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Stand your ground, know your worth!

Journal Entry: Tue Dec 17, 2013, 8:45 PM


I'm sure a few of you by now have seen the recent ridiculousness regarding a job posted in the forums for a rather "epic" scene to be illustrated "at the starting price of $30".
I will do my very best to keep this short (and hopefully organized), but I want everyone to really get a good feel for this and why it's so important.

*****This applies to both hobbyist and professional artists*****

I know that a lot of you do not do art for a living. You may do art as supplemental income, or maybe you do it strictly for fun. But I want to make something very clear to each and every one of you that does art: if you have the skills, no matter what you consider yourself in regards to the arts industry, make sure you are getting paid for the WORK you are putting in.  

So to summarize a lot of what all the fuss with job posting is/was about. 
In the job posting the OP is basically looking for the cheapest possible price they can get by way of 'bartering'. They describe that they want a professional quality, very complicated, (easily 10-20+ hour piece), yet they're not looking for someone 'in the industry/commercial' but rather wants to hire a hobbyist. They linked to an example of a pro artist that does work on 'Magic the Gathering' (they back-pedal later on this point claiming that style and quality are two different things). They say that they'll tip extra if they 'like it' (doesn't say how much). They say they want progress shots the entire way and will only pay in small increments with each progress shot that gets approved. 

Alright so you may have noticed there are a lot of things here that may raise an eyebrow, but really there should be '????'s all over. 

Bartering for prices: Some artists may be OK with this, but only when they know a price is too low. Usually though an artist is going to be given the concept and the offer a fair price. It's then up to the client to decide if it's a price they're willing to pay or not. Art is a specialized skill, it is not a used car. It's not something that just anyone can pick up out of the blue and re-sell, and so should be priced according. As a custom job.

Hobbyist vs. Professional: In this case the person believes that a hobbyist is worth less than a professional, even though the skill level of a hobbyist can be just as high as a pro. Remove the title and what do you have? An artist, spending XX amount of hours using the skills they've honed over all the years they've ever practiced art. That's it. Being a hobbyist does not de-value the work! If someone wants commercial work done then commercial prices should be paid, because no matter who gets hired it's the same exact job.

Examples: Style vs. Quality: I don't know about everyone else, but if I'm given an example of style, that includes quality. It includes the amount of detail required to reach the style given. If you want something in a messily painted style vs. a super-realistic and refined style, guess which one is going to take more time and arguably be of higher quality? I do tend to take examples literally however (when I'm given one, that is), but how else as an artist am I supposed to make the client happy? 
So for this section, if you are commissioning an artist remember that a lot of the price is going to be based on how much time will be required to complete the work based on the style/quality you want.
As an artist, it's important here to ask the client exactly what about the example it is that they like. Do they want that much detail? Are they just looking at the colors/lighting or the subject matter? 

Commercial vs. Non Commercial: This section could be tricky so let me know if you have more insight on this. But when you get a job offer, take into account whether or not the art is for commercial use. Is it for a website that does anything where currency is exchanged? (This could be a store or subscriptions, etc). Or even if it's for website graphics at all. This means that the actual website itself is using the graphic rather than say, an RP forum sight where the user is planning to submit the image. Anything that is being published by the client is considered commercial: book covers, album covers, flyers, merchandise, etc. In this case you need to charge extra, or sell a limited or full use license of the work. Non commercial would be something like a personal character - what about 95% of the commissions on DA are of.

'Tipping' if they like it: This is a red flag! Never consider that you 'might' get a tip if they like it. This should not be considered as part of the price of the work. Figure out what the work will cost and stick to it, but don't hope that the client may or may not decide to give you 'extra'. 

Requiring WIP's and no full payment: Red flag! Now I have absolutely nothing against artists taking payments for art (it's a rather helpful option for clients who need a really big piece) but when the client up front says they will only pay in increments for each WIP they approve, you can tell right away that this commission is not going to be a smooth ride. It may guarantee that they will only be paying for exactly the amount of work done, but it might make it really difficult for you do get that work done. Proceed with caution.

