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Why is art expensive?

Updated on June 4, 2012

Comparison between Bobble heads and Your Own Sculpture to determine Artistic worth

Art has been an important companion to humans, perhaps from our very own creation. We all have a need to possess an object of beauty or of human creativity. These objects can be paintings, sculptures, dolls, rocks, wooden logs, whatever your heart may fancy. We are certain to be drawn to objects that helps us recollect feelings and emotions from our past or from our fantasies.

The tricky business of evaluating art in terms of money, boils down to how much a viewer is willing to pay for the creation and creativity of a certain object. The object itself is not what is on sale, but the talent and the time it takes for an artist to produce what one desires.

To understand why some art objects are more expensive than others, I compare in this article, bobble heads with the cartoon sculptures I make. You will discover that materials and processes in making both figurines make great differences in their prices and artistic evaluation.

Differences between Bobble Heads and Your Own Sculptures

Understanding the differences

I was surprised when one day a friend told me my sculptures were too expensive; he compared my sculptures with bobble heads and told me he could get 10 bobble heads for the price of one of my sculptures. Indeed he's right, bobble heads are cheap compared to my cartoon sculptures, but, why are bobble heads cheaper? Are bobble heads art objects?

My company's name is Your Own Sculpture. I make cartoon sculptures of people who love art and cartoons alike. In this article I aim to compare my cartoon sculptures with bobble heads figurines. The differences between materials, making process and art evaluation between bobble heads and your own sculpture should help us understand why one is more expensive than the other.

What bobble heads and Your Own Sculptures are made of:

Materials

I begin by focusing on the materials used when making bobble head. Bobble heads were made of paper maché the first time they became "a hit" back in 1960's. The first bobble head ever "invented," however, was made in the 1800's. This material was then changed to ceramic. Now-a-days, bobble heads can be made out of pretty much anything: from carton to paper to clay, to ceramic, and plastic. High quality bobble heads, produced for sale purposes, are made out of poly resin. Poly resin in its natural state is commonly known as pine sap. Synthetic resin in simple terms, is plastic. This material is cheap, durable, and easy to work with. Your Own sculpture on the other hand, is made of newclay, which is a water based clay reinforced with nylon. Water based clays are not as strong as poly resin, and they are easy to work with only if you know a bit about pottery or have a talent in manipulating it into a desired shape.

The making of Bobble heads and Your Own Sculpture: - Making processes

cartoon sculpture female client
cartoon sculpture female client

The making process of bobble heads is less stressful than the work it requires to make a cartoon sculpture of clay. Poly resin becomes flexible when heat is applied to it. This makes this material great for placing it into molds. Hence, to make thousands of bobble heads as collector items, a bobble head maker uses molds to replicate his/her work. This means that only one "sculpture" is required to make a mold that will allow other bobble heads to be reproduced or duplicated.

Opposite to that is Your Own Sculpture. My cartoon sculptures have to be hand crafted because newclay is a water based clay. This sort of material isn't great for molding because of its tendency to dry out inside the molds. For this reason, to make your own sculpture requires more time, talent, and dedication. Each piece, body, hands, head....shoes, is made the instance the artist requires it. Whereas the makers of bobble heads have the advantage of having these pieces already made! Your own sculpture is also unique in that the body is customized to your desires, not customized to what the mold desires! With this I mean I do exactly everything my client requests. The picture of this cartoon sculpture is an example of how customized sculptures should look like. My client wanted her sculpture to show a professional young woman working on her laptop. Her shoes are a representation of my client's favorite shoes and her dress (with hand painted white flowers) is a replica of her favorite dress.

What features differentiate Bobble heads and Your Own sculpture

Artistic evaluation

This unique characteristic, or lack of using molds to produce your own sculpture or any other sculpture, makes hand crafted figurines a piece of art, not dolls. By all means, dolls are also an expression of someone's creativity but are not, nevertheless, an expression of artistic abilities or individuality. This concept, or this inability to replicate a piece of art work, is what separates art from just a home decor object. What one pays for when buying a unique entity or piece of art is that: the exclusivity of owning a bit of the talent and the creativity of the artist. Making objects with molds (to replicate work) devalues this concept and this exclusivity.

Are bobble heads better than Your Own Sculpture?

Conclusion

My opinion is that my cartoon sculptures are of better value than bobble heads, if you are truly looking to invest on Art object. Bobble heads cannot compare to your own sculpture in terms of materials, making process, or artistic value. The makers of bobble heads have only one thing in mind: make the figurines as cheap and as impersonal to maintain low costs and high sales. Someone like me, a creator of sculptures, just wants to make you a beautiful, high quality sculpture. That is art, an object that guarantees to stir up unique feelings and emotions.

Want to see more cartoon sculptures? - These are my cartoon sculptures of regular folks and not so popular celebs!

To see more of the cartoon sculptures I've been bragging about just visit my website at www.yourownsculpture.com, or just follow this link! I have a blog that's dusting because hardly anyone comes to say hi so by all means, feel free to browse around my site a bit.

Cool books about Arts and marketing

These may help you understand a bit more about Art marketing. Please share your knowledge on my blog or guestbook If you buy one or all of these books!!!

Feel free to write down your thoughts about Art and prices. Do you think Art is overpriced and why? Why should Art be cheap?

How do you value Art?

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    • Carmen Perdomo profile image
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      Carmen Perdomo 5 years ago

      @PeterStip: Art is produced to elevate a person's soul. Most people do not consider art a necessity even though throughout history, us humans, tend to search for beauty to escape our ugly realities. How much is this experience? Who knows!

    • Carmen Perdomo profile image
      Author

      Carmen Perdomo 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I understand your predicament. Pricing art is more of a trial and error. There is no "logical" way to figure out how much a piece of art is. The key is to find a buyer who can appreciate your work. Money is never an issue if you find "your way to your client's heart." Someone else in this world will see what you see in your art. They'll be willing to pay what they (and you) think it is worth!

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      Art is expensive because it's unique.

      There is no second art piece the same. It's not made in a factory.

      How much does a lawyer cost per hour ? It's far more expansive than the wages of artists. How much does a computer cost ? And after 5 years it's obsolete. An art piece is not.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was told or read something about art and the price, Somebody ask an artist why he was charging X amount for a painting that took him one afternoon, He told the person that the work never took him an afternoon to do but took him 20 plus years. after all the time to learn and develop his skills as an artist.

      I find it difficult to price my own artwork, I don't want to insult the buyer, but don't want to undercut myself, some paintings take over an year to complete, plus all the time it takes to research and effect i put in to my work.

      I do find it difficult to price my work..

      Another artist told me that he prices his art, after the gallery take a cut, tax, studio fee/rent, model fees, agent, materials etc, its not much more than a lot of jobs when he worked it out if he was to pay himself at an hourly rate.

    • Carmen Perdomo profile image
      Author

      Carmen Perdomo 6 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: Hi again WildFacesGallery! Thanks for stopping by and adding your opinion on this topic. I agree that marketing plays a major role when selling Art, but only as far as exposing your work to the right public. Having someone evaluate your work for your talent and creativity is still key factor in selling your pieces. That's more so when the object being sold is considered a doll product more than a proper sculpture.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      I must admit your page title confused me a bit until I read your lens. I think it is so important to set your art apart from what is more commercially known. I have a sculptor friend who created cold cast porcelain horses. They greatly resemble Breyer models (toy) horses and she has to work hard to make it clear that what she does is actual art, not a plastic toys. It all boils down to marketing I guess.