That was my first thought as well, learn to be wary of who you get your information from. A guy once told me that I should stop drawing characters and focus on environments because that's where the jobs are...but the guy telling me this works at Staples...whether he's right or wrong, he's in no possition to be giving me career advice. If the people saying you're overpaying aren't full time artists themselves then they probably don't know what they are talking about.
Hey man! What have you got against Staples!!! They're professionals! Didn't you read their "That Was Easy" slogan?!? That's proof!
Seriously though I see your point. Someone not in the field giving you career advice is rude. Then again, maybe its all about presentation. Not eveyone who gives advice are totally ignorant of your field even if they not in the field. Unless they stand behind the "That Was Easy" slogan.
The problem I have isn't knowing what I'm worth but getting people to want to pay those prices... So many people get turned away even after I try to be flexible. It's very discouraging. Just to make resume material sometimes I have to take my prices down to a ridiculous level.
It's not fair the clients think its so easy. They are also content with crappy work so they will just screw the better artists and find someone in highschool or college that they can trick for free. It's awful.
I have yet to find a solid way around this problem and only after my 4th straight year of freelancing have I come to a few clients willing to pay me what I'm barely worth.
Good guide though, great resources. Only problem with GAG handbooks are that they are re released often and I can't always afford the updates. It's a good place to start no matter which one you use but I just hate feeling out of the current loop of prices.
Azuma, your work is quite good, it might be time for you to move to bigger clients who are more accustomed to working with pros and to the prices pros charge. There is a category of clients who don't really know better but when you start working with corporate clients, money becomes a secondary question to deadlines and quality. I had barely started to scratch the field of corporate clients before going into full time employment so I'm afraid I don't have more specific advise, but your stuff is of a caliber that could interest clients with the budget to hire you. Hint: you might find some here, but it's better to contact them directly.
Very kind of you to say so..! And thank you for your response. I definitely believe that bigger clients who have already worked with committed artists would understand such things but only now have I been able to actually start looking into studio work of some kind. That's the real goal right there.
I'll definitely be trying to find some close-contact venues such as direct email addresses or phone numbers to score an interview. Freelancing is an unsteady road for sure but it'd be nice to do on the side of something more... salary-oriented.
Thanks very much again for your advice and feedback.
You have to get in the habit of asking what the budget is for the job.
Don't be shy, or people will take advantage of you.
You have to have a price for what your hourly rate is otherwise you have no business taking work from anyone. Concept art ranges from 5 bucks an hour to a couple of hundred an hour and more. So it doesn't matter what any one else gets. If they want you they have a budget, you have a price- ask questions.
As for a contract most companies want exclusive rights to your work or work for hire so ask for the right to show it in your portfolio. Ask for their contract and NDA. Lay out how many rounds of changes are free after the initial pass is accepted. How often you get payed if it is a big job. I just finished two jobs that took about four months so I got paid every month. Create an invoice with your name, social or tax id number address
Keep track of your hours and bill with descriptions for the work
DATE: JULY 14, 2010
Big Megabuck Games
Final pass on Interface Buttons for main screen and view 55 hours
Additional Buttons and final pass on all requested interface artwork 12 hours
Additional assets and fixes on main view rooms 93 hours
@ XX per Hour
Make all checks payable to Your Name
Payment is due within 30 days.
If you have any questions concerning this invoice, contact your name your phone
Yep, and that invoice thing dpaint posted, make it look good and turn it into a template, and make a similar quote template, always use them. You will save time and having a good attractive and consistent way to contact your clients looks professional.
If you don't have it already, you should really get yourself a copy of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines.
It has pricing examples for almost everything, which is a great help in getting an idea of what rates people will expect for different kinds of work. It also has all kinds of sample contracts and other useful docs. Get the latest edition (12th edition, I think.)
Everything dpaint said is great advice, too. A couple of addendums:
You might have a different hourly rate for different kinds of work, if you feel that's appropriate for you - or a higher rate for rush jobs.
In a large job, the client might be more comfortable with milestone-based payments rather than weekly or monthly payments, depending on the client and the job. For instance, X% on delivery of sketches, Y% on delivery of finals (that's a simplistic example, but you get the idea.) Discuss and negotiate with the client.
When figuring out your price, try to estimate how many hours it'll take you to do the whole job and multiply by your hourly rate. Include possible revisions in your estimate (estimate how much time it'll take you to do one round of revisions, and multiply by the number of rounds of revisions you intend to propose. If it comes out high, cut as many rounds as you can get away with until it's within budget. Propose the final result to the client. i.e., "I can do X rounds of revisions for Y price.") If the amount of time you think it'll take you to do the work is very tight given the timeline for the job, consider charging rush rates.
If the amount of time you think it'll take you to do the work is significantly more than the timeline for the job, that's where it gets sticky. You might have to negotiate some compromises with the client - explain that they're asking for more than can be finished in the given time, and either get an extension to the deadline or find a way to reduce the work. How this is done will depend on the job - you might have to cut down the number of allowable revisions to a bare minimum; or the number of sketches you will show per round; or features might have to be trimmed; etc. Or it may mean the work needs to be split among more people.
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Anyone have some general advice on reuse fees? I mainly work on children's book/magazine illustrations for smallish publishers etc but am wondering if there is any normal percentage? So far info on this seems really hard to come by but I've had a few fellow illustrators say around 25% is fair.
Typically I've just got into my first reuse situation where I'm being offered 10% but before I get in a huff or start feeling I'm being undervalued - I'd love to hear from anyone with more knowledge on this kinda thing?
Thanks in advance!
Last edited by The7Artist7; September 22nd, 2010 at 11:53 AM.
Thanks for all this information, it's very helpful. I just have a few questions.
How would you go about explaining the costs to you're client. As the artist you get and hourly rate, plus materials, other expenses, maybe a rush fee. So, would you go out and tell the client, I charge $10 and hour in addition to $200 (I'm just throwing numbers out there). Or would you settle that the cost will be around $600?
And how would you make an approximation, which is subject to change, without looking like a shyster? Like I estimate the cost at $600 but it turns out to be $800 instead? How do I come across that the estimate is and estimate, based on budget, but is subject to change?
Love means never having to say "you're a special snowflake."
Another thing I've read is that it helps to have a quote buffer. Figure out at minimum what it would cost (what your time's worth), then mark up by a percentage (about 10-20%). This is normally done when a project needs a flat fixed rate and is useful because:
1) A lot of artists undervalue themselves, so a "markup" just really puts them in the range they're worth
2) On a flat fixed rate, a markup can help buffer against unforeseen circumstance
Alternatively, having a contract that is strict in saying "for this price you are getting exactly this, and anything else will cost ____ more" is another way to go.
Hmmm I'm probably close to the bottom of the pond as far as employers go. I'm not representing a game studio, I just have a personal project that I Just Want To Finish, I have a figure in my head of how much I want to spend on it and I'm really hoping this is enough to get the art I need. For some odd reason, on irc I was asking about how people go employing artists and I got called offensive to artists for simply wanting to hire an artist to do a specific, highly-specced job for cash. I've employed artists before for small jobs but never anything near the scope of what I want now. I think I fall into the category of 'eccentric designer with too much spare money'. The person who was calling me offensive seemed to be of the notion that artists absolutely have to be involved in the development of a game or it just won't work out. I disagree with this, I personally think I can tell someone to draw me a picture of <something that I provide a rough sketch and a written description of> without requiring 'involvement'.
Anyway, as far as pay goes this still puts me above people who want to offer shares in a game that may never get completed, or want to pay $5 a pop for art that takes several hours. I'm seriously hoping the people who I end up employing have done this before >.<