Now to add some other random tips here that the client in this case is not accounting for:

Calculating the cost of the commission: This can be a very difficult thing for a lot of people to calculate (and I could make a lengthy journal on this subject alone), but there are some key questions to consider, such as; 
- How many hours of communication will there be? (Emailing this client to get approval on 8 different WIP's as they are asking for will take a while). 
- How long will you need to gather references? 
- If it were a traditional piece what is the cost of materials needed? 
- And then most importantly, how much time will it take. 
It's up to you do decide ultimately how much you think your art is worth, but if you think it's going to take you an entire week to do a commission, don't take $30. Let's say it only takes you 5 hours to do the commission - you're getting $6/hour. What if it takes you 10 hours? Then your'e only getting $3/hour. Okay let's say the client decides to give you $50 and it takes you 10 hours - great, you're back up to $5/hour. That's not even minimum wage to do a custom, one-of-a-kind piece with a skill that took years and years to learn.
Fast food joints pay at least minimum wage (above all those prices listed above here), and the lowest starting point of someone with only 1-2 years experience in the industry should supposedly be charging at least $25-$30/hour. 

There are many people out there that just don't understand the amount of time and work it takes to produce a good piece of art. You know what your art is worth, so get what you're worth. Remember that you're dedicating this time to someone else, it's a JOB (yes, it's even a job if call yourself a hobbyist!). If you don't care about the money then do the art for yourself, for friends or family. Don't do it for someone who is only looking for the cheapest way to take advantage of your skills, of YOU. If you want to do art and donate it or sell it for a lower the price, it's your decision - don't let someone else dictate that!

....whew


I may need to make a part II of this journal sometime, there is just SO much in regards to the art industry. This may have turned out longer than intended, oops. 
In regards to that, if there is anything specific you guys would like me to go over I can do that, with what I know at least. But keep in mind that this journal is just my own ideas and the way I look at things. Opinions may differ, so you may take it or leave it.

To end, here is a message from Stephen Silver about the worth of an artist. It's a bit ranty, but on point!


EDIT: Hungry for more INFO? Here are some links!


Skin by SimplySilent
Add a Comment:
 
:iconjccatstudios:
JCcatStudios Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Great journal!
This question is a bit odd but it would help me out a lot if I got an answer.
If I start commissions, am I supposed to give the original piece to the client? In digital art, one would probably make a print and send that to the client, but I work (most of the time) traditionally. Should I keep the original piece for myself and make a print for the client or send the original to the client?
Thanks. 
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2017
When I work traditionally I will send the client the original piece. Because I use professional grade mediums however, and because traditional pieces are much harder to make edits to I charge more for traditional to cover those extra costs.
Sometimes if the client is over seas they will accept just the digital file so that they don't have to pay shipping fees, though a scan never looks quite as good as the original. Just be clear with your client about what they are going to receive in the end
Reply
:iconjccatstudios:
JCcatStudios Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you for replying! I was having a hard time finding the answer to that.
Reply
:iconleighad:
LeighAD Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013
If the artist's skills are not worth paying at least minimum wage for, they're not going to get hired for this or other jobs. Besides why should the artist take on the stress of the job if it isn't going to pay like one? Never mind the time investment - that's time that can't be spent with family or friends or on hobbies like a different artwork they could enjoy doing without worrying about someone else's vision, specifications, expectations for quality, and deadlines (communication itself will take time too). 

They sound like someone who'd be very demanding and controlling as well (which will mean more stress).
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014
Exactly. It's important to understand what your time is worth in whatever you're doing. And judging alone by the description that the client gave, I would be wary of accepting the job even if it did pay within the realm of 'acceptable'.
Reply
:iconvalleyviolet:
valleyviolet Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Hobbyist
Urg... People are horrible assholes when it comes to buying art. :/
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013
Yeah there's always those bad apples >8[
Reply
:icon416brass:
416brass Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Given what they want and how little they want to pay for it, I don't see why anyone would want to work for them. It's like they want to buy a car for 50$....its just not going to happen.
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013
They tried to claim that the $30 was just a "starting point". I later found that their max price range was up to $300, but they were going to do their very best to avoid reaching their budget. Which I also find strange, since a budget is supposed to be what you expect to pay, or so I thought. I think OP was under the impression that 'we're all greedy artists who will do anything to get the most money possible from the client'. Or something -_-;
Reply
:icon416brass:
416brass Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013
"we're all greedy artists who will do anything to get the most money possible from the client"

