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On The Increasingly Agitating Subject Of Pricing Your Art

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
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?


Yeah, I got some of that when I first started doing commissions, but now I get a lot of people who go for my cheaper end items and a few who will buy the bigger stuffs as well, (yourself included)
 

Ryshili

Sanity Killer
I'm actually appalled by the charge people do for their art. $20 for a badge, yet $10 for a full color? I see something odd here. Badges are smaller, generally not full body (at least all the ones I saw at FC) AND laminating doesn't cost but $1 for 8 x 11 , so you can get easily two badges on there.

:\
 

Taralack

Hit 'em right between the eyes
It depends what medium the full colour is. If it's $10 for a digital full colour, then it sounds fair, because the artist has to make up for the cost of buying the markers if the badge is done traditionally. Plus you have to account for postage.

Just my two cents.
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
It depends what medium the full colour is. If it's $10 for a digital full colour, then it sounds fair, because the artist has to make up for the cost of buying the markers if the badge is done traditionally. Plus you have to account for postage.
Sorry to disagree with you there, but no way is $10 fair for quality digital work. Sure a traditional artist has to buy markers, paints or inks, but a digital artist has to buy a computer, an art package and electricity. Which d'you think costs more? And maybe markers run out over time, but if you're careful you should get more than one image out of them. It would certainly be interesting to know how many markers you'd have to burn through and how many pictures that would buy before you equalled the cost of the average desktop PC.

But this is effectively a moot point. Pricing your art is really a balancing act between two factors: the time and effort you put in, and the level of quality of the art that comes out. An artist needs to charge enough to cover their time, and higher quality artwork is naturally worth more money. The better the image looks, the more people will be willing to pay for it and the higher you can price yourself. It's a common misconception in business that cheaper always sells better. The real trick is pricing the product at the maximum amount the average person would be willing to spend. Too much less and you not only make less money, there's also the risk that your product will be viewed as 'cheap and nasty'.

The only time that material costs are likely to be an issue is if the piece is being painted on expensive materials such as canvas or bristol board rather than cartridge paper, and even these are not particularly expensive these days unless the image is massive.

-F
 
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Katarin

Member
Thanks so much for posting this. I'm about in what seems to be the average price range for artists with self-respect on this site, although it did take me a while to raise my prices to that level. After getting completely ripped off after a series of stupid new-artist mistakes I shouldn't have made, but did because I was "being nice", I'm perfectly content to charge what I believe my work is worth, though I do occasionally have special-event pricing if I want to try and get some more attention or need some quick cash.
 

ntswm2

Newbie
I had a big long rambling, mostly incoherent post about why the cheap problem exists but I'll try and shorten it to this: The costumer is always unwilling to pay more than he has to for whatever quality he is looking for (and will sometimes lower quality expectations for lowered price). Furthermore, most furry's will accept a quality lower than perfect or even professional artist, but within the reach of the gifted hobbyist or good art student. The fandom has a lot of gifted hobbyists and good art students who are generally looking for supplementary rather than primary income. Thus they set their prices lower. One cannot expect them to raise their prices, if only because they don't have to to achieve their goals (making art/experience/extra cash on the side).

Thus, the fact any professional artists attempting to survive off commissions must face is that they are competing for a relatively small market (those willing to pay for really high quality commissions) compared to the overall fandom, and that they have a lot of competition. These are the people who might be willing to generally raise their prices, and their costumers might be able to stomach the extra price and still come back for more, but you're still competing for the fraction of the market who won't go to the hobbyists/students.

I'm mostly speculating here, as I am neither a big art client and I do absolutely no art, but this is my impressions from hanging around the fringes. Please feel free to correct me if I seem off on any of my assumptions (just please do it nicely).
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
The fandom has a lot of gifted hobbyists and good art students who are generally looking for supplementary rather than primary income. Thus they set their prices lower. One cannot expect them to raise their prices, if only because they don't have to to achieve their goals (making art/experience/extra cash on the side).
While I agree with you in principle, the amount of discounting going on in these and other art forums is quite preposterous. Even the meanest art student should be able to make at least $10 off a full body sketch provided they aren't totally abysmal at it. I just took a browse through the forums as I often do, on the offchance that maybe things have changed, and I've not seen any commissioner offering more than about $10, with most of them in a range between $1 and $5. But that's not what's irritating me. I'm annoyed by all the posts where people haven't set a budget, sometimes even haven't said they 'don't have much money', and yet still good artists are offering to work for absolute peanuts!

