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On The Increasingly Agitating Subject Of Pricing Your Art

Ryuunosuke

Member
Thank you for this information. I don't feel so bad about my prices now although they still may not be high enough. I'm doing $30 for a fully outlined and colored piece that consists of 5 different drawings of a character on one page. It's like an illustrated character reference sheet.

I thought I should charge based on the mediums I use and as far as detail. I never thought to go by time. Does it have to price by hour?
 

Conjoinedfur

New Member
I can only speak for myself, but I have a feeling my sentiment would be echoed with a few others. From a customer standpoint I have never and more than likely would never commission someone who charged by the hour. This doesn't mean I'm a cheap customer, I've paid 160.00 for a few waist up picture/portraits before. The artist was AMAZING and her talent for making "close to a real life" drawings of people was insane. So I recognized that my dollar was going to good use. She generally took anywhere from 3 weeks to a month to finish the projects. But always told me it would never take more than a month. Her prices were flat, not /hour. If it was an 8 hour project that roughly translates to 20.00/hour.

This is because I'm not physically there to watch them and make sure that the price I'm being charged for is being 1.Actually put to use and 2. The person isn't taking breaks or intentionally drawing extra slow to draw out the process. Trust only extends so far when it's your money that's being spent. I suppose the only way that would work for me is if the artist set a time for us to meet so I could give the specs for the project, then immediately have the art done right then and there, with the expectations of it being done 8 hours after or 5 or however long they quoted. I would also expect the quality to be just as spot on as the art I've seen them draw before. None of this I'll get you the art in a few days, take some breaks etc...cause then I'm gonna know your not really working on the art at the time you quoted me on.

A good point of raising the prices however was posted early in the thread. That while you might lose 1/2 your customers, the increase in price will make up for that 1/2 and you will be doing less work in the same amount of time. That said, there would also be those like me who just stop getting commissions all together (if all artist went by /hour that is.) and so the pool of potential customers would shrink thus pitting the artist against one another on who gets what work is left. The truth is there is no easy fix, if you want more money for your art then by all means raise your prices, but others recognize that some artist are going to get the shaft with this (particularly starter/still in training artist). Just my thoughts.
 
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Tigers-on-Unicycles

National Treasure
7 years later, minimum wage is still the same number, and furthermore, when I mention charging a reasonable price for my artwork, people get this look and suggest that I lower it significantly, to the point where I would be making far below minimum wage. Of course, I'm not going to do that. I've tried that. It sucked. This is still a good post and I'm glad to know there is a forum of people out there that values artwork as much as I do.
 

twilightakamar

New Member
It's only recently that I started being confident enough to charge for art (last couple years) and even more recently that I realized that what I was getting for the time and work I put in wasn't enough. I recently reprised and I'm still not sure if it's at a rate I'm entirely happy with... But im giving it a go.
 

nerdbat

Green butt of reason
7 years later, minimum wage is still the same number, and furthermore, when I mention charging a reasonable price for my artwork, people get this look and suggest that I lower it significantly, to the point where I would be making far below minimum wage. Of course, I'm not going to do that. I've tried that. It sucked. This is still a good post and I'm glad to know there is a forum of people out there that values artwork as much as I do.
In my opinion, the primary problem with the post is that it's placing the whole "time vs money" thing as a main point of concern, while arguably the main variable here is "quality". Some people may spend 3 to 5 hours on a worthwhile artwork to sell, while professionals can draw incredibly cool stuff in 15-20 minutes or so. Unless you're both comfortable and skillful enough with your own work, according your price by "time vs money" really isn't a very good idea, and unless you're an actual professional or at least on the same skill level, it's hard to expect anything above minimum wage, since competition is very dense - it's much better to look at market and general and price your works accordingly, no matter how long they can take to complete, and consider it sort of a secondary income, like with many other "hobbies with benefits" that people indulge in and make money of.
 

Draig Calon

Alpha Wolf/Dragon
I can only speak for myself, but I have a feeling my sentiment would be echoed with a few others. From a customer standpoint I have never and more than likely would never commission someone who charged by the hour. This doesn't mean I'm a cheap customer, I've paid 160.00 for a few waist up picture/portraits before. The artist was AMAZING and her talent for making "close to a real life" drawings of people was insane. So I recognized that my dollar was going to good use. She generally took anywhere from 3 weeks to a month to finish the projects. But always told me it would never take more than a month. Her prices were flat, not /hour. If it was an 8 hour project that roughly translates to 20.00/hour.

