Ripping Artists off Part 2

This is a post from my friends blog. I agree with her wholeheartedly and now understand why the musicians had such a problem with Limewire and Napster. It costs us money to produce our product (in my case paper and ink cartridges to do hard copy edits) for you to buy. It’s not asking too much to be able to cover our expenses with a small profit. Hopefully other artists will stand up like Bonefish Designs out of Charlottesville, Va. has done. 


An Artist’s Gotta Eat

Hello, Dear Readers~

I’m so sorry there’s been such a delay between my last post and this one. I’ve been exceedingly busy, not just with my art but with life in general. Recent events though, have prompted me to write a new blog (not that I haven’t attempted to write several only to trash them).

Recently, I shot a lovely couple and their grandkid. It was one of those impromptu things, I just happened to have my camera and it was a special moment. They asked me to have prints made, and that they would pay me.

I was more than happy to oblige. It’s been a long time since I’ve used photography to create art and not just as a tool towards the end product.

I wanted to impress them, not just give them a CD with a bunch of photos on it. By the time I turned over the photos, they got:

1 photo book
4 8 x 10″ enlarged prints
25 4 x 6″ prints
1 CD containing all the photos

This cost me $50 even to produce. When time came to pay up, they didn’t want to. Said it was “too much” money, that it was “extravagant”, and they had no idea I would “spend so much”.

First of all, $50 USD for all of the above is NOT A BAD DEAL!!! Second of all, having not had the opportunity to shoot people since I converted to a DSLR last year, I wasn’t going to charge them an exorbitant amount. I figured they’d get some great keepsakes and I’d get some valuable experience. Boy, was I wrong.

To put it in perspective, typically when I do commissioned work, it breaks down like this:

hourly rate ($$$/hr) x amount of hours worked + cost of materials + shipping/handling OR delivery (gas)

Had they gone to a so-called “professional” photographer, they could easily spend $300+. Had I wanted to, I could’ve charged them my usual commission rate and they threw a fit because all I wanted was reimbursement for the cost of actually printing their photos.

Saying I was livid is an understatement. I was also incredibly angry and indignant. It’s also incredibly frustrating when people think that an artist’s work is “only” worth x-amount.

When you commission me, regardless of whether it’s for a painting, jewelry, photography, WHATEVER, you are contributing to my ability to keep producing art, you are helping me pay my bills, you are ensuring that my degree- which cost me thousands of dollars and many years of my life- is put to use and it’s an insult to me, my hard work, and my craft that you would think $50, JUST the cost of materials is “too extravagant”.

In the course of my career as an artist I have bled for my work (stitches, twice), I’ve burned and blistered myself for my work, I’ve broken nails, singed hair, I’ve broken equipment and had to replace it, I’ve gotten sunburned and rained on, I’ve gone days without sleep, been exposed to harmful chemicals and materials, I’ve sacrificed so much that you thinking I’m asking “too much” is an insult to all the work I put into your commission that I did NOT charge you for.

Every commission I take on and complete puts me one step closer to being able to live on an artistic career, not just a weekend hobby. It puts me closer to achieving my dreams. If you’re going to commission an artist you need to understand that you are contributing to our livelihood and understand just WHY something is so “expensive”.

Also, don’t forget, when you’re commissioning an artist, you are also paying for a one of a kind creation. You can’t just go to Wal*Mart and find something comparable.

Eventually, they did pay up. I had to threaten legal action. Unfortunately, this experience has prompted me to change how I do my commissions. How so, you ask? I don’t make the same mistake twice.

Should you seek to commission me:

  1. you WILL sign a contract. 
  2. It WILL be notarized. 
  3. You WILL pay half of the commission up front. 
  4. If I’m mailing it to you, you WILL pay in full, up front. 
  5. If you live locally and are going to pick it up or have me deliver it in person, you WILL pay the other half of the commission upon delivery. 
  6. If you do not pay, I WILL keep the commission for 7 days and you have 7 days to pay up. 
  7. Should you fail to pay up, your commission will go up for sale on my website. 
  8. I will keep the half you already paid. 
I hate that it’s come to this but I cannot afford the run around I have experienced. I’m trying to run a business so you’re commissioning of me will be treated as the business transaction that it is, regardless of means/income or relationship to me. 
I know the above image pertains specifically to jewelry but it’s true of any commission. 

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