$5 is hardly anything for a commission, heres why
|8 min read
Recommended Journals
Your life is not a joke
Hello beautiful souls ♥ This post will be relatively long, but I still recommend that you read it, because I have an important message. Thank you. I know some people have been wondering where I've gone, whether I've stopped drawing/given up on dA. If you're curious about what's going on, keep reading. I have a message for all of out there as well. Artist or not. Let me ask you. How many of you turned art into your job, and suddenly it didn't feel as fun and authentic anymore? How many of you got sick of your old style, but as soon as you tried to develop a new one, you felt completely stuck? Have you ever wondered if your dreams
Thoughts on style
Disclaimer: this is a general reflection on the subject and it's not related to any specific case. I've seen this happening countless times, and the case going on recently isn't the first or the last on the matter. You're free to post your opinions but please refrain from mentioning any case in particular. Comments containing names or even hints about any case will be removed. ------------------------------------- I feel a lot of people use the "you can't copyright a style" shield way too much, either conscious or unconsciously. Which is, in my humble opinion, such a lame statement as saying "you can't copyright a personality" or "you can't
Taxes Advice
If you are self employed and are apart of the adoptable business, let me give you a little bit of advice. Don't take it word for word, because this is from a Canadian perspective (i don't know how it works for america) but ill keep it as general as i can. Advice # 1: KEEP ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS If you are self employed, you are able to claim medical expenses (dental, prescriptions), office expenses (desks, chairs, etc), and electronic expenses as long as you're using it specifically for your business (eg. new computer, monitor, drawing software). If you live on your own, you can also claim all of your bills under office expenses as well, so b
BeautySnake's avatar
By BeautySnake   |   Watch
1K 587 24K (1 Today)
Published: April 20, 2016
Edit: Okay, wow--If I knew this journal would get the attention that it's getting I would have tried to make it sound a bit more professional and a bit less ranty im almost a little embarrassed
I'm also really glad that so many of you could share your input and experiences. It's really important that we understand this--especially on a site with so many young, impressionable artists. It's easy for us to think that our time is only worth the end product. When i first joined this site (i was 13), the first type of commission that I took was a full picture for only 5 points. Granted--it didn't look the best. i was only 13 after all, but at the time I didn't even know the value of points. When i was about 14-15 I started looking to get more serious about my art. I wanted to make actual money off of it, so I started considering prices and i never charged anything more than $20. I was still really torn because a few people were still telling me that I was undercharging myself and yet I didn't see how my art could be more valuable. I was still only looking at end product. I wish I had understood the importance of valuing my time back then because it would have saved me so much trouble in the long run, and I really hope putting this out there will help you guys too. 

---

I'm just dying to open this can of worms right now
where do I even begin

Okay so this is the problem that I have with deviantart right now and I feel like most of it relies on how the vast majority of users are young and inexperienced with how pricing works (though its not just their fault--A surprising amount of adults don't understand the value of SERVICE vs PRODUCT).

idk maybe a week ago I visited someones page and there was some discourse(tm) about the price of a commission (which was only $5, mind you) and about how it was much too expensive and someone commented about how they could do something like that in 10 minutes and that there was no need for it to be "that much".

I avoided getting involved but that stuff just makes me boil
It's all just a misunderstanding THATS ALL

and I've struggled with under-pricing myself for a long time now.

But if we take a look outside of deviantart--you'll start to notice very similar situations happening in real life.
No one wants to pay for service. People only desire the end product so they're only willing to pay for the end product.
and this might be a result of how many jobs that used to require human hands are now done by machines that don't need
a paycheck.

I've heard many stories of clients who look for professional artists and illustrators who would be able to make an
illustration for $5--Ive seen some ask for an entire story book with illustration for $25--30 sec animations for $10.
This is the one thing I'm nervous about with getting a career in art.

So let's talk about it--in terms relative to deviantart because if these impressions are being rooted in children, of
all people, then they need to be stopped.

Here's something to store in your long-term memory: NOTHING IS EVER FREE
And here's another: TIME = MONEY

So, you're young. You're an artist and you want to start making money off of your work--even if it's fictional.
I mean it's still something, right?
You look to the next person and find them charging 50 points for a picture, and you decide to start your prices at 30
something. Prices can always change, after all.

After looking through your gallery, you decide that this is appropriate. You're still new and you don't have a solid grasp
on anatomy or style yet, but you still know your way around a brush. We've all been here at one point, dont worry.

And yet there's still one thing that you're forgetting to take into consideration: Time.
How valuable do you feel your time is--in hours? half hours?

