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Artist Info: How to Price Commissions

Journal Entry: Sat Dec 21, 2013, 12:18 AM

"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried"

This is an informative journal to help artists determine fair pricing for commissions, based on my recent poll. I will update this as needed to include new information as it comes in.

This is part of an 'Information Series of journals


This is only a GUIDE to help you figure out your prices. Remember that ultimately only YOU can decide what you are comfortable with selling your art for and what you believe your art is worth. What you find in this journal are suggestions based on the art industry standards and my own experience.


For now, try to forget about the term 'industry'. 'Industry' does not mean 'pro', it just means the art world. Industry is referring to the job of being an artist. That's it. If you're taking commissions, you're part of the industry.

Now I will say here that not everyone is ready to go into the art industry, and a lot of people will jump in before they are ready causing uncertainty and confusion in their work. (Am I charging too much? Why am I not selling anything? Are my commissioners happy with what I do? What if they are not happy?)
I understand this because I was the same way when I first started, and I didn't get a good grasp of this until well after college. Basically when it comes down to it, the art industry is hard. It can be unfair - and it is - and it can be ruthless. If you are not confident and sure of your work, then keep in mind as a thought that it's possible you're not ready to take money in exchange for it. 
If you feel you are, then read on and I hope this information helps guide you.

Is this actually a commercial commission?

First, we must consider that there are 2 main types of commissions: Commercial Work and Private Commissions. 

It's important to first identify if a commission is commercial or not. Basically, if the work is for ANYTHING other than for private/personal use it's likely commercial work. Surprisingly enough, a LOT of jobs will fall into this category - so be careful! It's important to keep in mind that with commercial work you must account for legalities such as copyright and licensing.

If a commission is in the 'commercial' category - at all - I HIGHLY suggest you pick up a copy of "Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines"This book will cover everything in detail for commercial work and even include sample contracts. I suggest always keeping an up-to-date copy since the industry is always changing. 

Some examples of commercial work: Logos, video games, website graphics (don't confuse this with something like a journal graphic. It's commercial if the graphic is literally for the website itself, not uploaded by a user of the site), advertising illustration, production work (concepts), book illustration, editorial illustration, packaging, fashion, greeting cards, architecture, postage stamps, comic books, maps, etc. All of these are commercial works which you may run across in the DA forums and other places.

Beware of 'Work for Hire' jobs. If a job asks you to sign a contract that the commission is 'Work for Hire', be aware that this type of job means that you are giving 100% of the copyrights to the client. Period. 

**All numerical figures and paraphrased content are culled from the GRAPHIC ARTISTS GUILD'S PRICING & ETHICAL GUIDELINES HANDBOOK 12th ed. 2007** 
I grabbed this from Whatafool's journal but only included SOME of the guidelines that I believe are most relevant to those here on DA.

GRAPHIC DESIGN______________________________________________

*Salary Averages*
entry-level (1 to 2 years out of school)..........$29,000-36,000
senior designer...........................................$42,000-61,000

Median Freelance Rates (per hour)
senior designer..............................................$60
creative director/designer...............................$75

Corporate Logos
Major Corp........................................................$4,000-25,000
Minor Corp........................................................$1,500-12,000

National/large company...............................$7,500-15,000
Regional/small company..............................$2,000-6,500


*Salary Averages*
1 to 3 years experience..................................$32,750-44,500
3+ years experience......................................$42,750-60,000
specialized illustrator......................................$53,500-76,750
^(technical, medical, scientific, cartoon)

(The Handbook is vague about illustration hourly rates, as most freelance projects are those with an agreed upon fee specific to the job. But hourly pricing should be comparable to that of graphic design. These prices are from my experiences and what I have seen)

Illustration Freelance Rates (per hour)
amateur to entry-level.......................................$15-30
senior illustrator................................................$70+

Book Covers - hardcover
major title..................................$3,000-3,500
small print run............................$2,000-3,000
small press................................$1,200-2,500
young adult/chapter....................$2,000-3,000

Music Packaging (popular & rock)
major studio/distribution..........................$1,500-6,500
small studio/distribution...........................$1,200-3,000

