Gary's Third Pottery Blog
"Men are but gilded loam or painted clay" --Richard the Second, Shakespeare.
Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! garyrith@yahoo.com Come see me! Open studio HERE October 11-12 All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2013-2014

Saturday, January 28, 2012

bureauOcratic nightmares

I have a VERY LOW tolerance for paperwork and fuss. It takes me months to get around to filling things out.
The wife is the opposite---she reads directions, files papers, all that, and she is, amongst other things, a bookeeper. Her job is perfect for her (she'd kill me if I gave too many details so I won't) but she is an academic administrator who juggles all the balls at the circus. Well, maybe she juggles porcupines, sharp axes and knives, flaming torches, chainsaws and babies...all at once. She handles it. She also, GOD BLESS HER, handles my tax and business paperwork (see above "bookeeper"). How lucky is that, I have a business, I am incompetent at business, and she juggles babies and chainsaws all day then comes home and juggles my porcupines and flaming torches???? LUCKY ME!
Anyhow, some of this sh!t I have to do myself. The photo below is a project I have worked on for months, 3 entries for the international small teapot competition. The easy part was making 3 amazing teapots. Filling out the goldarn form online? Sheesh. I mean, filled it out, it went blank. Filled it out again, it went blank. FIVE TIMES to mounting anxiety, i mean, you worry that your credit card number or whatever is floating around out there, just waiting for the Russian mob to snatch it and start ordering Adidas from zappos for every criminal in Minsk.
Anyway, it is NOT resolved, this should-be-simple application form, but the friendly dude I called who is running it is trying to be helpful...and he tells me he hears from artists every day saying the form sux and won't work. Crapola. No wonder I hate paperwork.
I congratulated myself the other day. NY state sales tax decided they needed to know EVERYTHING about me in order for me to keep doing business in the state. A multipage thing (I file sales tax in Vermont each year too: one little slip of paper with five lines...NY has to do it the most complicated way possible...a lot of people live in Albany and need jobs and all of them were probably bullied in school and look for ways to get back at the world...through messes of paperwork).
Anyway, multi-page forms, first question was "how many people involved in your business?" and i was like TWO. There is me, then there is the wife (see above "bookeeper"). I mean, the info they wanted, my shoe size, waist size, favorite peanut butter, do I like my toothbrush with soft bristles or firmer? Paper or plastic? How about pillows, speaking of softer or firmer, and if I drink yuppie coffee, do I brew it myself or waste money at starshmucks? OK, I fill all this crapola in, 8 pages or more of bank accts, ss numbers and horrible questions....then they want me to do it again.....for the wife. Just between you and me? I went back to page one and changed the 2 people to ONE person. Only I work for this business anymore ;) I retired my wife (see above "bookeeper").
Lastly, and I think this is REALLY funny:

1) on 2 different days this week, young women looking for writing work contacted me asking if they could be hired to WRITE THIS BLOG for me. Cracks me up, because I have written this blog at least once daily for nearly 6 years, thousands of posts, obviously I am having fun and like to do it myself...what kind of idiot hires somebody to write their feckin' blog for them????? I s'pose fake blogs, like Kardashians or politicians. I mean, i earn less than a starschmucks barista, could I be earning big bucks by writing other people's blog posts? Holy cats, am I in the wrong damn business?????????? (see above "bookeeper")

2) I listed a teapot for 34 bucks the other morning, it is awesome (with a skull!) and that same day a lady wrote to ask me to cut shipping on a bunny teapot...which is the exact same size and effort, and priced at 26 bucks plus shipping, in other words, comparitively a GREAT DEAL. Does anybody realize what shipping costs, plus etsy and credit card fees, plus the packing and shipping? I mean, you just charge a fee to cover those set things like postage and all, and you just pack things. I earn less than a barista as I say above, but do people go into Walmart and argue they won't pay sales tax????? It is the exact same thing and really pisses me off when somebody asks for a discount: MY PRICES ARE ALREADY AS LOW AS POSSIBLE and besides, am I making you buy something from me? Is this like, you are dying of thirst and I charge you 100 bucks for a glass of water? Sorry, but please, either buy it or don't buy it, I am doing the best I can, please respect the artist and the very low paid work they do (see above, "bookeeper" and "barista"---I have noticed, btw, that some friends have lowered their shipping fees on their pots---because the customers may have complained, and all the potter can do is lower the shipping price and raise the item price...so in the case of the bunny teapot, I would be happy to lower the shipping price, but the teapot is no longer 26, I could make it 34 like the skull teapot......)
Final thought: each one of the 3 teapots below is the same size as either the 34 dollar skull teapot or the 26 dollar bunny teapot, but EACH will be priced at 100+ dollars.... EACH...just to give you some perspective....

