everyone should be charging much more for their art. why? because if everyone sells for pennies, then you lower the price range for everybody. and art is worth so much more than pennies.
hell, i’ve seen people charge $3,000-$7,000 for one full-page spread.
I know quite a few artists that make six figures working for studios.
This is a small guide on what I've learned from my time in college, and the general standards in the industry. And a small rant about the pricing around da, and why it's severely wrong.
PAYMENT: ALWAYS request funds first. Never wait until after. ensure that you get payed for your time and effort. I've seen so many artists get taken advantage of because they don't ask for payment until after they're done.
If the client isn't satisfied with the end product, you can always refund the money.
COST: If you don’t know what to charge, just think hourly. Minimum pay for a professional artist is $24-$30/hr where I live. That could vary mildly elsewhere depending on cost of living, but that’s usually the standard.
Now, telling your commissioner that you work hourly might scare them off. Mostly because they don't know how fast you work, and they may worry that you'll just sap the clock for more money. clock yourself and find out what your average time is for a piece. Use that to calculate how many hours you put into something particular. Then you can give them a lump quote beforehand, rather than an hourly rate.
SPEED: If you're a little slow, or you make frequent mistakes, don't worry! Continuous practice and refinement of your process and skills will eliminate that. But you still can charge for the hours you put in. If you're slower than the standard, just lower your price a few dollars/hr. Vice-versa, if you're really quick, you should be payed for your efficiency- raise your cost a few dollars/hr.
Base your speed on how quickly other artists work. Watch a lot of artist channels and live feeds, and see how quickly they work. Get a large pool of samples for your average. And always take into consideration how complex a piece is. That will really determine how long it will take you to finish it.
DEADLINES: If they give you a tight deadline, charge double. This is the equivalent of working over-time at any other job. Usually, I give myself one week to finish a piece. I don't work free-lance full time, and I have other projects I'm working on as well. So I reserve two days out of the week for a commission. But I know a lot of full-timers pump out several a day though, so it just depends on how much work you get and where your income is coming from.
I gauge the level of complexity of a piece, and determine how long it would take me to do it, working on it a set number of hours a day. I usually don't work for more than eight hours a day on a piece, to avoid fatigue and poor quality art. When figuring out a deadline, always give yourself some wiggle room. You never know when you won't be able to land the right pose or redo something, or just life smacking you in the face.
Put simply, it's always better to finish early and pleasantly surprise your client, than to strain yourself and potentially overshoot your deadline because of unforeseen circumstances. It'll look bad on you professionally, and it may damage your relationship with your client. ALWAYS have a little extra time reserved for 'just in case.'
CHANGES: I usually offer two moderate changes for free on a piece, and I give my clients a rough sketch to proof before I finalize everything. If they ask for any more than two changes at the WIP stage, I charge hourly for each change. So if one change took half an hour, I charge $12 for it. At the WIP stage, I make sure they sign off/approve of everything before I continue, because at this stage, it's easiest to make changes. If they ask for a change at the finalized stage, again I charge hourly for everything I have to redo or add.
Now for the unfortunate bit.
took me about six to eight hours to do, which is pretty standard time for something this fleshed out. That means this is worth $144-$192.
You know what I’m forced to charge for my commissions here for something like this, because I have to compete with others there?
$50. And I don’t get many people buying anymore since I’ve raised my prices from $20. That’s $8/hour, which BARELY scrapes past minimum wage. Barely minimum wage, when I have a BA in animation.
I’ve had people tell me a $1 adoptable was too expensive, when I spent four or five hours on it, which would make its value $120.
Are you telling me that one dollar is too much.
When I payed over $100,000 for my education and dedicated my entire life to this field of work? When the piece in question is professional standard?
So really think- if you want to continue to see art around, pay artists well. Because as much as we love to art, we can't survive off pennies. Which means we have to look for a job that pays our bills. Jobs that we would be miserable at every minute of the day. Jobs that would never make use of our talents or skills. Better pay means a happy artist, and a happy artist produces art better and faster.
if you’re not a professional artist and you do commissions, at least charge minimum wage. Usually going $12/hour is pretty fair if you’re an amateur. Being able to draw something is a unique talent; not just anyone can do it.
SO DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT.
Get payed more because you have a marketable talent.
Art is really worth so much more than what people value it at.
And remember that working for under minimum wage isn’t even legal.
Let's work to change the skewed perception that artists should be working for next to nothing.
Well said. There are a couple of points I'd like to make, however. Many of the artists on this website are amateurs who have not completed their education, or may not even have any professional training. I've commissioned several pieces on , bought others, including an original painting (you can see examples in my "other artists" gallery. The cover of my novel set me back in excess of $1000, including the original art piece and the graphic artist who did the layout. It was worth it, the artwork is stunning. For this fee, I was granted unlimited rights to use the image in anything relating to the book, with no expiry. There are several images inside the book, for which I only have the rights to the initial release. I paid much less for these, because I don't own the rights (although the artist was nice enough to allow me to post the images on my website to help promote the book. At the current rate of sales, assuming the book continues at the same rate and not counting any taxes I will have to pay on the revenue of the book, it will only take another nine years and seven months to pay for the cover art. Of course, that doesn't include the 2000+ hours of writing. Thankfully, as with many, many authors on Amazon, writing is a hobby and not how I feed my family.
