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Do people ask this question during their regular shopping experience such a buying a house or car or a pair of shoes?  What are they looking for with those questions?

I am looking for a better, more tactful way to answer the question, "How long did this take to make?" or its close relative, "How many hours are in this?".

To give you a perspective my projects usually take months to complete.


My current quips are "It was a weekend project" or "I worked on it until it was done", or "I tried to keep track of time on this item but I failed".

I think I need something more elegant but I am having the worst block on ideas.

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Tom, I think those are all great answers.  I don't know if you will find anything better.  I suppose people who don't do art work themselves probably want to know the piece took a long time to warrant what they are paying for it.  I'm not saying that is a good reason.  That is just my guess.

I frequently get that question about my sculpted boxes and I always say that it varies a lot depending on wood type, size, complexity of design and numerous other factors...however I really don't keep track of time because I get lost in time when in my barn working and having so much fun. Usually they accept it as that.

I dunno if they are trying to just make conversation or if they are wanting to figure out how much I am making per hour.

My answer: This painting took ___ hours (I tell the truth). After the painting is done I spent several hours cutting and joining the frame, cutting the glass and matt and assembling the whole thing. On this particular piece I started with a photograph I took at ___. It is part of the ___ Series I have been working on for the past ___ months. The whole series is inspire from ___. In this particular piece I wanted to communicate ___. 

I try to use the answer to the question as a starting point for a discussion about the piece, where I can tell a story about the piece or tell my story.

Great idea Dan.

I normally say 'it depends on my inspiration. Each piece is different'.

I say several things, depending on the vibe I am getting from the person.  I most often tell people that it is hard to say because I work on several pieces at a time, drying time for clay, etc.

If the people seem to have a sense of humor, I borrow from what I have heard other artists say, that this piece was about a case of wine.

I will also say that I work on pieces while they speak to me, then move on to other areas of the business, like accounting or drawing new designs, so it is hard to say.  I also add in that I work every day for months at a time, which is true.

People who ask this question seem to be curious and engaged ... isn't that a good thing? After all, art ISN'T a car or a pair of shoes.

Just saw a blip on the news about old car wrecks in fields being photographed as art.

My husband has no problem with providing actual time, but then he adds a caveat, "after the learning curve and making items similar to this for xx years".  

I always say, a few hours and a lifetime.

People usually ask "how long to make saddles out of curiosity". Reply is 30-40 working hours for a plain one spread out over 3-4 weeks but, 54 years to learn to do the work that fast without losing any quality. Art work can add 8 hours or 80 hours depending on the job.

I think what I am hearing is that its best to give an answer letting folks know that hours are not the whole answer. It also requires skills garnered over time.

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