Retail products - (T-shirt designs are requested a lot on dA. PAY ATTENTION!)
sporting goods (ex. skate decks)...........$750-2,000

^additional fees (% of original fee)
sale of original art.....................................100-250%
rush fee....................................................20-150%
total copyright transfer...............................100-200%
transfer of legal authorship and all rights......125-300%


Comics Rates (per page)
painted art.........................................$300-400
pencil art...........................................$100-250
ink art...............................................$75-200

additional fees
rush fee.........................................................50-200% of original fee

"Kill Fees" - Cancellation & Rejection Fees ______________________

How many times have you heard "I decided I don't need you" or "I found another designer" from a client whilst working rigorously for them? Well, contrary to the claims from clients who believe they don't need to pay you if they aren't going to use your work or don't need you to finish, they most certainly do. And there are specifics on the matter to boot.

A cancellation fee occurs when a client halts progress on a project due to unforeseen circumstances or any other reasons beyond the artists control. All rights transfered to the client, agreed upon in the contract, are still valid for what work is completed by the artist. 

Averages (% of original fee) Illustrators Graphic Designers
prior to completion of sketching stage................25%.........................40%
after sketching stage, prior to finished work........50%.........................80%
after completion of finished work.......................100%......................100%

a rejection fee occurs when a client halts progress on a project due to dissatisfaction/no desire to finish project. All rights transfers written in the contract are not to be obtained by the client, and any completed work may not be reproduced by the client.

Averages (% of original fee) Illustrators/Graphic Designers
prior to completion of sketching stage..............................................21%
after sketching stage, prior to finished work......................................42%
after completion of finished work....................................................100%

Pricing Private Commissions

A private commission includes work done for personal use only. Original paintings, and digital works that are only used for things like desktop backgrounds, journal graphics, personal icons, RP forums etc. Basically it's NOT being used for anything other than the commissioner's own use. 
But how to figure out what to charge? There are some specific things to consider to figure this out.

Illustration_- Digital and Traditional_________________________________

First let's re-cap the industry standards for illustration artwork:

Illustration Freelance Rates (per hour)
Amateur to entry-level.......................................$15/hour - $30/hour
Illustrator.........................................................$25/hour - $70/hour
Senior illustrator................................................$70+/hour

I know right off that many that are new to commissioning may feel uncomfortable charging $15/hour, and I understand that. But, it does not mean that you should be charging $3/hour - that's just ridiculous! 

Basically, you're going to find your pricing by following this equation:

Hourly Rate x The number of work hours + Materials

Then, it's just up to you to figure out each element of the equation.

Time spent on the actual commission: 
This is the most important and determining factor of commission prices. Ultimately you want to have both speed & quality. If if takes you a really long time to finish a commission, consider how much $/hour you are making. If you charge $20 for a piece but it takes you 4 hours to complete it, you are making less than minimum wage at a mere $5/hour. You need to figure out exactly how long it takes you to do a commission, and you may need to sit down and actually time yourself to know for sure. Remember that not only are you spending time on the commission in particular, but think about all the hours and hours you spent learning the skills you have in order to complete said commission. 

For those just starting out in the commission world, try to aim for at least $8/hour. This is incredibly far below what you should be charging, so I want to make it clear this is for those just starting to take commissions that are not sure of where they fall on the pricing scale.  Essentially  though, $10/hour is the lowest you want to go for art (and that's still not very much). 
A good goal to always keep in mind is 'speed and quality'. The faster you are able to work while still producing good quality art will in the end give you a better hourly rate.
Many artists have trouble pricing their work when they first start, and will continue adjusting prices throughout their career. It's completely normal to adjust prices accordingly as you become more familiar with your work.

Miscellaneous time spent in relation to the commission: 
Keep in mind that there may be more time spent on the commission than just the actual work on it. Consider the following:
- How many hours of communication will there be? (If there is a lot of back-and-forth, progress approvals, etc. Consider this on bigger projects)
- How long will you need to gather references? 
- If the commissioner does not have a visual reference, how much time will it take to read the description and essentially design the image based on this?

