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Commission pricing

There's an interesting discussion on higginsdragon's journal about the cost of art. http://higginsdragon.livejournal.com/113670.html

I'm sure a lot of you have seen it already but if not, it's worth taking a look.
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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Higginsdragon's post is pretty accurate -- and opens up a flood of issues that people should understand.

I've never had any expectations of some small online subculture to pay me a living wage. What I do, I do for fun - as a hobby. Which means I'm not going to treat any of this as professionally as I would an actual paying career.
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
it's the same problem with ALL the arts. Acting, writing, philosophy, martial arts, music, etc etc etc. Doing ANY kind of art form as a career, in terms of manking a living, is near impossible. Where else do think Starbucks recruts from? :P

There is a chance you get a good gig with the right people at the right time and you get a flood of money; but these things are very few and far between.
but it's not a new problem, it been well ducumented for centuries!
If you want to persue a career in the arts, you're crazy. Only a nut-case would willingly subjet themselfs to the long hours, low pay, and mountains of rejection, abuse and hassle. and yet we still do it!

I want a career in the arts. one way or another. I doubt it'll ever make me rich. I doubt i'll ever be able to quit my 'day job'. But hey!, what have I got to lose? who knows what might turn up,.. it worked for Kafka (kinda) :)

but no, you're never going to get good pay by charging 'mates rates' to people online,.. such is life,...
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC)
this is true,. although I was refering not so much to the whole "staving artist" thing but more just to artist complaining they're underpaid and undervalued. to my knowledge there are examples of this dating back at least 5500 years (Huzzar! I finally found a use for learning ancient greek! ^_^ )
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
That is a fabulous post. I think it's right on. I have never had a problem paying for art. That's someone's job & I wouldn't begrudge them making actual money anymore than I would the person that fixes my car. :D
Mar. 16th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Linking it to my own LJ. There are some people I know of that need to see it, particularly potential customers ;b.

It's funny... people can't live with art, in one form or another, yet not many are willing to pay for it.

Mar. 16th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Not a bad post, though I do have a couple problems with it. One is that an hourly wage doesn't always apply. And, not all artists can make $30 or $40 bucks/hour, nice as that would be.

You wanna do that? Go back to university and get a regular job. What we get is the chance to be our own boss, make out own business decisons, do what we love to do for a living, meager as it sometimes is. I think it's worth it.

One reason for wage discrepencies is choice of medium or subject. You can sell blue things for more money than yellow. Cats and wolves sell better than insects or lizards. If the market does not support a certain price, then you can't expect it. Change what you do, or where you sell it. Sell what the market wants and is willing to pay for.

And those just starting out make less than those that have been in business for a while. That is called brand recognition and is why a Nike or John Deere shirt sells for an identical generic shirt.

If it takes a novice 30 hours to build something that a professional takes 3, does that mean the novice is entitled to get 10 times the money for his/her product? Especially as the professional already has experience with the medium, experience with business, a client list, marketing, etc.

Those who are still learning their craft are known for doing large projects for cheap or even free simply for the marketing opportunity that it offers.

I often say, marketing is everything. You want to make money? get recognized, profiled, and get all the media attention you can haggle. Takes alot of time, money, and trouble, but it's worth it in the end.
Mar. 16th, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
Edit: Accidently omitted two words in this paragraph above.

'And those just starting out make less than those that have been in business for a while. That is called brand recognition and is why a Nike or John Deere shirt sells for more than an identical generic shirt.'
Mar. 17th, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
The way I see it there are two ways you can look at the 'value' of something.

[1] One is by dissecting the entire process and putting a price tag on each part. How much was put into purchasing material -- how much was put into time and effort to create it -- how much was put into time and effort to market and sell it.

[2] Alternatively you can take the 'eBay' approach and simply say 'the value of an object is how much you can sell it for'.

If method [1] is less than method [2] for a given object then you've made a profit -- that's great.

If method [2] is less than method [1] then you're NOT making a profit off of it .. and should really consider some other line of work if you're doing this purely for the money. You still make 'some' money back.

If method [2] is less than method [1] and you ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to sell the object for less than the computed value from method [1] then you run a significant risk of NEVER selling the item and it just sits around taking up space and gathering dust and you make the LEAST amount of money off of it. I know a few people (and stores) that do this.

I make some goofy little 'ferret viking helmets' for a Furry Variety Show performance. Afterwards I had all these tiny viking helmets left over and decided to sell them. I sold most for about $5 or $10 .. I don't remember exactly.

Afterwards I considered possibly making other types of puppet accessories -- hats and other thingies using roughtly the same method -- unfortunatly after working out method [1] based on how long it took to make the helmets I determined I'd have to sell these things for close to $30 or $40 to make it worth my while. Even if I got really good at it and skimped on a few steps I doubt I could drop the method [1] value down to under $20. I couldn't imagine anyone paying that -- hence I didn't bother.

While I appreciate all the work that goes into a commissioned art piece I have a really hard time believing anyone except the most ludicrously rich is CAPABLE of paying $2000 for a single piece of artwork -- it is unreasonable to expect that out of fans. If you're in it for the fame, glory, or enjoyment of drawing and sharing work with others, that's all fine and good but if you insist on getting method [1] values and decent living wages off your work then something like furry fandom is no place for you.

I'm told Doug Winger does all his artwork for 'free' because if he were to charge for it at all he'd feel obliged to charge professional rates because he is a professional artist -- and almost nobody in the fandom could afford that.
Mar. 17th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
I agree with what you say.

I also agree that, although being an artist is not an easy way to make a living, the furry fandom is particularly bad and it would be mighty hard for a person to make a living off a furry only niche product.

