What is the cost of a "World Class Bonsai"?

Rick Moquin

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In order not to hijack a current debate any further that is taking place simutaneously, and to allow that particular thread to run its course, now that the gauntlet has been thrown. What is the cost of owning a "world class tree" in both time and money? The question is a simple one that IMHO requires no clarification.
 
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My answer would be that money is not a factor at all.

The cost of a world class bonsai can be determined with the following formula:

Quality Stock + Skilled Labor + Talent = World Class Bonsai

Take away any of the above and the goal can not be reached.

No matter how much talent or skills you have, you can't turn a piece of bad stock into a world class bonsai in a lifetime. Talent without skills will also not produce a world class tree. Money is not a factor here, because many collected trees were not bought and there is no set price on quality, quality is where you find it, at any price, high or low.
Cost - highly variable from free to thousands of dollars.

Without the skills necessary to keep a tree alive and the knowledge of how it will respond, it doesn't matter if the stock is good or not. Without the skill to work with the species, great stock will die or fail to respond just as quickly as bad stock. It doesn't matter if you paid 10,000 or 10.00 for the stock, it doesn't matter if you have talent coming out of your ears...without the skills needed, they are worthless.
Cost - A desire to learn, years of work, and some dead trees.

And talent, ah talent, you either have it or you don't, it can't be learned, it can't be bought, it can't be borrowed..without talent the stock doesn't matter, the skills do not matter, you will never produce a world class tree.
Cost - Priceless.




Will
 
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Rick Moquin

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My answer would be that money is not a factor at all.

The cost of a world class bonsai can be determined with the following formula:

Quality Stock + Skilled Labor + Talent = World Class Bonsai

Take away any of the above and the goal can not be reached.

No matter how much talent or skills you have, you can't turn a piece of bad stock into a world class bonsai in a lifetime. Talent without skills will also not produce a world class tree. Money is not a factor here, because many collected trees were not bought and there is no set price on quality, quality is where you find it, at any price, high or low.
Cost - highly variable from free to thousands of dollars.

Without the skills necessary to keep a tree alive and the knowledge of how it will respond, it doesn't matter if the stock is good or not. Without the skill to work with the species, great stock will die or fail to respond just as quickly as bad stock. It doesn't matter if you paid 10,000 or 10.00 for the stock, it doesn't matter if you have talent coming out of your ears...without the skills needed, they are worthless.
Cost - A desire to learn, years of work, and some dead trees.

And talent, ah talent, you either have it or you don't, it can't be learned, it can't be bought, it can't be borrowed..without talent the stock doesn't matter, the skills do not matter, you will never produce a world class tree.
Cost - Priceless.




Will
Excellent arguments brought to the forefront on what I thought was a simple question but it seems depending on its interpretation as obscure as Vance's reflections. I will respond to your last observation first, and that is just about the size of it.

Applying the logic of the formula one can easily see the necessary route towards achieving the desired results, and all these observations are equally important to each other and not dissimilar to the "fire triangle" they all need to be part of the equation for success, or in the case of the latter for combustion.

But I will have to dis-agree with you that money does not play a role in the equation. We will not disagree that the quality of the stock is paramount, regardless of where it is obtained. Some folks are able to collect, while others to them, it is but a mear fantasy. Therefore, one will purchase collected material. Is the quality of all the collected material equal? No! What is the price for collected material of great quality? Walter recently paid in excess of $1500 for a piece of collected stock. Was it worth $1500? To me no, but then again I do not have Walter's vision on the future of this particular specimen, the latter definitely would apply to the experience and talent part of the equation. Do I have the kind of cash lying around to afford such a specimen? Once again no! and I doubt the average enthusiast has also. This tree is planted out in his grow bed for future considerations. Will this tree make a better bonsai than a subject who began its journey in the local nursery?

Time!! Nobody seems to place value on this aspect. We have heard the phrase time and time again, "time is money". How much is it really worth? If one was to base it on one's current salary/hour, then perhaps we can attach a value to time, or an hourly rate. But no, time has no value, it is not something that can be categorised one way or another, as the value of time will differ with each individual, not just in the direct comparison against one's wages, but the value one attaches to his/her time. So I would have to assign this one as priceless also.

