On The Increasingly Agitating Subject Of Pricing Your Art

Discussion in 'Art Sales and Auctions' started by TheKyleIsHere, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. DigitalFur

    DigitalFur Digitalfur tigress

    When looking for an artist to commission a piece, personally I would be looking for the right style of artwork to fit in with what I was looking for and a reasonable price so that it if didn't work out as I had hoped then it wouldn't be too much of a loss. I wouldn't be willing to pay less for work that I did not feel would suit what I needed/wanted it for, only if it would be appropriate for purpose.

    I do however then believe that if you get the quality of work you were looking for in the style that you had imagined/can use, and if you paid a good price and you can afford it (for those people who have a reasonable income), then tipping the artist is a must. As unless you're an artist or have worked on commissions in other media you can't imagine how much time the person has invested in getting the work just right. I expect its rarely under an hour or two, unless you're a photocopier machine ;) *grins*
  2. ohtar

    ohtar Overworked & Underpaid

    i end up selling myself short a lot, mostly because
    1) im desperate for loose change and
    2) most of my watchers are just as broke as I am.

    I -could- charge more for my work, lord knows I am capable of putting in a quality effort on everything I touch should I choose, but my most loyal watchers are either students or minimum wage corporate slaves like I am and can't afford a lot of the higher end stuff.
    I work around this by negotiation. I dont have set prices on anything but my icons. This way, the commissioner and I can haggle prices, starting with what they can afford and working from there. In this way, I have done a 5 dollar pic for 20 bucks just because the person had cash and was feeling generous that week.

    It may not be a good business model, but it pays the bills lol
  3. Astaiir

    Astaiir New Member

    I agree, it's a very nice and helpful post BUT it doesn't work, not always anyway.
    For example, I spend much time on a piece. From a week til month. If I should charge per hour, noone would be able to buy it. And because I'm not popular or known artist my prices aren't as expensive than other well known artists(sometimes I think some of them charge too much for their quality of work but still people kill each other to buy from them even for riddiculous prices).
  4. NoFoibles

    NoFoibles Natix is watching you...

    I agree with digit
  5. Axuma

    Axuma New Member

    I don't really like the idea of charging by the hour, considering I rarely take breaks once I start a commission, I pay no mind to the time.
    I only just started paypal commissions, so I've priced them fairly cheaply I think. I've actually had someone tell me I'm not charging enough D= So, I'd appreciate a second opinion on the matter. I have my Commission info posted on my FA page if anyone is willing to lend me some advice.
  6. PoprockGrey

    PoprockGrey Erizniana lifeform

    I can NOT praise you enough for this. It seems as though people are lowering prices more and more to get those commissions. It makes me sad to see many artist being taken advantage of. Thank you thank you thank you!!!
  7. shottsy85

    shottsy85 Member

    I have actually been fighting this war recently on FA because it seems like so many good artists don't realize that they are hurting the entire industry as well as selling themselves short. Here is another wonderful article I found online recently after trying to defend the way I price things after I sepend over 100k on a prestigious art school tuition, have worked in an art department of a t-shirt transfer company professionally, and even though I take less should really be making no less than at LEAST 25.00 an hour people seem to want to treat artists like slaves, or like the commissioner is entitled and that you should be HONORED you were chosen to make art for THEM. I truly hope more people read this and start to raise their prices at least the more professional artists, because they are low balling us all. 40.00 for a completed shaded painting with a background is just pathetically low, and shows that the artists doesn't really have confidence or know what they are worth. Anyways here is the article from online and ALSO a book illustration price guide I found online too that should be roughly what professionals should be charging.

    Less is not always More:​
    I have noticed a serious decline with budgets in illustration lately and I firmly believe it’s not always the client’s fault. I mean it would be a whole lot easier to blame them but I have other ideas. Yes, we could always blame the economy or the Republicans for that matter. Personally I point my finger at the illustrators themselves.

