View Full Version : Really need help on what to charge please...

05-22-2006, 05:53 AM
Hi all,

i have not been posting here lately because i was busy enhancing my drawing skills but now something happened that makes me appeal for your help.

A lady from the UK approached me and asked if i would like to do the paintings for a book she wants to produce to go along with a set of language learning tapes for children.

She sent me a detailed outline regarding what needs to be shown in any picture and wants me (of course) to tell her what i would charge for the work.

As i never never have sold any art i do not have the slightest idea what i could ask for one painting (and there would be 18 ... :eek: OMG....) She wants me to do pencil sketches first and asked me to tell her what i would charge for one first sketch (pencil sketch only) for her to see and decide if the thing i do would be suitable. I was thinking it would be far easier to do the sketches with corel painter (software and graphic tablet) and sent to her via email rather then make a sketch on paper and snail mail that. I already wrote to her and asked her if that would be helpful or if she wanted to have a real "sheet of paper" but i do not have a reply yet. It is only meant to give an impression of what i think i could come up with on the subject matter.

The final format for each painting would be 594 x 210 mm (which equals two pieces of A4 paper next to each other, landscape format) and would be done in either acrylics on masonite/hardboard or corel painter (we have not decided on that yet)

Now please please please... can you give me any idea what YOU would charge for such a work? ( a) the starter sketch to show her b) one ready full color painting ) I was thinking i could charge a bit less for each as there are to be 18 in the end, (something like "pay 9 get the other 9 for 3/4 or 1/2 prize", if you understand what i mean)

Thank you all for your insight and input in advance.

greetings from a very clueless, thoughtfull and a bit frightened

05-22-2006, 06:52 AM
This sounds more like a question for the illustration forum. I have no experience with illustration but I wouldn't give my work away for half price no matter how many pictures I was asked to do. I see that as selling yourself too cheaply, as well may your client and may look slightly un-proffessional on your part? Good luck Morgana, I've seen your work and it's worth every penny you charge!


05-22-2006, 07:16 AM
You may wish to get a book titled Licensing Art 101. In the case of a book it might be better to license your work rather than sell it. That way you don't give up your rights to the originals. You may also need to hire a lawyer that specializes in the art licensing arena.

It may also depend on how you think the books will publish and sell.

I sold one artwork for a book to a writer but it was a book that I didn't feel would go anywhere. I sold the print rights but nothing more than that. I got a good penny for the effort but the book went nowhere and it was better for me to get the monies up front than on a licensing deal.

So, it depends on how you are going to approach this.

I think I understand your idea of diminishing fees but what is your thought behind this concept. Does your plumber drop his rate because you have two sinks worked on rather than one? discounting your work diminishes the value of all your work. I would think about that one long and hard. Everything I have ever read on pricing art suggests that discounting is something that will come back and haunt you eventually. It is very tempting to think along those lines but I would proceed with caution and do a bunch more research on pricing before considering discounting and i would certainly not consider 50%, 25% seems high. I just don't feel it is a good idea unless you are really being pressed. You might want to consider a package price rather than a individual price with a contract stipulating X number of works for X price. Something else to think about is that if these books take off and you haven't covered yourself with a good contract do you think the author or publisher will come back to you and hand you more money because your artwork contributed to the success of that book. I doubt that would ever happen. So price fairly but at a rate you can live with later on without regret. But that is MHO.

Of course this is just my humble opinion and of questionable value.

05-22-2006, 09:15 AM
Thank you both for the insights on discounting.... yes you are right.... i have not thought properly about that.

Thank you Howard for pointing me in the direction of thinking about licensing. I should have thought about that myself as i worked in a advertising agency for quite a long time and we only sold licence to the customer in any case.

Getting an lawyer involved is really out of the question at this moment. I am on a very very low budget and can at no rate afford to spent money up front to ask an lawyers advise. I will have to see if i can get the book mentioned via amazon, but i am afraid i do not have time to wait 14 days for the delivery the lady is waiting for me to tell her what she would have to pay for my work.

As this is the first time ever someone showed interest in acutally buying some of my art i am really clueless about how much. I estimated that i would need around 20 - 25 h to complete one painting but what would i take for one h of work? It is really really hard to decide. Calculating the material costs is easy enough but i guess i am not sure about what my time is worth... *grin* I will go looking around at the two local galleries for the prizes they charge for paintings with an equal amount of square inches to get an idea of what art generally costs over here, but i do feel i can not charge as much as the gallery owners do because they add to the fee the artist gets.... so many questions so little answers.

Direct question: how much do you actually charge for one h of painting work?


PS: a thought occured to me... i could ask the materialcost up front (after i sent in the sketch and it is accepted) and the prize for the actuall work when it is completed, and if i only sold them the licence to print it, i could always sell the painting itself to someone who likes to have it... what do you think about that idea? In Germany, if not stated explicitly otherwise, the copyright always stays with the autor at any case. So if i sold them the licence to print and someone else bought the painting i would still own the copyright (even if the painting is gone to hang in someones livingroom)... but what about selling abroad?

05-22-2006, 11:43 AM
There's also the problem of sending sketches/ideas either snail or e-mail, there's nothing stopping the other party from adapting the idea to their own.
It's mentioned time and again in the decoritive area that a muralist should never leave a sketch with a prospective customer

05-22-2006, 12:35 PM
Please find an attorney...especially for the first time selling. You need to get everything in writing, worded just right, to protect yourself. Sometimes doing things on the cheap turns out more expensive later. Might be able to Google it and find one that will fit your budget.

The purchaser may have already sensed that you are new to selling and may be counting on that to get a very bargain basement deal for your good work.

05-23-2006, 08:08 AM
thanks for your input. I do not mind sending her one paid sketch up first. If she does take it to make another one do the job... well there are 20 to be done and i got paid for the sketch. So the other one will have to come up with 19 ideas of his own to fit my style (that would be rather hard to do i think).

Thank you very much for your concern, you are right, i will need to get everything in writing, but from the advertising agency i know something about setting up contracts and i think i can manage if i know what i want. If i spent 200 Euro on an attorney (and that is a price that is pretty low for germany) my family would have to starve for a month. If i say i am on a low budget i mean it. I just only manage to live from month to month. I promise to be careful setting up the contract and ask for not refundable prepayment to cover the material costs up front and all that stuff. I also will ask for payment after every done piece because i do not know if this project, which is huge will ever be finished. See i am reasonable but at no means i can afford to spent money on a lawyer, it is simply impossible.