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About Sequential Art commissions/Comics

Hi everyone!

I'm posting here because this is my first time ever taking a sequential art commission and I have really no idea what to do, so I figured someone could help me out.

An old friend of mine recently approached me to work on his ideas. He saw some of my recent work and decided he wanted me to draw his comics. Since it was finals week, I agreed I'd give it a shot after the new semester started.

Fast forward to last week, where we had a chance encounter on campus. He tells me he's very interested in starting the project and he'll pay for my work. Needless to say I was caught off guard.

I was planning to offer the local hourly rate ($7.35 x 6-8 hrs per page = $44.10-$58.80 per page) which is just enough to cover its art supplies w/ shipping at dickblick.com. The other option to considerably lower the price to consider each page as an inked commission ($10 per page for 10 pages).

A friend recommended I ask for more for profit, but I am quite reluctant because it will be my first job as a freelance comic artist (note: I have worked on private commissions since 2006).

I don't want to cheat my friend out of his hard earned money, but I would like have the experience for future endeavors.

Thank you for reading!

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( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
You're worried about charging more when famous artists like Andy Warhol get millions of dollars for "art"?
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
You're comparing the OP's wage to someone who hasn't made a single dime since he died? ;)
(no subject) - connorgoodwolf - Oct. 25th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lurkerwisp - Oct. 26th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
How much someone else makes, regardless of the percieved quality, is irrelevant. What she needs to keep in mind is:

A: What her friend can afford.
B: What her time is worth.

If A<B, then don't do it. If you want to do it as a favor, then do whatever you want. I charge $100 a page, but I've been doing comics for many years and have publishing credits.
(no subject) - bladespark - Oct. 25th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 25th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 26th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - connorgoodwolf - Oct. 26th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 26th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - connorgoodwolf - Oct. 26th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Oct. 26th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
If you're friend is willing to pay more, let him. It shows how much he values his work. It might be a good idea, especially if you're the one that has to come up with the panel layouts. Making comics is often more intensive than a simple pin-up.

Also, maybe he thinks you'll work better if you know you'll be making a profit rather than breaking even.
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC)
Why charge so little? At least make it worth your time. What's the point in only charging enough to cover your art supplies? Charge to actually make some money. Plus, comic work is soul destroying and if you're anything like me, you'll very quickly get annoyed with profitless sequential work - because once you start doing it at a low price, you'll feel guilty if you stop!
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
Charge a nice, rounded number per page, like $75. Its easier to digest from the commissioners POV, and 75 sounds fair because its covering the materials you're ordering, PLUS giving you a little pocket money. That way if he opts not to go with multiple pages(And just uses one page) you won't be breaking even, you'll have a little profit.

He's probably going to ask for some changes, so some money for your troubles in advance isnt a hard choice, IMO
Oct. 25th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna disagree with some of the folks here - charge what you're comfortable with. I think $50/page is logical for someone who's never done a comic commission before, but does have some experience making their own comics.

I'm a little confused how $50/page is only covering the cost of supplies and shipping though? Are you getting super special paper and ink or something? Or am I reading that statement wrong, and that's not the cost of supplies for the commission?

That said, what is the scope of the project? How comfortable are you drawing comics? If the price only covers supplies, I'm sure you will get tired of busting your butt for "experience" - I would agree on one price for a limited number of pages (no more then 10!! 4-5 would be ideal, probably) and then reevaluate how you feel about things. If you think it's too much work for too little money after that, and you feel more confident in your skills, then yes, raise your prices.
Oct. 26th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
I'm planning to offer him a marker colored comic, since I have no access to Photoshop. I use Blick Studio Markers (warm and cool grays, $17 each; otherwise I have to settle for $34 per pack of Prismacolors, the only ones I) and Faber Castell inks ($5) on sketch pad with $11 for int'l shipping. Hope that clears up the price.

I feel pretty comfortable with drawing comics, and he wants to start off with 10 pages for now.
(no subject) - lita_ann_kino - Oct. 26th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 26th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
I think I'd recommend two things - think of what you need to get paid to break even taking this job instead of another job, and people will think you're worth what you charge.

The first part is figure about what you'd get paid if you were working at your normal job and add in supplies. I think that'd be $7.35 x 8 = $58.80 so $58.80 per page + whatever the cost of your supplies are (maybe $7 per page for paper, pen, ink, and such) so you'd get a total of about $65 per page. For your hourly, I'd charge on the high end and then figure that you'll be doing a few alterations per page (spell this out early - how many per page, at what point, etc.) The other thing to consider is if this is going to be published or not. If he is charging for the comic, you'll want part of that. I think the easiest thing to do would say that you'll get 25% of all profits from the comic or something like that because he is investing more in the comic up front, so he should get more return, but you need something in exchange for giving up copyright to him. Just remember that you're working on this when you could be having another job, and it's his baby, not yours. Every hour you work on it is an hour you're not doing art you want that you can stick in your portfolio.

