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On the increasingly agitating subject of pricing your art


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(Originally posted by TheKyleIsHere)

Many great and powerful artists accept commissions, and any artist aspiring to a professional level of art wants to know the answer to a big question: How much do you charge for your art?

There are many things to take into consideration when pricing your art, especially when doing small character commissions.
If you have ever had a job in the real world, you know one thing, time=money, and if you've worked your way up the job ladder like any good young'n, you know that minimum wage sucks, ALWAYS. 
This is the first wall to jump in the obstacle course of pricing your art. How much time does your art take, and how much do you value that time?

As stated before, you know that minimum wage is horrible. You've got the worst hours, and the least amount of pay in the whole building. Not to mention, your manager treats you like crap until you've been there long enough to take his job, and you intend to. So minimum wage or less is out the window. 
You can't subject yourself to that level of stress on something you love to do, or you will soon grow to hate it. Ideally, you should like to charge no less than what would equate to $10 an hour, as that is entrance level pay at any company that treats its employees well. 

Get a clear range of time vs money, $10 to $20 an hour is advisable for any new professional. From here, you may start to think about the products you are offering, this is the fun part.
What level of completeness, and what dimensions of art will you offer? Obviously, art that is incomplete, or of smaller size will be cheaper.
Time yourself on your art, or get an average on how long it takes you to complete a work of art. A good sketch shouldn't take more than an hour, so $5 to $10 is good starting point, size doesn't matter, it's a sketch, it is quick and messy and best of all, easy.

A drawing, distinct from a sketch, is the finished pencil work. The lines are solid and readable, the form and shape are readily apparent. The sketch is your skeleton, but the drawing contains all of your vital organs, it is your heart and lungs. You spent hours on your drawing, your blood, sweat and tears went into this, and you damn well know it. You cannot sell yourself short here, the drawing is the epitome of time=money. For every minute you spend on a drawing, you should charge accordingly. 
It is hard on potential clients if your art pricing fluctuates, so you have to find a mean. On average, how much time does a finished drawing take? Personally, my own drawings stand at around 2 hours (for my largest images) which almost automatically rockets my prices up to around $50, which is cheap as far as quality work goes. I reiterate, DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT HERE.
Now comes time to complete, and if you are fast, this takes an extra hour or two, which is fine, tack it on to your price.

Now that you understand your time taken and money charged, you can vary your prices for sizes based on your own imaginary price chart. Make a list of all of your products, prices and examples to show potential clients. Of course this is not the be-all-end-all, you want to remain at least a little flexible, but you should ALWAYS refer back to this list when trying to earn a client.

Remember, you are the artist, and your time means something to you. Your art currently is a culmination of all the years you've spent improving, and you must sell yourself accordingly if you are ever to make yourself in to a force of art.

Edited by Taralack
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As a tool to help out...

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17713914/writing stuff/commissions/artist_commissioncost_analysis_2003 and older ver_v2.xls

Microsoft Office 2003/Older Compatible Spreadsheet. Figure out how long it takes you to do each step, then put in the price per art type down below [Blue colored boxes only]. It'll tell you your effective "Hourly" rate. 

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