As long as I’m on the subject of freelancing advice, let’s see if I can offer up any coherent tips on figuring out prices…

Ah yes, the age-old problem of what to charge. One way to make life easier is to figure out a general hourly rate that you can survive on. Then when considering a job, you can give a price or estimated price based on how many hours you think the job will take, multiplied by your standard hourly rate (give or take some adjustment per job as needed Sometimes you’ll want to charge more for extenuating circumstances, such as rush jobs.) You don’t have to tell the client your hourly rate if they’re expecting a flat fee, but you can use your hourly rate to figure out a suitable fee. Basically you want to make sure you don’t end up charging less than minimum wage when you divide the amount of time worked by the amount you’re paid, because that would suck.

When estimating the amount of hours a job will take, make sure to account for revisions (and you might want to also add a bit of time for unknown SNAFUs and project management, especially if you’re estimating something you haven’t done a lot of, or if you’re dealing with a new or inexperienced client.)

When you’re starting out, yes, you WILL underestimate some jobs and end up essentially going into unpaid overtime. You kind of have to accept this as a learning experience. Over time you’ll learn to make more accurate estimates.

Some types of clients have standard rates, especially publishers who work with a lot of illustrators, so it doesn’t hurt to just ask what their budget is before you start spouting off prices. This makes life a lot easier. (And if it turns out their budget is too small for comfort or if they don’t want to pay at all, you can then politely decline the job before getting too entangled.)

CONTRACTS

ALWAYS get a contract first, before you do any work, with all the deliverables clearly outlined, including the number of revisions for each. And make sure there’s a kill fee, in case they cancel the job when you’ve already done half the work. Also, if you’re really unsure of a client’s reliability, you might want a clause to say that final artwork will be delivered on final payment - and then don’t give them originals or high-res files until you’re paid. An alternative safety measure is to split the payment up into milestones - so much on delivery of sketches, so much on delivery of finals, etc. Then if they slip one payment, you can halt the job midway if necessary until things are sorted out.

DO NOT accept any clause saying that payment will be “on publication”. Those clauses are horrible. It means if the client fails to publish for whatever reason, or delays publication for months or years, then you don’t get paid for your work. This is bad.

If a job is really nebulous in terms of what needs to be delivered and how revisions are handled, charging by the hour might be the way to go, depending on what you can negotiate with the client. Some clients prefer a fixed rate for the job, or a fixed rate per item, but sometimes you can compromise with hourly rates and a price cap - for instance, say you’ll charge X per hour up to $10,000 (or whatever amount,) and if the job isn’t done in $10,000 worth of your time then you negotiate more hours.

Note that clients who frequently work with artists usually have a standard contract, so you won’t have to write your own contract for these clients. However, you should look their contracts over for loopy clauses, and don’t be afraid to ask for changes if necessary.

For less experienced clients, you’ll probably have to provide your own contract (after explaining to the client that you can’t work without a contract.) The Graphic Artists Guild book in the last post is what I usually use for standard contract forms.

FIGURING YOUR RATES

One way to figure out a general hourly rate for yourself is to figure out your living expenses and the costs of freelancing (supplies, phone/internet, mailing, conventions, whatever other expenses you have,) and then figure out how much you need to make per week to cover that, assuming a standard 40-hour work week, and then divide by 40 for a ballpark hourly rate. You could also work backwards from how much you need to make per year to survive, but that’s a lot of math.

Actually, don’t just cover your living expenses, make sure you have enough profit left over for emergencies and living in a civilized manner. As you get experience and your work is worth more, or if your expenses go up, you’ll probably want to start upping those rates.

Of course, then it’s up to you to actually GET enough work to survive on… But that’s a whole other complicated topic!

All right, so I’ve been asked for advice on pricing and the business of freelancing, and rather than try to somehow telepathically communicate links via Tumblr’s message system that doesn’t allow links, I thought I might as well put together a post of resources for figuring out the practical side of being an artist. Because this is stuff everyone needs to know anyway, right?

First off, a super-useful book for freelancers is “The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines”. The prices may be skewed to the USA, but they give a good ballpark idea of approximately what’s expected in the market. So it’s a good starting point for figuring out your own prices and not ending up with something completely whacked out. The book also has tons of sample forms and information on best practices, which can be even more useful than the prices.

HANDY WEBSITES

Here’s some sites that often have good articles on the business of art and the finer points of freelancing:

artpact.com
theartorder.com
muddycolors.blogspot.com

FORUMS
Potentially useful forums (mostly concept art oriented, but they sometimes cover more general things too.)

CGTalk (AKA the forums on cgsociety.org)
polycount.com
penciljack.com
ConceptArt.org

* Yes I know ConceptArt.org has had a lot of political and technical turmoil lately, but the archives have a wealth of useful material. What I usually do is use Google to search the CA archives: type the topic you want + “ConceptArt.org” + optionally the section you think the topic is in (the “Art Discussion” section used to have a lot of stuff on the practical side of art.)

CGHub used to be another one, but it’s officially dead, alas. There’s a new one called "DrawCrowd", but right now it looks like it’s mostly for art sharing/eye candy and not so much for discussion/info.

OTHER RESOURCES
If you’ve got the money to spend, this is supposed to be pretty good:
theartoffreelancing.com

And it looks like there will be a useful video or two posted here (coming soon, but I have my eye on it:)
artconnectionacademy.com

And a spot of all-around good advice, with cartoons!

I’m sure I’m missing a lot more resources, if I think of more I’ll add them!