The other thing is that people will value the work you do at the price tag put on it. If you're only charging him $10, then he's not going to treat it as an equally valuable commodity. If you want to give him the best price you can, figure out how much you're going to spend on supplies, and then really look at what he wants. you might be better able to charge him $10 a panel so that a 3 panel page will only cost $30 for him, and not be as labor-intensive for you. The other thing to discuss is if you want to do this comic. If there's nothing you'd rather be doing, or if he's giving you more control, maybe offer a discount. After all, if you get a lot of freedom, it's not the same as having a client who wants everything just so. Finally, maybe look into doing a friend discount. Say that it's $50 a page + plus supplies, but every tenth page is free. That way you're giving him kind of the "nice guy" discount, without undervaluing your work.

Make sure you figure out what you want to do if the work does turn a profit, and make sure you get what you deserve for it too. Your time is valuable.
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the book, I probably made this more complicated than it needs to be.
(no subject) - lita_ann_kino - Oct. 26th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - Oct. 26th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
I'd always heard trying to charge an hourly rate for art is pretty impossible and not really a viable way to go about it. Best to calculate what sort of supplies you'll need into it and then how much work is going to be needed. An inked sequential project that is 10 pages I've seen people charge a lot more (like 500 or more for) because they are essentially getting an inked in full page image for each page. Don't undersell yourself with the 10 dollars per page because that is way to low for the amount of work that you are going to put in to this. I'd go with something around 30 per page (which is a pretty standard rate for a full page inked commission in the fandom averaging between artists and popularity) and that way you'll get about 300 for the full project which is affordable (offer to let her break it up into payments) and worth your time and effort.
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
This sounds completely reasonable to me.

OP, something to consider would be to let the friend pay per page. Start with just one page so that the smaller sum at a time feels like a less expensive charge and work on a basis of how much they want at a time and how quickly you can get your pages done. That way if they hit financial hardships and can't complete a payment plan for the whole thing you still get paid for the work you've done and they still get a good amount of their comic completed.
(no subject) - anjel_kitty - Oct. 26th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lita_ann_kino - Oct. 26th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 26th, 2010 09:28 am (UTC)
Just because it's your first ob, doesn't mean you have to sell yourself short.
Charge an hourly at that's at least minimum wages + expenses (cost of material + shipping or getting to the store etc.).
$60 for a page, completely inked and shaded is a very fair price and if your friend doesn't agree, then you're simply out of his price range.

I have some friends who do comics and from what I've observed, you will have a lot of people asking you to work on their comic ideas. If you do not charge a decent rate for your pages, you will become overwhelmed.
Oct. 26th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
First off:
I would most definitely charge an hourly rate no less then the national minimum wage. Obviously this person thinks your work is good enough to do a comic, let them pay you for your skills.
Because you have to think about how much EFFORT you are going to put into these pages, it's not a simple line drawing of one character, or even a basic shaded single figure. It's a very involved process.

If he is buying multiple pages from you, let's say upwards of 10, you could offer him a discount. Sort of the notion of ordering in bulk? I wouldn't do anything more then like 10% but it's a thought.

Plus, GET STUFF IN WRITING. Cover your arse on this.

Oh yeah, and never accept the concept of "the money you make when it's published".
I made this mistake, my sister in law's mother decided I should illustrate her children's books, [not well written] and she would take them to a vanity press and my payment was 50 books from the first round. And I have made about $90 from those books. She got 18 drawings from me for the first set of books.
And considering the second set of drawings, I put into her possession over a year ago now and still haven't seen ANYTHING- money or bookwise, I regret EVER doing either for her.

Don't screw yourself out of a fair wage and don't screw the client either.
Oct. 26th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
I've learned my lessons by working for friends before--never only get paid just enough to break even on a large project. It's disheartening and in that last stretch you will probably be miserable unless you love the subject matter, etc. Even friends should be willing to pay you what you're worth, and even for your first comic you should make more than minimum wage. I've not really had a problem yet charging $10 per hour as my wage. It's skilled labor, and you should be making at least that much.

10 pages at $10 each is ludicrous. Don't sell yourself THAT short. You'd be making pennies per hour!

Asking for a fair wage is never "cheating" someone out of their money. Would you think that way of a janitor or a doctor? If they can't afford you they'll find another artist, one who will probably regret biting off more than they could chew.

Edited at 2010-10-26 02:37 pm (UTC)
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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