When, oh when are people going to take notice of this thread?

-F
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
Currently, because I've been trying very hard, It's rather easy for me to get commissioned in the $20-$45 range. I don't get as many commissions as the big undercutters, but one of mine makes up for several of theirs. I'd wager than I make at least twice as much as they do over the course of a month.

When I started taking commissions here, I understood that I would not be as popular as those who are undercharging their work, but I advertise myself as a higher quality artist. I value my time greatly, and clients recognize this and will pay my prices.
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
When regular commissioners stop being cheapskates.
Thing is though, if two people came to you with art, you liked both styles equally, but one of them was cheaper, which would you go for? It's not 'being cheap' to pay a lower price for the same quality of service, it's good business sense. Not that I'm saying it's ALL the artists' fault for charging too low. Goodness me, no! The fault lies on both sides of the divide. People who pop up offering $1 for artists to draw for them are the ones being cheap. I mean come on! I'm on the freakin' DOLE here and I can afford to save up $20 if I really want an image making. If you've really, genuinely only got $1 to spend, you shouldn't be spending it on art! But commissioners' attitudes aren't likely to change if the status quo lies in their favour, are they? If someone says 'I want this for $1' and five people pop up saying 'Ok! I don't need to eat today!' where's their motivation to offer more? At $1 an image I could illustrate a whole book on a $50 budget, but I don't because I respect the artist's skill.

I don't tend to do commissions these days because to be frank, the kind of art I do, it's just too time-consuming. A good quality 3D model takes eight hours or more to get right, when everything that goes into it is considered. If people won't even pay $10 for something, they're not going to get near the $100 or so that I'd have to charge to make it worth my while.

Not that I'm saying other types of art take especially less time. I know a lot of artists in many genres and styles, so I know the work and effort that goes into a good image. That's just the position I'm in personally, using a pay scale based upon the (local) National Minimum Wage. And as others have quite rightly said, good artists shouldn't be getting minimum wage. Also, with 3D, I can't downscale my output to match a budget. In other words, the time difference between making a colour image, a greyscale image and a black-and-white image is practically nil.

-F
 
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Saeto15

Member
This is the problem I'm facing right now. I'm almost a college graduate with a BFA and I'm trying to get into doing freelance on the side while I wait to hear back for an internship, but I'm coming to realize that nobody wants to pay more than $15 for anything, no matter the quality.

I'm not stupid enough to think I can live off of private commissions, but I was hoping I'd make more than I did, considering the quality of my work, but nope. I think I'm just going to give up the private freelance stuff in the meantime, because it's not worth my time to work on stuff for less than minimum wage when I could be making more at my day job.

So I guess that makes me a "money whore", but considering how much debt I racked up going to art school, I kind of have no choice.
 

Taralack

Hit 'em right between the eyes
This is the problem I'm facing right now. I'm almost a college graduate with a BFA and I'm trying to get into doing freelance on the side while I wait to hear back for an internship, but I'm coming to realize that nobody wants to pay more than $15 for anything, no matter the quality.

I'm not stupid enough to think I can live off of private commissions, but I was hoping I'd make more than I did, considering the quality of my work, but nope. I think I'm just going to give up the private freelance stuff in the meantime, because it's not worth my time to work on stuff for less than minimum wage when I could be making more at my day job.

So I guess that makes me a "money whore", but considering how much debt I racked up going to art school, I kind of have no choice.

Obviously you need to draw more dog cocks.
 

