Some advice on starting my own business.

Evening all,

I'm currently attempting to start a business selling my artwork/doing commissions, which I've shown on here before. I'd be really grateful if anyone could give an idea of what, if anything, I should be charging for my stuff; as well as any advice from people who have also been down the self-employment route.

I know I'm not allowed to advertise on the forum, so I want to be absolutely clear I'm not advertising or selling my work/services, I'm still firmly in the start-up phase, I just want to do a quick bit of market research to get an idea of pricing.

I wanted to contact a mod before I made this but I wasn't sure how to do that, so if this is still not allowed I'm really sorry and please lock the thread.

In the meantime, here are some unfinished examples of my work. I'd really appreciate any feedback/advice you guys could offer. (I will totally accept, 'you're work is shit; no one will buy it' as feedback.)

Cheers.

I think you should charge at least 6.31 x 'how many hours it takes you do complete a piece' + 'trade cost of materials'.

So, if a commissioned piece took you 5 hours to complete and you used 5 worth of materials, then you should charge at least 36.55 (+ P&P and possibly 20% VAT).

If you don't think your artwork or time is worth at least minimum wage, then you shouldn't really take the risk of starting your own business to earn less than minimum wage, but instead just get any paying job you can tolerate.

The main thing is don't undervalue your time. If you're having trouble getting people to pay you minimum wage for your artwork, then focus on increasing your talents and improving your skills (or find more appreciative customers), but don't sell yourself short in order to fall under minimum employment standards for labour, time and cost.

Jamash:
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Thanks for all the advice, what would you suggest if I was planning to sell several prints of the same drawing? As I understand it, when taking commissions, it's at the clients discretion if they don't want me to re-produce the image elsewhere, but if I have drawings that I can re-produce as many times as I want, I'm guessing the price should be much lower?

I'm thinking about this because, since I don't really have any kind of weight behind my name at the moment, I feel like I'd be better trying to sell a lot of prints at lower prices (say 5-10 depending on the complexity of the piece) to try and generate interest in the more pricey one-off commission work.

First, if you haven't done so already, look for someone who is already successful, and preferably whom you admire, to ask for advice. If the art community is anything like the chainmail community the experienced people will be more than happy to help you out. If that's not the case then you can still look around to see what other people are charging, just to give yourself an idea.

rob_simple:

Thanks for all the advice, what would you suggest if I was planning to sell several prints of the same drawing?

My suggestion would be to play around with it. Figure out the minimum you can afford to charge and still break even (so materials + time + overhead [if this is truly going to be a business you'll probably need to give overhead some thought, but don't freak out if you haven't yet]) and then play around with it. Since the prints are all the same, you can experiment with your pricing to see just how much people are willing to pay. Keep good records throughout this process, and after awhile you'll start to get a good feel for your market.

I'm thinking about this because, since I don't really have any kind of weight behind my name at the moment, I feel like I'd be better trying to sell a lot of prints at lower prices (say 5-10 depending on the complexity of the piece) to try and generate interest in the more pricey one-off commission work.

Paradoxically, charging less for your work can actually harm sales. At least, it can in jewelry--I'm assuming the concept transfers over. Basically people see cheaply-priced work, and assume it means the work itself is cheap. If you charge more people will assume your work is worth more, and will thus be more inclined to own it.

There's really no substitute for just diving in and experimenting, I don't think.

rob_simple:
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This doesn't count as advertising, so you're fine on that account. If you want to check things with (a) moderator(s) you can PM me, or any of the other moderators mentioned in the Code of Conduct

Slightly more on topic.
I can't help you on pricing advice for art, and most of the advice already mentioned is solid. Are you planning on doing this full-time? Or is it a side-job (for starters anyway). If it's a side thing and you are reasonably secure in your finances you can experiment with your prices a bit more obviously.
If it's a full-time job, make sure you can make due with it, and get some money saved up for when the business hits a dry-spell (they always do).

Your work is great, you've got a distinct style. I can see you doing good stuff as a comic book illustrator, have you looked into collaborating with someone who wants to publish? Maybe on short contracts? That might be better pay in the long run than individual print sales, and if it's with a company, you don't have to fuss about printing costs/logistics/marketing, and focus on the art itself. But then again I don't want to discourage you from your decision, you're probably more experienced than I am anyway, and being independent is fantastic and really admirable if you can do it.

I know you didn't ask for critique of the work itself, but I think the panel with the robotic portal turrets are great. And I really like the Iron Man piece. Those just come across as more "finished" with cleaner lines, texture, strong solid colours and how it's in full colour makes it stand out much more and therefore stronger as a design. I'm probably biased because I'm more of a graphic designer, but speaking honestly, I think that style will sell much better as a print in a mainstream market, so it might not hurt to try more stuff in that kind of style? Again, though, I really don't want to tell you what to do, but speaking from a consumer point of view, those two are the kind of things I would buy and can see others buying.

I agree with others about charging based on how much you honestly think it's worth. Artists more often undervalue themselves than overvalue. Don't doubt yourself, and never lower it just for it to be lower than a competitor. You may have a style that a certain buyer wants over the others. What you're selling is your uniqueness.

 

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