I wasn't going to let this bother me, but it does and I feel I need to address it. I was going to write a silly diatribe on Twitter about what happened to me this morning, but I felt this needed a bit more weight. A proper blog post is in order.
This morning, I rolled out of bed, checked my Twitter mentions and I get a tweet that says this:
@jawboneradio I understand that art is expensive, but do you have to charge a jobless HS student upwards of $115 an hour for monster art?
First off, by this person's own admission, they are jobless. So I wouldn't put monster art on such a high priority. But whatever, to each his own. Secondly, I don't charge anything near $115 an hour. If I did, I could probably take some time off for once in my life. I'm hoping to charge that, one day, and I can assure you, it's not going to be without a greater or equal amount of sweat equity to get to that point.
But even if I did charge $115.hr, what the hell does it matter? I looked at my roster of commissions over the past few weeks and as far as I can remember, I didn't "charge" this person anything per hour. I only charge people who commission me to do my work. And if you're going to query me for what it would cost to do a piece or artwork or several pieces of artwork, I will tell you. If you think I charge too much, then you are free to look elsewhere. If you really want my art, then maybe we could work something out. Trade or barter for services has been an acceptable form of payment on occassion. But I hardly think it's fair for this person to say I have some nerve to charge "upwards of $115/hr for monster art."
Like any artist or musician, I spent a lot of time crafting my style, my workflow, my art. I feel I've done a lot of work to come up with a price that is not only fair to me, but to my family as well. I am the primary breadwinner in a family of eight. Now, I don't expect a jobless High School student to appreciate this fact, but I'm working my ass off to provide for them. I have a mortgage and bills like everyone else. I've spent a great deal of time over the past five years establishing my reputation as an artist. And I'm extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to find people who not only appreciate the work I do and like it, but are willing to pay me cash dollars for it.
I give a lot of content away for free. All of Geek A Week has been free for you to enjoy (or not enjoy) and I'm not charging you a red cent for any of it. Just last night, I posted an image of Quorra from TRON all because I wanted to share my art with you. FREE OF CHARGE. I have been doing Live drawing events on the net and you can watch me draw for free. There is an entire YouTube Channel devoted to just me drawing art. You can order a FlipFace from me for as low as $10. If you want to commission me for an ORIGINAL PIECE OF ART - NOT A DIGITAL FILE, prices start at $35. If you want something more complicated, then I'll have to judge how long it will take me, what is involved in creating the art and I can quote you a custom price. If you want to hire me for a week to create pieces of art for you, my cost is $1200/day*. Certainly there is some price point in there that you can fall into.
The end is this: If you like what I do and you want to have a piece of it for you own, then I'd be happy to talk to you. There are lots of ways to enjoy my art and if you save up, you can afford a piece of your own. Just don't get on Twitter and complain how "expensive" I am when you have no idea how much time and effort goes into what I do. I think I speak for all artists when I say valuing oneself and your services is one of the toughest things for an artist to perfect. Don't make it harder but de-valuing the art.
And yes, I know I should take it easy because, after all, this person is just in High School and perhaps doesn't know any better. But these people grow up and become the de-valuers of the future. You gotta nip it in the bud sometime.
*Not really. But I thought I would throw that out there anyway.