Let's just say it takes you about 90 minutes to make any given image.
Considering your time, you decide adjust your prices based on hours you spend working--30 points per hour for a total of 1.5 hours
leaves you with 45 points at the end of it.
But bear in mind, with the transfer rate of points to USD--45 points is 45 cents.

With that price, you're essentially saying that any given person can ""buy"" 1.5 hours of your time for a quarter and two dimes.

Would you come to my house and mow my lawn for that much?

Would you wash my car and then some for that much?

no--so why on earth are you willing to draw for that much? And don't say "because its a hobby" because that's not good
enough. By taking commissions, you're showing your interest in getting more serious about your art. The only way to do that is to seriously understand the value of your time--even when spent on something you enjoy doing. 

I mean I like caring for plants but I'm not going to trim someones hedges for 45 cents--even for less than an hour. 

and especially with visual artists, people always determine the value of work by the end product rather than the amount of time spent on it. In terms relative to SELLING a PAINTING OR PRINT this would make the most sense, but NOT in terms for commissioning. 
NO ONE wants to pay for service--the $15 minimum wage dispute is blatant proof of this.

and for an 1.5 hours of work (based on $8 minimum wage) would be $12--aka 1200 points

Someone out there's probably thinking "But my art's not worth that--my art's not good enough!"
YOUR TIME IS.
when someone COMMISSIONS YOU they are BUYING YOUR TIME in order to RECEIVE A CUSTOM, FINAL PROJECT.
and you don't even have to base your prices by minimum wage--it's just an example. 

Or what about "If no one wants to pay for service why should I charge more?" 
once you have an entire community of artists that actually value time vs end product when it comes to commission prices it'll start to take effect. If someone's not willing to pay even $5 for a commission then they just won't get the work they desire. IF THEY CANT AFFORD IT THEN THEY AREN'T GETTING IT. NO AMOUNT OF COMPLAINING WILL CHANGE THAT. DON'T EXPECT ARTISTS--REAL, LIVING, BREATHING PEOPLE--TO MATCH SOMEONES PRICES. THIS ISN'T WALMART.
also these things take time--mainly for recognition, but deviantart is terrible with under-pricing art and if you have the chance to use another form of advertisement, you should really consider going for it. 

its also not helping that some people on this site treat 100 points like all the money in the world.

So in short: the less time you spend on something the less valuable the product will be (when it comes to pricing for commissions). If you can spend only 10 minutes on an image then maybe your image is only worth 50 cents or however much you charge for it. That's fact--not proof that somebody else, an entirely different person who spends more than an hour making the same thing should charge the same amount that you do. ALSO: don't base your prices off of another persons prices--they don't spend the same amount of time on shit that you do.

and really I should practice what I preach--I think I'm charging at most $25 right now for commissions--granted they're
simple but I can easily just blow 5 hours on something like that and not even notice. That's something that I really need to work on too, honestly. 

Lastly, we get to the "who would pay X for a picture--it's just a picture"

and really all I can say at this point is
if it was a picture you wanted--you can go up to like
Michael's
and buy one for like $15.
Get yourself a nice frame, buddy. 
Recommended Journals
Your life is not a joke
Hello beautiful souls ♥ This post will be relatively long, but I still recommend that you read it, because I have an important message. Thank you. I know some people have been wondering where I've gone, whether I've stopped drawing/given up on dA. If you're curious about what's going on, keep reading. I have a message for all of out there as well. Artist or not. Let me ask you. How many of you turned art into your job, and suddenly it didn't feel as fun and authentic anymore? How many of you got sick of your old style, but as soon as you tried to develop a new one, you felt completely stuck? Have you ever wondered if your dreams
Thoughts on style
Disclaimer: this is a general reflection on the subject and it's not related to any specific case. I've seen this happening countless times, and the case going on recently isn't the first or the last on the matter. You're free to post your opinions but please refrain from mentioning any case in particular. Comments containing names or even hints about any case will be removed. ------------------------------------- I feel a lot of people use the "you can't copyright a style" shield way too much, either conscious or unconsciously. Which is, in my humble opinion, such a lame statement as saying "you can't copyright a personality" or "you can't
Taxes Advice
If you are self employed and are apart of the adoptable business, let me give you a little bit of advice. Don't take it word for word, because this is from a Canadian perspective (i don't know how it works for america) but ill keep it as general as i can. Advice # 1: KEEP ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS If you are self employed, you are able to claim medical expenses (dental, prescriptions), office expenses (desks, chairs, etc), and electronic expenses as long as you're using it specifically for your business (eg. new computer, monitor, drawing software). If you live on your own, you can also claim all of your bills under office expenses as well, so b
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
Comments (509)
ImMelich's avatar
ImMelich|Hobbyist General Artist
If everyone did charge more then the price would rise for everyone and great painters could charge even more. I dont think it's possible to convince everyone to get on board but it would be neat.
Reply  ·  
Sirius-R's avatar
I'm not sure if this point has been brought up, but I completely, absolutely possibly disagree with the point of charging money based solely on time measurements. Skill has to be taken in account as well.
Let's say there's person A, who can draw a really nice picture for 3 hours. Then there's person B, who can also draw a nice picture for 3 hours, but it's far from being as good as the picture by person A. Ad you're basically saying that person B should charge as much as person A just because person B spends as much time as person A does? Maybe that sounds perfectly fine from the artist's point of view, and I do know that taste in art is something very subjective, but from the customer's point of view, when choosing between commissioning person A and person B for prices based solely on time they spend, it would be a no-brainer to commission person A. In the end, person B would starve on artworks because person A does better job for the same amount of time unless person B does their best to up their game and get on artist A's level.

