourself (in theory..sometimes Monkey thinks Seal knows him better than he knows himself). Often times Monkey + Seal will buy information products (ie. books or e-books or guides) to help further their knowledge base. However, we know that not everything everyone says will exactly apply to us.

While it might be nice to start up an e-business that can make us $30k a year in a few months of really hard work, it's not really what we do. We'd much rather go the arguably harder route of doing silly things like making pictures and selling them, and teaching other artists about how they can do the same. Sometimes business models just don't work for us or our plans, and we just learn from them and move on. Sometimes they will provide a valuable insight on how we can adapt our own plans in an innovative way - but either way, we have to evaluate the information for ourselves.

An example of "advice" that artists often hear which can be totally contradictory revolves around pricing. Many of us have heard the story of that one artist who "suddenly" raises their prices to astronomical rates and becomes the biggest thing around. If we take this at face value, then shouldn't we all start selling 16x20 paintings for $4000? Alternatively, we hear that we need to lower our prices as in a struggling economy, a "luxury" item like art needs to come down in price as people don't have as much money to spend. Faced with these conflicting pieces of information, do we raise or lower our prices?

Well, it depends. The artist who suddenly had the price jump in their paintings probably suddenly went from showing in a cafe to showing in a well-established gallery. The gallery wouldn't let you charge $200 for a 16x20 since it's not worth their wallspace, while if you're showing in a cafe you probably won't run into someone willing to drop $4000 on a painting (but then again it also depends where you are). Alternatively, if you're already selling work and you lower your price, suddenly collectors might think that you're devaluing your work and then people might stop buying altogether.

The correct answer is that it depends on you. We can't answer all the questions for you, but can only advice you really exploring and figuring out if any given piece of information is right for you and your situation. We can always (and will) let you know what has worked for us, but you have to take that information and figure out if it'll work for you in your situation.

All in all, the message to take home is that there are no easy answers. Without sitting down and talking one-on-one with you, most guides and books will only take you so far (although sometimes you'll find a writer who works perfect for you!). It's up to you to sift through the advice and get to what is your own personal answer. Good luck!

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