Van Ishikawa

ZOMBIE KAEL LOVES YOU
There are definitely people out there who pay far more for a commission than $15. I've heard of someone who calls $100 commissions "cheap." The hardest part is finding those guys, and finding the ones who will pay for clean artwork. I do like your work though, keep it up man :D
 

Crocodilly

New Member
I have a bit of a question about charging based on how much time you spend on a piece. I believe I'm a reasonably good artist -- I can do humans, quads, anthros, etc. And my anatomy/shading isn't crappy (I'm not trying to sound like I have a big head, honestly). However, I tend to spend a very large amount of time on my pictures -- even small pictures (things like chibis, which I actually try to make detailed because I dislike the simplified versions of them) tend to take 5-7 hours.

Now, for the question...

I'm not an amazing artist. But I am a good one. However, charging $10/hour for my pictures would run at about ~$50-$100 just for my normal pieces because I take so much time on them (I have tried to be faster with my work, but it just isn't possible). With these prices, I really don't expect ANYONE to buy ANYTHING. What do I do in this situation?
 
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CatalinaTamiko

Miss Priss
I have a bit of a question about charging based on how much time you spend on a piece. I believe I'm a reasonably good artist -- I can do humans, quads, anthros, etc. And my anatomy/shading isn't crappy (I'm not trying to sound like I have a big head, honestly). However, I tend to spend a very large amount of time on my pictures -- even small pictures (things like chibis, which I actually try to make detailed because I dislike the simplified versions of them) tend to take 5-7 hours.

Now, for the question...

I'm not an amazing artist. But I am a good one. However, charging $10/hour for my pictures would run at about ~$50-$100 just for my normal pieces because I take so much time on them (I have tried to be faster with my work, but it just isn't possible). With these prices, I really don't expect ANYONE to buy ANYTHING. What do I do in this situation?


see i have to say the same. even $5 an hour is outrageous. I usually draw slowly, taking 2 hours at a time to do a simple sketch. even the best artists take time on some pics. $10 an hour is about as insane a price as paying for car repairs.

I think time is a small factor in price unless detail is the main problem. Its the supplies that should determine the price. like a simple sketch should be mo more than $5 period. covers the cost of your lead and time easily.
 

Saeto15

Member
That's theoretically what your art is worth. Due to the flooded market, however, there's no way you can charge that much and still get business. Welcome to freelance, I guess. I'm dealing with the same issue myself.


I have a bit of a question about charging based on how much time you spend on a piece. I believe I'm a reasonably good artist -- I can do humans, quads, anthros, etc. And my anatomy/shading isn't crappy (I'm not trying to sound like I have a big head, honestly). However, I tend to spend a very large amount of time on my pictures -- even small pictures (things like chibis, which I actually try to make detailed because I dislike the simplified versions of them) tend to take 5-7 hours.

Now, for the question...

I'm not an amazing artist. But I am a good one. However, charging $10/hour for my pictures would run at about ~$50-$100 just for my normal pieces because I take so much time on them (I have tried to be faster with my work, but it just isn't possible). With these prices, I really don't expect ANYONE to buy ANYTHING. What do I do in this situation?
 

JustALittleMohr

New Member
An excellent post Kyle, this must be the best thing I've read in a long time.

I've come to dislike doing art just because I don't feel it's worth it, I take about $13 for about 15 hours of work. And well, even tho I don't think the quality of my art is worth more, your post made me realize that I need to get better at doing my art much quicker. My time IS worth more.

Btw, the account I'm using to write this is abandoned a long time ago, and I can't use my new because I can't erase this one >_>
 

TheKyleIsHere

His Sideburns Can Smite You!
For the small commissions you get from the furry community, time is not as much of a factor, but if you are putting in more hours than you are getting payed for, you need to raise your prices or you'll just burn yourself out.

Your prices should be based on the materials used and the quality of work (sketch, colors, finish, etc.) time can take a backseat if you can't work at a reasonably quick speed.
 

konekotsukino

New Member
Thank you for making this post. A few years ago when I first decided to take commissions I didn't know how to price my art so I put them real low. Since then I've only had a total of 2 commissions(both from the same person) I've been wanting to change my pricing, but I was unsure how to go about that. I know my art has been improving slowly and as such I find that I've been spending more time on a single piece. In the past I could finish a sketch or line art in about 10 to 20 minutes. Now It takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to finish the sketch part and about another 10 to 15 to finish the lining part. Coloring takes me about an hour or more. This post helped me get an idea how to price my art better, now I just need to re-figure what exactly it is I can do in terms of my art.