Talent on the other hand as you mentioned, one either has it or they don't. One can take all the lessons in the world to achieve this end, but if one, as you have stated does not possess it, will lead to mediocracy at best. As it cannot be acquired. It could prove to be expensive in the quest to develop talent, one may acquired the necessary skills, but the individual is either artistically inclined or he/she is not. Once again priceless.

Skills on the other hand can be acquired over time. The amount of skills and the time it takes to acquire them can be related to cost IMO. We have said that time has no value, however, an apprenticeship with a learnt master will pay dividends sooner than one who does not have the luxury of a: placing their life on hold or b: the relinquishment of earning a leaving whilst acquiring the education, through an apprenticeship program in Japan. In the latter albeit your tuition, room and board come from your "sweat equity". There is a price to pay and this again will vary with each and every individual. One can attend workshops and seminars to enhance their skills, once again there is a cost associated with this form of education.

So IMO, what is the cost of owning a "world class bonsai" What one is willing to pay!
 

agraham

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I don't have any.But I would guess that a real world class bonsai could be bought for 5,000.00 to 10,000.00 U.S. dollars.Many would cost much more.

The only way to get a valid answer though, is to ask someone who has one what they would sell it for.

edit to say....I misread your question,sorry.The way you actually worded it is answered by Will.It is not straightforward at all.If you have the skills to create one,and the time...it can be done for almost nothing.You can start with whatever material you wish and it can be done.If you put a dollar value on your time as business people do,it would be quite expensive though.If you think of the time as a non business,but enjoyable journey....you are paid back in more than the value of the tree.

andy
 
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Rick Moquin

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... true, as the question did state owning a "world class bonsai" vice developing one. I believe the former is cheaper than the latter, but not as gratifying.
 

Smoke

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I believe the cost of owning a world class bonsai is different depending on where you live. For instance out here in California where most of the nursery stock is grown and shipped nation wide, most stock can be grown our in three years from cutting.

If major nurseries tried to grow out the same stock in say New York, the time frame may be 5 or more years to get the same results. This long growing season also promotes growth in collected stock that is extraordinary also. Something that helps keep the cost down. My point of veiw when I see someone post a picture on the net of a plant and what they payed dearly for is nearly always skewed since in most cases I could have bought the same thing here for pennies on the dollar.

It is no wonder why I ran into a buying party at Chikugo-En nursery in Gardena during my recent trip to the CBS 50th anniversary exhibit and convention. They bought probably about a thousand dollars worth of Mas Ishii junipers there no doubt to take back to Brussel's and double or maybe even triple the price. I have no doubt they will get it also, since to get what Mas achieves in a short time would take a long time back east. John from Vonsgarden's makes buying trips out west often.

These photo's of material from Jim Gremel of some atlas cedars and junipers are what I would consider very good material. I would suspect that either juniper could be made to be world class with just a few more years work.

The prices are 1800.00, 2000.00, 2400.00, 4000.00, 4800.00. Not bad for material of that caliber. Jim could take these back east and double the prices and there would be people there to buy them.
 

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Behr

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What is the cost of owning a "world class tree" in both time and money? The question is a simple one that IMHO requires no clarification.
Mr. Rick,

Not to be argumentative at all, but I find nothing 'simple' about this question...In my humble opinion, before one even begins to discuss the "cost of a World Class Bonsai", one must first determine "What IS a World Class Bonsai?"...I see this terminology being thrown around almost carelessly on the internet forums, yet I find it an almost impossible term to place a definition on that will suit a majority of people...There are many trees that are considered to be of 'historical significance', and often these are referred to as 'world class trees' whether are not they are among the best trees 'stylistically speaking'...There are also trees in peoples gardens that are 'artistically' far superior to many being acclaimed the honors of 'world class trees', yet are never viewed by the general public...

How is a "World Class Bonsai" judged to be so?...Is it according to how well it conforms to some bonsai 'political' organizations guidelines?...Is it determined by how a tree is 'judged' in some particular show or event?...Is there a person or committee I am unaware of that chooses which trees are labeled as "World Class Bonsai"?...Is there a registry of "World Class Bonsai"?...

If there IS an answer to any of these questions then the "cost" of a "World Class Bonsai" is phenomenal, because one must also factor in the cost of promoting the artist or tree with the proper "political entities" of bonsai...That my friend is most likely to be the highest cost factor involved here...

If we are discussing trees [disregarding those of historical significance] which you, Mr. Al, Mr. Will, Mr. Andy, Mr. Vance, Mr. Nut, or I consider to be world class trees, then there are likely to be quite a difference in our opinions...

