ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I would likely be Merciless, I have a wicked temper.
We've rambled on about pricing-- now let's wrap this up.

1. Determine your relationship with the client.
I like email conversations, because I can flag the email with pertinent notes or instructions and I don't have to write a lot of stuff down.  Over the phone I can get distracted, I tend to doodle when I'm working, and worse yet I sometimes can't read my own writing.  I've recently bought a headset so I can type while I talk, so that makes it better, but email is still best.  I can read and re-read the original assignment message on my own time.

I usually have a LOT of projects going at the same time so this helps keep things from getting confused.

There are some clients that want to meet face to face-- and as long as lunch is involved I'm okay with that, but more often than not it leads to a lot of wasted time-- but I still like lunch.

One benefit of the face to face (or to a lesser extent the phone conversation) is that you can decide if you even WANT to work with this company.

When you get an assignment you are either going to be dealing with one person who is the decision maker or a panel.  A panel should equal a red flag.

Not always but sometimes.  Because decisions are based on the input of a lot of people you should anticipate a lot of revisions and this should factor into your price, or it should be included as a statement in your contract, more on that in a minute.

There's also the Gabe Kaplan equation.
A "Gabe Kaplan" is a client you don't want to work with no matter the value of the assignment.  You get a bad read, or they are so obnoxious or lack so many people skills that you know you'll be buying yourself nothing but grief and stress if you take the assignment.  It takes a big level of confidence to say no, but sometimes it's the smarter thing to do.  Trust your instincts.

"Gabe Kaplan" is a phrase we use when one of us gets a bad read on the potential client.  Sometimes we'll just say "Gabe is on line two" or something along those lines to get the rest of the group to look for potential problems.

We get the term from way back with one of our very first clients was such a pain in the neck we eventually threw him out of the studio and threatened him if he ever came back.  And he looked exactly like Gabe Kaplan on WELCOME BACK KOTTER (a show I hated so it all comes full circle).

2. Determine what your minimum price is.
How busy are you?  What bills are due?  What other projects do you have coming in?  How long will this assignment take?  Do you have a clear idea of what they are looking for or is it a foggy notion?

All of these points aide in deciding if you can move forward smoothly on this project.

You need to know your expenses-- rent, heat, food, electricity, etc.  Break it down into weekly installments and divide that figure by 40 which is the number of hours in a work-week.   That is your HOURLY expense-- that's what it costs you to sit in the Studio and stare blankly forward wondering how you're going to pay your bills.  Now multiply that X5 and that gives you your BASE HOURLY RATE.

Let's try it.  Weekly Expenses
$100 - Rent
$50   - Heat
$50   - Food
$75   - Equipment/Car
$150 - Misc
Total - $425/40 = $10.625/hour

Multiplied by 5 that comes to $53.12/Hour as your base pay.  So an illustration that would take you 10 hours would get priced at $532.12-- go ahead and round it up to $600 you deserve it.

That's the bare bones bottom dollar amount you should accept for a project taking you 10 hours.  I'd still ask the client the budget and if they come back and say $100.00 that means if you accept that price you are almost covering your bare operating costs at $10.62/hour but you aren't making any profit.

And profit is the name of the game.
Target doesn't buy and sell stuff at cost-- they would be out of business in weeks, and so will you.
You need to make yourself profitable.  A client is not only buying your ability to produce a piece, they are buying the knowledge and experience you have to ensure the piece is what they expect.  That it is delivered on time and correctly and the headaches THEY suffer are controlled.

Having the ammunition to know what those profits are gives you a good solid base to start on.
Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask me what I think of a price you're being offered.

(There's one more part-- KEEPING WORK-- but that will run in a week or two).