EDIT: I wrote up some more notes on pricing and contracts here!

Page one hundred and thirty eight of the Wayward Queen is up! In which headaches are induced. (These are not nice girls.)
Still on one-page-a-week, thanks to, er, headaches. And taxes. (Same thing, pretty much.) So next update should be next week around Wednesday.
Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Page one hundred and thirty eight of the Wayward Queen is up! In which headaches are induced. (These are not nice girls.)

Still on one-page-a-week, thanks to, er, headaches. And taxes. (Same thing, pretty much.) So next update should be next week around Wednesday.

Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Page one hundred and thirty seven of the Wayward Queen is up! In which NOBODY can be trusted.
Next update should be next week around Tuesday, (no, really this time.) Whether we can return to our two-pages-a-week schedule next week kinda depends on how much I can catch up this weekend (right now this looks iffy.)
Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Page one hundred and thirty seven of the Wayward Queen is up! In which NOBODY can be trusted.

Next update should be next week around Tuesday, (no, really this time.) Whether we can return to our two-pages-a-week schedule next week kinda depends on how much I can catch up this weekend (right now this looks iffy.)

Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Okay, are these the most adorable tiny canvases you’ve ever seen or what?
I LOVE these things! Tiny three-inch-square canvases! I could paint dozens, seriously, they’re like candy! :D
(Yeah yeah, part of yet another last-minute project, wheeeee… Should hopefully be able to post final pics soon.)

Okay, are these the most adorable tiny canvases you’ve ever seen or what?

I LOVE these things! Tiny three-inch-square canvases! I could paint dozens, seriously, they’re like candy! :D

(Yeah yeah, part of yet another last-minute project, wheeeee… Should hopefully be able to post final pics soon.)

Page one hundred and thirty six of the Wayward Queen is up! In which the girls are late to the party (and not happy about it…)
Next update should be earlier in the week next week (around Tuesday, if all goes well.) And then IF things seem to be more under control, we MIGHT be able to return to our two-pages-a-week schedule the week after next. We shall see.
Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Page one hundred and thirty six of the Wayward Queen is up! In which the girls are late to the party (and not happy about it…)

Next update should be earlier in the week next week (around Tuesday, if all goes well.) And then IF things seem to be more under control, we MIGHT be able to return to our two-pages-a-week schedule the week after next. We shall see.

Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Whoops, I kinda totally forgot to post a teaser for page 135, didn’t I…
Well, page one hundred and thirty five of the Wayward Queen is up! With visitors!
Next update will probably be up tonight (depending on work stuff and how long it takes to finish inking and prepping the next page…)
Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Whoops, I kinda totally forgot to post a teaser for page 135, didn’t I…

Well, page one hundred and thirty five of the Wayward Queen is up! With visitors!

Next update will probably be up tonight (depending on work stuff and how long it takes to finish inking and prepping the next page…)

Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Sketches from my Greenwood Cemetery outing! (Well one cemetery sketch and one cat.)

The cat was hanging out near my apartment when I was walking back from the cemetery. It was SO fascinated by me when I stopped to stare, but only for a minute, and then it was like, “whatever, you cease to entertain, human.” Yeah. Cats.

Day 1 of Legendeering! What is that, you might ask? It’s a thing that Sterling Hundley’s organized, and is kind of hard to describe… But so far it’s about getting out and exploring and experiencing and recording what you experience. Official info is here if you want to find out more (or join in!)

First assignment is to visit someplace unfamiliar three times, preferably to a location that involves some amount of exertion to visit. I had trouble thinking of anyplace unfamiliar that would involve exercise and that wouldn’t require an all-day out-of-town trip… I’ve been living here for years, so I’ve already explored a lot of the best spots nearby. But then I remembered I’ve never been to Greenwood Cemetery, and you know, I don’t know why?? I mean, it’s technically walking distance. Somehow I always forget it’s there.

So I went. And I’m glad I did, that place is amazing. It’s HUGE. I had no idea how big. It’s a freaking necropolis. And it’s all hills and crazy winding paths and of course I managed to get totally lost, but that was part of the plan - its not a proper adventure if you don’t get lost at least once! Also it’s the highest point in Brooklyn, so you get some amazing views of the city.

Between taking forever to find the entrance, getting lost, and trying to get unlost before they locked me in, I didn’t have much time for sketching this trip. Mostly I ran around like a mad thing with a camera until I got a “memory card error” (AGAIN. Aaarrgh. Having some issues with this camera.) Here’s some of the photos I managed to salvage, and there’s a load more photos on my official sketchblog.

Not sure if I’ll manage two more visits THIS week, the current forecast is rain-sleet-cold-yuck (it’s freezing now…) But we’ll see. Definitely going back when it’s REALLY actually Spring and things are blooming. (If we ever get Spring.) Between schlepping down there and running around on all the hills, it was more of a workout than I thought it would be. Also I found a dollar on the way back, so, profit!

EDIT: Forgot the link for info. Whoops.

Page one hundred and thirty four of the Wayward Queen is up! In which lunch of sorts is found! Ugly but tasty!
Still on the one-page-a-week schedule for now while I scramble to get ahead on my buffer, (too many side projects, heh,) next update will be next week around Tuesday.
Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!

Page one hundred and thirty four of the Wayward Queen is up! In which lunch of sorts is found! Ugly but tasty!

Still on the one-page-a-week schedule for now while I scramble to get ahead on my buffer, (too many side projects, heh,) next update will be next week around Tuesday.

Meanwhile, go read the latest page on queengwenevere.com/wayward-queen!