(side note: If you'd like to see more examples of my art than what is posted in my FA you can see my DA, Since it has All of my art newest to oldest, since I first started posting my art. http://ishtar-bloodmoon.deviantart.com/)
 

KitraYukisan

Justice Guardian
Hey I wanted to join in on this. I'm pretty much a bit fresh to FA, but I was at Deviant Art for 2 years. I pretty much hand draw all my work and can finish it up with what I learned in Adobe Photoshop. But really I like most wouldn't know where to price my art either. I definitely try to take my time on art especially in Photoshop. And every few months I download new features to try to better myself at different methods.

Out of a lot of people, I would have unnatural energy when it comes to drawing, and I don't know if anyone else does this, but my mind is entirely blank when I draw. I don't have bills to pay myself yet, but I'm trying to save up enough money to get me a work laptop and a real version of Adobe Photoshop CS5. Those are definitely out of my price range. And art is really a passion for me that I'll never be able to give up. I've done a few commissions and gotten a few, and even do gift art.

But most of the time no one even comments on my art except for the commissions, requests, and gifts. I've tried different things to get around to getting people to want to pay for my art, but I'm at a block myself. And I can pretty much draw just about anything I can physically see. Adult, Clean, and even everyday animated background/worlds. I have many OC's, and once had over 300 stories, I wasted my life doing and all burned down when my comp was destroyed by a hacker from MSN.

Any help at all would be appreciated. And you can find me at: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/kitrayukisan/
 

KingCabbage

His Majesty
I have a bit of a question about charging based on how much time you spend on a piece. I believe I'm a reasonably good artist -- I can do humans, quads, anthros, etc. And my anatomy/shading isn't crappy (I'm not trying to sound like I have a big head, honestly). However, I tend to spend a very large amount of time on my pictures -- even small pictures (things like chibis, which I actually try to make detailed because I dislike the simplified versions of them) tend to take 5-7 hours.

Now, for the question...

I'm not an amazing artist. But I am a good one. However, charging $10/hour for my pictures would run at about ~$50-$100 just for my normal pieces because I take so much time on them (I have tried to be faster with my work, but it just isn't possible). With these prices, I really don't expect ANYONE to buy ANYTHING. What do I do in this situation?

You can't price it based on the amount of time spent if it's taking you that much longer to make something. You'll have to work on your speed. And if you can't draw faster, it's not fair to ask twice or three times as much as an artist of equal skills for a piece because it takes longer.

If you were getting your car repaired and they charged you twice as much than the other shop down the street because it takes their technicians longer and not because the service is necessarily better...you probably wouldn't go there again.
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
If you were getting your car repaired and they charged you twice as much than the other shop down the street because it takes their technicians longer and not because the service is necessarily better...you probably wouldn't go there again.
Ah, but what if the nature of your car means that it must, by necessity, take longer to repair? Then, you can be pretty damn sure, the technicians would charge more.

Art is one of those things it's difficult to draw analogies for. Drawing a picture is nothing like fixing a car, and cannot be held to the same standards. For one thing, the results are subjective. If you fix a car and it works, you know you've done a good job. If you draw an image, the quality of the results are very much judged by the recipient. A style that doesn't appeal to some people, might appeal to others.

$50 is not expensive for a well-drawn image. The trick is convincing people to pay it when there are so many people willing to undercut.

-F
 

KingCabbage

His Majesty
Ah, but what if the nature of your car means that it must, by necessity, take longer to repair? Then, you can be pretty damn sure, the technicians would charge more.

I said the service wasn't necessarily better...and I should have said "All other things being equal"
 

Mollfie

Member
Really interesting post!

My biggest problem is that most people give me the old "I would love to commission you, but I have no money" even though my pricest are the cheapest I can possibly make them. I'd rather they just didn't tell me lol.
 
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