    Yes, even though this is not probably the most popular stance for me to take it is what I think. I believe that if we were really honest about it, the illustrators themselves would have to take most of the blame.
    Recently, I quoted on an illustration for an advertising campaign that was quite big. I was dealing with one of the largest advertising agencies in the USA and the usage for the illustration was unlimited usage, all media for one year, internationally. So of course I quoted accordingly. I found out that my quote was the highest. The other two illustrators in the bid quoted 50% less then me. I am a by the book kind of gal and often refer to the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing & Ethical Guidelines for “inspiration”. Obviously this was not the case for the other two illustrators involved. I mean of course there is always a difference in quotes when quoting on a large job but I can assure you that the price that the other’s quoted was pathetically low. Even the art buyer in her confidence to me was quite surprise buy the other numbers. Since the agency was supplying the quotes with the pitch, the decision as to who was going to be selected for the mandate was strongly influenced by the cost. Remember that the client had no budget to give and asked all of us quoting to come up with a price. Had we all quote numbers that better reflected the value of the job then that is what would have been presented to the client. But no, if my illustrators had any chance at all at getting the job I would have to give in. I had to do something that I hate doing and that was lower my price. Yes, to stay in the game I did lower it a bit but not to the extent of the others. In the end we got the contract, but I am confident that we could have gotten a much bigger budget had the others not low balled it. To protect the client, I would prefer to not go into detail. This is not about them but about us. Had the others quoted the real value of the job and not under cut the budget then whoever got it would have been paid rewarded accordingly. If we had all quoted the real value of the job then the art buyer would have presented all the budgets to the client and the client would have chosen the illustrator that that they prefer and without only looking at the numbers.
    This is why I blame the illustrators.Another reason for the drop in budget is of course Stock Illustration or Royalty Free Illustration. Well who do you think supplied these stock houses in the first place? Illustrators have to start taking the blame and responsibility for what is happening to our industry. They are also the ones that could make things change. When you quote on a job remember to respect yourself and the work you are doing and put a real value on that. Please don’t under quote. If you have a rep that is quoting on your behalf then encourage them to do the same. Market value is market value and we are the ones determining that value. If you don’t already have a good pricing guide to refer to then get one and try to stick to the budgets that are suggested. They are pretty flexible and will give you a good idea what to charge for your work. Remember that in the end you are only cheating yourself. If you keep bidding lower and lower then the budgets will effectively get smaller and smaller. If you are sick and tire of the big monster stock houses eating away at your profits then stop selling your work to them. You never know when you might be quoting against one of them.
    In ending, I was approached by a very talented illustrator not to long ago that I was very enthusiastic about representing. She had told me that several years back she had sold many of her illustrations to a very small and un-intimidating stock agency when she was just starting out and needed some money. It turned out that several years later that very small stock house was bought up by a larger stock house that was later bought by one of the biggest stock houses in the world today. She told me she sold outright for a minimum fee at the time since the stock house was very small and she didn’t think it would be a problem. Well before taking her on, I Googled her name and found her work all over there web in stock and royalty free sites. It goes against AGM’s policy to take on anyone who has sold their images to these company and therefore, there was no way that I could take her on . She never imagine that by selling her illustrations to that small agency it could have snowballed like it did. When you sign over your rights to someone else, they own them and therefore can sell them over and over again.
    The moral of the story, Respect yourself, respect your work and never sell your illustrations for less than their value. The more we all do that, the more we can ask and the more we will get.


  8. Arabesque

    Arabesque New Member

    Although the title is about pricing, the discussion has turned to commission procedures in general. So I'm quite surprised that no one has mentioned customer service.

    Customer service is tremendously important. I can't stress that enough. If you have two artists with somewhat similar prices and styles, you have to base your decision on something else. You look at the profile and commission journal entry for one artist and it is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. The other has a well-laid out ToS that deals with refunds, turnaround times, and queue policy. Their spelling is flawless, their communication is clear, their tone is respectful. Above all, they are professional. Who do you choose?

