Effort vs Knowledge

Thank you Jacci for this great story about the impact of effort vs knowledge. Its not new, but the message is powerful:

Effort vs Knowledge - how does this apply to art pricing?Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The ship’s owner tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who has been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do.

After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer.

He gently tapped something.

Instantly, the engine lurched into life. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:


Tapping with a hammer – $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap – $9,998.00

Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort in your life makes all the difference.

So too with artwork – its the value of  effort vs knowledge

We’ve all heard comment about a piece of art: ‘My toddler could do that.’ (or something similar). The reality is that a toddler hasn’t spent years working on a creative skill. A toddler hasn’t had the insight, the inspiration and the perseverance to create a finished piece of art.  So often artists undervalue their own work – and I have been guilty of this myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that artists overprice their work. There is a sweet spot at which every painting will sell. Knowing where to find that particular price band is difficult and can be quite daunting for an artist. But make no mistake, the ratio isn’t quite as extreme as the case in the above story, but the skill of the artist is certainly worth more than many multiple of the material costs.  Its the sum of the artist’s effort AND more importantly, their knowledge.

If you’re an artist, don’t undervalue your work.

If you’re an art buyer, this is a gentle reminder that the price of the painting also encompasses a portion of all the hours and materials the artist has invested in work that led up to this piece of their inner world that will be hanging in your house from now on.