What Should I Charge For Art Commissions?

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Written by Juha

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Recently, art has changed compared to decades ago. Its accessibility has expanded tremendously. The emergence of cheaper tools and more artists has made it pretty different from the past.

Since art approachability is steadily mushrooming, people are now overlooking the artistic value. Do not undervalue yourself. Art commissioning requires your hard work and creativity for it to be recognized.

But what should you charge for art commissions?

If you are an aspiring artist with a few years of drawing experience, start with a lower charge rate, like $10/h or $30/project. When you have created art for multiple years and have done multiple commissions, a good rate is $30/h or $350/project. When you are short on time and can sustain yourself with art or by other means, you can charge $50/h or $1000/project and more.

what_should_I_charge_for_art_commissions_painting

Keep in mind that you are worth more than you think. Some artists’ self-perception always devalues their art; this should not be the case.

Note that placing a price tag on your art is different from taking your precious time to make; this is what you do after you are done creating it when it’s time for it to leave the studio.

You sell it via the gallery, art fair, open studios, online, via an agent, or sell it personally, wherever.

Making art is the creative process and experiences that come from you while pricing it about the outside world, where art is bought and sold to make money depending on the market forces.

If you intend to open commissions, scout for art, or modify the prices, there are a few things to look into:

Hire-Based Pricing

Here, time is out of the equation. One trick in hire-based pricing is that you are expected to take a long time to deliver the commission. You only work on it when you are free, not when you can make money doing something else that is of intrinsic value.

The client already knows that this art commission will take more time to finish.

The equation: $5 × (Years’ Experience) × (Difficulty Multiplier) + Materials = Commission

You take the number of years you have delivered paid commissions and multiply by a number that works well with you. The imperative bit is that it should scale with the artist in you.

what_should_I_charge_for_art_commissions_materials

Difficulty multiplier is based on how difficult the commission is and how enjoyable the gig is, which is measured within 1 and 10.

For instance, a glowing chibi can be a 2, and the multiple characters with a detailed background might be a 7. Some of you might reduce the value based on how you wish to do the art. If it’s an enjoyable piece, you take the cost of material calculation and add it all together!

Commission Price: $5 × 3 (YE) × 2 (DM) + $1.80 (M) = $31.80 (delivery within 10 days)

Now that is only a suggestion on how you could calculate your rates for art commissions. The most important thing you should remember is that price yourself high and value your skills in art.

Hourly Pricing

Hourly pricing is a simple model. The essential things that make triumphant hourly pricing are documentation, discipline, and communication.

At this point, the art commission requires great scrutiny, which usually does not foster client trust.

However, it can work well when you have data to help you plan your expenses meticulously and consistently communicate with clients.

This pricing approach is great for freelancers who work indirectly with clients, such as those who work for an agency. It is also crucial for complex technology apps and software development, whereby things don’t work out instantly; they always go wrong.

Unless you want to remain freelance, this isn’t a long-term project for most art people. You become valuable by only increasing your rates.

Notably, hourly pricing is the best option if:

  • You have a regular client who you work for on similar projects.
  • The work deliverables are not clear.
  • Project scope is severally altered when you meet up with a client.
  • You are doing sophisticated, complex technical work.

Here are some of the easy ways to figure out the hourly rate:

For the minimum rate, it is advisable to have an amount of money that you wish to make on art commissions to cater to all your expenses monthly and double it.

It helps account for expenses such as taxes, holidays, sick days, replacing equipment, etc.

Then, divide that by the number of hours that you can work within a month. It might be a maximum of 100 hours in a month.

what_should_I_charge_for_art_commissions_example_painting

It has been tested that more than 100 hours per month can be unsustainable and ineffective.

For instance, if you end up with $10 per hour and work on a full-time basis, you can make up to $1000 per month from art commissions (10 x 100), then double (x 2) it to $2000, and you divide that by 100 hours into a minimum rate of $20 in an hour.

This is now the minimum hourly rate – the amount that you are supposed to charge to survive. Charging less than that will end up biting you, and you get to struggle.