Also, what if someone doesn't want to get on a "professional" level of doing artwork but wouldn't mind a little income for their work, even if its mere pennies? Would donations work better in this case?
Reply  ·  
BeautySnake's avatar
this journal is really old and I dont remember if i said time should be the only factor but if i implied that im sorry--that was never my intention 
I was more so aiming at a lot of young artists who determine commission prices by the end result and not by any other factor including time (and skill). Like when I was 14/15 i charged $20 for a full image because I could not for the life of me wrap my head around how an image like that, made by me, would be worth more. Now Im 20 and i charge $60 minimum for full picture which of course takes me a lot longer to produce but since then my art has improved significantly and I'm able to apply more detail to the environment 
and of course i feel the underpricing thing isnt helped by deviantarts point system but thats a different thing all together

as for the second thing i feel like its more personal to the artist
I know kofi and patreon are good ways of earning some extra money--gumroad and redbubble too
a lot of them are used by professional artists but its not an exclusive thing. And redbubble is really nice because you can maybe only upload a few things a month and as long as people still buy those prints you'll still get paid. Downside is fanart gets more attention than original stuff. 

imo if i wanted a quick way to make money but didnt want to worry about a pricing chart for "official commissions" i would probably do stream commissions bc its something expected to be cheaper/discounted from the original price and something expected to be produced quickly. but idk its really up to the artist :0
Reply  ·  
Sirius-R's avatar
I was more so aiming at a lot of young artists who determine commission prices by the end result and not by any other factor including time (and skill).
Hold on a minute. Isn't the end result determined by skill, therefore they are directly proportionate? I mean, the quality of the end result does directly depend to the skill, isn't it?
You can't shun away the quality of end result for a very good reason, which was brought up in my example with person A and person B: if prices on artwork would be determined just by the time artists spend on drawing, customers would still prefer artists who can flesh out the better looking picture in a given time frame than slower/less skilled artists, because whether we like it or not, the end result's quality is one of the things (if not the thing) that matters to customers the most. So no matter how long your walls of text on how the end result should not matter, if you are less skilled and/or draw slower than other artists, people will obviously prefer other artists exactly because their end results, while having the same price as yours, are better, and that'd be perfectly justified, as these artists are more skilled/spend less time on drawing than you.
Your journal entry doesn't take this into account (I've re-read your article, you've only been talking about the time artist spends on the work), so this "eye-opening" article just replaces one delusion with another. These young artists you've been aiming at will go and change their prices judging solely by the time they spend on artwork, becoming living incarnations of my "person A and person B" example, which would be disastrous for artists who fit the role of person B.

I'd say the whole pricing deal in art is quite confusing, because: 1) the price depends on at least two factors (time artist spends on drawing and artist's skill level, which practically means that prices here depend on both product and service); 2) there are no solid standards on prices. Then there are also art styles (different art styles have different appeal to different people; pretty much the most subjective factor in art) and maybe other factors I cannot remember at the moment.
I think pricing in art on a professional level should be decided on more-or-less official level and should have a widely available price list which would be free and easy for everyone to look at. Otherwise the mess with pricing will continue.
Reply  ·  
BeautySnake's avatar
calling this journal """eye opening""" or even an "article" is far from accurate because its literally just a rant people shared around a bunch lmao
that being said, I feel maybe from the overall tone of this rant (again not an article or anything meant to be taken even mildly professionally) I feel like you're misunderstanding me saying "time should be a factor" as "time should be the only factor" 
And I also never said the end result should not matter--just that it should not be the only factor, because if it was, instead of charging $60 for a full image id still probably only charge maybe $20 but at the same time i feel like thats asking a lot 

