March 29th, 2006
what am I worth?


Dealing with money is one of the hardest things I deal with in my career. I hate it. I never wanted to be a business person but it just comes with the territory, unless you make enough money to hire someone else to do it. This topic is much too large to launch into a full philosophical discussion here. But I think it worthwhile to share a few issues knowing that others out there deal with the saem things on a regular basis. I am constantly struggling with needing to ask for what I feel I am worth, contrasted with wanting to work on projects I enjoy (which often pay little or nothing.) Lately I have been doing a lot more projects out of love and let go of the need to ask for more. This can be difficult when you are trying each month to pay the rent. In my opinion art and commerce should never mix, but that is not the world in which I find myself. So I make compromises. The question comes up again and again, how much do you choose to compromise?
Today I was asked to do an illustration for a magazine that I love and have always wanted to work for. I was excited and flattered. My heart sank when the fee that was offered was lower than any fee I have ever worked for in this business EVER, (even when I started out). So I asked for more, not a lot more, sometimes it is just the principle of the thing. But also I needed to make it worth my time, (preferring to make more that someone who works at a fast food restaurant.) The result…I was turned down, the editor saying the magazine could not pay more given that they were “indie”, a point which is true and yet I know that the print quality of the said mag is extremely costly to produce, so they are spending money somewhere though obviously not on the illustration. (it is a known fact in the illustration world that in the 1920′s the cover of Time magazine paid an illustrator $1000 to do the cover, the same fee is given today.)
So the question that comes up for every artist is ‘what am i worth?’ Most of us have learned the hard way that when we do work for little or free, most often the treatment and amount of respect we recieve is of equal value, little or nothing (there are some exceptions to this.)
I wanted to share with you another way of looking at this which I learned from the artist Gord Peteran many years ago. Gord is an accomplished conceptual furniture designer whose work is like none that you’ve seen before. Over coffee one day the subject of “what to ask for” came up in our discussion. I mentioned I always have a hard time with asking for anything. Gord mentioned that when he sits down with a client he calmly explains his process. For every project he creates there is always a lot of blood, sweat and tears. He will have moments of doubt, frustration, and emotional exertion. So because he is going to hurt, then the client must feel some pain too. The way they can do this is financially, they must put forth energy in that way, (‘feeling it in their pocketbook’ so to speak.)
I’ve always remembered that story because it clearly illustrates the transfer of energy, (from one form to another).
This is not to say you should never work for free or for less, I do it often actually, preferring sometimes to not have the work ‘tainted’ by money. But this is just another way of looking at the issue. And I thought I would throw it out there for what it’s worth ;)

Mar 29 2006
1:50 pm
Lynn writes:

What a good way for Gord to put it! I’ll have to keep it in mind.

Mar 29 2006
1:54 pm
Khani writes:

Keri,
I just bought your book and I am loving it. I wish you well in your endeavors. I bought two poketo wallets so far thanks for letting us(those who read wishjar journal)know about it. I am going to buy one of your poketos next month when it comes out. Sometimes we have to just go with the spirit. If you do stuff just for the generosity of the spirit it will come back ten fold. Also maybe you could offer some of your poster art for sale like you did awhile back.I liked the one that had Spirit on it, but it had sold.
Ramble on and enjoy your days…
Khani

Mar 29 2006
2:08 pm
AlisonG writes:

It’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter of art and money, keri. I’ve been mulling over your stand on ad-free blogs, so it’s good to read more of your perspective.
I think the concept of seeing money as energy is really important. I believe money itself is neutral–it’s what we do with it, and our attitudes and beliefs about it, that turns it into the positive or negative.
You refer to money as sometimes “tainting” a project. What is it about the involvement of money that spoils the work for you?
I have been looking around for programs that help artists deal with the issue of money; this one from Cynthia Morris looks very good:
http://www.originalimpulse.com/FinancialEmpowermentGroup.htm

Mar 29 2006
2:11 pm
A.J. writes:

This is very interesting.
One thing I want to add is that women are taught not to concern themselves with and actively seek money.
I think of money as fuel for my creative life and I have no ethical dilemmas in seeking it.