(pottery by Gary Rith)

16 comments:

~ Sil in Corea said...

Oooo, Gary! "Bookkeeper" is one of the few words in English to have THREE DOUBLE LETTERS IN A ROW!!!
Feel free to delete this when you have repaired your wife's job description.
---the English teacher

Gary's third pottery blog said...

yeah, spellcheck was pointing that out about bookeeper, but I figured it was WRONG ;) and I used to be an English teacher too, but my spelling becomes more open minded as I get older! this is prob. why people offer to write my blog...although if you can believe it, the second writer's email had typos in it...DUH!!!!!! don't apply for a writing job with a lot of typos in your message....

cookingwithgas said...

HI cousin Gary- you have broached a great subject and one that could take hours to talk about, you would have to buy me a beer, but here goes some thoughts.
We have a retail store and have always done shipping. It use to be that shipping was inexpensive, but no more. Shipping and then packing and packing material all need to be figured in.
We charge actual shipping cost plus a boxing fee that runs between 4 and 8 dollars.
The thing about places like Es*Y is you can not do this so many folks look for a price or include a price as fair as they can without losing too much money off the price of the pottery or item.
If you don't charge enough then you the artist lose money.
You need to
take in the cost of fees as well.
With all this said to ask for a break on anything is asking for the artist to give you money.
Your teapots should cost more, they are extremely reasonable on price. In fact they should be giving you a tip!
Tip jar!
So I back you up 100 % on this.
I always wonder if someone would willing give 10-20% of their paycheck back as soon as they got it....

soubriquet said...

Gary, you're so right. That Missus Tastycakes is a gem. Don't ever forget to tell her how wonderful she is, because no man can afford to lose the favour of a woman who's juggling flaming baby porcupines, I mean, get distracted for a moment and you'd be knee-deep in the rush of firemen, naturalists and lumberjacks...

I hear your pain regarding hagglers. They exist in all walks of life, people who don't seem to have any concept of fair exchange, of honest barter. Back in my life as a self employed plumber, I'd be woken at four in the morning by a panicking householder, I'd try to diagnose tho problem over the phone, but they'd be yelling please come, please...
So I'd get out of my nice warm bed, bed, dress wearily, drive thirty miles on icy roads in the dark, get to the panicking address, discover that the problem is that somebody'd switched the heating pump off, click it, restart the boiler, problem solved, five minutes on site... And when I write out my modest bill "Surely you're not going to charge me for just flicking a switch?"

Way back, nearly thirty years ago, I applied for a small business grant for the pottery.
Embedded in the small print was a declaration I had to make promising that I wouldn't trade with apartheid south-africa....

Well, I was having enough trouble trying to trade with sufficient people from my home town.

If Muammar Gadhaffi had come in I'd have gladly sold him a teapot.
But, I had to promise the right-on arts funding body that I would turn away all and any South Africans.
Well, bang went all my chances of ever selling a teapot to Nelson Mandela.

I don't think there was any embargo on dealing with any of the world's other despotic regimes though.
I was never a political potter, I had friends who were busy changing the world through arty protests, politicised mugs, teapots with messages, All I wanted was to make teapots which were a pleasure to use, hold, own, and love.
A bit like you, I suppose, only with fewer animals.
Damn! I knew there was something missing!

So, these blog writers... do you have their number.... I only as, because sometimes I just can't get an idea for a blogpost, and I'd love to have a couple of blogwriters chained to the galley-benches, typing away, as the drum beats and the slaves pull on the oars, Oh, I can see it now, that one eyed overseer, cracking the whip, "You there, get writing, this isn't f**king twitter, y'know!"

