Charging Forward

Deciding on prices is so difficult

You don’t want to charge too much but you can’t charge almost nothing either. How do you find that happy medium? And is there any benefit to doing something for nothing?

Here are some important factors to consider when pricing artwork:

How much time did you put into it? An example of a typical student rate is about $10 per hour. Professionals can charge way more for every hour they work but it’s usually because it takes them less time to pull off a project.

How big is it? Obviously larger artworks will sell for more. But sometimes smaller pieces can be worth just as much. Small but intricate art pieces could go for a lot more because of how labor intensive and detail-oriented the work is. Jewelry would cost a bit more because of the materials used.

What medium is it? The materials used will definitely factor into the price. The more expensive the materials used were the higher the price will be. In the same way, don’t charge a lot for something that was made with cheap materials or has a poor print quality. Digital artworks may go for a lot less than a one of a kind artwork but if you’re selling prints of it, it can be a continuous source of income.

Who is the artwork for? If you’re doing a job for a mom and pop shop, you wouldn’t want to gouge them on the price. But if you get a big name company that will be putting your design on display everywhere and anywhere, you’ll definitely want to get your fair share be it through a hefty lump some or continuous royalties.

Is charging nothing really a good idea? Yes and no. Consider again who the artwork is for. If it’s for a charity organization or a library, something a lot of people have access to, you may want to consider taking up the offer. While you may not get paid for your time you are still getting paid in advertisement. If a small business wants you to do a free logo for them though, you might want to turn that one down. Their business may be small now, but when they make it big, you’ll be wishing you got a cut.

Am I really worth it? A big part of this too is being honest with yourself. Have confidence but don’t be too proud. It’s important to remember that there others who do what you do and they may be doing it better. Make sure that you’re truly charging what you’re worth. It wouldn’t hurt to check out what other people of different skill levels are charging to cross-check your own prices.

Pro-tip: One of my illustration teachers, Kevin O’Neill, made the entire class keep a time sheet (it’s the cover photo). He wanted us to document every stage of the project and, honestly, I hated it. I didn’t need to be organized. Or so I thought. Now I only wished that had kept accurate time tables. I realized that it was an adequate way to judge how long it would take me to do a project and would allow me to give a better price estimate to my clients. Now I jot down my times any time I can and chronicle every stage of the project (along my travels, I learned that communicating with the client counts too). It’s just a good idea and definitely a good habit to get into at any stage in your career, whether your a student or not.

Pricing is by no means an objective thing. Every artist has a different system. We’ve all got to come up with our own eventually. Hopefully this list was a little helpful though.

If anyone’s got any other tips, I’m all ears!

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