Mar 29 2006
2:29 pm
Jennifer writes:

Thank you for posting this. I’ve been thinking about this for a few years – especially since offering writing classes to various communities. I think I always ask for too little or am offered too little. I’ve also noticed the attitude that because I am “creative” I should volunteer my time – which is even more frustrating. It really feels insulting to me. I need to think harder about this, and also, I need to stop neglecting to ask for what I’m worth.

Mar 29 2006
2:54 pm
Syd writes:

Heck, it’s hard for me to acknowledge that what I do is art, much less ask for monetary recoupment. I’m glad you posted this, money is a touchy subject and one we creatives often have trouble wrapping our hearts around. The alternate perception of emotional blood sweat and tears that goes into our work is helpful. Thank you.

Mar 29 2006
3:01 pm
vegasandvenice writes:

I have a question totally from the outside, what do you do if the price isn’t very good but the advertising possibilities are? Is there such a thing as real advertising in the illustration industry?
Just curious. Would love to know if you get the chance! I would love to be an illustrator, but I just don’t think I have the skills (or the money to get an education in the necessary skills). I like finding about the illustration world though just in case :)
Thank you very much for posting this!

Mar 29 2006
3:16 pm
Stacey-Ann writes:

You’re obviously not against doing work that’s not about money, but there are times when you have to listen to your instinct and maintain your values. I respect you for sticking to your guns about this particular job, even though you really wanted to work with them.

Mar 29 2006
3:18 pm
Matilda writes:

Commercial work (work that promotes something that is not specifically yours, as opposed to personal work, like Keri’s guerilla art) should never be done for free. As a graphic designer, it’s easy to be “nice” and offer to do something for free because someone says they don’t have the resources to pay you, but resist: doing something for nothing devalues your work, your time, your energy as well as the work of all creative professionals. If YOU did work for free, the client will start to think that this is a “normal” practice. After all, no one goes to the post office and says to the person behind the counter, “I’d like to have some stamps, but I have no money, so can I have some for free?”

Mar 29 2006
3:30 pm
chickengirl writes:

I left my design job to become an illustrator back in December, and the money issue always arises. When I break down how much money I make per hour while doing illustration, I question if I am even making minumum wage. I knew this going in, I did it anyway and dont wish to go back to an office job anytime soon. I think alot of us is not asking for much- just doing what we love and be able to have a comfortable lifestyle.
Although I am almost sure that TIME does pay more than $1000 for a cover, I know what you mean about the fees for illustration doesnt go up much over the years (not even to compensate for inflation). Its quite sad.

Mar 29 2006
3:33 pm
Claire writes:

I know the money weirdness so well! I am freelance too and swing from feeling lucky to even be paid for doing something I love to comparing (bad!) with what I hear other people are being paid and feeling like I’m not getting enough!
Anyway the point of my comment is that i’ve just read Miss Bea’s Diary for the first time…loved it although it’s kind of spooky as the ‘day in the life of me’ was pretty much parallel to a day in the life of ME!
Must stop reading blogs when I should be invoicing!

Mar 29 2006
3:35 pm
keri smith writes:

Matilda,
Thank you for writing that. I definitely echo your sentiments. I should have added that I only work for free for non-profit organizations, or friends. I do not do “Work for Hire” or work on spec., ever. I find this practice to be unethical, it completely devalues the medium.
V&V,
I learned a phrase early on from one of my teachers, “Beware of people who offer your name in lights in lieu of money.” I try to stick by that. But there are times when it is beneficial to ‘get your name out there’, when you start out printed samples can be really important. I think it comes down to what feel right for you given the situation.

