|Alms for the artist.|
During my time on Deviant-art, I have come across many forum posts enquiring on how one should determine their commission rates and other art related services. I have also come across many artists that under-price/under-sell their commissions and services. Under-charging is not only a grave injustice to oneself but also a disservice to the art community as a whole as it devalues the service we provide. In light of this, I have decided to weigh in on the subject of pricing and hope to shed some light on how one can determine their rates by providing a framework or guideline to follow whilst doing so.
Before I begin, I would like to make it clear that I do not claim to be an expert on the subject of pricing. I only wish to share the knowledge I have accumulated from my own research into the topic as well as my time as a working artist.
I will be breaking this up into two parts. In the first part I will discuss how to determine a base rate and in the second part I will get into situational/additional charges.
Steps to determine your base rate
1. Labour/service charge per hour: To determine this, do some research and find out how much companies pay their employees on average with the same level of experience you possess for the same job per annum. Once you have attained an approximate figure divide it by the number of working weeks in a year and then divide the resultant figure by the number of working hours per week. This should give you the labour/service rate you should be charging per hour.
(Approx. Income p.a / working weeks) / working hrs per week = Labour/service rate per hr
2. Factoring in Insurance: If you are self-employed and do this for a living then, you are definitely not enjoying the perks of medical benefits that employees in a company do. As a result you are going to have to cover your own health insurance. Calculating this is subject to where you are situated and the premium you are paying.
3. Materials: For those that work in traditional medium or if your workflow includes the use of both tradition and digital mediums then you must take into consideration material charges when pricing.
4. Hardware: One of the worst nightmares for a digital artist is for their equipment to malfunction and this can happen at any time. Graphic Tablets can stop working, hard drives can crash, and systems can be rendered inoperable and so on. Make sure you have this in mind whilst determining your price so that you are prepared in the event of a hardware problem that warrants replacement or repair.
5. Miscellaneous charges: When you are working for clients online, chances are they are based in another country and as a result you will incur currency conversion charges as well as service charges from your bank. In addition to this, you will also incur charges from the online payment platform you’ve opted to use to collect your payments.
1. Software overheads: If you are working on commercial projects and even in the case of non-commercial projects you are most likely not going to be using freeware or open-source platforms. Therefore you must factor in software subscription fees. Depending on the project, the need to use different software will arise. Factor in a fee according to the software(s) you are using for the project on a case by case basis. For example if you are a 2D illustrator you may only need Photoshop or Manga studio in that case you can include this under your base rate. However, if you are into motion graphics you may need software such as Houdini and Nuke and if you are into 3D illustration you may have to use Maya, Zbrush, Keyshot and Photoshop in your workflow. So determining software overheads is dependent on which field the artist is in, as well as on the project and the tools it demands.
2. Printing charges: In some cases clients may request you to print your art/design onto a product and ship it to them. In this case you must include the overheads incurred on the final bill.
3. Handling & Shipping charges: If you are a traditional artist and are shipping original copies of your art then you should add the handing and shipping charges to the final bill. It goes without saying that this is also applicable to digital artists printing and shipping designs to their clients.
4. Licensing fees: If your artwork is going to be used for commercial purposes then I highly recommend charging a one-time licensing fee that gives the client limited commercial rights over how they can sell your artwork.
5. Copyright assignment: In the case your client wants to own complete and unlimited rights to the artwork you’ve created you can charge a fee for the transfer/assignment of the rights. This will have to be provided in writing along with the signature of both parties.
In reading this, I hope I have imparted some knowledge in this area and can be utilized as a framework to help price your art services.
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