    That's just first impressions. That can make up the customer's mind to choose you over an artist with sloppier communication. But customer service will keep them coming back again and again. It's not just skill that justifies your prices, but also how seriously you take your business. Keep up with notes/email and above all else, do what you said you'd do in the timeframe you said you'd do it in. The process of making and selling art contains many more aspects than just the drawing part.

    I see a lot of beginner artists that take on commissions without considering the consequences. Once you receive money you are entering into a contract; not only that but you are putting your name out there for the indefinite future. Make your first impression a good one, because bad press can float around for years and years. To bring it back to the price-setting topic: you can't expect professional, big-name artist prices if you're not willing to put in the work. Not just the drawing type of work but the communication and professionalism part as well. Put on a professional face and you will more easily draw in the type of customer willing to pay professional prices.
  9. GingerM

    GingerM Appaloosa Horsegirl

    A question, if I may and at the risk of bumping a dead thread: how should writers price their work? Is there enough demand to make it worthwhile? It's something I'm thinking about - I don't feel quite ready to actually start offering writing commissions, but I'm working on getting up to that level. Any constructive suggestions would be welcome.
  10. GeneCorps

    GeneCorps Member

    While this thread may be dead I feel I should put my 2 cents in.

    A problem I come across more often then not is Poor quailty art being sold at more then double what I sell for. Even my friends buy terrible art for more then they should.

    I know my art isn't the best out there, but it's still far better then most of what my friends proudly show off to me. I offer a simple flat for 10 bucks and my friends say 'Oh I dont have the money right now, maybe next time?' and then that same day They'll post a shitty little piece they say cost 20 or more. I see this happen not just of FA but on Gaia where I ran an art shop, I would be dead in the water with amazing art and fair prices while the shop next to me is making a killing with shitty pen scribbles.

    It makes no sense!

    The main worry me and my mate have is we know our works is worth well over $40 but we also know no one will pay such a price. So we are forced to drop to $25 just to have a chance in this market! It's a never ending cycle at this point.

    But what can be done? Unless a mass bullentin is put out it will never stop.
  11. yukiyouko

    yukiyouko You're a silly filly!

    I've been running across alot of the problems I've read about in this thread. I've tried to get even one commission by lowering my prices to next to nothing. So when I spent some time drawing for a friend, I asked two people I know what they would pay for it, and one said 14$, the other said 25-30 easily. So I'm not exactly sure what my art is truly worth..

    I also have been trying to encourage more people to watch me, so I get my message across easier, but even that doesn't work. I have almost given up on it, just to stick to drawing for a hobby.. =/
  12. tharesan.alae

    tharesan.alae Wolfie Artist

    Just raised my prices, because I think you're probably right. I'm not valuing my skills and abilities enough, and I need to value my work more in order for it to have more value. The people who think I'm overpriced probably aren't the kind of people I'd want to draw for anyway, because they just want to buy something easy to get and cheap, a quick thrill. I'd like my commissions to be valuable art, not just mass-produced pictures. So anyways, good read for an artist, I'll definitely pass this around to any artists I feel will learn from it.
  13. benanderson

    benanderson Banned

    The other issue is exchange rate. I'm from the UK so I've had to charge slightly higher than most with my skill-set in order to get any sort of worthwhile return. I don't offer sketch commissions anymore because I'd have to lower the price to match those in America who charge in USD, and I'd end up earning around £2 less than minimum wage at $7 (approx. £4.37) a pop.

    So where most people charge $10 (£6.24) for solid black lines, I have to charge $12 (£7.49). Minimum wage for the UK is £6.19 so $12 is my absolute limit if I want some outcome after PayPal fees.
  14. AxM

    AxM Member

    Heh, I really enjoyed this post! When I first started doing commissions a few months ago, things were going good, but after awhile my prices began to fluctuate until I finally closed them cause of how frustrating it was. I'm just now opening them back up again, kinda testing the waters right now and starting low till I can build up a better reputation and hopefully improve art wise as well as raise the prices. But for now I just want to see how I feel. Hope business picks up!! Same for everyone else here who is struggling to find that sweet spot : ) Persistence pays off and for most of us that'll hopefully be both literally and figuratively speaking of course!
  15. Laenri

