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On The Increasingly Agitating Subject Of Pricing Your Art

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!

vombatiformes

Wombling free!
I think one of my fears in raising prices (although I've been doing it gradually) is that I feel inadequate myself. I doubt my own ability and thus doubt anyone willing to pay for what it's actually worth.

I'm definitely undercharging myself but I've been easing into raising my prices, especially considering the demand I have for my plushies.

I just am worried about feeling like I have no business doing so, despite the amount of time and effort I put into my work. I take it very seriously. It's my only income right now and I've been improving more and more with each commission I take.

Butiunno. Insecure I guess.
 

talakestreal

The Laconic Draconic
Pretty soon here, I'll have the hours to make up more than enough to afford bills. But I can't imagine lowering my prices. By selling cheap, simply because you can, you only hurt the market for everyone else. You're not going to nab every commission there is to get, but potential clients will come to expect low prices, they have come to expect low prices.

By selling cheap, you set a precedent that is hard to break, you won't be able to ever sell high. You become part of the problem.

See, I don't think that this is the case. To me, my art is simply not good enough yet to be worth more than what I sell it for. Starting out low is a good thing, because as I improve, so too will my prices. No one has complained at me thus far about what I charge. I explain very clearly that what they get is what they pay for. :)

I've long been of the opinion that every person is entitled to at least one decent cheap picture of their fursona. That's why folks like me sell for cheap as well. Not to make a few bucks, which while that is nice, it's also not the point of the art, but to create for other people.

For me, being an artist is a passion. Mayhaps one day I will be good enough to demand hundreds for my art. I actually HAVE been paid hundreds for art before, and while the feeling is a nice one, it's not the point at all for me. I create because I can. I draw for other people because some people can't draw for themselves, or simply like to see what exists in the heads of other artists.

I tend to spend the money I get for commissions on two things: art supplies, or commissions from other artists. I support other artists with the money I make from my own art. It's circular for me. I'm not hurting the market in any way by charging what I charge.
 

Raineyangel81

Active Member
See, I don't think that this is the case. To me, my art is simply not good enough yet to be worth more than what I sell it for. Starting out low is a good thing, because as I improve, so too will my prices. No one has complained at me thus far about what I charge. I explain very clearly that what they get is what they pay for. :)

I've long been of the opinion that every person is entitled to at least one decent cheap picture of their fursona. That's why folks like me sell for cheap as well. Not to make a few bucks, which while that is nice, it's also not the point of the art, but to create for other people.

For me, being an artist is a passion. Mayhaps one day I will be good enough to demand hundreds for my art. I actually HAVE been paid hundreds for art before, and while the feeling is a nice one, it's not the point at all for me. I create because I can. I draw for other people because some people can't draw for themselves, or simply like to see what exists in the heads of other artists.

I tend to spend the money I get for commissions on two things: art supplies, or commissions from other artists. I support other artists with the money I make from my own art. It's circular for me. I'm not hurting the market in any way by charging what I charge.
I believe that is where the differences lay.
If you're still building your experience, then lower prices may work for now. As your experience grows, your prices should raise as well.
The only one to make that decision is you, as the artist.
Of course, the more more popular an artist -- for whatever reasons -- if they're good (but not great) they can have high prices because they're in demand.
Whereas a great artist, but with low confidence in their work as well as not popular (at the moment) may feel like they have to have low prices because their art is not in demand.


To go with my original statement back to targeting the consumers -
A lot of artists with unique styles are feeling forced into a certain mold, because that is where the demand is. Stay true to your style, because you never know who will see it and want it.
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
But every artist thinks they have to start out low, hence why clients expect to pay so little. It still only hurts those who place value on their time.
 

Raineyangel81

Active Member
But every artist thinks they have to start out low, hence why clients expect to pay so little. It still only hurts those who place value on their time.
I don't think every artist thinks they have to start out low. I think it really depends on who your target audience is.

Who is your target audience?
 
G

Greykitty

Guest
I started out very low but I was not really that good and I needed a way to attract clients. Once I gained more watchers and commissions I gradually raised my prices, and they had no issues with it, since it wasn't worth my time to be making full colored drawings for $5-10. I still feel as if I undersell but at least I can make a little bit without dying under a huge workload.

Nice post, well written, I hope it is stickied as well as EVERYONE involved in selling/buying art needs to read it.
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
I don't think every artist thinks they have to start out low. I think it really depends on who your target audience is.

Who is your target audience?

My target is whoever can pay, so long as porn isn't involved.
 