Mar 29 2006
4:28 pm
sallly jane writes:

I struggle with all these thoughts too..
However more recently, I’ve been wondering if it is actually more about the filtering in of societal values, rather than my own authentic ones..
Ben Lee jumped into the conversation on his blog, with this:
i had a great week in melbourne. saw kanye west play at festival hall and was intrigued and amazed by much of the show. you have to see kanye dancing around stage to a-ha’s “take on me” to really get what im talking about. ive been having alot of conversations lately about abundance. the place where business savvy meets spiritual truth. its funny how many people associate poverty and renunciation with having a pure heart. this seems like an illogical leap to me. while money obviously is not the be all and end all of human life, it is an energy like anything else, and can be manifested as such. what does this have to do with kanye west? well i really admire the way hip hop artists understand that their spiritual and emotional liberation has to come hand in hand with financial independence. of course this opens up all kinds of questions about how to use money in a moral sense, but i wish more rock and roll artists would allow themselves to manifest real abundance, and stop believing in the myth of “the starving artist”. there is nothing as impressive as a person who knows true abundance. anyway, lots of food for thought there at festival hall that night.

Mar 29 2006
4:31 pm
brenda writes:

My husband and I are both artists and we have lived well, (and in poverty the whole time.) We are in our 40′s and have 6 children, we are at the point in our lives where we say, this is how much “it” is worth, we offer a valuable unique product. Personally, If I think what I make is worth alot someone else will too– I know what is out there and my -our work is comprable…I don’t know how many times my husband has been asked to “donate” something to be auctioned for a “worthy” cause, when we didn’t have 2 nickels to rub together….All that said, we have been known to “give” it away as the spirit moves us…

Mar 29 2006
5:41 pm
G-Man writes:

Wow. Great post. I’ve always had that fear of “what do I charge” as well. Luckily for me, my career allows me to be creative, so that is where I choose to make my money. I can put my heart into my work at the office, but it’s still part of the company. My art that I do at home, my real art, has no price tag. I can’t put a tag on my soul. I hate talking about art and money in the same breath!

Mar 29 2006
5:44 pm
helen writes:

As a writer, (albiet a fledgling one) I get asked to judge local writing competitions (for free), talk in schools (for free), review books (for free), critique manuscripts (for free)…! I used to do a lot of this stuff, because I was honoured to be asked and geniunely wanted to help…but these days I feel like my time is worth a lot to me and I only do stuff for free that I will gain something from (like it is FUN or I will meet interesting people or I get a chance to make a new teaching resource…).
I get mad that artists in our communities are just expected to offer time and services for free – this expectation would never happen in the corporate world – and it is hard to take people’s disappointment, disdain and irritation when you bring up the concept of a payment! I’m still working through this stuff…such tricky territory.
but anyway, Keri, you are surely a ‘high profile’ illustrator and writer by now, and as such should be paid what you ask for.
Best of luck with it all.

Mar 29 2006
6:19 pm
ron writes:

I face this in the recording world. I used to do a lot of projects for next-to-nothing; I now do few–only close friends & only fun projects). It only took one client (that I was charging very little) to nickle and dime me into lunacy (ask jeff, he’s heard the story far too many times) before I put the brakes on it. I’ve now standardized my rates and things have been much nicer since doing so.

Mar 29 2006
6:58 pm
tania writes:

thanks for throwing that out there! it has been on my mind big time lately, due to one job using one time use ( i thought) work for extra and, unknown till much later, applications and having to quote a big company knowing they can only ( really?) pay a small fee… tricky tricky!
your experiences are always helpful to hear about! thanks-

Mar 29 2006
9:11 pm
Meenu writes:

Dear Keri,
I have had the exact same thing happen to me many times over. I am a freelance photographer working primarily for the newspaper here in town. I also do activist work and community organizing. I have gotten excited when approached by various lefty magazines that want to use my work but they also pay so very little I would be making less than minimum wage. this has happened recently ironically enough when a magazine wanted images for a story on workers rights.
I live really simply and work hard. I have had to become assertive with pricing which has always been difficult for me. but now after walking down this road for awhile I know how much goes into my work, the hours spent shooting and in post production in front of my computer, how much it cost me to buy the equipment I need and continue my education in the field. and I know I have to take care of myself and ask for proper compensation. I donate my work for the activist projects I am involved in and the community projects I support.
I have found time and time again that most people do not know how much goes into making artwork like illustration and photography or music. anytime we are approached we can also take the opportunity to let them know how much does go into these creations.
much love to you!
Meenu

