I have noticed a disturbing trend in art lately ... the Cheapening of the Craft ... Perhaps these are young artists (typically in High School or sometimes even in Middle School) trying to make money on the side; or maybe they are inexperienced; or maybe they are just desperate and selling themselves SHORT ... but they are charging $10-$20 for 2-4 hours worth of custom work on portraits - either digital or traditional.
Don't you KNOW you are worth MORE?!
Do the math - Even if it only takes you two hours to do a project, at $10 - you are working for LESS than minimum wage! Maybe to YOU that is a LOT, BUT there are artists that do this FOR A LIVING. I can't live off $4-$5 an hour for my talent and time!
*I generally charge per projected time involved at around $25 an hour OR by the size and complexity of the piece (especially for traditional paintings etc, sometimes hourly is too much or insufficient to cover material costs) - it works like a flat rate - if I quote an 8 hour project, but complete it in 6 hours, I still make the 8 hour estimate - that works in reverse too - if I quote 8 hours and it takes me 16 hours - then that's on me, and pushes me to make my quote. See how that works?*
What charging minuscule amounts ultimately does is cheapens the overall craft! Then you end up with customers looking for the CHEAPEST monetary charge for the craft! Then they FREAK OUT when they ask a more seasoned artist to do something and say, for example, [for a full web design ready, merchandise logo for apparel, advertising, business cards my flat rate is $250, this includes revisions, customer feedback and 3 versions of the design, ready to use for all formats, from web, to printing, to embroidery, to stickers/decals etc]
CUSTOMER REPLIES WITH:
"WHAT?! $250 !!! My friend Joe down the street will do the same thing for $30!"
Well, then go to your "Friend Joe!" is often the internal [unsent] reply. I USED to charge $500 for the same thing- but due to technology, the ease of use, programs, tablets and saturation of the market, $500 is considered too much now - so I already cut my craft down by HALF for the same level of work and time involved.
And no, I am not charging $250 for a simple circle with words in it and some stolen vector graphic filigree - by all means, $30 is reasonable for that. It's usually something like a custom Pinup, with logo lettering, various color tones, background, shading, and around 10 layers of digital work. I have gotten efficient and faster over the years, but that STILL equates to 4-8 hours of work - especially if I am working FROM SCRATCH with actual TALENT and not just copy and pasting somebody elses talent and labeling it "mine".
Maybe I just have a higher degree of integrity and won't stoop to art thievery to put my name out there. I want my customers to have something UNIQUE, that I concocted SPECIAL just for THEM - sure, I might find (and purchase) a font that meets mine and the customer's criteria and make minor changes, but usually I work from scratch- a traditional sketch from a sketch pad that is then altered via my programs and computer.
These hack artists also don't realize that to USE someone else's hard work and pre-made vector graphics (if you're not just blatantly STEALING it off Google) usually requires membership to the Vector site to the tune of $39.99 per month and/or individual purchase license, averaging $79-$99 for commercial uses (do your math - gee, I charged $30 for that, now my bank account is MINUS -$90 to -$100- yep, that was SMART *rolls eyes*).
Don't get caught using STOLEN Vector Graphics or Googled images (aka someone else's hard work, blood, sweat and tears) for monetary gain if you've stolen them - that can get UGLY!
And no, I am not referring to those lovely digital adoptables where the hardest part is making the first layer that you then copy and alter. I am talking about CUSTOM work, that you make from scratch by building layers or composition from multiple customer references. THAT TAKES TIME. And further, stop making other artists look like over priced ASS HOLES when we charge what we know our time is worth!
I have spent a lifetime being a perfectionist at any and all tasks required of me ... I have worked in several occupations at this point in my life. I mark them off as paid training to learn a trade - most of which make me a well rounded individual with my talents.
Beside the obvious visual aspect of being a Visual Artist ... I write. I had a first ever meeting with a local writers group and felt immediately at home among them. It's been too long since I sat with a group of people and shared things I have written. What some don't know about me is that I have t least 5 books in the works, in constant evolution with plot lines.
I am finally feeling old enough and ready enough to make one or all of them happen! In 2003 I self published my first novel -- but in the last 14 years it has evolved and matured and will be one epic work once the revisions are completed.
