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Artists: STOP and READ!

Thu Mar 2, 2017, 5:54 PM
People need to stop completing projects for clients under market prices (i.e., minimum wage). This drags the entire art market down and damages your future as an artist, damages other artists' livelihoods, and negatively affects the art industry as a whole (e.g., client perspective of the value of an artist's time/skill).

Artists need to be professional, and they need to treat their work as something that consumes resources (time, equipment/supply cost, etc.). I am surprised by how many people believe an artist will do work for free, or for the "idea" of success...that someone can bait an artist and their hard-earned and practiced skills by saying "you will be paid when I get paid...if the project is successful." There are also people out there who think an artist's work is theirs to use any way they want once they receive the commissioned art, without ever discussing it with the artist - or worse - without the artist taking the client aside and explaining copyright and licensing. There are people out there that want the artist to "wish their ideas" into existence - to be their hands and draw what they envision but cannot explain - then have the artist work and re-work an illustration again and again...Artists are not psychic! And artists - charge reasonable re-work fees or at least include a re-work process in your contracts! Always have a contract!

Here are some excellent resources for artists and clients that are worth a read. Know your market before you dive in, and don't take the first job that's thrown at you without knowing what you are getting into. I am seeing too many people throw themselves at a client just to get a "job" and then take less pay, work harder, and maybe never getting paid at all. STOP and READ!



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:icondanee313:
danee313 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2017   General Artist

Thanks for posting this.

I’m currently going through the “you will be paid when I get paid...if the project is successful” type of situation right now. Worked on a big project a while ago for a relative (mistake no. 1: never work with relatives and friends), and have yet to be paid. I was completely not expecting this to happen. I’ve pretty much just stop asking at this point. So discouraging! Makes me so apprehensive to even try to do any more commissions and projects with people. I know better now, to always have a written contract from start.  

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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Hi Danee - I'm sorry you have not yet been paid...that is really frustrating and stressful :( I once had an especially bad client (a medical institute) that ripped me off - that was really unexpected b/c I expected them to act professionally, being a professional organization - ya know? It certainly made me apprehensive too. Some people get scared away by the concept of a contract - but if a client is worried about signing a contract, then it's not a client worth working for...even it is the only job in town! 
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:iconhih0shi:
Hih0shi Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm just going to put it out there that if you have been to Tinami you will often see Japanese artists making top quality art because they want to and not just because they want money and to be paid.  While I agree that everyone should be remunerated fairly, you have to take into account factors like the fact that not everyone here lives in a country with currency of equivalent value to the dollar/pound.  Also just going by economics, which is what part of my degree was based on, market equilibrium can can be found at the point where demand and supply intersect.  This is called the equilibrium price.  People will only be willing to pay the prices you deem acceptable depending on the equilibrium price.  It means that the supply would have to be very limited for this to happen.  The truth is supply is not limited.  Also we don't have ceterus paribus or all things being equal as there are other factors which will drive the price down.  Apart from there being a large supply of artists who are willing to draw at a lower price (perfectly acceptable, it is called undercutting)  another factor which you have to take into account is paintschainer.  As long as you can draw the lineart, it will shade and colour the art for you.  Now, while I admit it doesn't provide the same quality shading as an actual artist, many people just don't care about that.  It still looks very good and this means that people don't necessarily have to turn to those of us who like to think of ourselves as artists.  High prices are known to turn away prospective customers unless they are wealthy and have a surplus of income.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
I have never heard of paintschainer, I will have to look it up. You make some good points. Some artists just want to do art for fun...But if they are going to sell it,. I still stand by the minimum wage statement. It is true I live in a country where the dollar holds its own...So I can't speak to that. Most of my statements regard my own country's challenges.
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:iconhih0shi:
Hih0shi Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Here you go cooley, this is freely available.  paintschainer.preferred.tech/
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:icongejda:
Gejda Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2017
This is an awesome bunch of resources, thanks so much for sharing these! :)
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome :)
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:iconsandonsnow:
Sandonsnow Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017
Artists from All around the world need an organisation how control the market and keep their rights, it's business after all.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Unfortunately, that would be tough to pull off b/c there are far too many variables to take into consideration :(
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:iconsoulofwinter:
soulofwinter Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional General Artist
Just throwing a string of thoughts out there, not really as a statement, but more of a pondering. I wonder if seeing underpricing, plus the misconceptions from people who might take advantage of artists (knowingly or not), comes partly from how the skills are attained. If a person wants to reproduce a tree artistically, then it's very accessible to go outside, bring a sketchbook, sculpt with some mud and sticks, use a phone camera, speak poetic descriptions about the tree - it's within a human's ability to observe and record. I think a lot of people, myself included, go into art thinking, "psh, I'd do this regardless of pay," skipping over the business education. Someone looking in from the outside might do the same thing, "that's a human skill, look how much they love it" not thinking that maybe that artist honed their skills in school, or spent a ton of money on material that will be archival, or spent thousands of hours outside drawing that one tree over and over.

