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never underprice your art; commercial art vs. fine art

March 11, 2007 on 10:33 am

Never undersell your art.  Here’s a story.

Long time passing, I sold a piece commissioned by a BIG company on spec.  They bought it.  I, of course, was ecstatic.  While I had successfully placed paintings and sculpts, digital art was a new media.  I thought I was “in.”  Wrong.  They requested and I gave all rights (NEVER turn over all rights unless you get an agent to work out the details for you.  In fact, when dealing with any of the Majors, especially the Majors, always use an agent or intellectual properties lawyer.)  Anyway, on with the story.  I sold it for less than I spent on it in time, materials, processing — positives, prints…da, da-da, da-da — but I thought it would be a stepping stone for me, so….  All rights.  That image wound up, not only on what it was meant for, but on the backs of t-shirts, parts of it on cups, on calendars, with NO credit given the artist, me….sigh.  So long as the property was hot, they made money off my image, and they made money off of parts of my image, and I didn’t get a dime in royalties, plus lost all right to display that image as mine — I didn’t get even so much as a reference, much less my signature on it, no credits in the fine print…!!!  NEVER SELL ALL RIGHTS and get an agent to handle negotiations ALWAYS.  Once you’ve got a bite, you get an agent involved, never mind how much it costs you out of pocket or as a percentage of your take.

How to price digital art, and how to get into the “market.”

Well, GAG is probably the place you want to go.  (Graphic Arts Guild) Do some research there. 

My own sentiments are, price HIGH.  You do yourself no favors by pricing low.  It just says: “I don’t think a lot about myself or my work.  I’m desperate.”  Respect yourself that much, at least.  Others won’t if you don’t.

Now let’s talk about two completely different markets and types of art: fine art verses commercial art. 

Doing book covers, art for glossy magazines like Dog World and Arabian Horse World, CD art, advertisements — anything that’s going to go ON a product rather that BE a product is subject to some meticulous industry standards and specs.  Don’t play if you don’t own the software, know the techniques and own the “talk.”  Once you know the techniques and can walk the walk…if that’s what you want to do, realize you have a LOT of competition — jealous competition…cut-throat competition…from big companies and big-name artists.  They are very jealous of their market share and want yours too, even what you don’t yet have.  And you have to price competitively.  Never UNDER-CUT your competition in price.  OVER-THROW your competition with service and quality and “being easy to work with.”

Fine Art is “you” –  all you.  You can do what you want, how you want, and nobody’s spec sheets are going to make you sweat. 

…Oh, you want my opinion on pricing fine art? I need more coffee first.


Copyright 2007 D.L.Keur &/or F.W.Lineberry, http://www.zentao.com . All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted ONLY if linked and credited.




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