Just a few more thoughts to consider in placing a "cost" on the 'elusive' "World Class Bonsai"...


Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 
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Behr,

I usually break it down as follows:

Club Class - Shown or could be shown at local clubs and receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

Regional Class - Shown or could be shown at regional shows, here in Michigan that would be such shows as the Michigan all state show and the Chicago Show. Also receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

National Class - Shown or could be shown at national shows, American does not yet have such, but will soon, real soon. ;)

World Class - Shown or could be shown at international shows and receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

Of course trees may fall into multiple categories, but it is the highest one that ranks the tree, hence some world class trees are shown at regional shows, etc...



Will
 

grouper52

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What is the cost of owning a "world class tree" in both time and money? The question is a simple one that IMHO requires no clarification.
Rick,

Behr touches on a problem that you probably know from another forum is always close to my heart: definitions, and, to be precise, Socratic "only and every" definitions. These are relatively easy when we are dealing with concrete objects, such as a chair, which we might define as a piece of furniture with legs that we use to sit on, since ONLY chairs have these characteristics, and EVERY chair has them. Fairly easy with concrete objects like chairs (although, of course, even here we can think of exceptions like a bean bag chair, or using a stove to sit on as a chair, for instance), but, as those who engaged Socrates in discussion in Plato's dialogues quickly found out, VERY difficult when it comes to less tangible concepts, such as virtue, courage, piety, the good, etc.

I therefore agree with Behr that the question is anything BUT simple, and that it requires a GREAT DEAL of clarification, in the form of a definition of "world class" as it applies to a bonsai tree. I believe you'll find the task of supplying a universally satisfying definition of that term just as frustrating as did Socrates' interlocutors in the Platonic dialogues. Of course your attempt to do so might provide some fascinating dialogue and insight in its own right! ;)

Grouper52
 

Smoke

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Behr,

I usually break it down as follows:

Club Class - Shown or could be shown at local clubs and receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

Regional Class - Shown or could be shown at regional shows, here in Michigan that would be such shows as the Michigan all state show and the Chicago Show. Also receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

National Class - Shown or could be shown at national shows, American does not yet have such, but will soon, real soon. ;)

World Class - Shown or could be shown at international shows and receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown.

Of course trees may fall into multiple categories, but it is the highest one that ranks the tree, hence some world class trees are shown at regional shows, etc...



Will
Nice catagories, but placing trees within them is still as subjective as argueing who has great taste; "Bud light or Miller light"

The final catagory also gives the distinction of " receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown."

Does this mean that those trees that do not recieve recognition have not measured up? Just who decides this? If I am invited to Gingko, an invitational exhibit, and my tree is not recognized as being on par with the rest, does this make it insignificant. It is my understanding that Danny Use hand picks all the trees for Gingko and it is a privledge to just be chosen. I would think that they might all be "World Class Trees" in that context.

There are many trees at Kokufu each year, yet we only really hear about a select few. I agree that they may be the best of the best, but those 'also showed' are pretty incredible too. Not just credible, Incredible.

Mnay of the world class venues are not very open to Westerners. I would be hardpressed if I had a World Class tree to get it into Gingko or Kokufu.
Where are the worldclass trees of the West going to show up?

ak
 
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Rick Moquin

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After reflection and further discussion brought to the forefront, it is indeed not as simple as I originally thought.

Some people say tomatoes some toe mah toes.

I raised this post because during a previous discussion points were raised that cost should not be a determining factor in owning world class trees. IMHO nothing can be further from the truth. It is without a doubt extremely difficult to communicate accuratly on a computer screen when pauses occur between feedback and clarification, not to mention the lack of body language displayed by the individuals engaged in such discussions or debate.

As discussed the definition of world class bonsai is different to each and everyone. To further exacerbate this dilema, we are know debating the definitions of respectable and credible trees, and have added incredible to the equation. I guess if we were to rank the trees from one to five star vice using words, then maybe the intent would be crystal clear, but the latter is as subjective as the former. To further confuse the issue, why don't we throw in great trees and works of art? Where lies the distinction between these two or the demarcation line so to speak, once again extremely subjective?

Now when we reflect upon the question in its original context, it may not be as obscure. Perhaps the obscurity of the question would have been alleviated if I had chosen to raise the issue in the other thread, where the premise for such a question was more prevalent to the discussion?

