As a comic artist you build up a repertoire of marketable skills that people would like a piece of. When you need a bit of money you're able to offer your services, which is very useful! Sometimes people will look at your work and just offer you money to do art for them out of the blue, fantastic! But it's not really quite that easy…
You have to deal with clients
Clients run the gamut from wonderful people who will become your friends, all the way to bastards and scammers.
Some people are willing to pay a fair price for your hard work but you'll find that the majority are out for a bargain, some are even out for free work. BEWARE the dreaded “exposure”. Unless the person or brand is hugely famous and popular AND your name will be prominently advertised alongside the work, “exposure” is worthless. NEVER fall for it, it's a cheap, deliberate tactic to get a freebie.
Some clients will use other tactics to get you to knock down your price like: “Oh, I can get this quality work cheaper from that person over there.” To which your response should be: “Well why don't you just go and DO that then?”.
The other big issue is “changes”. Clients often imagine that any changes to a finished design should be totally free, regardless of how much work that will take you. Do not fall into this trap! Changes often take more time and work than the original piece. Changes should be charged for. And if possible you should get them money before you do them. More on that later…
So how do you go about it?
The best process I've found is to find out exactly what the client wants and then quote a price before you begin. When they agree to that then you can get to work providing them with a range of rough designs. Provide them with low resolution images of your ROUGH work and get them to pick one. You can further alter the designs to their suggestion till you get it right but DO NOT start any real work yet.
Once they've agreed to a design then they must pay you. Don't work before you are paid or you may never be. Many, many artists find out that the hard way. Almost all do. Even for trusted clients this is important. ;)
Do the work and come up with a finished piece in the agreed upon formats. Don't take too long about it, this is work that someone paid you to do! Provide them with high resolution examples. Sign it but do not watermark it or any other dickish behaviour, it's their work now because they commissioned and paid for it!
But what if they ask for changes?
This is where trouble can start. In the initial stages of the commission you can agree to unlimited changes if you like, as long as you factor that into the cost (it should cost a lot more). But mostly the standard practise is to offer about 2 changes for free, as long as they don't take too much work. After that changes cost money. If you haven't agreed on a standard amount before you started then quote them on a case by case basis and get the cash before you work.
Good communication is key! If your client and you communicate well at the beginning then there should be no need for too many changes at the end. If your client can't communicate well then that's a good sign not to take the job at all. If you can't understand each other or they take ages to get back to you or they're far too vague etc then things probably won't work out so don't bother, no matter how much you need the money.
If you're a female artist and the client is being too sexual in their communication then drop them. It isn't just you, they're doing that deliberately and it will get worse. Doesn't matter how much you need the money, if it's not something you're comfortable with then don't put up with it. This happens to men too of course but not as much, and it's the same story: just back out. This isn't prostitution, although sometimes you feel it is, art is what's on the table, nothing else.
When you're doing the job, give them constant updates. Be verbose, be accurate, be descriptive. You want to avoid misunderstandings, it will save a lot of time and money.
But WHAT to charge? There is no easy answer to this. You don't want to scare off your clients, but you still have to change what your time and effort is worth. You also don't want to undervalue the work of other artists and devalue the market as a whole. Do a Google search and find out what others are charging. Look in forums, Deviant art, FAQs, price lists…
If your cost of living is low and you have a lot of free time then you can afford to charge less. If you are super busy and your cost of living is expensive then you should charge more in order to make it worth your while.
The more experienced and skilled you are also means you should charge more, and vice-versa. Your materials and time should be factored into your costs as well as a decent profit. Compare it to any other job: is your time and skill worth $10 and hour? $20, $40, $100? You decide, estimate the time it will take and quote accordingly. If you charge a flat rate for a certain thing ($50 for a small drawing), then make sure you don't work on it for more than it's worth.
Artists are like athletes in that if you're really good at one thing then you'll usually find that you can do other things just as well: like a sports person can do great at multiple sports, an artist should be able to handle multiple media and styles. Be aware of that! Stay adaptable and stay loose, you'll be a lot more marketable that way. Don't be afraid to try new things and different media. If you're digital artist then drawing and painting really shouldn't be an issue, and the other way around. There are various technical challenges that are specific to each medium but they're easy to learn if you're dedicated. Drawing in ink, painting in watercolour, oils, acrylics, spray-paint, charcoal, sculpture, printmaking, sewing, whatever, there's no difference. Your brain handles them the same. Just learn the technical tricks, limitations, and advantages of each medium.
On the same note though don't be afraid to tell a client that it's just not your thing. If taking on a new material or style is too difficult for you or will take too much time then be honest and let them know. I can't do manga for example.
So that's my advice on commissions
Do YOU have any advice? Please offer it!
If you have any horror stories or funny stories about clients I'd love to know ^_^
Have you been on the other end and paid an artist? If so what's your advice to both parties?
We're still interested in scripts… http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2017/nov/16/turn-your-comics-into-movie-scripts/
ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Nov. 24, 2017
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