even then, you gotta understand time and quality go hand in hand because you get out of art what you put in--and I get some people learn faster than others, but that doesnt change the fact it can take years of work for an artist to get to where they want to be at. 
thats years of time and work that should also be considered when determining a price--you shouldn't just pull a number out of the air like 15 points (18.75 cents) if you want to take serious commissions 
and this is the problem I'm trying to point towards--Ive seen people on this site with decent art that are struggling to make money because they charge maybe between $1-$5 and people on this site will STILL complain thats too much
Reply  ·  
LordEmeric's avatar
LordEmeric|Hobbyist General Artist
I know you've probably gotten this kind of comment 10x over, but this is everything I've ever wanted in a post. Just earlier, a friend showed me their friend's pricing list, and god did they have their shit LOW. I was cringing at how horribly underpriced their stuff was. Their 'fullcolor head' was listed at $7.5... for something that could EASILY be $60+ for more famous artists. I was completely baffled. I went on a freaking tangent about how it doesn't matter how low THEY think their talent is-- I gave MY opinion of their prices compared to all over commission prices I've seen out there, and stressed that people WILL take advantage of them, and might throw a fit if they dare try to adjust the prices to fit the time spent moreso to what they deserve later on. Also not to mention if they happen to get an influx of commissions, and realize they're not getting paid what they deserve and burn themselves out.

I wish your message could be more widespread shared, because this NEEDS to be known. :/
Reply  ·  
BadlyDrawnDragons's avatar
BadlyDrawnDragons|Student Traditional Artist
I made my Commissions (just ask) about a week ago, do you think my prices are alright?
Reply  ·  
Toraleii's avatar
Toraleii|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Those are way underpriced, your headshots could be $20 easy.
Reply  ·  
gby-a's avatar
gby-a|Hobbyist General Artist
but actually, is there anyone who would pay a beginner artist 5$ for a commission?
Reply  ·  
BeautySnake's avatar
$5 isnt that much--i mean yeah you can go to subway and buy a sandwich but are you saying your art is worth less than some greasy sub
that commissioning you for your service to produce a one of a kind image is worth less than a mass produced sandwich from a commercial restaurant chain?

honestly a lot of people would pay $5 (or less if they can) because a lot of people would love to exploit cheep service 
its actually part of the reason why under pricing is such a problem 
Reply  ·  
gby-a's avatar
gby-a|Hobbyist General Artist
but in reality, in order to have customers, beginner artists don't really have an option other than to be under-priced right?
Reply  ·  
BeautySnake's avatar
its more than just beginner artists--most artists underprice because how devalued the art market has become
im just saying $5 is way less than you think it is
I don't know any professional artists who would charge anything close to $5--I'm not even sure they'd stoop as low as $50
and i can understand new artists wanting to test the waters a bit with lower prices, but honestly theres a difference between lowering prices to get sales and selling yourself short all together 
your price should still remain realistic for what its worth
Reply  ·  
Dachiia's avatar
Dachiia|Professional General Artist
I have a humble question? :3
I made this as a YCH about two months ago:  Spring napping [comm] by Dachiia
The price was 10$ and i used around 7-8 hours on it. 
My question is, do you think I'm under-pricing myself? because I do in genuinely think I am by now.
btw, i do not at all mind you giving constructive criticism on my art :happy: 
Reply  ·  
BeautySnake's avatar
what $10 the starting bid or the final bid?
either way dude idk i wouldnt charge less than $100 for something with that much detail and work put into it--time isnt the only thing you should consider but also remember to consider how much work it took you to build up to this point
I was recently part of a workshop at my college that taught us about voids in sculpture, and our final show was over the weekend and my teacher told us yesterday that there were several people interested in buying our void sculptures--they're all sorta brick like with abstract geometric shapes cut out of them. He told us not to charge less than $200 if we did sell them, because it would cover the $85 cement fee, the money we spent on supplies to make the cast before pouring, and the 5 weeks of work it took to develop the skills necessary for creating the sculptures. 
Unfortunately many people severely undersell themselves and
theres also the issue of deviantart is a terrible place to sell your art unless you happen to be super popular (like 15k+) and even then i feel like a lot of those artists still have to underprice themselves to sell their work
Honestly if you are able to i would recommend a patreon as a good way to make money, but also be sure to network yourself on other sites as well to expand your audience so when you do take commissions you wont have to charge $10 for a piece worth at least $100

and since this is a YCH id recommend having goals in mind for bidders to work towards (if the bid exceeds X amount, it will be lined, Y and it will be colored, Z and it will have a simple background or shading, etc) just so its more fair for you if you do only end up getting a few bids--so you wont have to end up doing this full elaborate piece for only $10
Reply  ·  
Dachiia's avatar
Dachiia|Professional General Artist
it was not an auction, it was a set price, though the idea of making the auction price affect the final result is really a good tip :3
I'm flattered that you think it is at least 100$ worth, but you do also make good arguments as to why i might be worth that much too :) I have 5 years experience on deviantart, but I'm also trying to move out on other websites, so you got that tip right xD 