It's not a simple problem, the laws of supply and demand dictate that certain things can demand more than others. As a professional (my real job), I have earned what most would consider a very good salary for the last several years. Yet, one month about seven years ago, I had to work over 320 hours (two months work!) in a single, four week month to deliver a project because we were short staffed. I figured out, based on my yearly salary (no one gets overtime in my field) including bonus that year, that my salary that month was about seven dollars an hour, including the two 36-hour continuous sessions in the office. I'm not saying this makes it better, I'm just trying to show you that it is a problem not exclusive to the art community.
Wow, thank you for writing this. I see so many artists asking for 10 points for a beautiful drawing that, while it might not reach industry standards, deserves at least $20. I understand that they might not be wanting payment for bills (as most of them are just a year or two older than me and I'm thirteen), but if you're going to work for money at least try to hit minimum wage. If you're not willing to work for at least five dollars, then you shouldn't request payment at all. This is an actual industry, and to ask for so little is to shame it. If you don't have enough confidence to charge more don't charge at all until you do have confidence. Personally I'm only charging for a bit (or maybe a lot) of pocket cash, because I'm constantly saving up for one project or another, and occasionally an electronic. I spend more on art than anything else, so why not make money from the same? I want to start plushie-making, I want to write books, I want to paint, and all but perhaps writing costs money, and even writing books requires that I should have money to pay the publisher. So I ought to have a bit of pocket money, especially when I start my life as an adult--I'll need to be able to afford a house, a car (even though I'm terrified of driving), bills, et cetera. My parents already do so much for me that it would be unfair to have them give me money for those things when I am perfectly capable of making that money now and on my own. When you have a talent such as the ability to draw, what would be the point in wasting it and getting a different job doing something you would hate? -pointless lecture/rant over-
While I agree with everything you just said, you also have to remember this isn't that kind of art site.. we're not professionals here.. whether you have a PhD in med or an art degree, no one cares.. some people are willing to pay, others lean toward the free side of this site.. but I do agree you guys should be able to charge a bit more than you do.. $5 for something that took like 2 days to do is ridiculous -.-
While I whole heartedly agree with the concept of paying people more since many have, after all, devoted much of their lives and education to their work, personally, I can't pay that much for artwork. I feel like many people can't.
I gladly buy art from artists online, but only when I can afford it, and if the Fandom Average ever caught up to the Industry Standard, I would literally NEVER buy art. Not because I don't appreciate it, or because I devalue artists, but simply because I can't.
I have no way to know how many others out there are in the same boat as me, but its a scary thought:
If the majority of commissioners are in a similar position to me, such a change in pricing could reduce the number of commissioners dramatically, and if nobody is buying the art except for people with lots of money, there will be fewer and fewer artists able to scrape a living from their art.
It's a horrible situation, really. I hope it resolves in some way where artists still have a large enough audience willing to buy commissions to benefit the artist community as a whole, rather than some artists making lots of money now and then, and many of them unable to find buyers
Yes, it's a difficult situation all around. The only balance I've been able to work out is working for half of the cost here, and working on other things to sell in bulk later.
Most people don't have the kind of money big companies do, which I get. A lot of my clients are younger, and don't have a large disposable income. But now that the economy is so poor, everyones' struggling to find a job. There's really no studio jobs, so what else can we do? If we undercharge, the entire art community suffers because you're lowering your value. If we charge what its worth, with the state of the economy, not many can afford it.
And I'm not aiming towards alienating or angering my clients; I appreciate you guys so much.
But the cost of educating myself in this field isn't something that came free or cheap- I risked everything and invested all I had into this career.
I put myself in a ton of debt in order to be an artist, when I could've gone the much easier route and gotten payed quicker and better in another job choice.
But I don't want to be anything else.
And I fully expect for my hard work and monetary investment to give back what I put into it- cuz that's how investments should work. Especially education.
And really, I don't just speak for myself. I know so many people that I went to school with that...they just couldn't find work. So they're working for minimum wage with a BA under their belt.
It's staggering, especially when you realize how hard you worked to get through college, and how much money you poured into it.
It's just rough...but I'm hoping that the economy will get better, and at the least, people will try to see that artists are valuable to society.
And trust me, your commissions have helped me out my dear. I really appreciate my returning clients, like you.
You've never had issue with my prices, and have always been pleasant to talk to. Great ideas too.
If I didn't have to raise my prices to pay things, I wouldn't.
Mostly, I want people to look at a piece, and understand that they're looking at something very valuable, and not take it for granted.
It breaks my heart when I see artists abandoning their dreams because they have to feed themselves and their family.
They're forced to go work as a cashier or basket pusher, when their art is so exceptional that they could really make a name for themselves and be successful.
I may not make much money myself, but I do try to commission as often as I can. We're all in this together anyhow, and it'd be a crime to see those people just stop their beautiful work.