Aint no rest for the wicked so to speak. It does sound like they were trying to cheat the person they were going to hire as much as they could, so they would likely expect the same behavior from others....if that makes any sense.
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013
I feel ya. I think that the OP believed that it's not 'cheating' the artist out of anything if they agree to it. In that case it's also the artists fault for accepting such a ridiculous offer. :/
Reply
:icon416brass:
416brass Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013
perhaps
Reply
:icontheivorykey:
TheIvoryKey Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't sell my art, but I've been in commission streams, and there have been a few times commissioners have gotten high and mighty about doing them favors for this, that or the other reason.
Would you go into a grocery store and tell them to cut the price of the milk a dollar because "I'm here buying food every week, gosh!" NO! An artist is not a neighbor you can borrow a tool from, a hubby you can leave with a to-do list and a sheepish smile, an artist is a businessperson who deserves your respect. Nothing irks me more, in the art world anymore, than people asking for art favors, or for price favors, because they consider themselves friends or regulars. I know you've gone over this before, but good god, people. If the artist thinks you are deserving and is willing to, s/he will OFFER it to you (or do it anyway and just not tell you when time for charging comes. Yeah, it sometimes actually happens if you're a nice, decent, polite human being).
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
You're right, but the key difference between the grocery store bartering is that there is not just one milk - there are many identical milks. But a commission is unique in that there is only one. 
If someone doesn't want to pay a lot they can buy a print, but if they want a custom piece then pay for the time that must be dedicated directly for that one piece. It really all comes down to time in the end.
Hah, the favors thing....ooooh boy. -_-;
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I suppose it's a good thing I don't go to the DA forums, like at all.  >.<
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Yeah I never go in there either, but I was linked to it
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
**nods**
Reply
:iconluxdani:
LuxDani Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aaaaand I made the mistake of going to find said forum post, and now I'm all nettled and grumpy. People can be so frustrating.
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Oh no! I should have warned you, it's completely frustrating to read through...
Reply
:iconluxdani:
LuxDani Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well put. There are a lot of interesting points on the topic, a lot of points that people fail to understand (both artists and non).
Only recently have I started actually applying some of that to my work. Before I had the idea that well, even though I am being severely underpaid for my work, at least its some money, isn't it? I've since learned, thank the freakin' lord. I state my prices with confidence now, which is a huge contrast from before. If they don't like my prices, then see ya.

What burns me down to my core is when you find those people that think that they are doing the artist a favor by commissioning them. Art is a business. Do you think that you are doing the owner of McDonald's a favor by ordering a Big Mac? Hell no.

Its a tricky business, this whole art thing. Many lessons to be learned by all.
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
One (of the many, many) things the OP said was how they were frustrated because the art industry is 'backwards' from every other industry. No, it's just different from every other industry. It HAS to be, with the amount of flux in skill, pay, and jobs, there is no way to truly standardize it. OP expected there to be some sort of magic price for hobbyists vs. professional. There was just so much wrong with the assumptions made by this person that my head would have exploded if I kept responding to them.

The thing is, that even my prices *now* I am undercharging for my work. For me personally though my next price adjustment will take place when I'm able to work a bit faster so it'll even out a bit.

YES art is a business! People fail to realize this because they seem to be under the impression that anyone can do it, or it's not 'that hard' (among many other things it seems). No, it is a specialized and hones skill. 
I think there needs to be a journal to cover how to view it as an artist and how to view it as a client. I wonder if anyone has already done this yet lol.
Reply
:iconluxdani:
LuxDani Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Actually that sounds like a killer journal to make. The more information about commissions, from all perspectives, the better.
Reply
:icondoomscarf:
DoomScarf Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If they think anyone can do art, or it's not that hard, then surely they can just do the art themselves?
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013
You'd think that train of thought would work itself out in their head, but it doesn't. Usually it goes something along the lines of; "You do art for a living, then art is fun or something so it just comes naturally to you. As an artist it's not hard for YOU to do it, because that's what you do". So even if it really is hard for them, a lot of the assumption lies with 'it's easy for an artist'. 
Reply
:iconchaosdemonxxxangel:
ChaosDemonXXXAngel Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
.....I don't think I've heard so much crap from someone such as the above.
I'm almost tempted to look through the forums for this particular thread.
Reply
:iconkamakru:
Kamakru Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Yeahhhh well if you do decide to take a look, I will warn you that it's full of complete BS and ridiculousness. The thread has been locked though at this point. For a while the OP also had it in there journal and accumilated a nice 77+ comments before figuring out how to hide them. I don't think even one of us got through to them. Incredibly frustrating...
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