In closing for clarification purposes, respectable IMO can be assigned to a bonsai that can be shown in all confidence and not be mistaken for anything else, whilst a credible bonsai is one that has gained international recognition, hence a "world class tree".

Edit: After reading Al's response it seems that even international recognition is insufficient to categorise the trees as "world class". To me any trees exhibited at international events whether winning or placing in the event have acquired the status.
 
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bonsai barry

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My answer would be that money is not a factor at all.

The cost of a world class bonsai can be determined with the following formula:

Quality Stock + Skilled Labor + Talent = World Class Bonsai



Will

Nice equation, Will, but I'd also add the variable of "time" to it.
 
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Nice categories, but placing trees within them is still as subjective as argueing who has great taste; "Bud light or Miller light"
Not really Al, buy using the trees themselves in the judged shows as a gage, the artists, the judges, and our peers determine eventually which class a tree belongs to. Our work, like the work of other artists, is judged by our peers, we categorize them and although you and I may see the same tree differently, the majority eventually wins and the tree is judged to be world class or club class with our without our approvals.

The final category also gives the distinction of " receiving recognition as being on par with the top trees shown."

Does this mean that those trees that do not receive recognition have not measured up? Just who decides this? If I am invited to Ginkgo, an invitational exhibit, and my tree is not recognized as being on par with the rest, does this make it insignificant. It is my understanding that Danny Use hand picks all the trees for Ginkgo and it is a privledge to just be chosen. I would think that they might all be "World Class Trees" in that context.
No one said they had to win Al, what was said is that they have to be "on par" with the top trees shown. If your tree is not recognized as being on par with the rest, it isn't, sorry, that's the way of the world. In the case of the example of the Ginkgo Show, they are all personally selected, if you are selected the tree is indeed world class, the winners are the best of that category.

This is not uncommon. The editors at AoB deal with world class trees and artists on a daily basis, we are often put into the position of having to select a few from a large stockpile to showcase, as we did with our World View of Bonsai Gallery in 2006 in which we attempted to show the state of bonsai from many countries in that year. We turned down many entries for this gallery...but how did we judge, how did we decided which ones to use? We took the best submissions and used them as a Gage to measure the rest with. Those measuring up were deemed suitable, those falling short were rejected. We are currently repeating the process for the 2007 gallery.

On a larger scale our galleries at AoB consist mainly of world class artists showing world class trees. Sure, we may have fell short here and there but for the most part, we succeed. These galleries are by invite only and have come to be respected by bonsaists from all over the world. So if a world class tree is subjective, how can a few people consistently select which are and which are not?

We can all name world class artists, how can we do this consistently if world class is subjective? The answer is we can because it is not subjective at all, quality and talent shines a bright beacon for those who take the time to look.

The above examples were used only because AoB deals with quite a few world class trees on a regular basis, we constantly are working with them for galleries, contests, and other venues. We literally see hundreds of them a month and we are always in the position of having to decide which measure up and which do not. My own trees do not measure up yet, some other editors trees do, many do not, yet we can recognize world class trees, even if we can not create them.

Subjective? I think not.


Will
 

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Subjective? I think not.


Will
Will,

This Will thinks you may be mistaking concensus for objectivity, two very different things.

I also think your ideas could be challenged by a review of the history of art, within which the history of bonsai is embedded, as well as the regional differences in bonsai taste, say between Chinese and Japanese approaches to the art of bonsai. If a world class tree is decided to be such by a concensus in one time and place, and the concensus about tastes in arts such as bonsai are known to change from time to time and place to place, how can the current, culturally approved concensus be considered "objective"?

Besides this, factors such as "group think" and politics and cults of personality can sway concensus quite easily and often quite subtly, undermining any claim concesus might have to objectivity or an exclusive hold on the truth.

grouper52/Will Hiltz
 
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Will,

That will certainly give this will something to think about.

Regional differences exsist but not as much as one would assume. We have posted galleries from artists the world over, China, America, Indonisia, South America, Germany, etc....the World View Gallery gives us a snapshot of bonsai as it was in 2006 and guess what, many people could never tell what country which came from if subjected to a blind test.

Globaklization at its finest.

As to your other thoughts, thank you, I love a problem and I will think on it for a bit.


Will
 

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The editors at AoB deal with world class trees and artists on a daily basis, we are often put into the position of having to select a few from a large stockpile....