Teshia

The Taste of Sorrow may Linger
I was recently talking with an artist on Gaia who sells her paintings for $150-$250 each. She spends an average of 40-60 hours painting a commission. For most of her work she earns less than minimum wage. I asked her why and she said that commissions were rare for her art, so its just a hobby she does on the side.

To be frank, art is a luxury like jewelry or going out to eat. I'm not saying that your years of training are worth any less than that of a trained doctor, however, the value that society holds on it is much less. It is one of the first things that goes during economic struggle and that is why people do not want to pay a lot of money for artwork.

Personally, I rate my prices on demand, not on time. I want a steady workflow that will fit into my schedule. If the demand is more than I can handle then I raise my prices. If there is a bear market and things are slow then I lower my prices. Since I don't rely on it as my only source of income I'm not worried about how much I'm actually earning as long as I'm getting the experience and enjoying what I do.

This is not to say that my way of pricing is better or worse, but it is an alternative suggestion. Pricing on an hourly scale is important for people who use it as their only source of income, but, imho, if you do that then you might as well work for a company instead. Companies pay artists better than most freelance work can and you don't have to worry about self promotion.

On a side note, perhaps a forum or thread to assist with art pricing might be useful?
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
I was recently talking with an artist on Gaia who sells her paintings for $150-$250 each. She spends an average of 40-60 hours painting a commission. For most of her work she earns less than minimum wage. I asked her why and she said that commissions were rare for her art, so its just a hobby she does on the side.

To be frank, art is a luxury like jewelry or going out to eat. I'm not saying that your years of training are worth any less than that of a trained doctor, however, the value that society holds on it is much less. It is one of the first things that goes during economic struggle and that is why people do not want to pay a lot of money for artwork.

Personally, I rate my prices on demand, not on time. I want a steady workflow that will fit into my schedule. If the demand is more than I can handle then I raise my prices. If there is a bear market and things are slow then I lower my prices. Since I don't rely on it as my only source of income I'm not worried about how much I'm actually earning as long as I'm getting the experience and enjoying what I do.

This is not to say that my way of pricing is better or worse, but it is an alternative suggestion. Pricing on an hourly scale is important for people who use it as their only source of income, but, imho, if you do that then you might as well work for a company instead. Companies pay artists better than most freelance work can and you don't have to worry about self promotion.

On a side note, perhaps a forum or thread to assist with art pricing might be useful?


It is true that art is a luxury, but as long as there are people willing to pay for the art, there is no reason for an artist to go below their base prices.
 

AlexInsane

I does what I says on the box.
It comes down to whether you're a people pleaser or if you're a money whore. If you want money, then flip the bird to the little people and do very exclusive commissions for people who have the money to afford it. Naturally, this won't make you very popular with everyone else, but popularity isn't everything, especially when it doesn't get the bills paid or put food on the table.

I'd rather get my art from people pleasers; who keep their prices low and their quality somewhat on the rough side. I'm guilty of milking artists for all I can get for what I pay them for; I freely admit it. I don't have a lot of money and I am picky, to an extent. But it depends on the artist; sometimes a rougher look (like in my avatar) is what I like more, but sometimes I want lots of details. If the details aren't feasible and the artist tells me so, I'll usually abandon them.
 
Amen to your article, and THANK YOU for posting something like this.


Art is some of the most powerful stuff in the world, and it kills me to know even in my major (graphic design) that many young graduates will actually work years for FREE. For a huge corporation, not even doing pro-bono work for non-profits. And apparently this is the industry standard. It's depressing to think that I cannot even expect to get minimum wage after becoming a professional after years of training. Can you imagine if this were the same for engineers, or doctors? D:


I've been very fortunate to have supportive, amazing commissioners that still buy my art despite the fact my prices are now much closer to a good artist's wage (from $40 for a full CG a few years ago, to several hundred for the same kind of CG).

The good ones do it because they like your art and want to support you, not because they want some sort of deal. Again, thanks for pointing this out... I really hope people take it to heart. C:
 

blackcloud

pumpkin bread master!
I actually had a very wise friend once tell me I needed to double what I was currently (at the time) charging for commissions. When I spluttered that I'd lose half of my commissioners, her response was simple.

"So...you lose 1/2 the customers, but because of the price increase, you're also doing 1/2 the work and ending up making roughly the same amount of money to pay your bills....whiiiiich leaves you time to do YOUR art, and work on improving things you need to/work on ideas you have but haven't had the time for, etc."