I plan however to get my novel about a Standard Poodle and a Pilot published the traditional way. It's going to be long road - but after the encouraging words of the group when I read the first chapter aloud, I feel strongly that I have something in this story.
Two words I HATE MORE than anything ... I + CAN'T .
We've all likely heard the uplifting stories of burying the words "I can't" from our vocabulary or the fun Friday Stories as humorous, down to earthly reality written about by Craig Conrad in his book "Unstoppable!" ... I too had an upbringing that was similar in many ways to Craig's approach with his students and in his motivational assemblies.
There is an EPIC difference between being out of your league and admitting as much, and just flat out refusing by saying "I CAN'T" ...
I had a very frustrating day once with an arrogant art teacher when I was in my Senior year of school.
By Senior year I had earned enough credits in all the right categories to have been able to graduate half a year early. Instead, I chose to take on College Credit Classes and mapped out a day that was just as draining as taking college courses. My only reprieve was the art and creative writing classes I took in those spare period blocks. This class didn't TEACH much of anything by way of skill, technique, working with mediums etc ... it was demanded quiet, Gladiator Soundtrack music. Bland. Boring. Couldn't talk to friends.
I was the oldest kid of 5, living with a single father at the time. Dad worked 14-18 hours a day to keep us fed and a roof over our heads (THANK YOU DAD!) I supplemented where I could by buying my own gas for my truck and paying my dad for the insurance by working a part time job. Often times I was WIPED OUT TIRED ... but I kept at it.
SO, this one day I am working on an art project. This project had been a few weeks in the effort already, but I was stumped and burned out on it. I was trying to meld Human anatomy with that of an animal - this was just as Google was rising in popularity as a search engine- and my computer time was very limited - our art class didn't have any computers we could use. We got heaps of magazines or copied pages - no digital stuff. Anyhow, I was burned out on this project and needed a break. So I started doodling random stuff - nowadays they call it a "Sketch Dump".
Anywho ... There I was "Sketch Dumping", doing loose doodles of animal anatomy and poses and playing with shading and fantasy creatures ... up walks Teacher.
"Why aren't you working on your project today?"
I reply honestly - "I'm burned out on it and getting frustrated with it - I need to take a break from it and work on something else.I don't want to work on it today."
So Teacher gets up in my face and says "Is it that you don't want to, or 'can't'?"
I reply "I just don't want to work on it today."
"He repeats "Is it that you don't want to, or CAN'T?"
I got flustered, and rather than squawking at him in my fury, I turned my back to him and just started SCRIBBLING dark ridges and circles across the papers in front of me.
I still don't know what the point of that was - was he trying to get me to admit that "I can't" ??? I don't know for sure. I have since been able to achieve what I was working on - but admitting defeat or quitting? That NEVER occurred to me to even be that way.
I think the funniest thing I got out of that art class was now, when I am in an artsy or creative mood - I turn my Pandora to Epic Film Scores - and one of my favorite film scores is The Gladiator Soundtrack ... HAHAHAHA!!!
Chalk it off as part of my upbringing, or from life experiences - or both ... but I have little tolerance for people who beg for hand outs or try to steal other people's thunder- and/or complain regularly about how horrible things are, but then all they do is complain and never make ANY real effort to CHANGE IT. Being a generous and caring person by default often seems to put a giant target on me for people who have nothing better to do than whine about life and its trials, but then never make the necessary CHANGE(S) to become their own best champion.
There was a quote hanging up in one of my favorite teacher's classes - a famous Star Wars Yoda Quote:
Art by: johnnymorrow.deviantart.com/art/Yoda-402388270
or DO NOT,
there is no TRY"
This quote was often reiterated to me via one of my Step-fathers - he would take a pencil or a pen, or a cup - whatever was handy really - and sit it in the center of the table or counter.
He would then say, "Now 'try' to move it" ... the usual response was to nudge the item with a finger, or actually pick it up. He would then say, "NO, I said to 'try' to pick it up, not for you to actually pick it up." He's get this smirk on his face as he watched the pupil of the lesson puzzle it out. As teens and tweens we would turn into smart asses and nudge the item and pull back a hand "There. We TRIED." And we'd giggle like silly girls.
