File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 167


Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 14:34:42 -0400
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] TLI or FAQs


(Thread spun off of the Professional Puppet Stage Plans thread)

Okay, let me be clear. I was not attempting to harass Kathleen or start 
a "pile on" situation. Obviously the TLI problem is a vast one. The way 
too broad question affects most all walks of life and businesses, thus 
the FAQs list on many web sites. Let's do try not to pile on here, 
especially without changing the subject. Does that sound reasonable?

Now, as to the proverbial "How much does a puppet cost" question. As 
frustrating as that question is at times, I usually try to remind 
myself that the person asking is ignorant. Not in the negative, 
derogatory sense of the word, but in the true sense. According to 
Webster's, to be ignorant is to be lacking knowledge or experience. 
They simply have no earthly idea what it takes in skill, time, or 
materials to make a puppet. ANY puppet. The one they are seeing in your 
hand (be it poly foam, paper mache, or created from precious metals and 
jewels) or one they simply imagine they saw on TV as a child. They're 
trying to establish a frame of reference and get some kind of concept 
of what you do. Other times they are a child and don't really have a 
true concept of monetary value anyway, so it's an innocent question. 
Still other times they might have a slight notion that they might like 
to own this piece of art before them. To some degree or another they 
are seeking enlightenment - a way out of their lack of knowledge and 
experience, their ignorance. I try to remind myself (though I admit I 
am not always successful) not to treat the question in a way that says 
I am an ignorant lout. Much better to take the high road that leads to 
more enlightenment for both of us. At least that's my take.

So I ask the question. How much does a puppet cost? Any puppet. Pick 
one from your collection - either one you made or one you purchased. 
How much did it really and truly cost? If you bought it, you might be 
able to tell what you paid for it - what it cost YOU - but you don't 
know what it actually cost. I would even bet most of us couldn't put an 
accurate cost on puppets we build. I know I couldn't tell you how much 
any of my puppets actually cost. I might be able to come up with some 
approximate on the cost of materials, but so much is pulled from stock 
that it would never be a true cost. I can estimate an amount of labor 
hours, or I may even document the hours during building, so could give 
you a man hours cost. Adding skill and experience value is subjective. 
And other factors are involved too, like studio and equipment costs. 
Oh, and don't forget a portion of the utilities. What portion of those 
go into the true cost of the puppet? Even more difficult, but perhaps a 
more accurate question, is what a puppet might sell for.  Determining 
the distance between a close approximate of the costs of the puppet and 
the selling point of the puppet is a difficult thing, indeed.

Having asked the question, I will say it was mostly a rhetorical one. I 
know I could come us with a pretty close answer if I extended the time 
and energy, but as we all know the answer would change for every puppet 
we build.

Christopher


On Apr 13, 2009, at 12:28 AM, Mathieu René wrote:

> I often get the Too-little-information
> type of request, mostly when people new to puppetry are asking for 
> quotes.
>
> The most common question for me has been, almost always phrased the 
> same:
> "How much would you charge to build me a puppet of a (insert 
> copyrighted
> character or famous person here)?
>
> or even more flabbergasting...
>
> "How much does a puppet cost?"
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