This is because I'm not physically there to watch them and make sure that the price I'm being charged for is being 1.Actually put to use and 2. The person isn't taking breaks or intentionally drawing extra slow to draw out the process. Trust only extends so far when it's your money that's being spent. I suppose the only way that would work for me is if the artist set a time for us to meet so I could give the specs for the project, then immediately have the art done right then and there, with the expectations of it being done 8 hours after or 5 or however long they quoted. I would also expect the quality to be just as spot on as the art I've seen them draw before. None of this I'll get you the art in a few days, take some breaks etc...cause then I'm gonna know your not really working on the art at the time you quoted me on.

A good point of raising the prices however was posted early in the thread. That while you might lose 1/2 your customers, the increase in price will make up for that 1/2 and you will be doing less work in the same amount of time. That said, there would also be those like me who just stop getting commissions all together (if all artist went by /hour that is.) and so the pool of potential customers would shrink thus pitting the artist against one another on who gets what work is left. The truth is there is no easy fix, if you want more money for your art then by all means raise your prices, but others recognize that some artist are going to get the shaft with this (particularly starter/still in training artist). Just my thoughts.
This post isn't saying to charge by the hour it is just making a comment that people should consider their average time spent working on a particular type of artwork and then work out what the cost should be based on a hourly rate for that average time.

BTW, thank you for this helpful guide, and while I probably won't be doing commissions for a while (not good enough for it IMO) it is good to know how to price the artwork properly when I do decide to start taking money and making artwork for other people.
 

Mystic Thunder

Worse than a grounded pilot: a grounded pegasus
I agree, but think there is a fundamental problem w/ this theory in the furry fandom. Which is quite simply.....furries expect art to be small, custom, and above all...cheap. This is NOT to say furries are cheap, or rude, or mean, or out to screw artists. It's simply that the fandom has a small handful of 'big name', popular artists who price themselves like a normal artist would, and the rest are scrambling trying to get as many commissions as possible to pay their bills and gain the popularity/notoriety of the big guns. Added to this is the fact that it seems like fully half the people in the fandom are artists, or at least offer commissions of some sort, and you've got an overage of supply, and not enough demand. People want art or their characters. They want the best art they can get, for the least amount of money, because this allows them to get MORE art, from multiple artists. It becomes an addiction, like collecting Magic cards.
Oi!!! I collect MTG, and I will let you know that if the time came, I would be more than willing to sell the whole collection and move on (except maybe the couple cards that actually hold value to me, but compared to the rest of the crap in my collection legit only for the purpose of making a deck work it's literally nothing). To call what some are addicted to, but most are just entertained by and could cut at any point, a flat-out, uber general "addiction" is just wrong... to about the same degree as how the media handles the furry fandom.
 
I am, as a story commissioner very interested in these types of threads but I saw nothing in any of the pages I read about us writers and what we should ask for price wise. I started out as a rookie charging 25 US dollars 7 months ago for a thousand words. About a month ago my roommate who is more experienced of a writer than I am told me to drop it to 20 dollars per thousand words. In neither price range did I get much business and am seeking more clientelle. Any advice for people like me who are starving writers as artists?
 

Fiorabeast

Always ill as hell
At the moment, my prices are set like this, due mainly to paypal fees which is the only way for me to accept any payment since I'm living here in Japan. And because I feel like my skill level is still not polished at the moment and I felt like this reflects it perfectly. Another artist said they were decent so I went with it.

Honestly, I hesitate to LOWER them even further to attract customers because that will seriously undercharge me (say, I lower my sketch prices to 10 USD but then paypal takes away about 3USD and I'm left with 7USD which I feel like people think my art is not even worth it nor good. Not to mention, it's not enough to keep up with rent and stuff!)

I'm kind of depressed because I want to make money doing this and get experience but no offers. I don't know if it's my speed, the subject matter (at the moment, I'm just drawing kemonomimis though I do want to draw fursonas just I haven't come up with my own yet), or my art style, or the way I wrote my commission info and stuff but it's kind of almost making me want to just give up on illustrating and focus on just drawing comics to submit to contests here in Japan. Because at LEAST I can go to a publisher and discuss what I need to do in order to increase my chance of getting that money prize and a serialization. It's like no matter where I advertise and post, I don't get any offers at all.
 

MissNook

Well-Known Member
At the moment, my prices are set like this, due mainly to paypal fees which is the only way for me to accept any payment since I'm living here in Japan. And because I feel like my skill level is still not polished at the moment and I felt like this reflects it perfectly. Another artist said they were decent so I went with it.

Honestly, I hesitate to LOWER them even further to attract customers because that will seriously undercharge me (say, I lower my sketch prices to 10 USD but then paypal takes away about 3USD and I'm left with 7USD which I feel like people think my art is not even worth it nor good. Not to mention, it's not enough to keep up with rent and stuff!)

