Day 99: Why Don’t Muslims Value Art? Part 2
(100 Burpees done)
I always felt uncomfortable talking about money and pricing about my work. I don’t know why but it definitely didn’t help me that whatever price I gave I was being told was too much. For example, I had done a series of flower paintings on A3 paper, this was just before I really dove deep into finding out how to price my artwork. So I had a few of these A3 paintings hanging up to dry in my living room when my neighbour came round with one of her friends, both of them being African ladies and Muslim but from two different countries.
They both stood admiring the artworks for a while and then my neighbours friend asked the dreaded question: ‘how much are you selling them for?’ I replied in all naivety: ‘thirty pounds’, (I really had no idea how to price artwork). ‘Ah Ah! That’s expensive!’ she said. My neighbour looked at the expression on my face, I must have looked hella uncomfortable, so the said to her friend: ‘it takes her a long time to do these, that’s her work, she needs to make a living’.
It wasn’t the first time hearing this.
I took it as a lesson. I knew that the price I quoted was no where near what it should be for a piece of art, at that rate I should be selling prints from Argos or something. In fact reproduction prints cost even more than the price I quoted her for that size.
I’ve noticed in the Muslim community where I live that this is common. Many Muslim I know are creating the kind of artworks that Muslims want to hang in their house, namely the Arabic calligraphy and geometric art or beautiful henna designs. I’ve seen sisters selling beautiful artworks like this for pittance knowing that it must have taken them hours and hours to create such works but they themselves don’t know the value of what they are making. So much so that I feel it affects the quality of the work that they produce because they are barely going to make enough money to cover even the cost of the supplies they use, therefore they will compromise on the quality of the canvases or the paint. I’ve noticed with some of the work that over a period of time these Muslim female artists in the community often abandon creating work because it doesn’t serve them financially to keep creating.
I think that many of these women also do not have experience or knowledge in how to price their artwork. In the community its all about who can give you the cheapest anything, quality is not usually the focus.
Another issue that comes into play is that I think ‘back home’ as in African countries and those with similar backgrounds such as Asian, our communities already have a mindset that does not respect the craftsman or the artisan at all. We often see that person who works in manual labour as less than and uneducated even if what they produce is beautiful and necessary for our day to day living.
For example when I was in Morocco I would see many artisans selling beautiful handmade pottery on the roadsides. Now being an African in Africa this is not uncommon seeing people sell crafts on the roadside. What’s also common is that you will never pay the price that the artisan tells you but you will haggle and get the cheapest price possible even though you may be living in a western country where the currency conversion means that you are paying almost nothing in western terms.
Its common that people in western countries go to Africa or Asia and buy these crafts very cheap and then sell them in the west at a far higher price.