This post might sound un-professional to some of you, specially if you come from the accountant world and you tend to calculate and measure everything. It also might sound crazy to some of you while to others it might feel familiar and comforting. I am all right with what ever you might feel towards it- it’s your thing.
I decided to tell this little story because it is a tender heartwarming story. It commemorates my friend Blanca Orozco, it is a story about sisterhood, and empowerment. I truly feel this story might encourage other women artists to find their own way and authenticity when it comes to choosing whatever in their life, but mostly – their own worth.
This story is not a financial advice what ever, it is the description of a personal experience, and for a good reason it is titled “My Pricing”.
Liona & Serena Strings, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
It all started when the music...
Not long after I first started painting dot mandalas, I was invited by my friend Blanca to perform in her studio. I am a singer and together with my band, Serena Strings, we were just working on our second album “Sefarad”. It is an album of our own interpretations of Sephardic music and we are very proud of it and of all the magic it brought to our lives since it came out (will defiantly write about it one day).
Blanca Orozco in her studio, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
At the time, we decided to take the brave step and open a crowdfunding campaign on the internet which was about to take all my time and attention for the next few months.
I was writing to all our friends, family and fans, asking them to take part and purchase our album in advance. So Blanca, an amazing woman painter, a good friend and now an angle, offered us to come and play at her little studio in Tarifa. She painted a beautiful painting inspired by a song we recorded for the album and offered to raffle it among the audience. She even gave the option of purchasing a ticket to those who couldn’t come to the concert but were interested to take part in her painting raffle.
Blanca´s painting for the raffle in our concert, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
A few days before our concert while I was talking with her on the phone to see how the ticket sales were going, she suddenly said to me: I know you paint mandala stones, I saw the photos you shared on your Facebook and I thought you should bring some and sell them after the concert.
I must say I was surprised, not by the fact she had offered it, but because I wasn’t even thinking of selling my art.
Don’t get me wrong, 15 years before that life changing event in Blanca’s studio, I owned my own little art company with employees and management. A company I created that produced little artsy hand-painted home accessories, regularly selling them to more than 250 gift shops all over Israel. I wasn’t dealing with the managing and sales of the company but I was the creator of it and was responsible for development, design and production. After a couple of years the company was running, we went through difficult times caused by political syrcumscances (a story for a whole other post) and shut down the business. I remember it as a painful traumatic step, specially because I had to fire people. As a result, for years after, I refused be responsible of other people’s lives and income.
Although I kept working as a painter, I now worked by myself and mainly offered mural paintings and special patterns for walls. I was enjoying being alone with the walls, and with time I have stopped painting, moved to Spain and turned to music. It wasn’t as profitable as painting but it healed my soul.
An open window in Blanca´s studio, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
When Blanca offered to sell my mandala stones in her studio, I suddenly realised I had no idea of how to price them. I was so surprised and overwhelmed by the idea of selling them at all. I told her I’d think about it, and asked her: What do you think I should charge for them?
Blanca laughed: You created them, you are the only one who knows what they’re worth. In other words, what she said was: You are the only one who knows YOUR worth.
I can remember the feeling of warmth going up my body.
It was an A-HA! moment. I don’t think Blanca realised what I was going through at that instant. It was a fabulous mental quantum leap, one super-gift, that a simple, innocent sentence had offered to the ignorant I was.
Blanca and I arranging the stones for sale before the concert, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
That very same night, as I was sitting at my painting table (at the time, I only painted at night), I looked at my finished pieces. I only had a few of them- those I didn’t give as presents. I took one mandala stone in my hand and carefully looked at it. If I should know my own value, maybe my art knows its own value… What’s your value? I asked it. 10 euros, it answered.
Yep. The stone answered. I swear I heard it.
I quickly put it aside and took another one. How much money are you worth? – 15 euros, I heard the stone’s voice in my head. Or was it my voice?
I decided not to argue. After all, people might think you are crazy if they saw you arguing with a stone.
Now seriously, the number I was hearing in my head, wasn’t a random number.
Holding the stone, looking at it, all the parameters included in its creation were suddenly clear – the time spent, the material, the outcome, and most important- the love and soul poured into it. It wasn’t really a measured thing, but it was an obvious one, an intuition based on the actual process that took place while creating that certain piece.
Our concert at Blanca´s studio, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
The event went so well!
Blanca helped us raise 500€ to help with the costs of the production of our new album. Her name is proudly featuring on our album’s libretto and a picture of the beautiful painting she raffled that night is the middle page background of the libretto.
Our audience and us after our concert at Blanca´s studio, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
Blanca died of cancer on February last winter.
I am full of gratitude towards her beautiful soul. She always helped artists, specially musicians, with her generous, giving spirit. I know she is now watching us all from the heavens.
Detail from Balnca´s studio, photo by Tomoyuki Hotta.
listen to my stones
That night I sold the few stones I brought with me. Those were the first mandala stones I ever sold.
Since then, the level of my painting improved, my stones continue to tell me their value, just as they tell me what colours to use and what pattern to paint. The whole process is intuitive, including pricing.
Moreover, a few months later, I was already selling on the internet. I remember looking at a stone which I thought was specially beautiful but wasn’t selling for a while, I wondered – why aren’t you selling? Suddenly I heard: It’s because you priced me 110€ and I am 132€.
I listened, changed its price on my Online Shop. An hour later the stone was sold.
I don’t argue with my stones and if I am not calm, I postpone pricing until I am. Then I smile at my art, thank muse for using me as a tool to manifest it and ask it for its price.
Next time you are not sure what is your creation’s value, just ask it!
I’d love to know your experience – please share your thoughts in the comments.