Mar 29 2006
10:44 pm
Helene writes:

Once back in the late 80′s when I was getting started as a freelancer I calculated that after making my Mac payment, I was making $1.39 an hour! If you include incubation time (time spent thinking about the project), I was probably paying the client to work for them. Today I will still take the low payers, but only if they are really nice to me.

Mar 30 2006
2:02 am
Colette writes:

Hi, Kerri,
I’m a magazine journalist in Toronto, and went from full-time to freelance some years ago.
If you live by your art, you must put a value on your work. I learned this the hard way. Meaning years of being underpaid, not least because I undervalued myself.
Magazines will either have a set list of fees they pay for writers, illustrators, photographers, or (very common) will try and get away with the least possible payout.
You’re well-known so I’m surprised the “indie” publication didn’t expect to pay your going rate. Having been on the “inside” I know that they always expect to pay more for a “name”.
Cheers, Colette

Mar 30 2006
2:34 am
cat writes:

The buisness side of becoming a writer is one of two major hurdles I continue to allow as excuses for the stagnation of my ambition to become a financially solvent writer. I have such a difficult time even understanding business concepts, let alone putting all the jargon and theory into practice for myself; and setting my prices?! You may as well hand me a scalple and order me to perform open heart surgery…I think my surgical results would be far superior to my financial. I also have no clue as to where I should look for help in this arena. Oy vey!

Mar 30 2006
9:02 am
Ellen writes:

I think most of the problem with the public’s perception of what art is worth, is that in the back of their minds they think “I could do that. How hard could that be?” After all, we all know how to point and shoot a camera, sketch a little, maybe knit something. I’m a weaver, and most people who balk at the price of woven items have never even seen a loom and in their minds equate it with knitting (my aunt, grandmother, cousin, etc knit and I’m SURE they could make one of those cheaper—-or my personal favorite—”you can get that cheaper on the Shopping Channel” (or at walmart)). The price is the price, and you really have to hang tough and not back down. It’s hard.

Mar 30 2006
10:31 am
Helen writes:

This is interesting for me because I’m doing an illustration job for free at the moment, but in my case it is my first “real” illustration job and the opportunity itself is worth a lot to me. Apparently the magazine doesn’t have an illustration budget yet, although they may have in the future. I’m just so grateful that someone is giving me a chance, and that I will have printed work to put in my portfolio, that I’m happy to work for free. I’m aware of the argument that working for free is unfair on other illustrators, but at the same time, I’m not really in a position at the moment to be fussy.

Mar 30 2006
10:32 am
beth maher writes:

I have been thinking a lot about this recently too. I even somehow managed to mangle my entrance English exam for OCAD into being about this.
But if I hope to be a professional illustrator, it is an important concept to consider.
I think we all need to take a harder line about the value of our work if we hope not to devalue it, and we need to teach others (especially up and coming young artists) why it is important to ask for compensation for time and energy spent on projects (even if you fell you are amateur and no-good, time and energy is still work).
Of course, a good thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to work for actual money to receive due pay.
If you are emotionally satisfied by not-for-profit work, or barter items for work for friends, than you are still compensated.
It’s when the work you give out isn’t bringing in the equal satisfaction that it should, then you have a problem.