I'm kind of depressed because I want to make money doing this and get experience but no offers. I don't know if it's my speed, the subject matter (at the moment, I'm just drawing kemonomimis though I do want to draw fursonas just I haven't come up with my own yet), or my art style, or the way I wrote my commission info and stuff but it's kind of almost making me want to just give up on illustrating and focus on just drawing comics to submit to contests here in Japan. Because at LEAST I can go to a publisher and discuss what I need to do in order to increase my chance of getting that money prize and a serialization. It's like no matter where I advertise and post, I don't get any offers at all.
For what I can see you don't have a lot of watchers. But you're quite new here. I don't know for your tumblr but don't you think you're just not patient enough? I mean you're trying to do commissions before having enough visibility, it will be really lucky for you to find someone to buy art from you like this.

Some examples of what you may want to do to increase your visibility:
  • creating a thread in this section with the Commission/selling prefix
  • filling your gallery
  • creating fanarts
  • put new art at least weekly in your gallery
 

Fiorabeast

Always ill as hell
For what I can see you don't have a lot of watchers. But you're quite new here. I don't know for your tumblr but don't you think you're just not patient enough? I mean you're trying to do commissions before having enough visibility, it will be really lucky for you to find someone to buy art from you like this.

Some examples of what you may want to do to increase your visibility:
  • creating a thread in this section with the Commission/selling prefix
  • filling your gallery
  • creating fanarts
  • put new art at least weekly in your gallery

I hate to say this, it's just that I'm... just stressed out with things going on in real life and I know I shouldn't have brought that here. But at the same time, I'm in a tight situation and not sure when I can find my next job to pay for everything next month and... this is the only thing I can do at the moment considering I'm in the middle of recovering healthwise.

Is it required to do fanart though? Because what I like, people won't likely know since the things I like are what say, something here in Japan is really popular and people know, versus while in the US only very few people are familiar with it. Also, I find that I can't seem to draw existing characters well despite having reference for some odd reason.

The other three, I'll do that. Though for the 'filling you gallery' part, I'm not sure how much to fill it up? Is it just better to fill it up with completed works? I have rough, but somewhat 'complete' sketches a lot but I know not many people would want to see that which is why I didn't post those... I'm just worried since I can't complete full-color illustrations fast due to my speed since it takes me 2 weeks around to complete it. But sketches only take a day for me.
 

MissNook

Well-Known Member
I hate to say this, it's just that I'm... just stressed out with things going on in real life and I know I shouldn't have brought that here. But at the same time, I'm in a tight situation and not sure when I can find my next job to pay for everything next month and... this is the only thing I can do at the moment considering I'm in the middle of recovering healthwise.

Is it required to do fanart though? Because what I like, people won't likely know since the things I like are what say, something here in Japan is really popular and people know, versus while in the US only very few people are familiar with it. Also, I find that I can't seem to draw existing characters well despite having reference for some odd reason.

The other three, I'll do that. Though for the 'filling you gallery' part, I'm not sure how much to fill it up? Is it just better to fill it up with completed works? I have rough, but somewhat 'complete' sketches a lot but I know not many people would want to see that which is why I didn't post those... I'm just worried since I can't complete full-color illustrations fast due to my speed since it takes me 2 weeks around to complete it. But sketches only take a day for me.

Since it's that urgent and you take that time to make your art, I would say to try to find a part-time job or a temporary job for the time being if you can. I don't think you can sell enough without building up your fanbase and that will take time.
Maybe you can mix two of your ideas together: the commission and the comics to be able to have something to show to a publisher. Well you can do your own comics till you have answers for commissions too.

For the fanart thing. It's not required, it's just one of the easiest way to build your fanbase quickly.

For the filling of your gallery. You can do folders or put your sketch into the scraps part. I think your gallery should reflect some quality art since it's for selling. You put in your main gallery what could have been commissions, and in your scraps what you think is not of enough quality.

I think you should try to answer some of the threads here prefixed with Commission / Hiring if you can. Don't answer to thread if you don't think you can draw what is asked though. Try to be focused on what you want and can do.
 

Fiorabeast

Always ill as hell
Since it's that urgent and you take that time to make your art, I would say to try to find a part-time job or a temporary job for the time being if you can. I don't think you can sell enough without building up your fanbase and that will take time.
Maybe you can mix two of your ideas together: the commission and the comics to be able to have something to show to a publisher. Well you can do your own comics till you have answers for commissions too.

For the fanart thing. It's not required, it's just one of the easiest way to build your fanbase quickly.

For the filling of your gallery. You can do folders or put your sketch into the scraps part. I think your gallery should reflect some quality art since it's for selling. You put in your main gallery what could have been commissions, and in your scraps what you think is not of enough quality.

