Nothing beats the feeling of selling your artwork! But before you can sell your artwork, you have to decide at what price to sell it and that’s where most artists hit a wall. In this article, I will NOT tell you what amount of money to charge but I will give you an idea of what to charge; be it less or more. I will also talk about payment types, shipping, and other relevant information that you will encounter when doing commissions.
Research & Check What Other People Are Charging
This is just to get an idea of what range to charge for your own artwork. I’ve seen prices from the low range with prices starting at $5, medium range of $40, to a high range of around $100. Then there are the full-time freelancers who charge much, much more.
Prices can change depending on what type of drawing you’re offering; b&w vs color, head vs full body, one character vs a full page of characters and a background; limited-time special promo’s you’re doing to drum up business, how much work you’re getting (if you’re getting a lot of offers, consider upping your price), how fast a customer might want the work to be done (hint: you charge more for faster service), and if you’re doing a whole set of artwork for your client.
Whatever price you are charging, do NOT take on more than you can handle. Most artists tend to have slots where they list interested commissioners. Once all the slots are filled up, no more clients will be taken in and commissions are essentially closed until all art requests are fulfilled. When they are completed, the artist will then open up his or her slots again for the next set of interested commissioners.
I highly recommend you set up a slots system if you’re new to commissions just so you can figure out how long projects usually takes for you to complete. Most new artists tend to run into a scheduling problem and cannot juggle commissions and everything else in life so watch out and take it easy if you’re just starting out.
Determine What Types of Artwork You Will Offer
What type of service are you offering? Are you doing just digital art or will you also do traditional mediums? What types of artwork can you draw? Do you want to just draw chibi’s or also include full-body characters, mecha’s, and background artwork? Here’s a list of things that you should consider when making a list of what you will do:
Sketches – simple sketches; digital or non-digital; that tends to be the cheapest priced item if it is being offered.
Lineart – unlike sketches which keeps the multiple lines look, this is much cleaner. It may be inked if it’s traditional art or cleanly lined character if it’s digital. This tends to be offered in b&w and if sketches aren’t on the list, this is usually the cheapest priced item in a commission list.
Color – whether it’s a fully cg’ed digital work or traditionally colored in watercolor, colored pencil, or marker, be sure to add a bit more to your price when you’re offering this service particularly for a larger piece.
Head to Full-Body Characters – drawing just the head of a character usually is the lowest priced and as you draw more of a character, I suggest that you increase your price. For example, let’s say you charged $5 for the head, then add another $5 for drawing the head to the waist so it costs $10, another $5 to the knees ($15), and to round it off $20 for the whole body. If you’re drawing more than one character, you may charge more for each additional character.
Chibi Drawings – chibi’s are adorable and people love to commission them. Most people offer them for the same price as drawing the head since chibi’s tend to be small.
Backgrounds – charge more for backgrounds. Be sure to specify what backgrounds you are offering. Doing a simple pop art background is different from actually doing a background with trees, buildings, and people. Doing backgrounds with trees, buildings, and people cost more than doing simpler backgrounds.
Manga Pages – if you can draw comics, then why not offer this as well? Price can be determined per page with additional money for full color or if toning is required.
Once you’ve written down what you are offering, write what you want to charge if you haven’t decided already. Price can be changed at any time. If one price point doesn’t work, then try another price point. If you lower your price and you still are getting little or no customer, then maybe the price isn’t the problem but the marketing.
Get Your Name Out There and Market Yourself
No one will come to you if no one knows you’re offering a commission service so what do you do? Market! Socialize! Post and get the word out! Places like DeviantArt are hotbeds for artists and commission jobs. If a site offers a free place to set up a page for you to sell, then sign up for it! Etsy, CafePress, Lulu, and even here in Manga Tutorials – have places where you can post up your artwork and sell your stuff. Most places take a percentage of your sale but that’s usually standard practice.
If you’re a member of a forum, you can link to your commission page if it’s allowed. Enter contests to get you name out. Join discussions and find areas that have postings for paid jobs. If you go to anime conventions, consider setting up a table at their Artist Alley. Join video game, manga, or drawing collaboration teams. Network and make friends. For each person you make yourself known to, the better your chances for getting a commission. Whatever matters, don’t give up!
There are three ways that customers can pay:
1) all at once before you start your work
2) once you complete and deliver the work, or
3) pay half before you start and half at completion and receipt of the work
Similarly, there are three methods that customers can pay:
2) money order, or
3) credit card
Credit card charges usually involves using services like Paypal while money orders may be done through Western Union, banks, or the U.S. Postal Service. I highly discourage people to send cash through the mail but if you need to do it, do not send change (change and mail-sorters do not mix), and make sure the money is well hidden.
Going back to Paypal, if you do not have a Paypal account and if you do not have a credit card, you can get a credit card gift card at a store and make the charge using that credit card gift card. It’s convenient, safe, and it works!
Shipping Your Work
If you’ve created a physical artwork, then you have to ship your item out to your client. There are all kinds of domestic shipping services but the main ones are First Class, Priority, and Express/Next-Day. First Class takes abouot 3-7 days, Priority is 3 days, and Express/Next-Day is just that – your customer will receive it the next day. As with anything, the better service, the more you have to pay.
For international shipping, there is Standard with mail shipping via the sea and Expedited with mail shipping much quicker through the air. Expedited is not only quicker and more expensive, but it is generally safer than Standard international shipping.
As with any shipment, you have the option of shipping with insurance. Unless it’s very, very expensive or the client requests it, it’s okay for you to forgo insurance. Just be aware that there is some cases where items do get lost or damage during the shipping process so you may want to at least track your package.
Of course, we can’t talk about shipping without knowing how to package your artwork. First of all, always put some kind of board backing for your art and make sure you mark your package with the words “Do Not Bend”. That way, mailmen will not or cannot bend your nice artwork when they shove it into the mailbox.
Just as important, make sure you put your artwork in a plastic covering of some kind so it will not get wet in transit and potentially warp. You can pick up some plastic covers in a comic book shop which tend to stock clear plastic coverings for comic books. Be aware that the sizes are generally for comic book sizes so you may be out of luck if you’ve made a large piece of art.
Regardless, if you’ve made a larger piece of art, consider mailing your work using a cylindrical tube. You may have to pay a bit more for it due to it’s unusual shape but at least your art won’t be bent.
Show Only the Best and Keep Going
It seems pretty obvious to only show your best work when trying to garner commissions but I’ll mention it again, “Show only your best work.” Pick pieces that show what you can do to the best of your abilities because that is what your clients will be judging you on whether to hire you or not. First impressions as important so give a very good one.
During all this time, you may go through fits of self-doubt and wavering self-confidence but these feelings comes in waves so just hang in there if you’re in a rut and keep going. You can’t move forward if you can’t climb the mountain, so to speak, so just get out there and try your best!