Cost of materials:
For digital programs did you have to purchase any software? You may not need to add this, but it's something to consider in the end.
For traditional work, about how much did your materials cost? Factor this into the price for each piece.

Flat Rate vs. Hourly Rate
In order to determine a flat-rate cost for a commission first  you'll still have to decide on what to charge per hour. Then, you can figure out how long each commission takes to reach your flat rate price.
So say you decide that your hourly rate is $10/hour. If you offer a commission for a flat rate of $20, consider how much time you should allot for the commission: about 2 hours total. 

DA Points:
I hate these. I really do. PLEASE be aware of the points to $ conversion and adjust to real currency. Use this converter to see how much points really give you. 200 points for example is only $2.50, so unless the commission only takes you 15 minutes it's time to re-evaluate the prices.
It makes me very sad to see some commissions for essentially less than $1 each. Guys, you're not a vending machine :(

Ask yourself, is it worth it?
If you finish a commission and feel regret at the work you put into it vs. the amount you were paid, there's a good chance you are undercharging - and under-VALUING your work. This is always a good time to re-evaluate your commission prices. When you are first starting out, adjust your commission prices as often as you need to. Do not be afraid to raise your prices! You know how much you are worth and you have every right to adjust prices accordingly.
On this same note, don't let people guilt you into lowering your prices (including yourself). Remember that there is a reason they are coming to you for a commission instead of doing it themselves - they want to make use of your skill and expertise. 

"But I'm just a hobbyist that does it for fun"
This is quite honestly one of the more frustrating statements I've ever heard. No matter what you call yourself, if you are taking a commission it is a JOB. Thus, you should be conducting yourself the same way as anyone else taking a commission. Remember that you are putting in the SAME amount of work as anyone else would be, so you should be getting compensated for your efforts and skills.

"I'm only taking cheap commissions for practice to get better"
If this is the case, then you are not ready for commissions. Instead focus on trades or even requests. 

Things NOT to include in the price
Sometimes even you will add time to the commission, but if this is the case NEVER charge the buyer extra for it!  
More often than not I'll put in a little extra time to get that one detail juuust right, or fix this or that. Sometimes I just can't seem to stop and go overboard...but unless it's decided first between you and commissioner, never ever add extra charges that they didn't ask for. 

Sculpture_- Art Dolls_______________________________________________

Although dolls are not covered in the Pricing and Ethical Guidelines Handbook, I'll try to cover it a bit here with the help of  ZombieHun. This section will likely be edited/updated for better info and feedback.

Remember that even with dolls and sculpture there is still amateur to pro work. With this in mind, much of pricing an art doll will be similar to pricing 2D work except there will be a much larger material cost.

There is no true hourly rate here, but let's base it off this:
Hourly Rate
Amateur to entry-level.......................................$10-15 

Time spent on the actual commission:
Again, you may need to sit down and really time yourself out on this one to get a feel for about how long it will take you to make a certain type of doll/sulpture.

Miscellaneous time spent in relation to the commission:
Are you going to have to do a bunch of research to find specific material for the commission? How about any time spent sketching out the design?

Cost of materials:
Along with time, cost of materials will be a huge factor in pricing. With this you may need to do a bit of shopping around to find the best deals on materials. 
Always price your work to account for the shipping costs for materials you had to order

Things to keep in mind regarding purchasing materials:
Always remember that you can almost NEVER purchase the exact quantity that you need. You are often required to purchase in bulk. So if you do not already own said material and someone wants to commission for it, you have to put those costs in the forefront.