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I should mention, some awesome customers of mine, THIS VERY WEEK did indeed give me a monetary tip, they added dollars to their check, because even though they had already paid full price for 4 mugs, they thought I was a good guy selling a good item. I like that, Meredith, a flippin' added BOXING fee, because I sure as heck spend a lot of unpaid time and money on boxing and shipping supplies too....
And oh golly, let's not try to juggle any NATURISTS..I mean, soub, what do you grab at????

smartcat said...

Been there! Done that! Bought the tee shirt!

You are sooooooo fortunate to have Missus Tasteycakes in your life!

I agree with Meredith....I think your prices are too low....your stuff is unique....go for it!

Michèle Hastings said...

Yes Gary, I too have been asked by Etsy buyers if I would reduce or eliminate shipping fees... IRRITATING!
Your teapots have lots of detail and I think your pricing on the $24 - $34 ones should be double... and there is nothing wrong with pricing an excellent teapot at $100+. Will you sell fewer? Perhaps. Jeff has a story about talking with Otto Heino one year at the Craftsmen's Fair at Mt. Sunapee... he said "Put a price on it!" basically saying that if you are selling cheap no one will value it. Jeff raised his prices that year... and his pots sold better.
The people who want something for nothing really don't value art and also don't know the difference between art and junk.
Your teapots are a part of you... they reflect your humor, your life and are very well done.

Ron said...

Hey, Listen, I will hire you for a month to write my blog. I need a boost and you're the man!

Okay really, I know what you mean about those damn forms and it drives me nuts. What's worse is that they KNOW it's bad and no one will fix it. Stupid!!

Now, I totally don't haggle. I politely say, no ma'am (I am Southern) I cannot do that. Then I go on to tell them how awesome the pot is and how each one is one of a kind and I'm getting ready to do a show and it will certainly sell for this price when I take it.

You are an established artist and make good quality, very original, unique pottery. You could certainly charge more and I think you should. But you know what works for you and how to move your work so you should do what you feel is best.

My shipping charges on etsy are a bit low. I intend to raise them. I cannot afford to cut costs on shipping esp, when I have to get boxes and bubble wrap etc. Michael Kline and I talked about shipping charges recently and decided that we should just charge what it costs to send the package to the West coast. I am losing money on shipping when I have to send a mug to San Fran or Portland, Or and I'm only charging them $6. You can look at the USPS site and figure shipping or the UPS site as well. My shipping will be going up, not down.

I look at it like this, I buy pots too and I am willing to pay for them and to pay for shipping. I know what it's like to be a customer but I know I love pots and I'm willing to pay for them and to pay the artist for their time and effort to ship to me. It's cheaper than me coming to NY to get a cup at your house. (Although I do want to do that too!)

I think we as artists have to OWN what we do. Some people view us as flea market types who mess around in our basements making whatever we feel like whenever we have time. What we are are serious, full time, dedicated to our craft individuals.

Okay, good topic. Keep up the amazing work and blog writing!!!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

good point Ron, equating us with flea markets---you also see online stores giving free shipping around the holidays or whatever, but they have a billion dollar inventory, plus you also have crate and barrel or other stores selling stuff made in factory molds overseas and sold cheaply--people don't always know the difference between the factory made and the truly HANDMADE by a real person....thanks for checking in, everybody!

George and Maureen Johnson said...

Great Blog. You are lucky to have Maude because I have a business degree I am the one stuck with that yucky job. However, if you ever realized how much an accountant would charge to do what Maude and I do, Holy Schmolly, it would not even be worth making pottery.
Your pots are a splendid group to exhibit. Good choices, you will do fabulous darling, you know that. Your stuff is the BOMB....
I too get seriously rude, insulting, morons to deal with. I hate flea marketing attitudes. They feel just because we are desperate it gives them the liberty to disrespect us. Oh on the contrary, I have said to one person (If I hate them) keep talking the price is going up by the minute....lol lol lol :) Time is money you know....hhahahhahaha!
One customer said, "Why I can get a mug at Walmart for only $3.00, I replied, "Well the closest one is in Antioch, have a rotten day"! lol lol lol :)
It costs a fortune to ship, and I too get tired of all the squawking about it. I mainly sell from the gallery, if you like it, buy, if not move on......
I also tell them, "I am an American Business, I use high quality glazes which cost a bundle, and it employs other Americans, and they are high quality and won't poison you or your pet. Go to Walmart and buy your cheap crap, and you won't need a night light.......oh and it will probably kill your pets, my glazes don't they are handled with care from start to finish, approximately twelve times. Love your blogs.......love your pots, pets, wife, and you!

