i don’t know if its because i haven’t been paying enough attention on tumblr but i haven’t seen anything about this on here yet. just a heads up if you didn’t know about this.
Seeing women in the animation industry on my twitter feed confirm that this has happened to them is the saddest thing in the world and they have all my support. I’m mortified and I hope this blows the hell up so that this can be talked about publicly instead of being whispered about from behind closed doors.
(Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art)
There is a really problematic culture of artists underpricing their commissions online - though I’m sure this practice extends towards the ‘real world’. A fun fact before we start: the internet is actually part of the ‘real world’. If you don’t think that industry artists are also underpaid and undervalued, then I’m not sure what to say to you and you should probably quit reading while you’re ahead.
Pricing low in and of itself, isolated from the context of the kind of expectations that accompany low pricing for artwork, is not really problematic. What IS problematic, what MAKES it problematic is the fact that (as far as my experiences and the experiences of artists I know have made clear to me):
- People expect cheaply priced artwork to be the norm.
This raises all kinds of issues:
Because of this belief, it is then only reasonable that people tend to strongly believe that appropriately priced work - and I am talking about when an artist decides to price themselves according to a standard minimum wage, while also accounting for their time, effort & level of skill - is actually overpriced.
This lends credence to the very popular (and unfortunate) mindset that art is not a ‘real’ job. It is a real job. But you, as a client or a consumer, probably find it difficult to even entertain the notion it is a real job. Why? Because if you have ever bought artwork online or otherwise, you will have never paid for a piece as if it was the product of a ‘real’ job or service.
When worth and value in our society is tied so closely to money, how can you think art is a real job when what you pay does not even come close to approaching what you would pay others for a ‘real’ job, a ‘real’ skill, service, product (all of which art is?) When you are even afforded a choice to continue to believe that art is not a real job? There might be one artist charging appropriately for their work, but hundreds of others that aren’t. I doubt one in a sea of many is enough to convince you of the worth of art.
I feel artists charging so lowly for their work breeds an attitude of entitlement in clients. This manifests in the messages artists receive begging them to lower their prices, telling them their art isn’t worth x or y, showing shock at the extravagant amounts that artists ask for their work (‘extravagant’ often being ‘enough to buy one meal in return for six or seven hours of work’). It does not help that art is often marketed as ‘cheap’ therefore worth buying (‘you should commission this artist, their work is so cheap and affordable!’) versus the fact it is worth buying because it is beautiful, custom-made, one-of-a-kind, everything else that art is and can be.
It is absolutely demeaning and almost humiliating to be at the whims of clients who asks for a thousand changes to their commission, who is picky, fussy, disrespectful, and who is trying utmost to get their money’s worth, when they have paid you $10. $10 for work that is already going to take you a good 3 or 4 hours, and then you have to spend MORE time on top of that dealing with their difficulties. The worst part is that most artists expect this. That this is the kind of client you must cater to when you’re working for $2 an hour (if you’re lucky). I know artists are terrified of raising prices because they fear they will lose clients, but are the literal scrooges of people the kind of client base you want to build?
“Finally, don’t work for cheap people. It is widely agreed among artists that the majority of the time, the less a client pays, the less they respect you and the more they will dick you around. If somebody thinks that image, which I’d guess to be at least an hour or two’s work, isn’t worth paying the measley sum of $7, which is like, what, the price of a bowl of soup and a coffee at a cafe? They don’t value your work and are not worth working for.”
Then there are absolute illogicalities that arise in pricing due to the pressure of keeping prices low. Why on Earth, for example, is it that almost every single artist will charge less than double the amount for a piece that involves more than one character? Almost every artist I know has confessed that it is more difficult to draw two characters interacting in the same image than it would be for them to draw two entirely separate, singular characters in different images. And yet everyone charges 50% of the base price for an added character. How does that make sense?! It doesn’t. Think about it. I think this example speaks a lot about how art is valued (the fact that it isn’t).
The lack of appropriate monetary value assigned to art also makes it broadly valueless in other areas. There is this uncomfortable attitude that art is not a real job, that anyone can do it, that it is wrong for artists to profit off their own work, that it is wrong for artists to own their own work. Do you think I am being melodramatic?
This kind of unsettling, depressing culture is played out on Tumblr almost every day - artwork that is reposted, edited, unsourced. The deletion of artist comments because what we say about our own work doesn’t matter. We don’t matter. Art is only of value when it is divorced from its creator.