   Bulk purchases: 
  • Fabric
    • A yard of decent fabric can run anywhere between $20-$60 a yard and it is highly dependent upon the vendor. If you are restricted to internet purchases, your shipping costs will jack up your price with an additional $15 MINIMAL on an order. Price goes up with the more you buy.
  • Clay 
    • You buy clay by the pound, and a high quality clay can range from $15-$20
  • Casting
    •  Hazmat material will always be expensive and its respective shipping has a set price standard due to the hazardous material. Hazmat shipping's lowest cost that I've seen starts at $20 no matter how TINY your order is.
    • If you buy just a starter kit, it will yield a couple tiny projects. your kit will cost $50. add $20 hazmat shipping.......... and thats not even buying in bulk
      Buying in bulk (for those that make dolls a lot) mold material is $180 and the resin is $80. Tack on $40 hazmat shipping.
  • Armature
    • You can use wire, that is your cheapest option. Less than $10 for several feet. Your wire cutters will be at least $20. If you want to be part of the big league, get ball socket joint. Purchasing by the foot will cost you between 3-4 dollars dependent upon the size. THEN you pay for shipping
  • Stuffing
    • This can be cheap but if you're in a location that isn't cheap, this can be your nightmare running up to 5 dollars for a small bag versus 5 dollars for a pillow sized back from walmart.
  • Extras 
    • eyes, paint, beads for jewelry, other nicknacks. prices will vary depending upon the authentic look you are going for. Real bones are more expensive than their cheap toy counterparts. Ceramic or metal beads will be more expensive than their cheap plastic counterparts. 

There will also be some leeway for dolls that may justify 'cheaper' sales. Dolls that were experiments, didn't work out right, have problems or flaws, etc. may qualify for a discounted price. 

Skin by SimplySilent
Add a Comment:
Luciand29 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is really helpful!!!

Thank you so much for taking part of your time to write this pricing art commission tutorial!

Because I used to undercharge my art, and whe I adjusted my prices I thought I was charging a lot, it turns out I wasn't.
Kamakru Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Glad you found it helpful! I wrote this journal *years* ago and it still stands true
Amrock Featured By Owner May 28, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
This is super helpful! Still haven't had anyone commission me in years on this site but now I can adjust my prices better!
Nhanani Featured By Owner May 27, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you so much, it's been very clear for me now, since I just about to begin my career in the art industry. thank youu..before reading this, I was thinking of putting the price less than 10$ :moneyshower: 
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2018
I'm glad it's helped! =]
Blockbox Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2018   Digital Artist
thanks a bunch. Way more grounded than the other guides I have found so far.
I may have a long term customer for plotter work at hand, but I have only rarely worked for businesses so far.
Oneiria-Fylakas Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2018  Student General Artist
Thank you very much for this beautiful journal! It's really helping and restore me trust in my prices!
I'm student in art design, in first year, and we never really see how to price commissions!
Just a question for a friend: it will be the same price idea for 3D illustration/animation?
Kamakru Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2018
Ah, sorry for such a late reply x_x
Generally you want to give yourself a good hourly wage no matter what you do, whether it's pottery or animation or illustration. If you are an art student I highly recommend asking your instructors to cover commission prices very carefully. Ask them to break it down and how to make a contract. They should know these things, I would hope!
Oneiria-Fylakas Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2018  Student General Artist
Oh oki, thank you very much ^^
Phantom-Ink-Designs Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2017
FANTASTIC. I've been looking for something like this to pore over.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2017
Glad it helps! =]
Icy-HeartProductions Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I find this is really helpful^^
But i only CAN take point commissions, my parents don't allow me anything else. So the converter helped me, but my question is: 
People I ask or my watchers said that my point commission prices are TOO HIGH. I take 25 :points: for an animal fullbody. They said the price is too high, but I usually work 3-5 hours on a picture. Why? Should I just grant their wish and set the price lower? Or should I let it be or set the price higher because I think it's worth it?
LittleSnaketail Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2018  Student General Artist
What the hell, your art deserves much more than that! Seriously! Forget the whiners!
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2016
Hi there! It's ok to only take points as long as you understand the value of them. I think it's 1 point = 2 cents, so if you're charging only 25 points for a drawing you're actually charging only 32 cents. I can find more money than that in a parking lot...!
Here's the thing; if people are unwilling to pay you a fair price for your work, then it's up to YOU to value your work and your time enough to not sell it so low. There's a concept in marketing (among many) that says the lower you price something the less worthy it is to the buyer. If you have two of the same cut gems and one is $2 and the other is $200, which is perceived to be the better one?

