Working out how much to charge for a commission can be nerve wracking to say the least.
I have spent years trying to work out a simple equation that brings several factors together.
Cost of art materials
What if I do not really want to do this painting
Also add into the equation that
Sketches, preparatory work and photographs you have to prepare
The painting will be personal to you
What your client expects
Should I take a deposit
Being paid what your worth
You probably will not get all of the work you quote for
The first thing to consider is your ‘get out of bed’ rate.
This is how much it actually costs for you to get out your sketch book or brushes and do the painting.
I have an hourly rate, I estimate how long it takes to do the painting x hourly rate.
Before you say that looks expensive ask yourself “Am I worth it?”
You where given a gift (so was everyone else) you are aware of yours but do not give it away, your accountant, doctor, dentist even cleaner gets paid for what they do, so should you.
Also remember to add in the time for doing your research, photography and preliminary sketches it is all YOUR time and it costs.
2 hours travelling to take photos
4 hours preparation
12 hours in sketches (which you can show the client to agree the work that you are to do)
This is 18 hours before you begin the final piece.
So if my ‘get out of bed rate’ is, for example, £10 an hour X 18 hours in prep work that is £180 before you begin.
Stick to the same hourly rate and estimate how long it will take you; 24 hours x £10 is another £240
The cost of your materials comes strongly into the equation
The cost of the canvas
The cost of paint
The wear and tear on your art equipment.
All of these things you have to replace over time
So put a charge in for your materials
There are other factors to include;
Do you really want to paint this picture?
yes it is a bonus that you want to do it
No this makes painting a subject more difficult because the passion is missing.
When you paint you project some of your talent onto the canvas that makes it personal
Is your client a stickler or easily pleased, a client who asks for a multiude of tiny changes can soon diminsh your profits when they take more time than you have estimated for.
Should you take a deposit?
Most definately, get paid for your materials and some of your time, if the client backs out or rejects the artwork at least your costs are covered.
Don’t give your talent away, get paid what you are worth, if the commission is purely about price the client will get what they pay for.
You will not get all of the commissions you quote for; dont be disillusioned expect to lose some.
Never judge a book by it’s cover where the client is concerned, most will wince when you tell them the price but at least they will treasure your artwork because they have to pay a reasonable price.
Become a self sustaining artist, break even is good but profit feels great.