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
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
and buy one for like $15.
Get yourself a nice frame, buddy.