I don’t think people think a lot, or much, or at all about the process of creating artwork. Maybe if they did they would understand that there was a PERSON who poured some of their time, effort, and skill into it. I think people have some kind of disconnect between artwork/artist, as if artwork is produced separately from the artist. This is just a theory, but since I struggle to understand why some people are so adamantly against paying more than $20 for a piece of quality work, this is the best explanation I can come up with. I can understand, because if people think that art is separate from the artist, why bother paying the artist or giving credit to them? If they exist as separate entities, why even care?
I’m not suggesting that there are any quick-fixes to these kinds of problems. There isn’t. I’m not encouraging artists to raise their prices or people to pay more. Though both those things would be very nice, I don’t feel it really addresses the underlying issues. What came first, underpriced art or undervaluing art? Who knows.
I think people are in need of an attitude adjustment, more than anything. I think I would be far more comfortable with artists charging lower prices if people actually acted in a way where they realise that that is a privilege and not a right. That it is a privilege to be able to buy art, which is a LUXURY - it is not a right afforded to you. You do not have permission to act like a spoilt child because you cannot afford someone’s work. You do not have any right to assign arbitrary values to someone’s art according to your own ludicrous attitudes to the worth of art.
I would also be much more comfortable if I knew that all artists were also acutely aware of the culture of underpricing, especially so that they know that they do not have to put up with the poor attitudes that often accompany clients that pursue cheaply-advertised artwork. If these two things worked in tandem, I am pretty sure that everyone would have an easier time in regards to commissions.
Lots of artists have talked about art pricing, and I suggest these for further reading (especially as they complement & provide further understanding about the issues I’ve raised here):
- Art, Mass Production, and You
- Why is Underchaging a Bad Idea?
- Commissions, Pricing and Why It’s Unfair
- Viivus explains why she charges what she does for her commissions
And since I feel a lot of my gripes with underpriced artwork (and what artists have to put up with as a result of that) can be alleviated by manners, here are some articles on commission etiquette:
thank u god bless u for this post may
I’m not being kicked out exactly, but I definitely cannot continue to stay here with my mom much longer. I’ve been wanting to go about it all the smartest way I can and not jump the gun with moving out, but I’ve been putting up with this garbage with my family (mostly my mom) for too long and I physically, mentally, and emotionally cannot stand it anymore.
I have to stay in Southern California to still have my doctors and dentist appointments I still need to do this summer before heading back to Colorado to be with Zuka again (I left suddenly before last Christmas Eve b/c of this same problem and stayed there in Colorado with Zuka and her folks for 5 months but I had been sick and was getting worse and had to go back home to my primary doctor, but also still needed my stuff to fully move out. I can’t just leave on a whim again this time like that).
I’m still trying to figure things out and I’m so stressed and anxious for the future and I don’t know what to do but I don’t want to have to be tied down to my mom anymore. I don’t want her to have that advantage over me anymore even though I can’t fully support myself yet. I need to be settled in before I can get an actual steady income somewhere. I’ve been doing freelance and commissions (which I’m still trying to keep up but being around my family like this makes it hard to get any work done at all, plus I need to be packing). I just can’t keep up with this anymore and I’ve been doing all I can on my own to try and keep my head over water but I feel like I’m drowning and I’m finally calling out for help.
I currently don’t have a car or even a permit or know how to drive (and don’t know if I physically can because of my how my OCD causes bad twitching)…. I feel pretty helpless in everything and I just… I don’t know what else to say or do at this point honestly…
I hope to get away from here and reuinted with Zuka as soon as possible so we can continue working on our stories and projects but also just be happy again in general… And Zuka says that she’ll help with the money but her own family has issues to take care of too… In the meantime may need to stay somewhere else aside from home before I can do that. Jumping to another state is a big move and I may not be able to do that right away but I can’t really stay here either. It’s a really difficult situation.
I’ve been trying to save with my commissions previously so that I can move out, but it’s been a very slow process and it hasn’t been enough. All the money has been going to my savings.
My goal was to reach $4,000 at the very least (and I was a few hundreds away so far) to have at least some support moving out if need be for a few months, but any more would be greatly appreciated. There’s just so many finances and crap that can come up you never know what a secure set amount is…
Any help at all would be greatly appreciated, guys.
I’m raising a flag up for help but I’m not giving up yet.
You can donate on my main blog here.
EDIT: I put the wrong link on the bottom, but you should be able to find the donate button on my main blog, I’m sorry! Please reblog this bit too so there’s no further confusion!
do not fix your dark circles let the world know youre tired of its shit and ready to kill a man
i made a mix i was too lazy to draw cover art but ill do it later when i have some time YEA
Art by: Mitsuhiro Arita
Hey ho if anyone wants to recommend some josei manga/anime I’m all ears! I think the only things I’ve seen that count as josei are Princess Jellyfish and Only Yesterday, so I’m very green to the genre.
How to sew a simple single-signature book.