Mar 30 2006
10:53 am
Cynthia Morris writes:

This is indeed a big issue, and like anything, there are many ways to look at it. I see that you are getting a gig for a magazine that you have always longed for – your wish come true! When making the wish, did you say, “And they will pay me really well!” ? I believe that we manifest what we ask for.
And, speaking of asking for, I invite you to use your creativity with this. How can you do this illustration and gain from it? What kind of exposure and future jobs can you parlay this into? Make a list of 20 ways this can bring in more moeny for you this year. Make it fun!
Regarding compromise, I suggest that you (and all of us underearners) get really good at negotiating. You may want to read Get Out of Debt and Stay Out of Debt, by Jerrold Mundis. He has some good negotiating tips.
I am a writer who is fired up about being financially empowered. My day job as a coach has given me tools to work with people on this. Thanks Alison, for sending the note about my Financial Empowerment Group. Last night I was at my local writers’ group and this was the subject. It is in the air – women taking charge of their financial empowerment! More power to us!

Mar 30 2006
12:26 pm
Tammy writes:

Funny..I haven’t been by here in a while and here is this post dealing with something I am struggling with myself at this very moment.
I have a number of regular writing jobs that promise decent pay “some day,” yet as months go by, I don’t see much coming from these promises. A little has trickled in but not enough for the amount of work I’ve done or they want me to continue to do…even are starting to ask more from me!
Do I drop them and miss out on what they may pay in the future once they get things together? Do I keep going one more month and see what happens? Very few people seem to “get” that I write as a profession. I’m not just a wanna-be writer who is doing it for fun. My words put food our table.
In 2007 I hope to drop my part-time job and go with writing full-time. I already make more writing than at my job, but still, I’m afraid to leave that regular pay check. And, it’s not just me that I have to prove myself too but my husband. He’s supportive but still. If I don’t make it, I will have hurt him as well.
Thanks for the opportunity vent and for this wonderful post. I’m going to email it to a bunch of writers and artists I know.

Mar 30 2006
12:27 pm
Joy writes:

I wonder if Mr Indie Editor would try that same line on his printer/landlord/utility company, etc.??

Mar 30 2006
1:16 pm
pixie writes:

i have completely different views on money than you do. after years of thinking in order to experience my art purely as art, that i must suffer, i put an end to that thinking. it was bringing me down and the depression i felt from never making my bills and also feeling low about my worth invited me to take a different approach that i now feel much better about. i don’t know if it will help you, but here goes.
first i had to believe that money is a good thing. that it doesn’t “taint” anything. only my attitude about something can make it contaminated. emotionally, i came from a line of people who were not very smart about money and believed they would always be poor. and guess what? they fulfilled that prophecy. they’re still poor. when i have money, i’m doing great things in the world, and sharing money. when i don’t have any, i’m low and doing nothing in the world but feeling stressed.
i digress.
i took a more boutique attitude when i started napcake pjs-because of what i put into that company and what i did with the money i made (turned it into something very positive: no depression, paid my bills, gave to charity, etc)-i charged what was fair to me, but seemed high to others. plenty of people paid $80 for a pair of pajamas (ha! including YOU!). when i raised the price to match one of my competitors, my business only got stronger! weird, huh?
when i did bodywork for a living i had so many clients at $65/hour, while the other guy in town offered work at $35/hour and had few clients. he was also always putting off depressed energy about not having enough money and the clients could feel that.
keri, if people want your work, they will pay for it. there is no need to keep your fee low. the work will come to you. because you are awesome.
i’m sorry this was so long!! LOVE LOVE LOVE, p.

Mar 30 2006
1:25 pm
pixie writes:

p.s. i really like what A.J. said about money as fuel for creativity. how can any of us really tune into the work in this age if we’re busy worrying about paying the rent? that is what contaminates my work.

Mar 30 2006
1:43 pm
Q writes:

Have you ever thought this like me, that the art you make is like a voice? You know how some people’s voices sound better to us than others? And a lot of people don’t even like the sound of their own voice but others do. Same with art, right? Well I figure if someone wants to use your work they must like your voice. So all you can do is see how much they’re willing to pay and then tell them what you’ll accept. And that’s a dance. Toes might get stepped on. It’s a lot like fishing.. they’re not always gonna take the bait, but if it smells tasty enough they’ll bite. Remember, there are other fish in the sea. And we all have to eat. :\ Your work is amazing and you can’t feel bad about asking for what sounds fair.