There are other target markets with more spending money that good furry artists would do well to explore.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
Exceptions to every rule of course :) When you find the right market, you can almost write your own cheques. I recently doubled my prices, and no one's batted an eye.

I have seen novices charging the same prices as professionals, but they usually only catch the unwary with that and make less money over all.
Mar. 17th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)
Interesting, though the post is rather militant, as if calling for this to be some sort of standard, and I find that off-putting.

Really, as an artist, you have a right to charge whatever you want for whatever you want. And as a consumer, I have a right to not work with you if I think what you're charging is too expensive. :)

Also, art is very, *very* seldom fertile grounds for a paying career. My mate happens to know someone who makes a killing, but that's because he's at the very top, where they for Magic: The Gathering cards, book covers, concept art for MMORPGs, etc. Good luck making a living off of your art with anything less, though, and that is why it is somewhat unfair to compare a furry commission to what you could be making if this was an actual career. Simple truth: It's not.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
For all I know you could be the type to spend $100-200 for a commissioned piece of art,

Ha, that's a good one. :P

I do see your point and agree to a certain extent. If someone is really that good, to the point where maybe they should think about going professional, then maybe that's a fair price, sure. But here's the thing: I'm cheap. It's nothing personal--I just wouldn't pay $100 for anything, and that includes commissions.

This is why I actually kind of like the current system of unorganized shopping around. Some people think they deserve career wages for their art, and if they draw well enough to actually deserve that, then hey, best of luck with that. Some treat this thing more like a casual hobby and have prices that even someone like me would agree to, so yay!

If you're complaining about people being pushy about it either way, then yeah, I'm with you. The demanding "I deserve more and better and will make sure you are aware of this" personality is highly irritating, be it from commissioner or artist.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
Seriously? You are the first person I know who has ever said that. Either the first impressions I give off are total lies, or I have bad friends. :P
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
Ahh! Well, in that case, thank you very much for the kind words. :D

I think it has to do with going straight from college to working as a weaver (where the work-at-home part is cool but the drawback is making enough to get by but not a whole lot more) so I'm still stuck in that frugal "ramen is a food group, right?" phase.
Mar. 17th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC)
If you think doing commissions in this fandom is bad when it comes to the amount versus the time put in (and the poor $2-$6 an hour is pretty lousy), try independent comics! The amount of hourly divided by your likely compensation could very well be less then a dollar an hour range. ;)

Of course your image may be over time bring in much more money then the base amount the patron paid for their commission when you account for the selling of prints, which is usually quite profitable in comparison of the cost to make them.
Mar. 17th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC)
What puts me off most about this (in relation to fandom art especially, since most fandom artists don't have to do much of any research in order to draw a decent wolf or fox), is that it counts on people spending 25+ hours working on a single piece. I don't think I have ever done that in my life, including for the small number of oil paintings I've done. If I spend three hours on a piece of art, that's a lot. The most I've gotten to was maybe 15 hours total for coloring a piece of giftart in Photoshop, because I was being stupidly nitpicky.

If, hypothetically, all fandom artists started charging $15/hour, some of the great, but fairly slow-working artists would get screwed over in favor of decent-and-quick artists.

I personally am getting tired of hearing some fandom artists preaching about how everyone should raise their prices. I'm sure if people are willing to pay for your name, that's grand. Some of us are fairly good artists but virtually unknown, since we live five or six timezones away from AnthroCon.

Furry artists aren't the only people who charge less in order to get their art out to people rather than companies. I got a gorgeous die-cut painting of my horse on plywood, about a yard tall, and it set my parents back 1k SEK (about $130 or so). Would've been 1500, but she gave us a discount if I'd give her daughter a drawing lesson. The hourly rate for that can't be anywhere near decent, but Jackie says she'd rather see that ordinary people buy her art and enjoy it, than get a lot of money for it. Just some kind of food for thought.

(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2006 11:19 am (UTC)
The reason I charge even that much is because the exchange rates suck, tho. I mainly had a reaction to your default figure because it looks like insanely long to spend on one single thing to me. Kudos to you if you can -- I can't, because I get to the point where my head says I'm done and then I'm done. My SO's sat me down and made me rework my sketches four or five times, and the result doesn't get all that much better, just leads to me throwing nervous fits and putting the work down for a week before I dare touch it again because it's been associated with stress.

I probably could not pull off that coloring, no. Possibly I could get fairly close with the linework, but not the coloring. this is probably the closest I have online, at least that I can think of, and is also more recent than the cosplay piece. (My SO just grabbed stuff off my VCL gallery when he made the site, and he happens to adore that cosplay piece, so... It's about a year older, since I drew it for myself to unwind from insane con-prep stress.) And it's probably about as far as my current skill takes me.

Of course, another major reason I have trouble spending a lot of time on stuff, or trying stuff I've never done before, is that I'm scared to the point of tears of screwing up. Everything I do has to Become Something, and has to turn out good, or I'm worthless and might as well blow my brains out. Which is something I'm working on. Now I just need people to stop telling me that "you can, too, do backgrounds" when I do cheap cop-out backgrounds in my comics, because it only means I start stressing myself out.

I can understand being frustrated when one's favorite artist stops doing furry work altogether, or doesn't do commissions anymore... I was disappointed myself when Tracy Butler stopped drawing her furry characters, and instead illustrated her story characters as humans, because I adored her little comic sequences, and her art was one of the main influences that got me into furry art/comics. I think the problem is when you start being obnoxious about it, especially if you are so directly to the artist.

Says I, expecting to get a completely ordinary boring day job as a cashier or something for living expenses, and do furry work as a bonus. Problem being that that ordinary boring day job is hell to find, as well. I just know myself well enough to realize that if I tried to do art for a living, I'd sooner or later end up killing myself from being so stressed out about my own expectations of myself and what I ought to accomplish.

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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