A professional artist's guide to pricing
Hello my fellow artists! Hope you are doing well. Here I come with another insight coming from my pro mentors and my own experience as a full-time artist. I must admit, I'm also writing this because I'm tired of seeing artists underpricing when there's so much information online. Yes, you can do this seriously, and it is you as an artist who gets to choose whether to get serious or not.
Have you ever asked yourself how to price your art, especially for a company or for a local business? If you haven't, chances are you're not doing it right.
First and foremost, it's important to state that pricing is a very long subject. You're not going to charge a small business the same amount a big company. That also varies depending on complexity , use of the image and experience. I would recommend always getting advice from a pro friend to tell you if you're charging correctly. In this post, we are going to cover the basics.
A good thing to remember is that the notion of "expensive" or "cheap" is given only by the way which your client perceives your work. Each person's condition is particular to them, and what might be expensive for you may not be expensive for someone else. That being said, I want you to remember that your art is an absolute luxury and it should be valued by you before anyone else. If your client is under necessity, they won't be ordering art in the first place. If you don't charge well for it, especially when it has a specific use, your client is not going to use it therefore no fruits are coming from your effort.
When an artist underprices, they're not only ruining the market for those who are already in it, but they're also destroying their own carreer path. You are NOT going to be taken seriously if you charge $10 for a colored half body. It doesn't matter if you're a teen and all you want is to raise money for a PS5. Go look for recycling garbage instead.
The key is to stop thinking in a scarcity mentality. I'm going to explain how the pros think and what makes them pros at what they do.
First, it's important to be aware that you are a qualified worker. Yes, what you do is very specific. Drawing is just like singing -- you may not be born with the skills, but if you're doing it anyway you'll have to practice and study. No one can do it in your behalf.
I'll convince you of how specific an artist's job is: there is no school that can teach you how to draw manga. It probably takes 7 or more years of intense drawing and study to get to a good level. You can enter an art school if you like, but that won't necessarily make you skilled. The tools you use are also expensive. You need electricity, a good tablet, computer, software (get yourself an official license if you don't have one -- it might help you if you need legal proof against art theft) and of course, a tablet upgrade when you get better. If you're a traditional artist, you'll need professional level supplies. If you're not in Japan, you also need Japanese books and specific material which can also be expensive, especially when imported. If you're doing art correctly, you're also looking for references for each and every piece you make, and that also costs you time.
That being said, if you're working online and internationally, charging less that $15 an hour is an ABSOLUTE no (and this is amateur rate). If you're working for a client in England, for example, that's less than half they make per hour. Doesn't matter if it's just for commissions. A well-paid commission is also a well-used commission.
Well, what do I do then, Sayuu? Close my commissions and not do them again? That's impossible for me!
Skip this advice if you're under the following circumstances:
You have a family to support;
You're a young artist that's desperate to pay rent (in this case, you might consider implementing my advice in the long run).
Here's what you're going to do:
Close your underpriced commissions RIGHT NOW;
Replace with the correct rate prices;
Be aware that it doesn't matter whether you get commissioned or not. No one's watching you or making fun of you. If you don't get commissioned, go up to step 4;
Work hard on your art to improve it. Get feedback from reliable friends and especially pros. I guarantee that there are going to be clients after that.
Pros don't joke when in duty. This kind of mentality can take you where you want in art.
How to price commercial work
The question you have to ask yourself in this case is - is the client going to make revenue directly or indirectly from my product? Does this product in specific exist at all without art?
For indirect revenue - promotional art for a twitch or youtube channel, it's normally 2x your commission table price.
For direct revenue - twitch emotes, art for products, logos, art for light novels, three times your commission table price.
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I hope that was useful for every single one of you. Hope to see you again in the next post.