Monday, April 3, 2017

Valuing your Art
SAQA MA/RI Regional Meeting
March 11, 2017
New England Quilt Museum

Panelists Janice Jones, Vivien Sayre and Sarah Ann Smith led a discussion on Valuing your Art.  Vivien Sayre, a certified Quilt Appraiser, opened the discussion with a cautionary statement. The decision on how to value your art work can easily become confused with an internal dialogue about your self worth. It is the job of a quilt appraiser to look at art objectively by asking a series of questions, and as an artist, you can ask the same questions to help you determine the value of your work. 

1) What have you spent to create the piece? Keep an accurate and detailed list of expenses whether it be commercial fabric, thread, embellishments, batting, paint or other materials. For items like hand dyed fabric, be sure to include the cost of the dye and any supplies used in the dyeing process. Find a method that works best for you to track these costs, whether it be by keeping a notebook in your studio or something on your phone. A baseline calculation would be that a piece is worth 3 times the materials cost.

2) How much time was spent creating the piece? Again, come up with a method for tracking the time you spend on each piece. This can be cumbersome, but it will give you a very important factor in setting the value. Do you have an hourly rate you charge for creative work?

3) Do you have a history of previous sales? Keeping accurate records of pieces sold will help you get a realistic idea of the market for your work. Note the sale price, but also a description of the piece - size, materials, complexity, etc.

4) Has the piece won awards? Winning awards or other recognition increases the value of a piece. Keep track of which awards were given, when, and any financial awards as these all add value. Also, keep track of where the piece has been exhibited, especially juried shows.

5) How many gallery shows have you had? Solo shows or shows where you are the featured quilter add to your reputation and thus to the overall value of your work.

6) Know your market. The crafts market is at a low today, but the fine arts market is stronger. This means that in general these days your work will be valued more as art than crafts (quilts). If you want to understand your market better, go to local gallery shows, museum exhibits, auctions, etc. and keep track of what fiber art is selling for. Again, keep detailed notes as to size, materials, artist's reputation etc. This is something like selling a house - you have to find comparable sales in order to make an educated decision about what to set as a value.

7) Go to where the market is strongest. If a certain gallery has a strong history of selling pieces for higher prices, this is a good place to offer your work for sale. If you are looking at a crafts fair and the   past sales indicate lower prices, it might not be worth investing in renting a space.

8) Look at other quilt artists online. How are they pricing their work? Are they in the same geographic area? How does your work and reputation compare to them? Is their work selling?  Take a look at major fiber art online venues such as the SAQA online auction, and

9) Get an appraisal. Certified appraisers spend many hours researching all these questions for each appraisal. At the bottom of this blog post there is a list of certified appraisers in the New England area. Appraisers can give you either a Fair Market Value, Insurance Value (which is high because it is based on replacement cost) or donation value. 

Janice Jones spoke from the artists point of view. She talked about how she calculates the value of her work for pricing purposes and how this relates to the venues where she sells her work. Price per square inch gives her a general range but she also takes into account an hourly rate for her time in order to account for pieces which might be either simpler or more complex. Because galleries charge a commission, she notes it is important to price your work high enough to include this commission. Janice noted that it is well worth paying this commission because a good gallery will promote your work and therefore lead to more sales.

Sarah Ann Smith uses a similar per inch formula to help with consistency and encouraged artists to be objective about the quality and value of their work. As a professional, you have to recognize that the price should be based on materials + time + overhead + profit. Do not undervalue your work. In doing so you undercut other artists and lower the market value of art quilts as a whole.  The price you charge for someone coming to your studio, the price online and the price in a gallery should all be the same. The only instance in which Sarah might see lowering the price of a piece would be when dealing with a collector who has bought multiple pieces already. 

