How Does One Accurately Put A Price on Art?

How Does One Accurately Put A Price on Art?

I attended the SOFA exhibition and learned about how it sets the standards of the value of art.




Fundamental art

And design.

That's what the acronym SOFA stands for. It is an enormous exhibition that recently celebrated its 25th year of existence at Navy Pier. People from around the world come to display their pieces of artwork like an open market with artists sheltered in their own section with their greatest (and most expensive) pieces of work surrounding them. It's open to the public—both amateurs and other professionals who want a tangible idea as to how far their creations could go. However, from the perspective of an amateur, exploring an exhibition like this was intimidating.

SOFA Exhibition. 2018.Jazmin Aguilar

At SOFA, you see things that are worth more than a used car—maybe even more than that because I stopped looking at the prices after a while. The exhibition was a major beatdown for me because there's a certain level of expertise all these people displayed in their work and looking back at mine again really depleted most of the self-confidence I had tucked away somewhere inside me.

Firstly, they use materials I would never find at Michael's or any other arts and craft store.

In one selection, there was a vase actually carved out of crystal. It was branded with a whopping $18,000 dollar price sticker. I don't know anything about crystal, but I've never seen anything like that vase. How does one get that much crystal and have the steady hands to form it into a vase?

Secondly, these finished pieces are from spontaneous ideas. Who looks at their bathroom and decides, "oh, I should really make a mini scene here", as pictured below? Pursuing these ideas require time and draft pieces—two things art students like myself really struggle with in terms of money and time management.

Small section in Lurie GalleryTaken by Jazmin Aguilar

Entire Piece in Lurie Gallery. Miniature figures interact with lifesize items. Taken by Jazmin Aguilar

I guess if you really believe in something, anything you do really makes itself in the end.

The value of some pieces was pretty upsetting, according to my professor the next day during class. I thought the prices were appalling but somewhat valid because of the time it would take to finish the piece and the quality of the material. Looking back on it though, I did recall some pieces that were worth hundreds and looked like they were made of plastic.

Plastic is not worth a lot, and it really isn't worth enough to put any influence on our feelings. Kids get toys made of plastic for $10 and it manages to shoot darts. After a month, it's stashed in a bin—it was only great for a moment.

Art is subjective, we can all agree on that, but if the material price doesn't accurately match the value of the item, what is that artist really doing? Art is personal as it is the beholder of the artist's dreams and fault. How can they put a price on channeling simple human emotions?

Some people become artists for one great masterpiece and then everything else they make only has value because of their name. It's true. Have you ever gotten angry looking at a painting with three black lines on it? Artwork like that exists.

I ran into another set of work that displayed jewelry at the event. Many of the pieces were very beautiful and intricate, made of all kinds of material. My eyes fell to a pair of dangling earrings. They looked like plastic squares covered and dabbed with layers of other colored rectangular pieces. They looked like jewelry you'd find at Burlington in the kid's section. It was so off-putting because everything else looked so nice and pretty and then there was that, all sitting around the same price.

I can't stop anyone from spending money on art and I can't change someone's sense of style. Nevertheless, exhibitions make me feel content. Knowing people can make big bucks from their love of art is exciting, and it gives me hope for the future for myself. The people I saw and met managed to get a unit in an international exhibition and, if they were lucky, sell their pieces. They put in the hard work and in reality, an art student is in no position to have a say about the price of art. Not yet.

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5 Free Digital Art Programs Reviewed By A Digital Artist

Well, a relatively new digital artist...

FREE – almost anything that is free is the best. Free books, free supplies- free stuff!

Well, in this digital day and age, not many things are "free." Facebook is free due to advertisements, and some books are free but under the most specific circumstances. These kinds of things could apply to digital art, and I know there's a bunch of artists thinking about going into digital art.

As someone who is relatively new to digital art (I started around February of this year actually), I know the struggle of trying to find the best programs for digital art. As someone who is also broke almost all the time and in college, I don't necessarily have the money to afford good artists programs such as Photoshop.

So, for my fellow broke digital artists out there, I will review 5 popular digital art programs.

Before we start off this list, let me tell you what software I have:

I have the Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft (256 GB, 8 GB RAM, Intel Core i5), and I'm currently running on Windows 10.

Let's start this list!

Free Digital Programs

1. Krita

When I was on YouTube looking for free digital programs, Krita was probably one of the first programs I discovered. The program itself looks nice (it kinda looks like Photoshop). However, as I got into the program, I found myself confused and lost. Krita has a bunch of brush options and colors, but the way they are formatted is intimidating. So, I was pretty intimidated. I couldn't even make a piece out of it.