New freelancers can earn a minimum of $10 per hour. Regardless of where they are from or level of experience, if you have great art, it’s recommendable to charge a minimum rate of $10 per hour.

Some artists will charge less than $10 per hour because they are filled with fear of charging even more. You should know that you could earn more than that if you overcome fear.

It is advisable to take jobs that can charge this minimum rate or better. Some people can manipulate you to charge less than the bare minimum hourly rate.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, clients, strangers, or other artists, ignore and move on.

The main thing with hourly-rate is that the monthly expenses you have are covered by the work you do in a given month. There are only so many hours in a month, and pricing yourself too low will only hurt you.

Skill-Based Pricing

Every art commission is pretty decent worthy, regardless of your background. The time you will spend drawing a sketch or refining your craft matters a lot.

It means that you are using your time and resources to create something unique with your signature creativity. Note that you always have value.

Every artist who has done art commissions knows that art and drawing take a lot of effort and time. Those two are the greatest factors you should consider when evaluating and pricing your artwork.

In the United States, you realize that the minimum amount is $7.25. It means that it’s the bare minimum that you legally get paid if you are employed. Similar to fast-food payments.

For instance, if you take about 3 hours to sketch a creative for a client, the minimum wage is:

3 hours * 7.25 = $22 for a 3-hour art. Good right?

It would be best if you understood that art requires a special skill. While you all can learn artistry, it requires patience, time, and effort, and notes that people have different showcasing styles.

It is a unique skill set to every person, thus making it valuable. Therefore, something unique should be worth more than the minimum wage.

We are assuming that if you raise the bars to per/hour a bit to say, 10$/hr. That 3-hour art is now around $30. This can be so appreciative; now we are heading somewhere.

For an artist, this means that you should estimate the number of hours an artistic process will take you to finish. Mostly, an entire art filled with color and a single character takes around 5-7 hours.

Here, the minimum wage:

5-7 hours * 7.25$ = $36.25 – $50.75

It, however, depends on your skill, not a bad place to start. If you work, let’s say 10$/hr:

5-7 hours * 10$hr = $50-$70 art commission.

Now, when you become more and more skilled, you will at the same time start to appreciate the creativity in you and the work that you put into your art.

When this happens, just up the price considerably, and while some clients might refuse to pay for your skills the amount that you feel you deserve. Remember that these clients are not worth your time.

Project-based pricing

It is also known as ‘flat-fee’ pricing that is easy, simple, and the most common model used in tandem with the hourly model. Before a project is initiated, the quote and project requirements are locked.

What matters is the efficiency and reliability in work. This kind of model will require a substantial and elaborate agreement for a fair result between the service provider and client.

Each intricate aspect that concerns the artwork is included in that agreement for the sake of great results for the two parties.

For milestone-based pricing, this is done when you achieve a certain milestone and part of the payment is given.

In this case, when a client asks about a specific art that they need, you tell them the price upfront, regardless of the cost and time involved. If the cost is $10,000, you will charge them $10,000 without giving it a second thought.

Unfortunately, this method underestimates the amount of effort and time required to execute the project.

Suppose you experience unexpected challenges or excessive changes. It can either lead to a loss or request a cost increase, which is awkward and unprofessional.

Project-based pricing is profitable if you do get regular clients who provide similar work routinely. You can still cut costs and increase your profits via this type of pricing. It’s best if you are estimating time, which is a bit hard for most artists.

This approach can be beneficial if:

  • The customers ask about the cost up-front
  • You can execute the projects faster than your client’s estimate

Related article: How To Do Art Commissions Profitably

Summary

The primary thing is to separate emotions from the pricing. All you need to do is have confidence while telling the cost of your art commission.

No two clients or projects are similar; therefore, use the right approach to price your work. You will only get profitability if you have control of the pricing strategy.

The earlier you get to know the art market, how it works, and where your artwork fits, among others by all artists, the better place you are to price your art and put it up for sale.

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

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