One rule I go by is that if I cannot get asking price for my time then I'd rather hire myself. That is, if you value your time then continue doing artwork for yourself until someone is willing to pay you what you're worth. Otherwise they are only taking advantage of you and will not respect you or the work you make. Don't do that to yourself! By doing work for yourself you are also building your skill and getting better with each piece. It is also good to keep in mind that you may do more harm than good if you start taking commissions before you are ready. When I first took commissions I wasn't really ready, and faced much self-doubt because of it. If this is the case, trades are far more valuable than commissions for now.

I hope that helps! =]
Icy-HeartProductions Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, that really helps!
I have an idea now: I raise my Commission prices a bit, but also make some Art Trades, and when they're open, people can get both. For the rest of time I only do personal work c:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2016
Sounds like a plan! =]
Fundz64 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015  Professional General Artist
It's a heartbreak when i see some of my artist friends that has so much more potential, selling their art as if it's nothing-
i guess opening for commissions is also a test of self-consciousness and determination for one's goal.

Thank you for posting this 'more abridged' version of how to better price one's commissions.  This is something i will definitely show to everyone that needs it - including myself, at times! :roll:
StevenStrumpf Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"I'm only taking cheap commissions for practice to get better"
If this is the case, then you are not ready for commissions. Instead focus on trades or even requests. 

After reading this I've decided to go that route (taking requests) because I know I'm not good enough to get paid doing what I do yet. But now my brain is feeding me a bunch of negative bs like, "you've settled for less, you know you're not good enough because you're not taking the next step in your artistic journey, your worthless because you're not moving forward" stuff like that, and while it's true, the above statement is also true. But my question is, how am I supposed to improve my art when it's quality is tied to my self confidence and I feel that my self confidence is only validated when people think my art is worth something?  Wouldn't commissions be a good step towards self-validation? Requests seem like a dead end to me. I can see the value in trades but I'm not good enough at socially manipulating people for fun like almost everyone else is to do that.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2015
The thing is, that with commissions it must be viewed as a job. It's also a very dangerous thing to tie getting commissions with self-validation, and here's why;
The art market is incredibly fickle and difficult to work in - for everyone, even the pros. People tend to think that art isn't worth a whole lot so they don't want to pay artists a decent wage. Because of this, I've seen artists think, "well, if I lower the price people will buy my work and then at least I'll be getting commissions". But right there, instantly, the art has been devalued. As artists we need to set the price for what we feel our art is worth, and when you're just starting out it's so important to at least remember that you deserve minimum wage. Sure, it's not heavy lifting but it *is* a skill. Just like doing data entry but a lot harder, because you didn't learn it in 3 days.

At the same time, when you're starting out you need to get to that sweet spot of skill=decent wage. No one gets tons of commissions right off. Ever.
Ok, I take that back, here's a story: A long time ago I opened commissions (back then I charged like half of what I do now) and no one responded. It hurt, I felt I was good enough but I didn't see why I couldn't get any. I felt in many ways that people must not have liked my art (P.S. it's hard to get commissions on DA but back to my story). In a drastic attempt to sell commissions I decided to create a 'raffle' where each 'ticket' was a $5 sketch commission. The winner of the raffle would get a free upgrade in full color. It was successful and I sold 20 commissions...then spent about 2-3 hours EACH doing them. I was fine with this until someone commented "Wow, you made bank!". I tallied it up and I spent essentially 50 hours of time to make $100...that's $2/hour. And the thing is? Those commissions actually all turned out pretty good, though I didn't feel great about doing them either....
It made me realize that A) Depending on whether or not I get commissions to validate my work only showed that I was being 'valued' at $2/hour...
and B) I could have spent those 50 hours really pushing myself and *practicing* to push my skill to a much higher level - something that no commission was going to offer me.

