Commission Work Questions from a University Student

  • How’s it going everyone!

    I’m currently a student going for a BA in Communication Arts. Over the summer before my sophomore year I’m going to be doing commission work to make an income. Through reddit I’ve secured a few jobs that I’ve been delivering on or have in my docket. I have a fairly strong background in project management so the time management aspects haven’t been so much of an issue. While it’s going well I just had a couple of questions I was hoping this community of artists could help me with to maximize my work.

    I’ll include a couple examples of my commission stuff here, but you can also see more of my stuff on Instagram @DomVArt





    Some questions:

    • I’ve been charging 20 dollars for a bust and 35 for full body pieces. I’ve been playing with pricing a bit and I’m not quite sure what I should value my work at. I’d love anyone’s thoughts on this.
    • reddit has been great for commissions so far, what are some good subreddits you have found? What are some other places I should go to for commission work?
    • if anyone has any feedback on my work in general I’d love to hear it! Getting to the point with my work where I really value a critique!

    Sorry I know this is a lot but I’d really appreciate any information you guys are able to share!k

  • Hello, where are you from? How long does it take you to create these illustrations? I base my rates on hourly work. I am not much experienced myself, but I can tell you that 20$ is much too low for what Ive seen in this post. Ive been using Upwork for a year now and I am very happy with it. Check it out!

  • Your work looks awesome and to echo whats been said by aska 20 dollars is very low, in my opinion, for this work. I'm also curious to see how long you would spend on spend on a 20 - 35 dollar piece.

    I was on facebook recently and found groups for commissions but very quickly opted out of these groups as the commissions being requested were 10 - 20 dollars and Artist's were advertising their prices very similarly. personally I didn't think it was worth the time.

  • This post is deleted!

  • @aska Heya heya! The busts take me about 5 hours whereas a full body is typically 6-8 depending. I’m currently a student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. The minimum wage here is $7.25/hour. Based off of the quality you see here and your experience what do you think I should be charging? Also I’ll definitely check out UpWork thank you!

  • @Phil-Cullen

    Heya Heya! The busts take me about 5 hours whereas a bust is closer to 6-7. I’ve definitely run into seeing lots of people grossly undercharging for their work imo so I’m really not sure what a fair rate would be haha

  • Moderator

    @dvizdos Steve Nickel is an artist who draws commissioned characters for D&D on Twitch. He charges several hundred depending on whether it's fully rendered or spot color or a pencil drawing. Regardless of hours. He knows enough about his skill level to know approximately how long an image will take at different stages.

    Perhaps instead of thinking about how much time you're spending on an image, you might consider pricing them depending on how much depth and detail you're putting in? That's how Steve does it. Several artists on DeviantArt price their drawings depending on whether it's a full pose or a bust or whatever, but really that's just a way of dictating how much detail goes into the piece. Maybe pricing by style, not by "pose" or hourly, might be a good way to approach your work? Because it's obvious a lot of time goes into your pieces--you're probably shorting yourself, maybe?

  • SVS OG

    I agree with everyone. Your work is pretty strong. Don’t price out your market, but an increase is needed! It looks great. See what you can find with people who are doing your same quality of work. Hopefully there are some making money pricing it higher. $40 for sure. Maybe more. Who is buying your work? What isntheir budget? And can you resale your work? Or are they ones that are specific. If you can continue to make money on pieces you’ve done, that is a great thing. Sell your fan art for cheaper and commissions for a higher price.

  • @dvizdos I would agree with @Coreyartus about not thinking about basing the price on the time and not charging hourly because over time you may get quicker and that doesn't mean charging less. However I would just use it to measure, to see how much you would be making and if you are happy with that. For instance 20 dollars for 5 hours is 4 dollars per hour.

    I generally use an hourly rate or daily rate to estimate my quotes just to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot and earning way less than minimum wage.

    Illustration is a skilled area and I feel the price quoted should reflect the quality of the work, that being said if the work is of a professional standard I do believe it should not be priced so low that if you calculate the hours, you are making less than minimum wage. There are times were I have done the exact opposite to my own advice and done commissions for a very low figure, but always in those instances I asked myself one question, am I benefiting in some other way. Like I got 150 dollars for doing an image that was essentially a portfolio piece and I was able to sell as prints. So it had more value to me than just the initial commission price.

    Hope that helps a bit.

  • @dvizdos All I can tell you is that I am self taught and illustrating for 2 years only (I've been finance analyst before), so my work is way less profesional than yours. Being new on Upwork, for few months I had a few of jobs for 9$ per hour. At this moment i charge 15$ per hour and I already got a client with this rate. So according to this, your work should be price at least 15*number of hours, so in your case 75$ for a bust. What could be useful for you is to register on Upwork (no fee) so you can look at what alike illustrators charge per hour and basis on that calculate your own charge per piece. I hope it helps.

  • I was also interested in graphic design when I was in college. But I did not have enough free time because of college. But now students can use college paper writing services and read more useful information, rather than do paperwork. I believe that every student has the right to realize himself as he wants it. College is not the answer to all questions.

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