Looking at how other professional skills are attained, let's say for a surgeon, can be a bit different. The desire to do surgery might come from a very attainable human feeling, (ie, curiosity about the human body, a love for science, etc.), but then they -must- go in to some kind of education under an experienced person to do it, (well, at least I would want my surgeon to undergo education about their field!). Same with other types of businesses, it's just expected that there's that extra step of education. But art... well I know when I first began to try this as a job, I was a kid in high school, definitely had no knowledge about the field of art, and while I had teachers to teach me some drawing basics, my abilities were at the "I went outside and observed a tree" level. No one was going to stop me from charging too low or taking bad jobs, it was very much a learn to swim by being thrown into the water thing. For years, it wasn't just that I was uneducated on the business front, but I had to overcome my own psychology, my own damaging thoughts about self worth, and since I came from a lower income working family, my family ideas about a job -having- to be miserable. (Come to think of it, I'm still overcoming all of that).

What you said, know your market, is spot on. This is a fulfilling job, but it is still a business, and therefore some amount of education is a must for success and for overcoming those psychological blocks, at least in my eyes. For that reason, I'll definitely be directing people looking to jump into art this way! Thank you for putting together these resources :)
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
I had not considered the perspective you proposed in your first paragraph. It is true, for many, art is a passion that they do regardless of whether or not someone is paying them to draw something in particular. In that way, it would be easy for an outside party to say "they just do that stuff for fun" - and it would be applicable to a lot of artists. That outside party wouldn't think about how long it took for the artist acquire the skill....or think about an artist shopping for supplies or trying to find that perfect perspective of the tree they wish to draw, traveling to said tree, and the hours spent sitting and drawing. It sounds like a pleasant process, and it is, but it still consumes resources and that means it accumulates cost.

You are also right about a surgeon - an artist can draw a tree without going to school, but a surgeon cannot work on a body without prior training and insurance, which is very costly. That kind of comparison, though applicable, also can provide grounds for an artist to doubt themselves as a professional. I made lots of mistakes without anyone stepping in and saying, " that's not a good business choice" or in some cases "that's not good for your self esteem." It seems like that is a misstep many of us take along the way, unfortunately. :( I still struggle with self esteem at times and found that going out into the local community, as scary as it is sometimes, to display my art and talk to people has been up-lifting.

Wherever you believe you are career-wise with your artwork, I think you make wonderful and very marketable art! :heart: 
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:iconceroblack:
CeroBlack Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I completely agree, but this is always going to be a problem as long as "hobby" artists do commissions. Imo if you are charging money then it is no longer a hobby, it's a job, and you should be charging as such. But not everyone sees it that way I guess. Now, if every artist out there tried to make art their full time job, things would be very different. You can't live off of 2.00$ an hour nowadays lol.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Edited Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
True, hobby and professional approaches are totally different and hard to quantify. But you are right, no one can live off $2 an hour.
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:iconnightblossom----sans:
NightBlossom----Sans Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh i am so cheking those links out
And I AGREE COMPLEATLY WI THIS WHAT U SAID IS SO TRU WITH SOME PEOPLE


Ecpesially with art stealers ugg
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Glad you like the links!
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:iconnightblossom----sans:
NightBlossom----Sans Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:3
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:icontoki-wartoothxx:
Toki-WartoothxX Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
While im over here like "IM LITERALLY GIVING MY ART FOR FREE BECAUSE MY CLIENTS AND I ARE POOR"
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:iconohthehumanityplz:
Ohthehumanityplz Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Same here, bud. :(
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Flagged as Spam
:iconeyeslikemorphine:
EyesLikeMorphine Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Hate to tell you this, but no, it shouldn't be. It takes skill and everything, just as a SFW drawing does. There's also the added skill of making something look sexually appealing. For better or for worse, sex sells and there's a huge market for it.
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:iconkirbytardos:
KirbyTardos Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Some people like porn and are willing to pay for it
Even if not everyone is into it, if someone puts time and effort into making it, it's still art. Just not safe-for-work art.
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:iconwadeallan:
wadeallan Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Student Digital Artist
While it's true artists should value their work, it's irresponsible and uninformed to believe that an artist accepting a rate lower than what you claim is the "market price" is damaging to the industry or other artist's livelihoods. We live in a (relatively) free market economy, which means anyone can sell just about anything at however low or high a price as they would like. If you don't understand why a free market is ALWAYS more effective in setting reasonable prices than some "artist union" (or whatever this call to action is), I'd recommend you do some research on economic principles like supply and demand.