We turned down many entries for this gallery...

We are currently repeating the process for the 2007 gallery....

On a larger scale our galleries at AoB consist mainly of world class artists showing world class trees. Sure, we may have fell short here and there but for the most part, we succeed. These galleries are by invite only and have come to be respected by bonsaists from all over the world. So if a world class tree is subjective, how can a few people consistently select which are and which are not?

We can all name world class artists, how can we do this consistently if world class is subjective? The answer is we can because it is not subjective at all, quality and talent shines a bright beacon for those who take the time to look.

The above examples were used only because AoB deals with quite a few world class trees on a regular basis, we constantly are working with them for galleries, contests, and other venues. We literally see hundreds of them a month and we are always in the position of having to decide which measure up and which do not. My own trees do not measure up yet, some other editors trees do, many do not, yet we can recognize world class trees, even if we can not create them.

Subjective? I think not.


Will

I have no idea what this has to do with subjectivity. AofB is a benevolent dictatorship that is able to pretty much do whatever it wishes. Articles must be approved, photo's must be approved, everything must be approved. There is no governing board of directors at AofB that can be voted out or in like many establishments that make decisions for people. Most of the stuff at AofB comes from Will Heath and Paul Stokes. If you two collectively are the WE in all of the above, then I concede getting two people to agree on one or two photo's a month is probably not that difficult. Getting two or three hundred to agree gets progressivly more difficult.

Are you telling me you have problems in picking out the best trees in the groups you recieve? Come on, I suspect that most nearly anyone here could pick the best trees from a group. Not everyone will always pick the same group in the same order but I suspect that they might all pick the same group, just not in the same order.

I judged last years AofB photo contest, along with a few people. I don't even remember who they were except for Wayne Scheoch. I was so worried that my picks were going to be so far off from everyone elses that I agonized over for a few days. Was I going to be a goof? Was I going to be so far off that they might wonder what planet I was from? No way! Almost every tree I chose was in the groupings. Not everyone was in the same position as the rest, but at least I picked the correct ones. At least from a consensus point of view.

ak
 
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I have no idea what this has to do with subjectivity. AofB is a benevolent dictatorship that is able to pretty much do whatever it wishes. Articles must be approved, photo's must be approved, everything must be approved. There is no governing board of directors at AofB that can be voted out or in like many establishments that make decisions for people. Most of the stuff at AofB comes from Will Heath and Paul Stokes. If you two collectively are the WE in all of the above, then I concede getting two people to agree on one or two photo's a month is probably not that difficult. Getting two or three hundred to agree gets progressivly more difficult.
Al, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. I would suggest doing a little research before making such outlandish claims. Here are some facts for you.

AoB is a democracy through and through in every sense of the word.

Articles, galleries, profiles, and every piece of content is approved by a group of editors, the majority rules. The only content that is not subject to majority approval is member posts.

AoB is owned by these same editors, each having an equal stake and equal vote in all matters. Editors at AoB include such people as Candy J. Shirey, Dorothy Schmitz, Carl Bergstrom, Walter Pall, Shaukat Islam, Vance Wood, Attila Soos, Andy Rutledge, David Loughran, Richard Fish, myself and others. All from wide range of experience and locations. Most of these editors are also founders of the forum.

There have been editors removed from access in the past. And yes, we can do pretty much whatever we want, why wouldn't we? Thinking outside the box and doing new things has made us what we are.

Most of the content does not come from Paul Stokes and Will Heath. What you are confused with is the fact that when a article or profile is posted, the post assumes the name of the poster and does not reflect the actual author at first glance. In fact Paul Stokes has never submitted a piece for AoB, I have submitted many articles, a few which were approved, some which were not. Paul and every other editor there has contributed work toward publishing profiles and galleries, these are usually a team effort. I can't think of one single gallery or profile there that was the result solely of a single editors work.

What Paul does is keep the machinery running smoothly, he is quite experienced with CSS and the phbb forum software we use, he can take an idea and make it reality. He is also great at getting sponsors involved and he has an endless source of energy that when coupled with a love of the art, makes him valuable indeed.

All the editors have there own strengths, together we have created a very respected forum that is the first of its kind.

Just keeping the facts straight,


Will
 
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Rick Moquin

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Enough fighting or I'll send you both to your rooms :) Now can we get back to the subject at hand.
 

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