Thursday, June 17, 2010

What am I worth?

If we are talking about the value I bring to the world around me in terms of pleasantness, then my net worth is probably right around $-2.33. But I am talking about my art, or more specifically my comic/cartooning artwork. I don't really consider myself an artist, I never mastered painting or sculpting or any other fine art discipline. My work will never hang in a museum, but some of it does hang on people's walls of their studios or homes, and that's pretty cool.

Sometimes I get paid to draw comics, sometimes not, but the real value of my art comes in the form of how much someone will pay for it. I hope I don't sound greedy or anything, I know my place in the pecking order of comic book artists currently working out there today. I often draw for fun and for free, but if it's my goal to make a career, I need to be paid for my work. An aspiring plumber will only unclog so many septics for free until he feels he should be rewarded for his work. Same rules apply here. I attended a con last year and I did free sketches for kids. I was happy to do it, I have kids, some of them are neat little people. In the end though, the majority of the drawings I did ended up being for infants or toddlers, with the parents proudly proclaiming they wanted a sketch of Wolverine. Somewhere between crapping himself and drooling, I doubt that kid asked his Daddy for a Wolverine sketch (yellow costume no-less). I didn't mind the sketching, it was a challenge and I agreed to do it. Over the course of the 2 days however, not one parent offered to buy a commission, a comic or a con sketch of their own. My point is, because I was doing sketches for free, I was given no value by the people.

So instances like the one above cloud my view about what I should be asking for my work. At conventions I do sketches for $15. I think that's a fair price for my 20 or so minutes worth of work to provide the buyer with a unique piece of art. Sometimes I get people who say I should charge more and actually force more money into my hands, sometimes I get people who make faces if I don't do a free sketch for them. I do include a free quick sketch if they buy a copy of my comic or sketchbook, but that would still cost money and they are not interested in that. I usually take on commissions ranging from $30-$50 and I sell most of my original art for only $10-25 bucks. This is a very fair price I think, and I always appreciate the customers who come back every year and support me.

I guess what prompted this entire hot-air filled post was that earlier today I was thinking about lining up some customers for some custom sketchcard art. I have a total of 4 artist return cards from work I did for 5finity cards that I am looking to sell so I tried to gauge my value and check eBay. It was then that I noticed a card I did for a panel at the Phoenix Comic-Con, a card that was raffled off and given away for free was posted up there for a $150 buy-it-now. The person who owns the card has every right to sell it of course, but they are seriously over-estimating the value of my art. So I estimate it at more than free, they obviously have a much higher opinion of me, god bless them. I have a strong feeling that this person would never buy any work from me at a convention however, but I hope they get something for their hard work in setting up that listing.

Okay, the little bit of curiosity and self evaluation is over. All that said, I am currently taking commissions for full size pieces and sketchcards. Let me know if you are interested. super75comics(at)gmail(dot)com.


charlieclark said...

Nice post Cody you are in the right with this one I fall for the same traps, under value myself and all that which leads me to quitting half the time because I don't make a cent for doing what I originaly loved. You seem to have it down hitting shows and making books your on the right path! If I could get paid to draw all day I wouldn't hessitate to do that right now, but since I also have a family to support all my "sketching" is for personal gratification.

Ryan Cody said...

I understand where you're coming from Charlie. If the only person I had to support was myself, I probably would have taken to full time freelancing a while ago but without the safety net of constant income I just can't risk it.

wordswordswords said...

First time visitor to the world of Ryan Cody thanks to Superpunch, which never steers me wrong.

Regarding the ebay posting for your sketch card--if you do a general search for sketch cards, you will find that a huge majority of the buy-it-now auctions (sometimes outrageously) over-value their cards. I have no idea why these people continue to post them in this manner. Who buys them for that?

Regarding your free sketch idea last year--that's how I think it should be at cons, but of course people are going to take advantage of that. And that's lame. You seem to be a very forgiving type, though, which is uncommon and nice to read about.

Finally, $15 for a con sketch (in color no less) (at least from what I've seen here on your blog) is an incredibly fair price. I think the problem lately is that few people buy comic art anymore because they really aesthetically love it. They buy it imagining how much more it will be worth as a collectible (based on the artist's rep or the character drawn etc.). You can't take it personally.

I'm now going to think about who I'd like you to draw and then I'm going to email you and I hope a lot of other people do the same. Your prices are great, and I have wall space.

Scott Godlewski said...

I'm interested in a full size commission. I'll shoot you an email.

Jason Copland said...

Great post, Ryan. Something I think about, too.