We got to see this same scenario play out for others during barbecues and family weekends ... and every time, the person would be confused. "What do you mean, TRY?" or "This is stupid, I can't TRY to pick it up, because you tell me that's NOT what you asked me to do!"
The point was made. There's no such thing as 'try' , not really - in some cases it can be a valiant effort made toward something - running a marathon, losing weight, achieving a goal, but then, you ACCOMPLISHED that goal, didn't you?! ... the beautiful thing is that often times, if you are actually making an effort ie: "trying" you WILL see results. "Trying" is the act of "DOING" ... if you sit around and do NOTHING, you are not TRYING.
The difference between those who make effort work for them are also those that are good at compartmentalizing and goal setting. They break their efforts into smaller bits and accomplishing those bits one at a time.
When you are trying to eat a metaphorical elephant, how do you do it? ONE - BITE - AT - A - TIME.
If you are trying to lose 65 lbs you break it down into feasible steps - you don't sit around eating cake and candy for a week and then freak out when you've GAINED weight- do you?! You don't sit around and make half hearted attempts at eating better and then huck the scale out a window when you've only lost water weight!
You start by eliminating the junk foods, then you walk more, then you pay attention to making better choices - take the stairs instead of elevator- walk the kids to the bus stop instead of waving them off -- By end of week one, you may have only lost 3 lbs - but you don't freak out because you haven't lost 65 lbs in one week - chances are likely it took you years to gain it, it may take years to lose it too!
You take that 3 lbs and aim to lose another 3 lbs the next week and another 3 lbs in the successive weeks- after 4 weeks you will have lost 12 lbs, and be 12 lbs closer to your goal. You keep setting goals and then making the steps to accomplish them. When things get tough is when you should dig in MOST!
It works the same with everything. If you believe you "can't", then you won't. ...
Art Thievery ... I've experienced this. Some high flutin' Digital Art company took several of my original works of art posted on Deviant and SHARED like crazy ... and then turned it into a vector graphic, changed the colors a little and then re-sold it as their "original art" to an unsuspecting customer. Well, a good friend called them out on it and flagged me to it's attention.
DON'T STEAL ART! Just because you find it on Google, DOESN'T mean you OWN it! The ARTIST owns that image and all likenesses to it the second they sign their name. If you love art and decide to share something, credit the artist to it - they love when that happens! Some people just don't know any better, or they find something that has been pinned or shared so many times that unless its watermarked, you have NO IDEA who made it originally.
I have even seen some pieces go VIRAL via sharing, but the artist is left out of the loop for some reason - then knock offs happen, people love it, but have no idea who created it ... don't be that douche that cuts an artist out of all their hard work! There are eyes EVERYWHERE and if you are "stealing" art and touting it as your own, you will eventually be called out by the artist!
I am NOT talking about coincidental similarity or a still budding and developing style. EVERY artist learns by emulating the artists they admire - however, once the area has been explored, MOST artists will then deviate to something different or take what they learned from it and adapt it to their purposes.
I borrow from techniques I amire and have several pieces I have practiced by using another artist's technique - then it's usually archived or painted over with something else. I laugh at myself sometimes when I envision a few hundred years from now and some "original Shanna" is hefted out and x-rayed only to find "hidden masterpieces" beneath existing ones ... isn't that a whoot?
I like this tactic:
Of Tennyson’s assimilative method, when he adopts an image or a suggestion from a predecessor, and works it up into his own glittering fabric, I shall give a few instances, offering as the result and summing up of the preceding inquiries a modest canon: “That great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.”
So I will amend that quote for my own purposes: "That great artists imitate and improve, where as small ones steal and spoil"
This is thought to be a derivative of Pablo Picasso's famous quote:
“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” DON'T In today's world, with all the technology - you'll likely get caught and called out, and in some cases, your pants could be sued off!
There ... I said it. Sometimes I am too polite, but damn ... I have a REALLY hard time enjoying art, when it's horribly executed.
Shanna Stott, Artist, Writer, Mommy
Shanna Stott is an artist creator and visionary capable of any artistic medium put in front of her ... follow her as she shares what she does as she sees the world through artist goggles and Little Rue's perspectives ...!