Krita is not recommended for beginners due to how intimidating it is.

2. Fire Alpaca

Fire Alpaca is a drawing app I've gotten accustomed to with my time with digital art. It's pretty simple, and the brush and color options are great and easily accessible. I made a few pieces here and there, so it's usable. After watching a few tutorials, I felt pretty comfortable with Fire Alpaca.

This app is great for beginners, but if you're a tablet use (such as the Surface Pro) erasing with the eraser part of the pen is pretty nonexistent.

Here's a piece I made with it:

3. MediBang Paint Pro

MediBang Paint Pro (or I call it MediBang) is the drawing program that initially inspired me to make this list. I instantly fell in love with this program because it reminded me so much of Fire Alpaca, but it also had more features than Fire Alpaca had (and it's by the same company). This program is friendlier with tablet users (so phones and systems like mine). Things such as pinch zooming and scrolling is a feature on this program.

This app is great for beginners and is ideal for those who have tablet-like software.

Overall, I am pretty in love with this app. Here's a quick doodle I made:

4. Paint 3D

This is what Microsoft is replacing MS Paint with. It's for 3D modeling, but it also does 2D drawings as well. It's surprisingly really smooth and not as bad as MS Paint. The only limiting thing is the format and lack of layers.

This can be used by beginners, and if you don't want to download anything, use this.

5. Paint

Haha, ok, this one is a bit of a joke, but there are people out there that use this program (probably ironically) and make amazing pieces (just look it up on YouTube). Paint is ok, but obviously not ideal.

Beginners can definitely use this. You just gotta put effort into this.

So, if you're thinking of becoming a digital artist, keep these apps in mind. Some (the top 3) are very useful but comes with their own pros and cons. Some (like the last 2) are not traditional but still useful!

Cover Image Credit: Marissa Domantay

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Hemlock: A Short Story

You finally took back control.


You decide to bake it into brownies as if it was weed. You think about how much harder it was to get than weed is, and about how it will be the perfect dessert to top off your last meal. Brownies always were your favorite, after all. Ever since your aunt Patty had made you a batch for your fifth birthday, the kind with chunks of semi-sweet chocolate in them and a chocolate buttercream frosting swirled on top, you have been in love with the decadent treat.

You start mixing the ingredients together, stirring everything by hand with a whisk because you know that if you use an electric mixer the brownies will become tough. After all, you want the last thing you ever eat to be perfect. You laugh to yourself as you start to sprinkle it in. You think about how this really will bring new meaning to the phrase "death by chocolate."

Baking always was a comfort to you. That and self-harm were the only ways you ever felt like you had any control over anything. When you baked, you could manipulate everything about your creation. You could change the taste, the texture, the smell, and so much else with just a flick of the wrist or the addition of a little more or less of an ingredient.

When you self-harmed, you finally felt in control of yourself for a change. You were able to control how you felt, even if what you felt was pain, and you were able to manipulate your own body and decide what happens to it. Now you're preparing to combine the two, to take total control back from your AWOL mind once and for all.

You remember the first time you felt like you weren't in control of yourself. You just couldn't stop shaking, no matter how hard you tried. Your hands were rattles and your arms were snakes, begging to be skinned. They tried to give you medicine to fix it, but it seemed more like poison to you. It made you tired all the time, made you stay in bed even more than you already did. It didn't help, either. You seemed to have all the side effects and none of the relief that was supposed to come with them.

They tried having you talk to someone. He didn't seem to tell you anything you didn't already know, though. He mostly just sat there, shook his head, said "mhm" a few times, and occasionally repeated back what you had just said in an affirming tone. He didn't actually help at all despite the astronomical amount you were paying out of pocket to see him because, of course, he didn't accept insurance.

Nobody left seems like they would miss you and you have nowhere else to turn. Your family members don't even call anymore and always seem too busy to talk. So you eventually come up with this plan. Now, nearly a month later, you sit on the floor of your apartment finishing the last bite of your dinner. You sigh as you look around your apartment one last time, taking in all the family photos and old fake smiles you wore in them. Cutting yourself a brownie, you close your eyes and stuff the entire awkwardly cut square into your mouth.

It bursts with flavor. Before long, you can feel your mouth starting to water for more. Or maybe that's just the foaming. Either way, your eyes roll back in pure ecstasy as it hits your stomach. It sends chills, shakes, convulsions through your body as a smile forms across your face.

You did it. You finally took back control. You finally feel free from the confines of your sickened mind. Then, nothing.

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