Mar 30 2006
7:35 pm
Matilda writes:

Dear Keri,
But don’t you think that even non-profit clients can push you around as much as corporate ones? It’s true that work for a good cause is more virtuous work, but many clients will take advantage when they see an opportunity. Even when working for non-profits, I insist on at least some kind of honourarium, some kind of symbolic payment so there is at least some contribution to match my creative contribution. I think it may be some unfortunate quirk of human nature that things are not valued unless one sacrifices something for it.

Mar 30 2006
8:22 pm
keri smith writes:

hi matilda,
yes, definitely. when I do any work of this nature I set strict boundaries at the outset. for example, “in order for me to do this I need complete creative control”, meaning no changes. If they have a problem with this then it is not the kind of job that i want. I also ask for printed samples, and will only do something if I believe in the cause completely.

Mar 31 2006
2:15 am
bohemiangirl writes:

i won’t go into detail as of why but it was so serendipitous that i read this…as i was having this very discussion with my husband tonight about my new business.
thank you…

Mar 31 2006
10:15 am
sarah writes:

I really enjoy your blog, and can relate to it in many different ways. I work as a composer, and am often asked to do commisions. This has been quite often for music services ( in England) who have little funding of for some schools music association which has no money but the opportunity to give kids the chances of music making that they would’nt normally get. when talking fees, my better nature gets the better of me and I end up earning Pnuts. What should one do?

Mar 31 2006
10:18 am
gardengirl writes:

I think the creative mind and the business mind are not often found in the same head. Many successful business stories start out with two people where one is the creative force and the other is the business force. Honda comes to mind. I think where you live is huge too.

Mar 31 2006
11:56 am
Matilda writes:

Setting strict boundaries about changes is a great way to handle the conflict, even better than the honourarium. Thanks, Keri!

Apr 1 2006
6:16 pm
jill writes:

Your post hits home right at the same time I struggle with similiar problems. It is a challenge to receive the true value of your worth sometimes and so disappointing when your worth may not be recognized.
Keep up the great work, I so look forward to your art and posts!

Apr 2 2006
12:01 am
Barb writes:

I can relate also. I suck with money issues. My dog clients end up becoming friends, and then I REALLY don’t want to charge. But it’s business. Then I find that few people understand the time, effort and cost involved in mosaic and sewing projects. I make fewer things for people now because of this. I freelance write, and usually for free. For me, the byline is worth gold. If you love the publication, and feel it would garner more traffic your way, I think the low wage is a wash–go for it anyway.

Apr 2 2006
7:49 am
kathryn writes:

I find it strange, as a writer, that magazines etc will be run as a business yet expect writers to publish work for free. I figure if they are getting money in, they should be sending money out.
Recently I read Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Even though they are more about the corporate world, they really opened my eyes to the fact that things I thought were MY problems are actually problems to many women – that the whole money thing is a game and most of us don’t even realise we are playing.

Apr 2 2006
8:33 am
Gatasombra writes:

You all made me smile. With relief.
I’m just trying to start working as a freelance, and I kept thinking there was some kind of “secret fee listing” so everyone knew how to ask for their works except me. I never know if I’m asking too much or if I’m underestimating my work…having near to zero real experience doesn’t help either…I’ve been doing some freelance graphic design stuff,blatantly underpaid.So I still don’t know what would be the right price to ask.
I don’t think money taints art. That’s a somewhat recent line of thought started by the mistification of the Artist, that have done more harm than good.”But you like what you are doing, you enjoy ART!And want money TOO??”My yes, of course.Working for free is kinda unhealthy.I’m sadly still in the underpaid stage, but I hope that will change.