    Laenri New Member

    What about people like me who take an average of 10-15 hours per completed picture, and that is from the base sketch to the finished product. :( Charging even 10 an hour would equate to 100-150 dollars per or more if the project takes more time. Is that really something I could get a lot of people to pay? Or even a few? ._.
  16. Laenri

    Laenri New Member

    haha, when I do art I often livestream because I feel that the client I am working for can then see exactly how much effort is being put in for themselves, and they come to appreciate it more. I have had a lot of people tell me they never knew how much effort or time was actually put into the art and it made them appreciate it on a whole new level ^^
  17. Laenri

    Laenri New Member

    What about people like me who take an average of 10-15 hours per completed picture, and that is from the base sketch to the finished product. :( Charging even 10 an hour would equate to 100-150 dollars per or more if the project takes more time. Is that really something I could get a lot of people to pay? Or even a few? ._.


    So um..not sure if this is the right thread to ask in or not but since it's about pricing, my question might fit. If not where would the best thread be to ask?

    Does anyone one know if it's allowed in the forums for sellers to offer as an alternative payment option, amazon gift cards equal to the price of the art they're selling? Like an $8 gift card for an $8 sketch. Since it's technically seems like a monetary transaction. Like if the seller doesn't have a verified paypal to use and wish to still do commissions, would having the option to send the seller an amazon gift card through email as payment be allowed within the rules or no?
  19. Syvar

    Syvar New Member

    Really excellent thread, I am glad people are aware of the constant problem that pricing can be. @_@ I just wish I knew more about how to price my 3D art, but I'm currently going by very similar standards, around $20 an hour starting off.
  20. costin55

    costin55 Member

    This theard is great ,i have the same problem with my art,i have no ideea if my prices are ok,i cant complain too much about the commisiions nr. that i had till now,i would like to do more but its ok how it is now,please if someone who know something about this phenomen can take a look at my gallery and tell me your opinions,thx and good luck to all at a lot of commisions !!
    some nsfw stuff inside :)
    my fa gallery : http://www.furaffinity.net/gallery/costin55/
    my blog with some samples and pricing: http://reiner-illustrations.blogspot.ro/2013/12/commision-price-sheet.html
  21. magic-doogies

    magic-doogies New Member

    According to the guidelines I believe, all forms of payment must be negotiated off forums through email or PM.

    Granted I highly HIGHLY doubt any artists would want to get paid in very limited one kind of use gift cards, and honestly if you can afford to pay $8.00 to buy a gift card of that equivalent then you sure as heck have the money to pay them $8.00 of actual money.
  22. Arabesque

    Arabesque New Member

    Actually Amazon gift cards are great for anyone who doesn`t have a Paypal and doesn`t want to deal with the seller`s Paypal account, or for someone drawing adult art who doesn`t want to violate Paypal`s policies; the buyer`s next option would usually be to buy a physical money order. It`s a pretty common payment method after Paypal. It`s just up to the artist whether they`d want to accept it.

    Change of topic - I`ve been reading a lot of artist replies here about how long they spend on artwork, and I wanted to link the productivity timer I use.


    Thanks to this, I know down to the second how long my sketch, ink and colour stages take because it only times when your mouse or pen are moving in your art program (or you can set it for writing and other programs.) The timer stops if you navigate to an internet page for example. I think all artists who sell work should give it a try - you`ll know if you are really taking 50 hours on your digital painting or if it only felt like that because you were procrastinating on Tumblr. ;) The first step to setting an hourly wage is knowing how long you really spend drawing a typical type of artwork.

    It`s helped me become faster too. For example, if I`m making a speedpaint commission, I`ll know that I need to be finished the sketch at the 20 or 30 minute mark if I want to have the whole thing done in an hour and a half, which grants me my goal hourly wage given the price of the speedpaint. (Quality comes into play too of course - sometimes the sketch part just takes a bit longer on some days than others, and the customer doesn`t deserve rushed colour because I`m having an off day. But you get the idea.)
  23. Chuchi

    Chuchi Where'd the time go?