I just always had my mind set on "building an audience" before i start setting the bar higher, but I now more convinced i have to move up the scale a little :3
thank you for answering with such a long useful response! :D <3
Reply  ·  
ZhangChu's avatar
ZhangChu|Hobbyist General Artist
yeh... i've actually paid an artist more than what the price i commissioned it for. because their art was beautiful and they were so severely under pricing themselves. 
instead of ignoring artists that under price themselves-- just pay them the minimum +whatever you think the art is worth. hopefully it will open their eyes and start pricing their work better. 
Everyone wants everything for free these days. Treat artists and their work like you would want your art/your friend's art to be treated. With respect and awe. 
Reply  ·  
techtsar's avatar
Well there is always two sides to story, I believe the difference in price is easier to explain if you think about the virtual nature of the product. With the rise of the internet the availability of pictures has grown. So follow basic economics with the increase in supply but not an increase in demand the location they intersect (the price) will shift down. Also I believe people have different ways of valuing a digital product over a physical one, for example I was on vacation in the states and walked by a small art gallery that sold paintings on commission from local artists. I found a painting I liked and drop 90 dollars on it but I find myself hesitant to consider anything over 20 dollars when ordering a commission. This may have something to do with people being willing to use pictures without the consent of the authour for things such as avatars. I did not want to do this and found a devient who had made a forum avatar public to use (specifically stated in description).

TLDR: with the internet its easy to get a digital picture so people are less willing to give up money for them so they will try to pay as little as possible.
Reply  ·  
UmbraSheWolf's avatar
UmbraSheWolf|Hobbyist Digital Artist
"This isn't Walmart." X'D
But wow. You said this really well.
I don't do commissions yet (I am still a newbie here, even though it's been a few months, but that isn't much time after all) and I didn't buy a commission yet, but I understand these things, and I know how people don't really consider that the artist is kind of a part of the art. Which means not only art should be charged.
I have nothing else to say because you already said everything, and I agree with every single part ^^
Reply  ·  
KoraDoggo's avatar
KoraDoggo|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Preach it! I don't do commissions but one dude was like asking if I could draw his pony character so I said okay. I was drawing it and 5 minutes later he goes "DID YOU GET MY MESSAGE?" And I said yep. And since he rushed me the drawing I made was awful (lil bit on purpose..a bit) Drawing takes time and people need to realise it. I wasn't even doing free art.
Reply  ·  
banchobi's avatar
banchobi|Hobbyist Digital Artist
No one comissions me so I don't have a high price : )
The only person who did was my friend lmao and I didn't rlly spend that much time on it ; P
But $5 is too little for a full work, especially by someone in school!! 
Reply  ·  
T-A-Oart's avatar
T-A-Oart|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I feel like this needs to be said for anyone in a creative field. Especially if you are still a beginner. In the end only you get to decide what your art is worth and guess what if it's too much for your skill level you'll figure it out quickly, whereas if it's too low for your skill level you WILL get exploited. There was another post more recently regarding the point system and how it leads to artists being paid less than the price of a candy bar for incredibly time consuming work. That should not cut it! If you are an amateur artist who is trying to make commissions, I feel like even doing request/ trades  first ends up being more gratifying as you get experience through a much more relaxed and beneficial environment where you learn the actual value of your work and hey if the person is being demanding it's a free work so you can tell them to suck an egg for 5 minutes while you do you.
Reply  ·  
fainfox's avatar
literally i have about 20 commissions this year, i have earned only $8.
i have to underprice myself so much, i have spent about an hour on a drawing before for 50 cents.
Reply  ·  
jet-laq's avatar
I agree with everything youve said! And as we know people usually arent willing to pay that much for a young, unpopular artist. The problem here is that the more comms an artist would get the more it would make them improve and eventually theyd need less time to do a piece of the same quality.. And that doesnt happen bc people dont commission them. Although you can draw for youself i think its just.. Niot the same.
Does anyone know how to solve this kind of stuff maybe?
Reply  ·  
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
©2019 DeviantArt
All Rights reserved