Sunday, March 11, 2012


Money is a big part of the game in our hobby. One must purchase *something* in order to do anything at all, whether it' collecting, crafting, or showing. It's also a bit of a hot topic, being the root of several dramas, from squabbles amongst jealous showers and "overpriced" artists to controversy among the major producing companies. Some feel it's bad form to even speak about. But the truth is, we're all just trying to make a living. The fine line between necessity and greed can be a hazy one, and everyone has their opinion of what it is.

Whenever someone asks me how much my customs are, I can't give a definite answer. My commissions are estimated based off of the work done to them (which includes levels of dificulty, how much was resculpted, time estimated to be spent on the piece etc.) Sales pieces are sold via offers, so they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay, as it is with any piece of art, and are thus a purely indiviual basis.

This can be effected by how much the idea speaks to a prospective buyer (want), how that person or market is doing in general (funds available), and who else is trying to bid on the same piece (competition). One can also argue what's considered correct and considered more likely to win/catch the eye in the ring (popularity) or the popularity of the artist's work is also a factor (name). So you can see it's so hard to guage what something is worth because of this... where do you even start?

For example: I have completed two CM Weather Girls with roughly the same amount of work done to them. One went almost double what the other one brought in. I have no idea why this is. One was repositioned into a dynamic sliding stop, a performance shower's dream that would stand out amongst the stock horses. The other was (in my opinion) a beautifully wild romping horse at liberty that truly captured the spirit of the Arabian.

Can you tell which is the more expensive custom?

Also, I don't normally reveal the final prices of my sold customs because I don't want it to be seen as bragging or use it as an example of "status." So many artists out there have been target of judgement, bitterness, or just plain rude behavior and snarky comments because of what they charge or how the treat this very subject.

I can't even begin to fathom how to make a price list. Some go by saying something like "$50 for moving a leg." Does a leg move mean just a "heat and bend" job? What if you need to resculpt some of it? Usually if you move a leg, it affects more muscles than the average person would think. Some require you resculpt muscles on an entire leg, all the way up the haunch! Is it still $50 then? How much more do you charge?

On the other hand, if you do say you will come up with an estimate, people begin to wonder if you're just asking to be paid whatever you want. How does an artist come up with a number? Too much and they're full of themself. Too little and they aren't getting what they deserve. It goes in such big circles and back n' forths, it makes one's head hurt! This is why, for sales pieces, I prefer to start with a price I wouldn't let it go for any less, and let the buyers themselves decide the price. Sometimes I get lucky, others not as much.

This guy went WAY higher than I ever dreamed!

People also often ask me how much a model has sold for. In my opinion, I find it rude for me to tout what someone paid for one of my pieces. It's their money and their business. It's for that reason I never reveal who bought or now owns my pieces. The new owner is welcome to disclose all of that information, I just find it in poor taste to do so myself, lest they get ridiculed for paying too much, or worse, are the target of sore losers or get bombarded by people asking to buy the piece off of them.

It's for this reason that most in the hobby still has no idea who won the infamous "Victrix" (Ah, you thought I would write a post on pricing in the hobby and not mention HER?). "The Victrix" (I'm sure she has a real show name by now) was a Carol Williams Victrix resin ( a Thoroughbred-type mare) painted the most dazzling and painstakeningly detailed Appaloosa by talented Australian artist Liz Shaw ( She spent nearly over a year creating her. From her hair-by-hair coat to her liquid eyes, she almost breathes.

She also brought in over $17,000 in her auction. No, that is not a typo.

Within a week, she became the most expensive model horse ever purchased in hobby history. Understandingly, her owner remained anonymous. Although the auction also donated half of it's proceeds to cancer charity, even if you cut her price in half she's still the most expensive model ever sold (ok, probably in the top 10). Many people have given the general opinion that it is an insane price, even though it is truly an amazing model with very few equals. It's not uncommon for someone to have spent a lot of money be given a lot of flak for it. A lot of people immediately went to the comparison that that kind of money could have been used for something like a real horse or car, for example.

Now I've thoroughly rambled on about several aspects on the subject, all of it in an effort to explain my price policies (and alternatively, why I don't reveal my prices.) What it comes down to is: A piece is only worth as much as a person is willing to pay for it. It's folly to try and guess what someone will pay and set a price. You're either going to sit on it for a long time or it gets snapped up so quick you begin to wonder if you set the bar too low. And when one's entire income and ability to pay rent next month is based on the next sale, they deserve to get what they can out of it in a timely manner. There are several options to do this, and this is what works best for me.


Anonymous said...

What you have said s so true.. With you on this the whole way.. your work is brilliant.. good on you..

Anonymous said...

Ah, so that is the famous $17K model. Someone mentioned it to me as a way to let me know models are not toys.

Jah, it is a lot of money but at least it is in support of a great hobby (and charity) rather than just some blödmann showing off.

Now, if you would cast that darn Standardbred you would make ME a happy woman! Jus'sayin