Artists, don't work for less than minimum wage!

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Is it time for another pricing-PSA? You bet your ass it is!
I'll try to keep this one short and sweet, though, so no worries about endless ramblings. 


Don't work for less than minimum wage!

There are a couple of good reasons for this. Firstly: think of all the time you've spent cultivating your skill, be it writing, drawing, crocheting or basically anything artistic.
Think of all the blood, sweat and tears you've put into your skill, all the time and money you've spent perfecting it and how you had to push through art-blocks to get where you are now. 

Are you visualizing that? Good.

Now why the hell would you go through all that, only to put your art on the market for prices so low that they give off a vibe that you are not proud of that skill?
Be proud of your skill, damnit! Own it!
And if someone wants you to use that skill to make something for them, quote them a price that is at the very least minimum wage per hour plus the material-cost.


Don't get blinded by a budget that sounds impressive, until you break it down to price per piece.

Okay, I know this sounds vague, but hang in there with me. Let's say you stumble upon a job-offer with a pay-out of $200 for the finished work.  That sounds pretty sweet, right?
But then you notice it's for a 20-character piece, inked and painted. Still, it's $200, so that's kinda fair, no?

Except it isn't when you break down the price per piece, in this case what you'd be paid per character in this piece. 
You'd be earning (brace yourselves here) a whopping ... $10 per character! Whoo! Yeah!



Even if you can finish a fully painted and inked character every hour, you'd still only be working for $10/h, which is hardly a fair price for skilled labor such as drawing.
So let's say that the average artist would spend 10h on a fully lined and painted full-body piece, not including the possible revisions the commissioner may ask for: that'd mean you'd be getting paid about  $1/h. And just like that, the offer doesn't sound as attractive anymore, now does it? 

So what point am I trying to make here?

 To value your art, your hard-won skills and to turn down offers that insult you as an artist by not paying you a fair price.
And if you see it happening to inexperienced artists: let them know that their time and skill is worth more than minimum wage, because sadly, there will always be people preying on the inexperienced to try and strike a deal that will only benefit them while insulting the artist.

And to the commissioners that do this intentionally: if you wouldn't work for a dollar per hour, then why would you expect an artist to work for as little as that, or even less?

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anonymous's avatar
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Ghost-Soda's avatar
Ghost-SodaStudent General Artist
Yes to all of this! I've never done commissions before, but when/if I do, I wanna keep it at the price of minimum wage and it's sad whenever I see amazing artists here that sell their art for pennies someone could find on the floor of your local Walmart. :<
sfbdoilyfish13's avatar
sfbdoilyfish13Student General Artist
This is so very helpful; I have had so much trouble coming up with a price for my work. Thank you, this really helps!
Hardrockangel's avatar
I'm glad you found this helpful! :hug:
Angeltsuki-Dono's avatar
Angeltsuki-DonoProfessional Digital Artist
I love this, and it's super true. Now if people would just stop stepping on our prices, even though they ARE relatively cheap, we'd be set.
Hardrockangel's avatar
Yes! We all just need to say "no" when people try to haggle our prices, honestly. 
Dri-Bee's avatar
Dri-BeeHobbyist General Artist

I have such a hard time doin commission or anything here, or anywhere else because of what people expect here!! It makes me so nervous to do anything. And people expect less cost because I am "not known". And it sucks. 

People suck. I get into arguments about this all the time. 
Hardrockangel's avatar
I tend to stay away from the forums because seeing the insultingly low offers just makes me feel angry and bitter. And I don't want to spend my entire day bitter and angry, y'know? :saddummy:
And please, please, please don't ever let someone pressure you into lowering your prices! Well-known or not, you pick your prices. Not them.
Tank50us's avatar
Tank50usProfessional Digital Artist
I fully agree with all of this. I just wish that certain people would take the hint and not demand that we lower our prices. Heck, I'm now set up so that people can make payments through paypals invoice system.... and yet people still complain that my prices are too high... it's sad.... it really is...
Dark-N-Wolf's avatar
Dark-N-WolfHobbyist General Artist
It's only because, many people don't understand how much work it's put into that work. This is the world we live in, so...yeah. ;)
Hardrockangel's avatar
Honestly, the most satisfying thing is to be able to turn down those that insult you as an artist by pressuring you to lower your prices.
Unfortunately, though, not every artist is in a position where they can afford to turn down work (it is the same problem with freelance translating) and so people who know this tend to take advantage of that.

Honestly, it's a shitty thing to do, because chances are that the person demanding of you to work for less than minimum wage, would most likely not work for less than that themselves. :c
paichai's avatar
good points !!
but I also like to factor in the time it takes to get a commission too.
sometimes I think pricing myself @ min wage is okay but then  I remember it took like days of non stop spamming/lurking to get that commission... ;; b> commissioners pls
Hardrockangel's avatar
I's definitely a constant process of advertising yourself via the art you make and threads you post to make sure people know you are open for commissions. 
puguu's avatar
puguuHobbyist General Artist
and all of us will keep on agreeing.
Hardrockangel's avatar

I would like to say I'm preaching to the choir, but it's painfully obvious when looking at commission journals and the job-forums that people don't seem to ask minimum wages at the very least. 

And I get that there are some that reckon that the lower their prices are, the higher their chances of selling. But, it's an absolute pain to have to raise your prices as your skill goes up, because you'll get quite a lot of angry feedback over being 'too expensive now'. Hell, if I can prevent one more artist from starting out with low prices like I did and save them the headache of constantly adjusting them, I'll just keep on writing these journals.
puguu's avatar
puguuHobbyist General Artist
art will always be art. something unique that you can't out a price on, more artists should be firm and value their time and talent, it does anger me so.
Hardrockangel's avatar
Exactly! When someone is pricing their art, they should consider that they're pricing one of a kind pieces, not something mass-produced (unless they're pricing mass-printed buttons or something like that, in which case: price it accordingly if you like, y'know).
puguu's avatar
puguuHobbyist General Artist
That's true. However, there's always people like you in the community reinforcing the importance of the issue so I think we'll slowly be able to get to a point when artists are paid fairly. 
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