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January 28, 2023, 08:08:33 pm
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Author Topic: To what extent does "time = value"?  (Read 191 times)
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« on: January 07, 2023, 05:07:49 am »

Recently saw some debate over a hoodie sold by an artist that went for $500. People were saying that the price was way too high for the hoodie, or that the hoodie looked like it could easily be diy-ed. The artist themselves said that the hoodie was a OOAK art piece that they hand drew on, and that the price was to justify the time spent on the piece, and that he was simply being "paid what he was worth".

Now that the context is done, the whole thing got me thinking about the concept of time = value. Should artworks always be priced based on the amount of effort and labour put into it? Or should there be a standard? Is it a case-by-case scenario?

Btw, here's the link to the video people were arguing under

  despite it all, I'll continue 
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2023, 07:45:18 pm »

There's a conversation in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia that fits here.

Frank: "So that painting I bought from you is worthless?"

Art Dealer: "Of course not! It meant something to you. It's worth exactly what you paid."

Frank: "I wanna sell it back."

Art Dealer: "Okay, in that exchange it would only be worth what I would pay for it, which is nothing."


But seriously, I've seen art valued in a few different ways. There is commissioned art, where the artist will either charge an hourly amount or a flat fee for the finished work. I personally think a flat fee for any commissioned work is incredibly dangerous to the artist, because the client may refuse the finished product and demand changes which adds to the time spent without the artist being able to charge extra for it. If you're billing hourly, the client should know the quality of your finished work from your portfolio and the artist should have to give an estimate of how many hours it will take.

But then there is art that is created by the artist of their own volition and then sold as a finished piece. It's high risk to the artist because maybe no one will pay what they're asking for it. If no one buys it at the asking price, the artist will be forced to either lower the price or continue to wait for someone who may or may not show up to buy it (and in the meantime not make any money from it). But if someone sees a piece of art, sees the price tag, and decides that the price is acceptable, then the art was worth at least that much to the buyer.

The amount of time spent on the piece doesn't really matter in this case, unless that's something the buyer factors into their own decision to purchase it. And no one else's valuation of the piece matters. They can criticize and argue all they want (like in that instagram thread you linked) but they're wasting their time because the only two people that it should matter to are the artist and the buyer.
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2023, 09:24:09 pm »

Id also add that when you're buying art, your not just paying for the time that went into the physical artwork. The value also includes all of the time and skill and emotional development that has gone into the artists whole career up to that point. You are buying into the story of that artist and the history of the era that artwork is created in!

As mambo says, its upto the artist and the buyer to say what the value of that story is, but its always more than the physical work. Plenty of artists over value their story and plenty undervalue their story too. Often that value is more about perceived self worth than actual money, so you'll find artists who have rooms full of unsold work because the world does not perceive them the same way they perceive themselves.

I guess I'd argue that all art is just stories, and all economics are stories too - its all just things we make up because we feel like it for a while  :P That doesn't detract from it though!  :defrag:

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2023, 09:02:17 am »

Spinning in circles for a long time doesn't make the final product any better.

Value is definetly not following time. And the value is decided by the buyer, not the seller.

That being said, with big determination and big time being spent on something, going over the abyss of scrapping the whole thing alltogether including days/months/years of work because something went wrong, the unimaginable can be reached. For whatever reason I think now about the Zuse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z1_(computer)) computer or the Babbage machine (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Babbage_difference_engine_drawing.gif).
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2023, 12:31:51 pm »

A lot of artists selling commissions are basing their prices on the amount of work instead of the time it'll take them. Portrait/waste up/full height, number of characters, the amount of coloring, the type of the background, additional difficulties like, say, detailed armor, etc etc etc.

I honestly prefer that approach myself, since time=value is a tricky concept. On one hand, what's stopping me from lying about the amount of time I spent on the piece? (Besides me being a decent person, of course, but we're talking hypotetically here).

There's the other side of that same coin, too. I work with texts for a living, writing them and translating them. The thing is, I'm a really quick writer. Not bragging - I won't estimate the quality of my own work here - but as far as speed goes, I'm fast. I think fast, I type fast, and if the work in question is interesting then I'll also be doing it in one go. If I measured the value of my work by time - I would be paid sheer cents.

In that regard I agree with Melon - when you're skilled at your job and you do it fast, then the time that counts here is not only the one you've spent on the piece itself, but also all the time that took you to get to this level.

And that's kinda hard to explain to some customers, which is why I prefer the workload method of calculating the cost. In terms of texts, it's usually about the amount of words or symbols. With art, well, see the beginning of this post.

I actually think that the concept of time spent adding to the value is sort of fair - if you spent N hours of your life doing something for a customer, you'd want to be paid something roughly equal to at least a paying wage for that amount of hours. Otherwise, in this economy, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Now, the question of "Is anyone willing to pay you that amount of money for your work?" is a whole other matter entirely...

(P.S. I guess this falls back into the realm of "Should the worth of art be judged with capitalistic measures" which was brought up in another thread some time ago, and like... Oh, believe me, if I wasn't a hopeless optimist putting my art and self-expression above what's "profitable" or "sustainable", I wouldn't be perpetually broke :P )

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