ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The more I think about it-- that collar might not be comfortable.
Continuing from yesterday's post...

If you want to make that jump from working days at the Dairy Queen to pay your bills, if you want to stop being the returns clerk at Wal*Mart so you can follow your dreams of being a freelancer than you need to compete with the big boys and therefore charge like the big boys.

Q: But what if no one is willing to hire me?  Isn't there some value in doing work just for my portfolio or just for myself?

A: Yes there is, but if you're going to do work for free contact a non-profit.  You will get that promised "exposure" that every one trying to get you to do work for them for nothing promises, you'll be doing a good deed and you will have work in your portfolio.

Let's go back to that VERY TRUE VERY SAD STORY I started yesterday.

I met with the editor of the publication that had hired that other illustrator who was now doing a gig that I was once paid $1500.00/USD for and they were doing it for $100/USD.

He told me that this other illustrator was a complete pain in the ass to work with, zero people skills, extreme ego all the bad things us creative types can be plagued with.  He told me that he would never work with that person again, but that he had shot himself in the foot by getting him to do the work for $100, the publisher was now only willing to pay that for ANY illustration-- which essentially ended our relationship.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I still remain good friends with this editor, who has since moved on to bigger things.  And I've still worked for this client when they are able to scrape together enough to cover my fee.

As for that illustrator-- they did a great job on the illustration-- as I said yesterday-- they are talented and believe it or not I am a fan of their work.  But that illustrator continues to have a day job that is draining, therefore keeping them in the lifestyle they hoped to escape.

And how could they not?  You can't pay bills charging $100 for an assignment, especially when the client was willing to pay $700.

But how could he know what to charge?

There are several resources.
1. The Graphic Artists Guild publishes a pricing book every year.  At the risk of them suing me, as they did with my good friend Ken Dubrowski and several other amazing artists who risked criticizing them, I don't find their price structure all that helpful.  The markets are just too different.

I call it "regional pricing"-- so let's take a good look at how that works.  It depends on the scope of your client.

Same Job but Different Client---
London/New York/Los Angeles/San Francisco -- let's assume the job pays $20K, that same exact assignment  changes its value as we change the market its based in:
Boston/Portland Or/Chicago - Job now pays $10K
Worcester/Springfield/Cleveland - Job now pays $1K
Spencer/Davenport/Riverside Ia - Job now pays a hamburger and a big thanks.

Do you see how that works?  India is another big market.  A BIG market.  Like every other industry more and more companies outsource art needs to India.  I've done art for a full color full size children's book for an Indian Company for $3K-- and I did it because I needed the money at the time, not realizing I was essentially doing the same thing that the illustrator in that sad story was doing-- killing the market for every other artist.

2. Another resource is to ask an established artist you know.
We all still talk to each other, even years in the business.  Never accept a job or offer a price on the first conversation.  Always allow yourself time to think it over.

3. APPS-- There are now apps available to help freelancers set their prices.  One is called MyPrice, it's either free or its a dollar but it allows you to put in all your essential information and then will calculate a price.  I tried it and found it undervalued a lot of work so I won't be using it but if you have trouble figuring out a price give it a try.

4. Ask the client what their budget is.
That's the number one thing I do-- and it works a good 90% of the time.  It's so much easier to decide if you want to work on something or not once you have the number in front of you.

TOMORROW:  How to Price yourself and decide if you even WANT the job.