Advancing your skill is more important than getting commissions

I still get a lot of down time between commissions, so I commission myself! It can be hard to convince ourselves of it sometimes, but the hard work has to come before the validation. My best advice is to create your own project, write down a list of ideas, look at art you admire and try to do what they do. Once you're able to start the cycle of just creating, then the recognition will start to follow you. =]

I'm not sure if maybe you were interested in other types of art, but looking at your gallery you are in a very extreme niche - meaning there isn't a very big audience out there for commissions. People will generally commissions artists who have already drawn the type of art they want to commission (for example, I draw dragons, therefore I get commissions to draw dragons). So it appears that if commissions are really important to you, expanding on the types of things you draw will also help.

Hope that wasn't too hopelessly long-winded!
StevenStrumpf Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not at all! I guess we disagree on some points though.  That's why I took so long to respond, I want to make sure I speak, well, fairly. The way modern socity is structred, making money on art has expanded beyond the art industry, what with independent people out there making money off of their own talent and supplying a demand for other peoples interests in specific previously established and sucsessful means of entertainment. A few years ago I saw a lot of people cashing in on the succsess of My Little Pony Firendship is Magic. Whatever the next big thing is is where the money is going to be at next.


Thanks for the story, I appreciate knowing that you made the mistake I almost made myself (drawing for what you feel is inadequte compensation). Truly, the only adequte compensation for doing art is being able to see what you wanted to see in this world take shape in some form, money comes second.

(I responded in two chunks because there were two things I wanted to say)
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015
No it's totally OK, we all work in different ways! I don't mind at all talking about art and I understand that many people have different viewpoints. I can only really share my own experiences and observations and what's worked for me, but it's up to you to take that info and use what bits you can and do your own thing. 

The MLP cashing in part, with as many conventions I do that practice is forever continuing with the next big popular thing (Avengers, Steven Universe, Batman, etc). But I've found that people do fanart for different reasons; 1) because they genuinely love the show/comic/etc 2) because they want to make a quick buck (as in they don't actually follow the show/comic/etc., or 3) because they want to get faster views/recognition online. Creating and getting recognition for non fan-art work is generally a lot harder, but in the end the artist has all their own IP and thus more freedom with it when/if it becomes successful. I guess I'm not entirely sure what you meant by how the art industry has expanded?

I'm really glad you found the story helpful. Honestly if someone had warned me about doing that I might have done it anyways lol. Some of us learn the hard way x]
StevenStrumpf Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"some of us learn the hard way" My stubbornness in not doing things I don't want to do that if done would've benefited me in the long run, has gotten me into, lets say, (for the purpose of keeping this response under 100 paragraphs) "trouble". Learning things the hard way has been my bread and butter in the past, my actions recently have been dissuading that pattern and I've got to give myself credit for that.
About the whole "art industry expanding" thing, I don't even know what's going on in the official art industry, I was just under the impression that the online art scene and the RL art scene had kind of merging lately and that most artists (on either end, off-line or on-line) weren't aware of that fact because it didn't necessarily pertain to their continued financial survival yet.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2015
The art industry is all the same thing - online or offline. The internet is just a medium for artist to connect and expand their social networks basically. Way back in the day artists could get by without being online, but it's almost a necessity now. Art has expanded so much that there isn't really an 'official industry', but instead just different little sub-industries. It's a big blob and we all just roll around in it to see what we can pick up x]
StevenStrumpf Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
True, and what I like about the art industry in particular is that even though it is ever changing, the demand for it will likely not fade in my life time (unless everyone in the world all at once realizes their spiritual potential and can draw everything they want for themselves or we create an AI capable of interacting with the complexities of the universe for the purpose of allowing it to draw, (I can see the second one happening actually, just not within my lifetime)).

P.S. Apologies for the sophistical, spiritual woo woo tangent, I was just in the mood  :0)
Markistic Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014   General Artist
This is really informative, thank you. ^^

i just have one question, under *Salary Averages*, is that yearly or monthly?
Kamakru Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
Glad you find it helpful! =]
That little section for salary averages is yearly 
3ahia Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014 GREAT ! !
Kamakru Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014
Awesome! Glad you find it useful =]
BahamutDeusModus Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
This is a nice article; when I first did a commission, I wasn't sure how to price it either, but my dad was actually able to help and he said the same thing about getting paid by the hour and that you want it to be worth it. Your artwork is worth the 'normal hourly wage' price, and if someone's commissioning you, obviously they think so too.
For me, it's not the pricing now that I'm uncertain about, it's getting customers. :giggle:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
That's good to hear that you had help to figure it all out. 
Have you seen part 3 of this series, Conducting Yourself Professionally? It will go over a lot of what you'll need in order to make sure you're set up and ready for commissions. 

