So me and my TL had this huge talk about commissions on twitter and I just thought I should write out my opinions and thoughts regarding them and hope that other artists see and take notice. These are only my personal thoughts, not everybody needs to agree with it of course (´•▿•)
I noticed many MANY artists underprice themselves, especially on tumblr. This underpricing thing isn’t new, but people pricing their full body full colored commissions for 10$ or less is ridiculous;; Making your commission prices cheap and underpricing yourself brings others down with you. If cheap becomes standard then its going to be impossible to get what people actually deserve. Working for something cheap than what should actually be given is going to hurt you, other people, and the whole art community (or industry).
Commissions and pricing yourself can be difficult, I know cause I also had a real hard time choosing my prices for the first time. There are a lot of factors to consider like your art quality, details, character’s detail in design, time spent, how busy you are for it, your audience, your art process, etc etc.
Firstly, your time is money. Minimum wage in California where I live is about 8$ an hour. Suppose I take 4 hours to draw a simple sketch styled commission, I charge 10$ for it. The price seems about ok for a simple sketch, but in reality, I should be getting 30$+. I’d be making more money working at a coffee shop for a regular 4 hour shift with a break and a free cup of coffee. People vary with how long they spend on drawing so prices will vary from artist to artist. If you take a while to finish something, then charge for what you work for, don’t price yourself exactly like others because other people are not you. You have the right to choose how much your time is worth.
Also, how busy are you? Some people are busier than others. Is this sketch commission that costs 3$, going to take you an hour or more, really worth the time. Only take commissions that are worth your time, why would you underprice your precious time and energy? If its not worth your time and they really want to commission you, charge more. If they have detailed character design or hair or anything that takes more than what you offered, don’t hesitate, charge extra. I have a friend who has been taking commissions for a couple of years and she charges extra for confusing commission info. It’s not just the drawing, its everything related to the commission that you should consider.
And regarding skills: no matter the skill, it is ALWAYS the artist’s right to charge what ever they would like. If you just started commissions and nobody is commissioning you, lower your prices a bit and raise them later (don’t stay low forever). You are the artist, you are allowed to choose your prices, starting low and raising later is something logical. You build your commission reputation, and keep a good relationship with your clients. The more commissions you take, more people will see them, and more people will want your commissions. Also, with a higher demand, the higher you can raise your prices.
You have the right to choose your prices and you don’t need to worry about being too expensive because the border line of too expensive is something that the commissioner choses by deciding to commission you or not. Ignore anybody who says “your commissions are too expensive”, “your work isn’t worth it”, “i don’t have enough money” or anything like that. They’re disrespecting you. They don’t seem to care about your time and energy, you don’t need to care about what they say.
You want serious clients, you would want to avoid trouble with people who think commissions are like some request or a joke. Commissions too cheap are going to make your work seem like nothing. Act in a professional manner, keep a commission journal with crystal clear rules, keep all notes and emails sent and received (as proof for troubles that might occur afterwards), and always take partial or all of the payment before you start.
Don’t just let people get away if they won’t pay you after you’ve done work, make them pay first and refund them but keep partial for what you’ve done. I always get full payment cause I don’t want someone to take my work and time for free after I’ve finished it. If they decide to change their mind and you haven’t started on it you can also refund them later. If they don’t like what you have done then that’s their fault. They decided to commission you, if you did your best and they accepted the initial sketches, then you deserve what they paid. Time and energy isn’t refundable, they can’t take back what they asked for and agreed to.
Anyways sorry for the long essay ( ´_ゝ`)
I only started commissions a year ago so I’m no expert, but I think and talk a lot about this topic ahaha _(:3」 ∠)_ If you’re new on commissions and are having a hard time choosing prices talk to your friends, ask what they think about it (preferably other artists). If you don’t have anyone to talk to, I’m always willing to help those who need it and anybody is welcome (You can leave me an ask or we can discuss it on twitter.)