Sarah also noted that the value of your art is based on your level of professional development. This means that building a resume which includes exhibits entered, awards, publications, and pieces sold all contribute to the value of your body of work. Your overhead costs need to take into account the time and expense it takes to build this reputation through a website, social media, printed materials, mailings, etc. Make sure your work is presented in the best possible light - literally! The quality of the photographs of your work is very important. Overhead also needs to take into account the cost of your studio space, computers, printers, memberships, website fees, etc. 

As we wrapped up the discussion, the question of insuring your art was brought up. As you develop a body of work, it is important to carry insurance to cover any unforeseen calamity. The Hartford offers a group insurance policy which quilters can be added to at any point in the year. This insurance is not prohibitively expensive, is very simple to sign up for, and is a business expense that is well worthwhile.  Information on this insurance policy can be found below.

As you can see, the discussion was thoughtful, based on years of experience, and targeted to art quilters. If you would like to read further on the question of pricing your art quilts, Sarah suggested an article on which can be found here.

Surrounding us in the classroom gallery of the museum were the 41 quilts in Water is Life. This is the 4th Quilt for Change exhibit I have organized and I hope you will have a chance to see the exhibit at the museum or as it travels with Mancuso Quilt Festivals. 28 of there artists in the exhibit are SAQA members.

We closed with Show and Tell including pieces from Diane Harris Powers and Stephanye Schulyer of the NH/VT/ME regional group that joined us for the meeting. We were also to  5 very special quilts from Vivien's  private collection.

We hope you will join us for our next meeting on June 3 at Blaine's Sewing Center in Cranston RI where Carol Anne Grotrian will talk about "Composing your Art."

Society of Quilters - Quilt Insurance

This insurance covers your quilts and items that you need to make your quilts including sewing machines.  We cover these items anywhere in the U.S. and Canada and this does include shipping.

The cost is $1.18 per $100 of value; which is $118 for $10,000 (subject to an $88 minimum premium).  There is a $500 deductible per incident.  The premium is paid annually.

There are 3 ways to value your quilt(s)
Certified Appraisal
Established Market Value (sale of 2 or more quilts)
If the quilt was purchased, receipt
If none of the 3 apply, then it is cost of material.

The carrier is Hartford.

This is a master policy under the name Society of Quilters.  The policy period is 2-1-17 to 2-1-18.  You can be added at any time during the policy period and would be charged a pro-rated premium.  We add you onto this policy as an additional named insured.

For mor information please contact:
Chris Johnston, CIC
1-800-688-7472 ex 41282

AQS Certified Appraisers in the New England Area*

Massachusetts           New Hampshire                                                

Marjorie Childers Julie Crossland
298 Jarvis Ave. Apt. #101 5 Harvest View Circle
Holyoke, MA 01040 Hudson, NH 03051
Phone: 413-539-5857 Phone: 603-595-9519
E-mail: E-mail:

Vivien Lee Sayre Gerald Roy
9 Maple Lane P.O. Box 432
Marshfield, MA 02050 Warner, NH 03278
Phone: 781-834-1261 Phone: 603-456-6281
E-mail: E-mail:

Maine Connecticut

Bonnie Dwyer Lois Palmer
35 Estates Dr., Unit 1 1379 North Stone Street
Manchester, ME 04351 West Suffield, CT 06093
Phone: 207-622-6202 Phone: 860-668-2710
E-Mail: E-mail:

New York Sue Reich 28 Scofield Hill Road
Eugenia Barnes Washington Depot, CT 06794
2524 Platt Road Phone: 860-868-0028
Marcellus, NY 13108 E-mail:
Phone: 315-673-4334
E-mail: New York Continued:

Linda Hunter Elizabeth Davis
5229 Mapleton Road 257 Wardell Road
Lockport, NY 14094 Rush, NY 14543
Phone: 716625-8039 Phone: 585-533-4404
E-mail: E-mail:

Joyce Fischer
137 Connecticut Ave.
Massapequa, NY 11758
Phone: 516-541-0505

*Additional information can be found at The Professional Association of Appraisers – Quilted Textiles –

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