Omphaloskepsis: But I Can Do It Cheaper!

A thought.

SCAdians are really bad about respecting the work of others.

Hear me out. Because our culture is very much a DIY culture, it is quite easy to go “psh, I can make that – for cheaper than *that guy* is charging” without really thinking about the actual material and labour costs of what it might actually cost.

So, check it. Back in the day, I used to make a ton of paternosters if you all remember. A classic five decade paternoster with Dominican “Beads of Death” and any additional charms on it cost me anywhere from $30-$50 in materials, and anywhere from one to three hours, depending on how complicated the layout was and if I ever screwed up the counting (I’ve got dyscalculia. It happened a lot). If we figure my time was worth about what I was making at my day job at the time (about $10-15 an hour), I could have expected, on a good day, to value my work at $45 in labour costs, and $50 in materials, which would mean a deluxe paternoster could easily be almost $100. That’s not counting research costs or purchasing costs, either. That is just the base price of both.

No, I don’t think a person could do it for cheaper unless it involved skimping on materials.
I don’t want to think about scroll valuation in comparison.

The point I’m trying to make is that while many of us are keen to donate our time and talents and the money we have to this hobby of ours, and while there is some expectation for artisans to just donate their abilities to beautify our game, it is also fair for an artist to go “I’m sorry, I cannot afford to donate this,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to do this.” Our artists should not break themselves or make themselves financially unstable to beautify the SCA. (Same goes for anything else in the hobby, but that’s a slightly separate point.)

It is also fair for an artist to desire to have their work respected. Whether it be translation of esoteric languages, or digital art for heraldic submissions, an artist took time that they could have spent literally doing anything else to put that together. It is their art, and by asking for a translation, and giving it to another artist to do a thing with, without citing the person doing the translation, it disrespects those who labour with their knowledge and their abilities.

When I see people go “I could do that,” or “my spouse could do that for you,” it severely undercuts and undervalues the other efforts of others to the point where I would argue that it is theft. It is theft of that person’s time and effort, and y’all? We are so much better than that. And yes, admittedly, I’ve been bad about this too. I can be much more respectful towards others who create things for this hobby, and that starts with being patient, saving my coins for items, or maybe making them an item that is equally valued. It means crediting people and not being selfish with wordfame.

So, this is my challenge to you: spread wordfame. Thank your artists. If you can subsidize their art-making, do so. If you have the ability to help them with research, or with doing a partial item to help them with the rest of their work, work with them. If you can purchase their work, do so at a fair market price that honours the work that they put into it.

But for starters, let’s stop going “but I can do that for cheaper.”

3 thoughts on “Omphaloskepsis: But I Can Do It Cheaper!

  1. I have certainly found a new level of appreciation for the crafted items. I have even made sure to change my wording if it’s something out of my price range. I tend to say “It’s beautiful work but I can’t afford it right now.” I am hoping they don’t think I am saying they are overcharging, just that I only have so much money. I try to get business cards for when I can afford those items I love so much.


  2. I have been trying to train myself to say. “Wow, that’s lovely, I could make that, but I could not make it as beautifully, well, or at that price. Do you take paper checks?” (I also want to echo the commenter above about price.)


  3. There’s also this: I may be able to make something myself cheaper than I could buy it from an experienced artisan, but my first time effort is going to be a poor substitute for some fabulous item created by an experienced craftsman.


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