    Thanks for the share! I'm already using it and it's already silently judging me as I type this out. x3
    I find this a very handy tool, and I look forwards to also using it to practice/train for speed sketches/paints.
    It's also quite nice for writing, which is what I am currently using it for.

    That red is so... judgmental. Back to work I go!
  24. Just passing by, and I'd like to share my opinion on the matter by quoting myself from another thread.

    I do not know if this will be a popular opinion, but it is how markets works. Although I understand that the whole market for commissions is quite....understudied:

  25. Skairin

    Skairin New Member

    At risk of beating a dead horse to an even deadlier realm... I have two different prices for online commissions and commercial contracts. For large, commercial projects where art will be reproduced for sale, I will charge at the $20-$25/hour mark. Because my art is then being used to generate more cash, I simply will not do jobs where the pay does not meet the pay scale. Sometimes this means companies will choose lower quality art to spend less money, but I find much of the time they are happy to pay for higher quality stuff because in the end, quality = sales = revenue. So it is shortsighted for commercial enterprises to skimp on quality for value for money.

    That said, there are instances where artists living in Australia/America/UK etc will be competing with a cohort that lives in a place where the US dollar exchange rate means they can live on a much lower asking price (Chinese artists for example, earn 6k RMB for every 1k USD), and the rental/general consumables market is not 6x the cost in RMB. However, many companies will still prefer to work with artists they can easily call/communicate with over time, and that is something I think a lot of artists forget when competing for work with residents in China/India and so forth.

    Online sales generally attract a lower dollar amount, and I do push my prices a bit lower for personal use art. For one, the buyer will not be generating profits with the art, and most of the time will choose a lower 'rank' of artworks to begin with because they are not considering 'future worth' or 'value adding'. They just want something that works for them at a budget they can afford, like when we go shopping for apples, we're not going to care if the apples we eat will produce better seeds, because we're not farmers. If it's a good enough apple when we eat it, we will buy it.

    This is why I don't think it's realistic for people who rely 100% on online sales for personal use to be abiding by professional monetary standards, minimum wage is what a lot of commissioners are earning, and what they can afford to pay. All that said, there is a clear danger that if an artist is undercutting TOO much and attracting hundreds of dollars in deposits before they produce any art, they may suffer burn out.

    If I was charging $50 for something I charge companies $1k+ for, I'm sure I would get many more online sales, but at the same time, I would probably be burning out quite quickly. And artists who undercharge regularly for 'sales numbers' can fall into this pattern rather quickly. This not only damages the buyer, but also the artist. It's also why I think it's important to have a realistic number of slots/waiting list slots for online artwork designed for the personal buyer. As an example, a major illness might stop an artist from working for some months, but if they only have 2-3 slots, they can keep engaging with these customers without it becoming a flood of emails/notes all demanding they get the work done. Whereas an artist that has cheap prices and unlimited slots may find that yes, they have just earned $1000 off 100 people, but now must do 100 pieces of art within a month because they had an unexpected delay and everyone is now chasing them up.

    Remember also, chargebacks on Paypal cost an EXTRA $20 fee. So dishonouring your commissions as an artist not only hurts your reputation, but can cost you more than your initial earnings (not only do you lose your pay, you lose another $20 on top).

    So in summary, while I would advise people to continue charging a good hourly rate for commercial works, I would also remind artists that not all your buyers online are professional/commercial buyers and need a little bit of leeway to afford your art. And keep in mind that undercutting MAY increase your initial revenue but will also increase your burn out (a warning for buyers too here I suppose, check your artist's progress tracker and ask if there isn't one). After all, being faced with 3-5 pieces of work that pay at least $10/hour means you will probably eventually get through them, while being faced with 50-100 pieces paying you $1-5/hour will probably mean the artist is likelier to give up (quality not being a consideration).

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