She had a point. ;3

A friend of mine had pointed out to me that I wasn't charging enough for my jewelry. He made some very good points with respect to why I needed to raise my prices. One was overhead. Gemstones don't grow on trees, (sadly) and the price of the material passed on to the customer needs to reflect the quality of the raw material. Even in drawing and sketching and digital art, you need to remember either the raw materials or the upkeep on the computer in factoring your prices.

The other major reason to raise your prices is all about "perceived" value. By raising your prices you attract a clientele that understands that a real artist worked on it, that it's not some junk piece mass-produced in some far off land. Good customers, the kind you can build a relationship with, will always ask why the product costs what it does. And a good artist will be able to justify it. For me it's about being able to explain to customers that even if it was easy to make a piece, there is time spent designing it, and i am very honest about my materials. In the world of jewelry you would be surprised how rare that is.
So, that's my argument for raising your prices. If you have confidence in your work and your materials, you shouldn't feel "bad" about charging more, your art will last and bring the customer a life time of enjoyment.
 

M. LeRenard

Is not French
I've been trying to take this kind of message to heart for a while, but I tell you what, it's hard to find people (on this site) who are willing to pay much more than $30 for anything. It's very nice when you do find such people, but my usual experience ends up being as follows:
Thread: "I want such and such picture."
Me: "I can do it. Here are some samples."
Thread: "Wow! I'd like it if you could do it in this style."
Me: "Okay. Since that style takes a long time to produce, I'd have to ask $80 or so."
Thread: "Oh. Well, I'll keep you in mind for when I can afford that much, then."
And no subsequent communication thereafter.
It's a little disheartening. But I'll be damned if I spend eight hours on something and only get paid 30 bucks for it. So your essay here makes perfect sense to me, and makes me feel a little better about charging what I do, even if it rarely nets me any customers.
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
I keep quicker and cheaper options available in my price list.
 

Vesuro

~Such a Rush~
I refuse to undercut anyone, myself included. My prices are my prices, my art is worth more than I ask for it. You can't go into a shop of any kind and make up your own prices. "Hmmm, I think this candy bar is only worth about 25 cents. I'm only going to pay 25 cents, one dollar is too much for this candy bar." You will be asked to leave the store, immediately.

Yeah but when Aldi come along and offer the exact same chocolate bar for $0.25, your store will be forced to compete or close. This is the fundamental point of economics, an item or service is worth as much as your client is prepared to pay for it.

From the point of view of said client, I have bought many pieces of art (all the way from $5 sketches to $600 multiple piece contracts) and sell furry publications myself, so I tend to believe that to a degree I have experience in the field.

If you advocate professional pay, maybe you should also advocate something else which is lacking in the fandom, professional attitude. This would include procedures like setting and adhering to deadlines and writing up professional contracts. At the end of the day, professionals charge those levels of prices because they are pressured by these factors, and not free to deliver whenever they like, work in their own time and disappear from communications for days.

Personally I believe that the pricing of art in the fandom is a perfect example of economics, with availability at all price levels. Colluding to raise prices or otherwise unnaturally modifying the economic system with ideas like the OP has never worked in any meaningful economy, because you just leave a giant hole for anyone who can offer a lower price to undercut and outsell you.

tl;dr: Unless you're better than 95% of the fandom at drawing, you shouldn't be trying to charge $20/hour. You'll never get a commission. If you are, you are probably already charging those rates.
 
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LeeuRex

Member
What about adding in cost of materials? Cause my markers cost $160, but I'm not too sure how to split that up over the n number of commissions done with said markers.
 

DArtJunkie

Member
Really? Because I know that in the 'real' world, not the furry fandom, finding an artist who is a professional and willing to work for 5-10$ an hour is pretty darn rare. At least, the artists who do art for a Full Time living and are able to pay their bills. (professional in this sense meaning an artist who derives more than 60% of their income from selling their art)

I personally think an artist knows best how long and how much work is going to go into a commission. And I think they have EVERY right to set their prices as high as they want. If people think it's totally unreasonable, they simply will not buy. But expecting an artists to take a cut in pay to the point where they are killing themselves creating art and not able to afford to eat on a regular basis is shameful. Artists are skilled trades people, same as a mechanic or a doctor or a carpenter. It takes years of hard work and practice and money spend on education/supplies to develop the level of skill required to be a professional artist. The "I can buy that cheaper at Walmart" mentality is one of the things wrong with our current economy.
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!

Raineyangel81

Active Member
I've had clients try to do that >.< "I want a private lesson, but I only have $80. So can I just pay you that much instead or can I have half a lesson?" and then if you mention a payment plan, "Well..you see...I can't do that, because I'm not sure I want to pay the entire lesson amount."
wtf?
 
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