JBS said...

Gary is obviously a boobookeeper.

One customer of mine...just one in the past 37 years, when she was told that the Chippendale mirror (complete with gold-leafed phoenix) she wanted would be $500, asked, "Can you do any better?" I answered simply "No" so she gladly paid it. I resolved that if that ever happens again, I will answer, "Since it is you, Rose, yes I can: $750."

JBS said...

Back in the 70's WOODCRAFT supply had a killer catalog, with each tool having a price with "ppd" after it...whcih meant "this is what you pay". Why shouldn't the boxing and shipping be part of the price!?
"Free shipping" means it is part of the price. (This could easily get political with me, concerning the illiterati's "free".)


As a [former](don't ask) seller on eBay, I learned a few things about shipping:

#1 Every package must be packed to withstand being dropped from waist-height. This is a quote from our Postmaster, after I had bought 7 or8 very nice large batter-bowls made by Denis Vibert (Maine), at our local auction, because I liked the look and they were obviously well hand-thrown...for $18!!! And we'd nearly fallen off our chairs as, in the last seconds, they soared to $408. I packed them stacked with 1 or 2 sheets of newspaper between each...this was one of my first sales... Miraculously, they all arrived, back in Maine, each in 1 piece....after I sweated-out waiting for feedback.
#2 People like "free" shipping. Just include it in price.

Shortstuff said...

Great post and great comments. I don't sell beautiful hand crafted items to the public (unless I'm down south helping my sister out and then they're hers and her husband's not mine)so I can't really relate but I do know that John and Jane Q Publik can be cheapskates and don't appreciate the level of work that goes into what you guys do. I say hike the price. Shipping is EXPENSIVE and getting more so every day.

Shortstuff said...

Great post, Gary. I don't make gorgeous hand made items for sale to the general public, but I feel your pain. I say raise the prices. Shipping ain't cheap and it's getting more costly by the day. Kudos to all you artists who make such fabulous work.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Okay, I'll weigh in here. People who haggle on prices just suck. This isn't a market in Mexico. Pay the price, pay the shipping, and zip it. As someone who has bought your (Gary's) pottery in the past, I have to agree that your prices are very reasonable if not on the low side for the quality and craftsmanship (and friendship) offered. When my teapots arrived, my husband and I both commented that you must spend a fortune in packing materials because they were so well packed. I think that paying for shipping is just part of the deal when you buy hand crafted items. Almost all of the stuff on ebay has you wait to calculate shipping.

Oh, and if I might add a story from my life as a self-employed musician.... People are ALWAYS expecting musicians to play for free or almost free because it's "so wonderful to be able to do something you love as your job." So one day, ages ago, I was playing flute duets for a church service. When we went in to see the church secretary for our VERY MEAGER payment, she got all snotty with my friend and exclaimed, "Well, I'd like to think that you'd be playing for the glory of the Lord!" Without even blinking, my friend said, "Well, I'd suggest that you try that glory of the lord crap on the plumber the next time the toilet in the rectory backs up."

Oh, and I love that blue teapot with the teapot lid. I'd happily buy it AND pay shipping!

a m dohan said...

2 comments really - 1) I'll bet you could write this into a song as good as "Alice's Restaurant"!
2) hmmm, made me think - your mother was an academic administrator (and I'm sure your wife is just as lovely as your mom)

Me and Missus Tastycakes

Me and Missus Tastycakes

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I am a part-time pottery instructor at Cornell University Pot Shop and a full-time studio potter and sculptor, married to superhawt Missus Tastycake.