The rest of your post is pretty sensible, but the part you put first (and in BOLD, I might add) was bad advice. You also failed to provide any evidence of an artist taking less-than-maximum pay for their work actually doing any noticable or measurable damage to anyone. Capitalism is about engaging in VOLUNTARY (<-- very important operative term) exchanges of goods and services. Regardless of the ignorance of the artist involved, if they accept a rate of pay for work, it's a legit and acceptable transaction. Encourage and empower artists with knowledge of the value of their work, but don't advocate for some "market price" nonsense. Trying to mandate or fix prices of art is massively more damaging to the industry than any lone wolf artist who isn't sharp enough to not take commissions on empty promises.
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:icon574studios:
574Studios Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I totally agree.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
You are right about a free market economy, and there is always supply/demand to take into consideration. 

My evidence is in minimum wage. If you spend three hours on something, and you sell it for less than minimum wage, then you are hurting yourself...that time is better spent elsewhere. (This is what I mean by market price.) If you are spending that time on something and selling it for less than that minimum, you are not effectively valuing your time - not only as an artist - but as a person doing any kind of work.
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:iconwadeallan:
wadeallan Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Student Digital Artist
I personally don't believe in a minimum wage, but that's an entirely separate topic.

As far as valuing your time as an artist: Yes! Of course people should understand this and charge a fair price for their labor.

However, what people seem NOT to consider is that the consumer is paying for the value THEY receive. In the same way I won't pay 50$ for a steak solely because the chef insists it's from a hand-fed, beer-massaged Kobe cow, a consumer of artwork doesn't necessarily care about the origins, they care about the final image. Leaving out the unscrupulous people (thieves and frauds, etc) for the sake of argument, someone offering you 20$ for something you think is worth 200$ doesn't make them immoral. It just means that there is too large of a rift between the value you see yourself bringing to the table and the value they see in the artwork. If their price is low, don't agree. If you don't mind being paid 20$ for something you spent 10 hours on, it's up to you. Instead of advocating that artists charge a "market price" I would encourage you to appreciate the fact that most people try to make decisions exercising good judgment, and that the few poor rubes willing to sell their skills for pennies aren't representative of the community, and likely (due to their habit of making poor decisions) aren't going to have a huge impact on those who don't.

The narrative that "Well, client A paid 20$ for a commission, so now clients B-Z will expect to only pay 20$" isn't fully borne out by the facts, and depending on how forcefully you push that narrative, it can quickly devolve into a total non-sequitur argument that assume a bunch of wild and inaccurate things (Like that clients B-Z know how much client A spent, that people set expectations and willingness to negotiate on price entirely by precedent, etc).

Ultimately, I agree with the message you're sending out. However, I can't agree with the proposed solution or its corresponding claims (like the one about selling art cheap hurting another artist's livelihood). I think it's much more important to educate artists on the idea of art and business being separate skillsets, and providing resources to help them understand how to create (and sell) value. Homogenizing art prices into a flat "standard" rate would inflict a catastrophically larger hindrance on the art community, and consequently, the ability for artists to generate a living income through their art would be materially diminished.
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:iconskebryna:
Skebryna Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
But pricing your art low DOES ACTUALLY HURT THE INDUSTRY!! We've been talking about this in an artist's business class I'm in and it is actually a huuuuuuuuge problem. Because when big businesses and small time clients (even simple commissioners) get away with only paying small fees to an artist, they DO actually come to expect that to be the base price of what ALL art should be worth. Every time an artist accepts pay that does not reflect the work they are doing, it devalues the entire industry. If you consistently pay under price for somethings (this is what happened with clothing brands using sweatshops, clothing made with the makers paid a decent wage SEEMS expensive cause we've become used to the cheap price) you come to expect that price range for that object and anything properly priced seems high. Setting a standard rate for artwork is not the way to go about it as that's price fixing and illegal in a lot of countries, but understanding that artists have a right to collect a wage that they can live on is incredibly important as it is their job and they deserve proper pay. You can dislike the idea of minimum wage all you want, but don't go trying to say that under-pricing art isn't a problem when it is, ask any pro freelance illustrator (as I have) and they will say it is. It is an incredibly serious problem that those of us in the industry are facing from companies to individual clients all the same. The more artists undercharge the bigger this problem becomes. Price your work based on what it is going to be used for and the amount of effort, and be open to negotiation. 
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:iconwadeallan:
wadeallan Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2017  Student Digital Artist
No, it doesn't hurt the industry. People undercut on goods and services all the time. It's competition, and it's an integral part of a market. By your reasoning, teaching anyone art skills is also hurting the industry, since it directly increases the number of people in the labor pool and forces prices down. Every time an artist takes pay that isn't "worth" (which is determined by the two people doing the exchange I might add, not by some universally determined wage) their labor, one of two things happens to them. Option A is they don't make enough money to continue art as a full-time profession, which lowers the overall supply of artists when they're forced to take other work due to their bad decisions. Option B is that they're able to produce something of value and sell it for less than you're willing to, which is unfortunate for you, but again, it's competition and it's necessary.

