1. What are you offering (in terms of artistic mediums)?
If you're shipping out the original of something it should be more expensive than a digital version of the same thing.
Things on canvas, sculpture, jewelry etc. are more '3 dimensional' and the materials often cost more than a digital painting or sketch. I see a greater trend towards digital works, like character sheets, sketches, stamps, avatars etc. These things are cheaper because there is a high demand for something so small, personal and relatively easy to create. The ease of creating artwork via technology is incredible, but it also increases competition because so many people have access to these materials.
2. What are you offering (in terms of skill/style)?
To use one example, there are thousands of people who can draw wolves out there so if you're trying to sell yourself as a wolf artist, youd better be bringing something new to the table.
OR, if youre drawing something many other people also draw, take a look at how much theyre charging! Browse through some artists to get a sense for how much single character sketches, sculptures, tribal tattoos etc. are being charged these days. Consider how your styles differ from theirs, and where your niche might be.
3. Who is your audience (the 'popularity game' and so on)?
Fortunately and unfortunately, there are definitely artists on DA (and other sites) that have their names up above those of others. Whether they're actually the best at what they do, or if theyve just built a name for themselves over 7 years... It doesn't matter because they can reach a wider audience than the average artist can. These people can charge more for that drawing of theirs because they are so popular and because their art is in such high demand. Truth.
Similarly, and I dont mean anything against deviantart But it is important to consider the audience of the SITE that you use AND what the audience YOUR ART caters to. Deviant art hosts an amazingly diverse community of artists, but it is clear that certain subject matters dominate others. On the flipside, what I love about DA is that diversity of people. Im just saying there are other ways to market your work out there, and sites that may be more specialized/tailored to your needs.
4. How much $$$ do you spend on supplies?
I don't have much experience on this because I typically use the old paper and graphite. But especially if you have to buy special materials such as clay, canvas, copic markers The cost of a commission should make up for what you spent to make it, PLUS the time you spent
5. How much time do you spend? (***In my opinion the most important one. Time is money.)
There are many ways to approach this one.
Flat fees - You could figure out how long it takes to, say, paint a picture. You can then decide how much you want to charge per hour. So if you want to earn $10/hr, and you take 5 hours to create a standard painting, you might want to charge $50 + cost of supplies.
Again, you can also compare against what other artists are charging for a similar style/art medium.
So for flat fees you take into account ROUGHLY how much time you spend on a certain type of art, then charge the same across the board. The pros and cons are, you naturally spend more time on some commission and less on others, so in some instances you will make more money for your time and in some instances less. But it should all balance out in the end.
Hourly - If you look at people who design logos, game characters, etc. for a LIVING, a lot of times they literally charge by the hour and the client needs to be willing to dish out, say, $50/ ?? hours in the end. Sort of like a blank check but not. (of course, there are other policies they employ as well). Unless youre VERY serious about doing art for commissions, I imagine it would be hard for a client to trust the artist to report # of hours spent on a commission through DA.
If you charge hourly, you have to clock in and out every time you work on a commission, as if it was your job. The plus side is you get paid for every minute youre spending.
For those who care, I have a flat fee but I charge more for complexity. MY flat fee was determined by how fast I can whip out designs, how much other tattoo artists charge, and how many commissions I generally receive. For additional characters, more complex stuff etc I have no rate, just how much I feel the extra time is worth.
6. If you already receive commissions, how long is your waitlist?
Lets say your commission slots are virtually always full. Fill one order, slap another one on the list. Unless you feel obliged to take every single commission that comes your way, you might want to consider raising your prices. There is a fine balance between raising them too high and losing all your customers, and putting them too low and being overwhelmed by them. The sweet spot is where youre getting a fair price, higher than the average if youre work is THAT popular, but your commission slots are not brimming over the edges.
Or maybe you love what you do so much youll keep the price the same and take every commission that comes your way
Lets say you receive virtually no commissions. You might want to drop the price. But if its already very low, there is a point where youre selling yourself out. I would never charge $1 for anything more than a stick figure. But there is no right or wrong here. If youre not getting commissions and youd really like to, Im afraid this is not the article for that.
7. How do you receive your payment?
For large scale projects, some artists ask their clients to pay a fraction of the total first, then the rest when the piece is done. I havent ever used this method. But it makes sense because it forces the client to commit before starting something that might take weeks.
Some artists (like myself) charge nothing for drafts, but expect full payment before they start the actual project.
Some artists follow the pay first, talk later policy.
Either way, this is more of an insurance thing rather than a pricing thing. Make sure youre not being scammed.
Also, the age old paypal vs money order Money orders require you to release your name and address. The client has to walk to a place that sells them (post office, grocery stores, etc.) and pay a small fee. It works like a check, which also means you have to wait to receive it in the mail. Paypal charges the recipient a %fee, as far as I know it. But I prefer paypal because it is instantaneous and no-fuss.
8. How do you handle extras? (extra characters, new ideas, added complexity, larger scale, special materials, etc.)
If you take on a commission that has more than what you usually do, or is a concept you havent worked with before, it will take more time and effort. This sort of ties into #5. But some people charge a flat fee for things like extra characters in one picture, or if the client requests a special kind of paint. As I said, I personally just eyeball it. Just something to consider.
9. How do you handle revisions?
This is more relevant for certain mediums over others. I do potential-tattoo designs, so it is essential to me that the design is what my client wants. I work it into my policy (drafts first, then payment, then final) so that I avoid revisions of the final piece. But if I had to make a major change, I would charge what I feel is worth my time to do so. Again, something to consider.
10. How will you let others use your art?
TRICKY. More applicable for some forms of art over others. I run into this issue all the time because I do designs more than just drawings. This bleeds into the issue of art theft and all that, so I wont say much. But here are two personal anecdotes:
I design a lot of tribals that people sometimes want to use on forums, spray on their cars, or even have tattooed on their bodies. Back in the day I did a lot of designs for fun and I do not charge for PERSONAL use. I know there are some artists who are touchier about their work and do not want it used anywhere, for anything. Would it be worth charging a usage fee? Maybe. But despite watermarks, copyrights and all that jazz, consider how many people would actually pay you to use a picture of yours before posting it on their blog or something. I let people use my non-commission art for any PERSONAL use because:
a. I probably wouldnt make money off of charging people
b. I would be spending more time hunting people down for using my art without permission
c. Its free advertising. (note: claiming you designed it is not personal use, you scumbag).
HOWEVER. One day I got an email from a person who works for a wolf rescue organization. That person wanted to print one of my designs on t-shirts and sell to the public. This would be for COMMERCIAL use and Id be pretty bummed if people were out there making money off of my stuff and I wasnt. I had two options:
a. Royalties. In which I get a small percentage for every tshirt sold. I opted out of this option because I dont want to have to keep track of their records, how many shirts were sold every quarter, then keep track of where theyre sending the check (Im seldom in one place for too long). This is a personal choice I made, based on my motives for letting them use my design (which was certainly not to get rich), and my lifestyle.
b. Flat fee. I ended up saying I prefer if they paid me a one-time fee to use my design on any tshirt, mug or accessory they wished. Whereas I would normally charge $50 as per my usual design commissions, I charged something WAYYYYY more than that (still negotiating, which is why I dont have numbers). What mattered to me was I would get paid a reasonable amount, then not have to think about it ever again.