BahamutDeusModus Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional General Artist
Oh, thanks for the link! I'll check it out, every little bit helps. :hug:
rice-chex Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wait for logos, lets say for an individual people charge 1-3 thousand for one logo design?
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
Yep - keep in mind these are industry prices for starting points though, so not every single logo will fall into that range. However with logos you have to consider producing 10-15 variations, redos and lots of edits and adjustments until the client is happy. Then the clients gets full rights to the logo (licensing is part of the price) and it becomes their branding, so it's actually a really big piece.
It also depends on that the logo is for I suppose so it's good to just feel out the situation. Then again, the Nike logo was commissioned for $35 in the 70's by an individual, so you never know!
lohkk Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
I think another problem is that it's hard to find people that are willing to pay for commissions so people keep lowering their prices until they're getting nothing out of the deal just to attract customers. Any tips for attracting a customer base?
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
Ah, but that's the real key to the problem in the industry. It's so competitive that people are willing to work for peanuts just to get a customer. But really who is winning here? Not the artist.
Like I mentioned in the journal, working in the art industry is hard - for everyone. There are very few artists that are able to attract commissioners with ease, and those who do have worked very hard at improving their skills and putting themselves out there. Building a good customer base can take years, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen right away.

My advice for building a customer base is that once you have created your commission information (check this journal for more info) I suggest getting as visible as possible. This means activity - everywhere. Leave comments, be social, and what I feel is most important - do a lot of art and submit it. Submit on a regular basis, and submit work that you're putting time into. The more people see your work the better, and you will be increasing your skills at the same time.

Hope that helps =]
thebadgermushroom Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013
The commissioner loses out as well. Unsustainably low prices means:
- lower quality as artists rush work and/or cut corners;
- increased unreliability as artists take on other sources of revenue (a "real job") and/or have their lives disrupted by money troubles;
- experienced artists deciding commissions are no longer worth their time;
- new artists deciding not to offer commissions in the first place.
You get the point, I hope. Unfair prices are in no-one's interest.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013
Hmm, I think I know what you're trying to say, but here's the flip side of each point:

Low prices does not always equal rushed work or cut corners. Low prices can just be from an artist who even though has the skills and puts just as much effort into their work as someone who charges more, is afraid of raising prices for fear of losing customers or just doesn't realize their work is worth more than what they ask. The buyer is always taking a chance with any artist they commission from that the work won't look like what they expect - that's why it's important to research the artist before putting in for the commission.

Many artists work full time or part time jobs in addition to doing artwork. I work full time, but it doesn't affect the quality I put forth when I take a commission. If an artist is working another job they should be aware of the type of time they can dedicate to art. 

Many experienced artists will still take commissions, they are just priced accordingly. That, or they are working a full time art gig in which they just wouldn't have the time or energy to put towards private commissions.

New artists deciding not to offer commissions is really their choice in what they are comfortable with. If they don't feel ready to offer their work for money and they were to try to take commissions anyway, it would hurt both the commissioner and the artist.

The sad thing is that there are plenty of people out there that expect artistic perfection on 'value budget' pricing, and the worse thing is there are skilled artists out there that are willing to give into it.

thebadgermushroom Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013
Thanks for the response! I agree with your points. I might add some further comments:

Corner-cutting: I see your point, but isn't that more about why an artist might charge too low prices than how they cope with low prices? I know from experience that artists sometimes use shortcuts to square that circle, such as tracing or using a photomanip as a background. One guy I commissioned for a 20-page comic even subcontracted the work to a less-skilled friend of his (without telling me).

I agree that a commissioner should do his homework before approaching an artist. Finding the right artist, writing a proper brief, getting decent ref images together - it takes time but pays off in the end.

