Quite hearteningly, those who appreciate art and hand-made crafts have become increasingly vocal about their desire to see artists in all their various mediums be fairly compensated.
But the artists themselves sometimes struggle with charging what they and their work are worth, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor lurkingrigatoni regularly received commission requests from a friend who they knew would be a difficult customer.
When the friend balked at their prices when they finally shared them, the Original Poster (OP) felt guilty for asking for so much.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for quoting my friend an exorbitant price?”
The OP enjoyed crocheting as a hobby.
“I crochet as a hobby. I started doing it about six or seven years ago to help cope with my anxiety.”
“Over time I’ve become pretty good at it and have done a few commissions for small things. I recently opened my own website where I post my patterns and tips for free.”
“Sometimes I’ll sell something on there I made that I wouldn’t keep or give away but in general, I don’t actively sell my stuff.”
A friend was very interested in commissioning work from the OP.
“I have a friend, ‘Lynn,’ who is always asking me to make her stuff.”
“I’ve made her a scarf and hat set, and I gifted her a baby blanket for her rainbow baby, all of which have been free.”
“She asks me to make my more complicated stuff for her like cardigans, large Amigurumi toys (I am not an Amigurumi person), and complex blankets, which I always say no to, because as much as I love Lynn, she is very demanding and I do this for fun.”
“I enjoyed giving her gifts, but I don’t like feeling obligated. It takes me a while to finish complex things and I know she wouldn’t be ok with waiting for more than like a week.”
The OP tried to deter Lynn’s interests with high prices.
“Recently I posted pictures of a patchwork cardigan I made, and Lynn texted me, asking me to make one for her.”
“I said no because it took me a month to finish, and I had other things I wanted to make.”
“She asked if she paid for it, would I make it for her.”
“I told her that based on the cost of materials and an hourly wage for skilled labor, it would cost $400.”
“She said that was ridiculous and there was no way that cardigan would be worth $400.”
“I told her I agree but that’s why I usually don’t take commissions and would rather give away stuff I make.”
“She told me I was being greedy.”
“Realistically if I took a commission for this cardigan, I’d charge like $75 (3x cost of materials) and give a two-month timeline, but I wanted to deter her from asking again.”
“AITA for quoting her such a high price?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some didn’t think the OP charged that high of a price at all.
“OP, you may think $400 is unreasonably expensive. But it is not.”
“There is a reason why hand-made goods cost so much more than mass-produced machine-made goods. It’s the labor cost. Don’t sell yourself short.”
“Carry on gifting as you like. But don’t underprice if you actually accept a commission.”
“NTA.” – Emotional-Ebb8321
“NTA… I don’t crochet but I am a career blacksmith (28 years in the trade self-taught starting a 9 years old) and I can tell you without any doubt at all that:”
“1. The vast majority of people have no concept of handmade work the time, investment, and dedication it takes to learn has value, and we live in a world of cheap mass production, not quality handmade skilled labor.”
“2. You are too cheap. Don’t ever feel bad for charging a fair value for your work. $400 for a handmade item that takes a month to make is quite literally too cheap, it should be double that.”
“3. You are keeping an old skill alive, and a time will come when such a skill will nearly die out with just a few people left in the world doing it as has happened to so incredibly many skills.”
“Be proud of what you have learned and never EVER feel bad about charging accordingly.”
“I used to be like you, not seeing the value in my work, and to this day, I still deal with the ‘Walmart crowd’ with the mindset of, ‘I can get it at Walmart for $20 so that’s what you should charge!’ Pity those people and send them on their merry way because if they don’t value your work, they won’t ever value YOU.” – SnooPineapples6778
“I have a small fiber arts business and everything I make is completely handmade. I can only imagine how long the cardigan took to make and most people sell them for $400+, from what I’ve seen.”
“I don’t charge by the hour, but definitely more than $20 dollars for an item. People really don’t understand how much time and effort go into making art.” – screechingraspberry
“Handcrafted objects are very undervalued by those who cannot create them. I think a PIMA penalty should be added to the price for anyone trying to ask for a lower price.”
“PIMA is for ‘Pain in My A**.'” – Katmom_
“My mom is a ‘full-time’ potter now that she’s retired from teaching elementary school art and constantly feels like she’s overcharging for her wares.”
“If anyone knows anything about hand-thrown pottery, they know that it can take months to complete a piece. Wedging, throwing, trimming, first firing, glazing, decorating, second firing, etc.”
“Add to that you have to make enough items to fill the kiln to make it worth a firing.”
“That’s just the physical labor… don’t forget the YEARS of practice/technical knowledge/space it takes to make a good pot and the cost of supplies.”
“$45 for a fully decorated mug with a hand-built possum on the handle is a steal IMO (in my opinion).” – yramha
“I knit for my own sake of therapy, and as an heirloom, I am making my soon-to-be niece-in-law a full-size afghan, using a braided cable pattern. The materials alone cost me over $400 and I’ve spent since Thanksgiving working on it.”
“If I put a price on it based on what I make per hour at work, the afghan would cost over $1600.00.”
“OP should only do the things they want to do, when they want to, for whom they want to!”
“Even when I make scarves and hats to donate to the homeless shelters, it’s because I want to, and know they will be appreciated.”
“OP’s ‘friend’ sounds like she wouldn’t appreciate any of the time, labor, and love that goes into those projects.” – Plastic-Ad-5171
Others agreed and said the OP should be fairly compensated.
“One of the best things I ever heard and learned was, ‘You’re not paying me for my hours or materials; you’re paying me for the years I took developing these skills.'” – Adrock_4the_Win
“I have an ongoing argument with my farrier about this. He says, ‘It only took me five minutes and I was on the yard anyway. No charge.'”
“But I say, ‘It only took you five minutes because you’ve spent years developing your skills. Take some money.'”
“I’ve resorted to hiding money in his truck when he isn’t looking.” – Financial-Astronomer
“My favorite little quip I ever heard from a skilled craftsman was, ‘It’s not too expensive, you just can’t afford it.'”
“This is the counter to the Walmart crowd. Yes, you can buy cardigans real cheap. Probably whatever you might make as a blacksmith, too.”
“But an expertly handcrafted version of that thing holds way more value. Maybe it’s a little brash, but so is telling you that your thing isn’t worth your price.” – Gamebugio
“I cross-stitch and crochet, and the group of people I will do either for at this point is vanishingly small.”
“Niblings get a single blanket when I get to it and other than that, I make things for my wife and my best friend, and that’s it.”
“It took me too many years of making things for people to see how undervalued I was and the projects were. Setting that boundary with the crochet and cross-stitch actually helped me set a lot of other necessary boundaries with folks who have been happy to take and take and take.” – _daikon
“There’s a reason I won’t do a cross-stitch project for someone. It’s very tedious, time-consuming work. Plus the added eye strain.”
“I have done a piece or two or a few for my best friend and my mother. I spent around three months on the last one. Swore I’d never do one of those as a present again. An hour a day for 12 weeks was no small commitment.”
“I say here’s a needle and floss, you try it. Never undervalue your work.” – Ok_Seaworthiness7314
While the OP felt conflicted about giving their friend such a high price, as well as the friend’s reaction to it, the subReddit did not agree.
Rather, they felt the OP needed to better value their own crafting skills, as well as their time.
Also, if working on a cardigan would take a month to complete, $400 doesn’t seem like that much money at all.