As much as I love art and support the idea of people making a living doing what they like doing, you can't force a career to manifest just because you really love something. People earn living wages by providing services or goods that other people want. There isn't a universal right to earn a living wage doing something; it has to be justified by a large enough number of people who want (and are willing to pay for) the thing you're providing.

'Under-pricing' isn't a problem, and until you show me evidence to the contrary, I'll keep saying it. Anecdotal evidence doesn't represent actual empirical data relating to art as an industry, especially considering the tendency of individuals to assume their personal experiences are a reflection of a larger, more sinister underlying issue.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with you in almost every respect...art is a business and I think it's a difficult concept for both artists and consumers to understand and apply, especially when a given artist's business is in its nascent stages. I wouldn't say everything should be a flat or "standard" rate across the board, but I do believe in a minimum wage, which is where we will fundamentally agree to disagree :)

I've worked with many clients that are kind, fair, hard-nosed and business-minded, willing to learn what they don't understand, etc. and I don't take issue with that. I have also, unfortunately, run across people who don't understand art as a business, don't care to, and therefore do not treat the artist in a professional or respectful manner...that's one of the primary reasons I created this blog entry.
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:iconkaiserflames:
KaiserFlames Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
This is great. I recently upped my pricing for this very reason... and still feel like I'm underselling for the amount of time I plug into things. Though, I also feel like I need to get more efficient in how I paint stuff. Oy, such a difficult thing!
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Very difficult! I am still struggling with efficiency...I get bogged down int he details and realize that it's not cost effective :(
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:iconpkingsora:
PkingSora Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional General Artist
I appreciate this Cooley <3 
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
<3
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:iconavaunt:
avaunt Featured By Owner Edited Mar 2, 2017  Professional General Artist
Totally agree. It sucks that people think $50 is a lot for a pencil piece I spent 6-10 hours on. I know when you're beginning you generally have to start out pricing lower but it's so frustrating to see an artist with skill selling their stuff for nothing. I have also had people take advantage of me and had to learn the hard way, people just don't want to pay because so many people entering the market will do stuff for literally nothing and why would you pay someone more when you can get about the same product for half that? -.-
Basically I can't ever sell anything online.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Edited Mar 3, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
It is very tough starting out because if anyone wants to pay anything, they want it to be the best and they want it from someone with experience...Hard to get that experience if no one commissions you in the first place :( Then like you said, many people don't understand artistic process so they can't recognize how long something takes or are willing to pay for that time. I have found that being active locally has really helped me. I had several shows I busted my butt over and sold nothing...But kept going and things are coming around. Maybe a show or a local artist co-op could help you?
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:iconavaunt:
avaunt Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2017  Professional General Artist
Well I've been doing a lot of shows, actually, like you said and have definitely found it to be the case that people pay more in person. I've been doing better and better as time goes on, so that's encouraging. =) I just hate the internet as a tool for selling art.
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
It's really difficult to use the internet not only because of the potential physical distance between the artist and the client (and lack of the useful ability to read body language)...but also because distance creates a personal disconnection that allows people to be ruder to one another and take advantage of one another, something they are less likely to do in person...this is especially present in cyber bullying.
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:iconavaunt:
avaunt Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2017  Professional General Artist
I totally hear all that. People can be so rude on here. Luckily I've found ignoring it or being unnaturally nice tends to work. I've had people say some horrible things to me. =( But oh well. I just wish it was easier to sell your art online while still making what it's worth.
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:iconzetaomega2:
Zetaomega2 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks friend
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:iconcooley:
cooley Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
I hope it helps...I learned nearly all of this the hard way over the last decade :(
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:iconzetaomega2:
Zetaomega2 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I mean I've always took precautions and I've read a bunch but there's only so much you can learn. Hey whatya think of this?
zetaomega2.deviantart.com/art/…

You can see stuff so far in my OC folder, oh and look :D
zetaomega2.deviantart.com/art/…
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