Experienced artists: Again I agree with your logic. But when any artist is considering opening for commissions it is presumably a cost-benefit analysis of how much that will earn them versus whatever else they could be doing with that time. If the market prices are low that means  experienced artists will be more likely to decide to do something else, right?

New artists: I get the impression that starting to take commissions is a big step (at least it is if they are taking it seriously). Low prices is just one more reason not to make the leap, even if they feel otherwise ready.

Sadly, low pricing seems to be a feature of many creative industries, not just private commissions. Look at comic book artists, or movie SFX, and it's the same story writ large.

Uh, I mean happy New Year!
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2014
As for the corner cutting, that's another good reason to research the artist. There is a difference between cutting corners and method though. For example, many concept artists and matte painters will use photographs and textures to work into the image, usually in pieces. As long as the the artist is clear about what is being used & they have the proper rights to use those photos (hopefully they took the photos themselves) then it is acceptable. But they can't tell the client that they just painted everything if they used a photo - transparency is best in this case.
That artist that sub-contracted the work is completely wrong. If you noticed that the work was not his then he should be obligated to re-do the work himself. If you did not have a contract, I'd recommend always using one for projects like that.

Time is money, pretty much. But once in a while even an experienced artist can find themselves between art gigs. Depending on how experienced or in-demand they are they are probably more likely to look for a long-term job rather than doing private commissions, which can be unreliable. Usually an experienced artist will resist pricing their work below what they should though. 

Yep, that's why for artists thinking about doing commissions but maybe are not quite ready, I always suggest doing more trades or the like. 

It is a sad truth indeed D:

lohkk Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
Sounds good, thanks!
riot-wild Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I think the issue artists run into when they first open for commissions is confidence. I had what I felt were fair prices for my time and the quality of the work. I know there were times I was commissioned for something then realize I didn't even make enough to get a hamburger from one of my favorite fast food places. Then I thought well if 6hrs of my time and extensive hand cramping isn't worth a baconator and a small frosty why am I even taking commissions? I've since raised my prices but I'm not getting any commissions. Before I would think well if people aren't willing to pay me X amount for it maybe it's not worth that much. Then I think back to the way I felt after completing low rate commissions and decide if no one thinks it's worth it then that just means I need to keep working on personal art until I improve. If someone decides to commission me then fine if they think my prices are too high then they won't commission me.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
Confidence is a big factor indeed. It's much healthier to admit that you may need improvement than to undersell your work so much that you can't even buy a fast food meal. No matter anyone's skill level, it's work and it's time you are dedicating to someone else. I've been there and it's a tough spot to be in for sure, but as long as you keep practicing to get better then you're going in the right direction. I am still practicing to get better myself, it's really never-ending!
You seem to have the right attitude and that will get you far =]
riot-wild Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you. I've learned to judge my work not on the demand for it but on how well it compares to my previous work. If I can fix mistakes I made before then I've not failed, as Edison put it when he was trying to find a more successful filament for the light bulb, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work." I see myself improving now even from month to month, the more I do the more mistakes/flaws I can see myself making and try it another way the next time. 
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013
Yep, exactly. =]
TRozok21 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This could come in handy, since I was asked to do a logo, and the commissioner and I are trying to determine a final price
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
A logo is commercial work, so as always I recommend grabbing a copy of Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines since it will also cover other things to consider with work like that. 
TRozok21 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for that. I may have to take a trip downtown to the bookstore, when I'm feeling better x.x Pricing has been my one concern if I'd ever gotten into commission work, be it personal or commercial
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013
I understand private commissions better than commercial (I mean, there's a 300 page book about commercial/freelance work, so it's a little more extensive to say the least lol), but there is a good amount of crossover.
So if you read up on the commercial aspect it will help with the private commissions as well. =]
TRozok21 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, glad I know someone who's familiar with commissions quite well, even if it's a different aspect. I lucked out and saw that one of the bookstores near me has that book you suggested, so yeah once I get over whatever I have and get a day off from work, off I go! I was very fortunate in that he said I may use the logo in my portfolio, which is a step in the right direction for me :3
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