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How much is that? And a full moon coloring page

How do you price your artwork?

Deciding on a fair price for your art is one of the most difficult parts of being a creative. I’ve struggled with it for most of my professional career.

The problem is there isn’t any place one can find out what a fair price is. Or what the going rate for the type of art you are pricing might be. There is a pricing guide put out by the Graphic Artist Guild, but sadly, the pricing in that book is really only good if you live in the big cities on the coasts. If you live in a small town or in another city in the country, the prices are way off. I used to get the guide, but the pricing in it was almost worthless to me. There are other parts of the book that might be helpful to someone new to the design industry, but I rarely pick up my copy when putting together a quote.

I think the most misunderstood part of producing artwork, both by those buying it as well as those selling it, is what, exactly you are charging for.

Fine artist sell an actual physical piece of art, most often in a frame and represented by a gallery. As illustrators, we are not selling a physical piece of art, we are selling the rights for our clients to use the art in their ads, posters, maps, books, videos, magazines, T-shirts, fabrics or whatever printed (or electronic versions) publication or product they are selling.

Your pricing should be based on the reach of the company, how big a product run they plan, how many years they will hold the reproduction rights, their subscription base or how many places your image will be shown.

So a mom & pop place who commissions you to make an image for their monthly newsletter is buying smaller rights usage than a Fortune 500 company would for their newsletter going out to several thousands of subscribers. And there are small and medium companies of all sizes between the two.

Another factor an artist needs to take into account is their experience in the industry, as an artist, and in the development for the art as specific to its use. A small poster would have a different cost basis than a cell phone or laptop skin.

No wonder putting a price on your art is so difficult.

I wish I had a magic formula for you. I could probably make a living selling such a thing, but alas, there isn’t one. At least not that I’m aware of.

The first thing I do when I get a new client is find out what they have budgeted for the project. I also ask what rights they want, more usage rights will cost more money. I also find out if they are a licensing company and whether they have a standard contract. Many smaller clients have no answer for any of these questions. Expect this, also expect that many of these types of business want art for cut-rate pricing. Don’t try to fit your pricing into a budget where you end up feeling taken advantage of. You know how long it takes you to create a specific kind of art (and if you don’t, start tracking your working hours so you do) and your utilities and food bills won’t be less because you charge less than a fair fee for your work. Remember, you are a professional. Clients come to you because you are good at what you do. This is your job. Charge a reasonable rate, both for you as the provider of a service, and for the end-user, your client.


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