I think you should try to answer some of the threads here prefixed with Commission / Hiring if you can. Don't answer to thread if you don't think you can draw what is asked though. Try to be focused on what you want and can do.

Hey sorry for not replying for a while, but thank you very much for the advice! I didn't know that there was a Commission/Hiring thread and I will definitely try that once I open up (at the moment, trying to finish personal stuff due to my bad habit of not finishing things fast enough).
 

The Cospunk Prince

The Artist Currently Known as Prince
This is all very solid advice. My worry is, I spend a lot of time on my work(anywhere from 2 to 6+hours, usually an average of 3.4-4 hours on a piece not counting breaks and almost always finish in one day) but my art could still, in comparison to others, be considered very low quality(mainly due to the program I use; I'm an MS Paint artist and only use the curved line, bucket, and inverse eraser tools with the computer mouse and I don't have a tablet.) What other artists using other programs would charge $15-$25 +bucks for, I'm currently just charging 1-2 Ko-fi donations(3-6 bucks). I've gotten a few commissions, and people seemed pleased with my work, but I don't know if it'll stay that way if I charge accurately for my time working rather than the quality of the program I'm using. does that make sense?

I am just doing it on the side so I can try paying off my credit card while I pay for bills/eat with the money from my full-time job, but my nerve damage has also been increasingly bad to the point where I might have to cut the hours at my current 40+hour retail job so commissions have become more of a necessity than a luxury.
 
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sshado

Artemis the Satanist
I would like to share some thoughts in case they are helpful for artists. I buy a lot of commissions, YCH, adoptables, etc...

As a customer I typically feel like I always have to add in $ tips $ for artists just to get their base price up around $75-$100 as a minimum. Artists can easily spend 5-6 hours on a single piece and they need at minimum some kind of living wage. Charging less isn't fair except for something that the artist knows they can reasonably do in an hour or two. I would prefer not to rely on my desire to tip them, because I know eventually I will get careless.

My recommendation for artists that feel uncertain is that you should offer tiers to your payment system. If someone can only afford ~$10 then you can meet them halfway by offering something that would only take you 30 minutes to draw. A good example is a simple avatar based on their sona, or a lineart sketch.

This way you can have multiple tiers ranging from as cheap as you're willing to work, all the way up to proper commissions which might take ~6 hours and cost the customer $100++. You can experiment in this manner and find out where most of your money is coming from, and then re-focus your effort on that.

Make sure that you don't just offer arbitrary amounts of money like shading for +$20. If shading takes you another hour of work and it's a premium feature the customer can request, then give yourself more headroom on the profit like $35. Someone who is going all the way on a commission is already willing to pay a little bit more for taking up so much of your time if they are a serious customer.

Customers also like to get things done quickly. If someone is buying your full commission package then consider how you want to prioritize them compared to someone who is just ordering a sketch or a YCH. It's a balancing act if you want to have a continuous flow of work, or you can just take requests one at a time. It is up to you what works best for your goals.

If you don't already, it's helpful to build an Excel sheet or some other page you can use to track everything from the person's username, the paypal they use to send the money, how much was sent, when it was requested, etc... Organization is super important if you want to handle multiple requests at once. It also means you're less likely to forget about people and more likely to stay in touch with them which makes you look better as an artist doing business.

Don't undervalue yourself!
 

Mystic Thunder

Worse than a grounded pilot: a grounded pegasus
This is probably a dumb question, but if I'm from Canada should I list my prices in CAD or USD? Most commissioners seem to be from the states, and I'm afraid they might skim over my price sheet and not realize that a $30 commission will only cost them $23.39, and so on. Should I use USD to make it simpler, and convert it myself after?
I say list both USD and CAD... but no matter how you go, my biggest thing would be to specify which currency your prices are in
 

Hitaka5Ever

Member
I go by what AntiDarkHeart on Twitter and at DeviantART told us on her Twitter a few years ago: Charge $15/hr for the base price when you're making locked-in prices. So if a sketch takes 1 hour to finish, a sketch is $15. If it takes 30 minutes, charge less (like maybe $10) Obviously change your minimum to what you like best, but $15 and more is what the entire country needs to be giving (my dad works for a print shop where he does all the cutting and deliveries and he makes $21/hr for 8 hours a day)
 

ymymy

Member
I calculated how much volume I paint in 1 hour. If the character is familiar, I paint one anime figure in color in 2 hours. Sketches per hour 3 pcs. Standard comic page from your sketches, 1 hour of line art. color from 2 to 3 hours. Color sketch 1 hour. Therefore, I thought that 1 hour of work for 1260 rubles(18 $) in Russia is normal. Of course, the dream is to have 2000 rubles per hour.
 
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