Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Don't Get It

Sometimes I feel like I need to start a post with a disclaimer, and I guess this is one of those posts.  If you are one of these people, don’t take this post as an attack, because I honestly (as the title says) don’t get it.

I have a great friend in Lucky Dunbar, who has done the artwork for my stories and I hope he can continue to do so for as long as I need artwork for my stories.  BTW, visit his Facebook Page at LuckyArt.  But, as he continues to work his craft, he will be busy with other projects and I can’t expect to always be number one on his list.  So, I’ve been perusing DeviantART and finding other artists that I could use in the event Lucky just doesn’t have the time to get something done.

In my journey’s I have found a handful of artists that do some great work and their style fits what I am looking for.  For the most part, they aren’t too expensive.  If I want a character art, it costs X.  If I want a character and a background it is X.  If I want multiple characters, etc.  One artist has even gone so far as to show examples of what you would get for so much money, with the explanation that more complexity equals more money.  Very customer friendly, and since they only have certain times when they are available for commission work, I can assume business is good for these artists.

Then there is the, what I consider, not-so-customer-friendly artists.  You almost get the feeling that if you have to ask how much, then it’s too expensive for you.   

Now, let me make something clear, for those of you who are not familiar with DeviantART.  This is not a site for well known artists.  You won’t find Vellejo, Parkinson, Bell, or Kinkade hawking their wares (okay, that would be odd for a couple of them since their dead…bad examples, but you get it).  The artists found on that site are talented people who haven’t had the exposure.  Some want to be the next big thing, while others are happy with their niche in life.

So here we get to the part I don’t understand.  What is it about pricing your artwork that needs to be a secret?  Is it too complex for you to give the potential customer an idea of what they would spend if they worked with you?  Why do you shun the apparent model that other artists follow with their pricing structure?  Or, is it a case of “if you have to ask…”?

Look, I know there is some reasoning behind it.  You have a reason for not disclosing your pricing structure, assuming you have one.  But I have no clue as to what that reason could be.

Here is how it looks.  And don’t take this as an attack.  I am simply saying this is how it looks to your average customer with no training in business101.

You overvalue your work.

I am the average customer and that is how I see it.  I don’t see your art as better than the others.  In most cases, your artwork is on par with other people who are more than happy to provide pricing information.  Any guesses on which artist I will go to?

As I said, I don’t understand.  Perhaps you don’t overvalue your work, but because I don’t understand why you want to hide your pricing structure, that is how I see it.  Not only is that how I see it; that is how the average customer sees it.  The sentence “If you have to ask, it’s too much.” can be read from two different perspectives.


  1. I suppose I'm not average. I look for what I like and, having found it, look at the price. Even if I know I am on a budget, my first criteria is it MUST be a product with which I'll be happy.

    As a photographer, that is the same approach I want in my ideal client. They are also not the average customer. They seek my quality and style of work; pricing is a secondary consideration. While a starting price can be found on my page, I don't list details because, for my ideal client, it doesn't matter as much. They know what they want and are looking for the person who can produce it.

    Is there anything wrong with people who look at price first? Nope. Would I work with them if my price fits their budget and they like my work? Sure. But I spend a lot less time talking to people who are not my ideal client by not listing a detailed price list.

    An oversimplification, but that's the heart of it from my perspective.

  2. I had to go back and read my post again, because sometimes i talk circles around what I am trying to say. It's the whole novel vs. short story thing for me.
    I never said I look at price first, nor did I intend to insinuate that the average customer looks at price first. On the contrary, I spent a few hours on DeviantART and "followed" the artists that I found their product matched what I wanted. Then, I investigated how much the art would cost.
    That is when I came across the issue I spoke of.
    These artists did not list even a "starting price", which the example i used of one character is x, character and background is x, to me is a starting price.

    Leaving this potential customer in the dark on a simple "starting price" is where they lost me. If they are indeed seeking a certain class of customer, then I can guarantee you this working man doesn't meet their standards.

    The cost and subsequent price of commissioned art is organic and one painting that appears similar to another, may legitimately be more expensive. I get that. I am willing to work with that. But not if you feel the need to keep your price a secret. Especially (from the customer standpoint), your stuff doesn't look any better than your neighbor's.

  3. If you keep your prices behind the veil and don't advertise even a starting price, you will most certainly chase people away. A restaurant that posts his menu by the door but won't tell me how much their steak costs won't pull me in, either.