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Thread: Prices and fees

  1. #1
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    Prices and fees

    Forgive me if this topic has been raised before, but I am interested to know how people go about deciding on what fees to charge for illustration and design work (book covers for example), and for sales of original artworks. Do you have set rates or is it always open to negotiation? What is it based on? How has it changed over the years and what are the factors?

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    In the field of book cover illustration, clients usually decide the budget, not the Artist.
    There is of course room for negotiation, but for the most part, they have set rates they offer.
    That rate varies from client to client.
    Small publishing houses may offer $1000 for a cover, a large one $4000.

    Unfortunately, the prices have NOT changes over the years.
    The budgets are pretty much the same as they were 20 years ago.
    Given inflation, it means we are actually getting less.

    Pricing original art is a personal thing, and everyone one has a different approach.
    I will however pass on one piece of valuable advice I once received...
    "Never price your work so high that you later need to reduce it's price."
    If you start your prices off low, and gradually increase them, your work becomes a desirable investment.
    If you make it too expensive, sell a few at that high rate, and then later decrease it's cost, because you are having a hard time selling stuff...
    Well, everyone who already bought it at the expensive price just lost their investment.
    ALL of your work is now worth less, not just the one you priced low.

    - Dan Dos Santos
    www.dandossantos.com
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    You may also want to take a look at the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook. It won't tell you what to charge, but it has a general range of prices people have charged for similar work.

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    If you buy the GAGH realise it's prices also haven't changed in years, so an older, possibly copy will do as well.

    Back when I was young and referred to it, the only client I ever worked for that paid their rates didn't ask for a quote, they told me their rate and that was that. Everyone who asked me my fee and got a GAG rate choked and sputtered.

    ~R

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    I don't think the GAG is very good with things like comics or non graphic design :p Still, it's there. Besides it gives a range, so you could decide to keep to the bottom end of it.

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    Thanks all. Some wise words. That blog hit the nail on the head, too, with the public presuming that artistic creativity is somehow easy, or even a predominantly enjoyable process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSillustration View Post
    Unfortunately, the prices have NOT changes over the years.
    The budgets are pretty much the same as they were 20 years ago.
    Given inflation, it means we are actually getting less.
    I wonder if this is to do with the prevalence of photography aided by Photoshop cut and paste/manipulation which is cheaper to do and the artists simply having to accept prices related to this in order to get any work at all.

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
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    And also uninformed artists who don't know the value of their own work undercutting everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    And also uninformed artists who don't know the value of their own work undercutting everyone.
    It's tricky this one isn't it? The value of something commercially is what people are prepared to pay for it. If you can't sell at one price you lower it, and if you think you can get more you raise it. I don't think anyone is being immoral in all this, unless their were unions involved. However, it is exasperating how someone who has figured out a way to paint what amounts to expensive wallpaper can charge the same prices as someone who has poured love into their work over many weeks. I think it amounts to "pay unto Ceasar what is due unto Ceasar and to God what is due unto God". In other words your work has to be its own reward when you are doing it and you have to put your commercial hat on to sell it to the highest bidder. And this will be at the mercy of public taste and their pocket.

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
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    Well there's all these other factors such as the economy and the advent of new technology, like Photoshop. There's a great amount of fear that new artists have which makes them do regrettable things. They fear a loss of jobs because of photomanipulations gaining a foothold in the book cover market, so they lower their prices, while more experienced artists who have weathered the storm have to deal with the consequences. Art directors pounce on these unexperienced artists and use that leverage to pressure the rest of the community into charging less. It's a vicious cycle.

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    I heard one theory that sounded pretty sound, that the GAG has been a detriment to the industry, and is the reason why fees have stagnated. Once it got into popular use, everyone turned to it not as a guide, but as THE prices, especially new art buyers who didn't have as much experience.

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    Photoshop does seem to be taking over, though I don't know if it necessarily makes the process any quicker, nor look any better. As it happens there are two books in front of me: 'Fantasy Art: The best in Fantasy and SF art worldwide' by Dick Jude, published ten years ago, and the similarly titled 'Fantasy Art Now: The very best in contemporary fantasy art and illustration', edited by Martin McKenna, published recently. Predictably enough the digital to traditional ratio has reversed over that time. Globalization seems to be another factor. There are artists all over the world contributing to the genre, all with websites, and publishers can easily call upon anyone they like. Pricing seems to be a real headache for a lot of people, meanwhile. Maybe it helps to have an agent to help decide that. Seems you can't lower your prices without shooting yourself in the foot as a collectable artist, while you can't keep them high without pricing yourself out what is of a buyer's market! What a game...

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