Apr 2 2006
2:47 pm
kim hiller writes:

dear keri
i have enjoyed your blog for sometime now. your art is delightful and you are refreshingly honest and idealistic. thank you. i work as a free lance riding instructor and i constantly struggle with money and how it affects my self-worth. part of the problem is that i love my job and would do it for free and i live in a society that looks at material wealth as a measure of success. thinking about raising my rates can make me feel physically ill! but i have this friend bradley who is a talented blacksmith. he often does things for free – if the person is broke, or once he shod horses for 3 months for a woman horseshoer who was injured from a horsekick and he gave her all of the money that he made. othertimes he charges full price. othertimes he asks you to pay what you would like to. he does not seem burdened by being consistent on his decisions – each situation is different. good for you for asking for more money. i know you are worth it.
take care,
kim

Apr 2 2006
3:39 pm
James Jean writes:

Hi Keri, I sympathize with many of your points — I frequently take on jobs for love over money, and for those ever valuable “cool points.” I was little shocked to hear that factoid about the Time cover rate, since I know that Time does does pay very well for interior art, as do popular magazines like Entertainment Weekly, but you have to ask . . . to add some glow to the gloom, you might expect at least 2 – 5 times the figure you had noted for interior art, possibly more for a cover. There are very lucrative deals to be made if one has the confidence. In my limited experience, if the AD wants to work with you, they will come back with a number that works for both parties.

Apr 3 2006
4:35 am
Oaki writes:

Lordy, I love that expression “Indie”.
From music to art to anything else in between, Indie is used to translate “struggling” or “hard up for cash”.
Self worth is self respect.
If someone wishes to give their services for free then that’s a donation and this is not what you’re on about. At the end of the day you have to eat and your fee determines this.
(Word in the illustration industry is that Time is not a very work-worthy publication *smile*)
Good for you for being honest about what is often misunderstood as materialism.

Apr 4 2006
4:49 am
deeleea writes:

Wow, it’s the first time I’ve been here and your post was just what I needed to hear…
I’m a fledgling web developer/designer and I get these dilemmas all the time..
Thanks so much!

Apr 4 2006
7:11 pm
Bubba writes:

I do custom coloringbooks and charge what I think is a very reasonable price. I asked for input from the parents of a group of children that I had used as a test group. Everyone liked the idea and only one complained about the price. The complaint came from a friend who had inherited over $3M in Microsoft stock. To take a phrase from an old song “you can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself”!

Apr 5 2006
12:42 am
Sultry Painter Woman writes:

I think pricing should be totally separate from any sense of “self worth.” A fair assessment of your experience, name recognition combined with what you want to get paid should help you set your fee. I know when I was doing free lance calligraphy, the local guild published a range of quoted prices… hourly rates for some, a per-piece price for others, project prices for othes… Plus the understanding that if you’d done it for 25 years, it was reasonable to EXPECT to be paid more than someone who bought their first nib last week.
The person asking for the work wants to pay as little as possible…. that’s their job… Sometimes asking whether there are any other ways you can work together can help you both be happy.
PS: I saw your posts via drawsketch.about.com.

Apr 5 2006
2:19 am
Peter Szabo Gabor writes:

I would split my comment into 2 parts. First:
it is of many elements that artist get so low payment nowadays. There are many teens who can produce OK (not great, not good, but OK) logos, “art” (montageing from photostock) with recent computer tools. They do it for fun or for very low fee. Many “indie” satisfied with that “quality”.
Secondly: I won’t be popular here… You mentioned that $1000 for a Times cover in 1920. But be objective… What tools did an artist use then, and what do you use now? Had they got all the digital media then? The artist’s work are faster (a lot!) nowadays and much easier. Why should WE get more for less work?
The world is toward for a state when there are some (only some!) well paid artists used by the biggest companies, while the big majority gets underpaid. We have to adapt. Or give more, and change our behavior to change the situation.
So I agree with you, partially, but I heard this complaint a thousand times on many art forums, and I am sure there has to be a solution for this, I think I found mine.


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