by Mark Laurie Published 01/09/2006
As much fun as I'm having learning Painter IX5, there is a small mercenary voice that keeps asking, "So how do you approach making money with this product?" I've found I'm not the only photographer knee deep it wet pixels asking this.
So a side trip of the art quest was finding the best pricing approach for these new images. Many photographer/artists shared their philosophies with me; I'll cover three in detail with you. As you develop your pricing model, you may want to consider, even incorporate, some of these approaches.
A core value everyone touchstones is from the question, what is my creative time worth? That ranged from $50/hour to $240/hour. Speed and skill stirred the mix. The $240/hour artist works faster with more skill. So a starting point, or at least one guide, for the pricing arch is your creative hourly value, something to keep your eye on as the complete value is worked up.
Before you begin though, do a couple of pieces - see how long it takes to create something you can sell. Do one as a 16x20 and another as a 32x40. Your speed and quality will give you a hint of where you fit. Don't make the mistake of pricing it too low. This is not the arena to be giving your hard-earned talent away.
A thing to remember is that wherever you start, it is just that, a start. You should have regular price increases to keep moving yourself up the scale. This approach will also ensure you keep up with the learning of new and better techniques, because you can afford to and because you'll need to
There are a few overall things I noticed. All the artists had a minimum size, which most often was 16x20 inches. Next, the base seemed never lower than an additional $1,000 on top of the price for your best product. However, this was not cut and dry - the pricing reflected the complexity of the art piece, both in the medium, (which was typically oil or watercolour) and in the subject matter (number of people, detail rendered in background.)
Now before we get too deep into the actual dollars talked about here, please remember they are presented as a framework, some are US bucks, some Canuck coin. It is not so much the actual amount you want to focus on, but the relationships to the sizes and art work. These are presented as models to work from.
A long-time artist like Jane Conner-ziser has her approach pretty refined. In her part of the world, her partner Patrick does the photography. She explained their 16x20 print price is $750, when turned into a simple watercolour it's $2,200; when into an oil it's $3,600. These are her starting price points. Jane's pricing climbs, so a 30x40 oil of a single subject, full-length child or three-quarter length adult, is $7,500. Her prices are for a single person, in plain clothing with a plain background. She adds 50% more for each extra person and 50% for more complex backgrounds. Even these extras are just a starting point for detail delivery; if the background becomes very complex her pricing will rise to match.
Remember when painting your digital image; you can simplify or even bring in a new background or, with your brush stroke, simplify the outfit/background details.
Jane was one of the artists who brought Painter into the main stream. She looks too young to be considered a pioneer yet she was and remains one. If you want a good grounding in Painter (even the new CS2 for that matter) take a look at her DVDs. (http://www.janesdigitalart.com/products.html). She has just released the full updates to both products.
Jane is an example of an artist who works fast and with skill. While her approach is drawn from the art world, and most of the artists I talked to reflect that same path, she does it from an hourly framework. Her base-line maths runs at the $200/ hour.
With her experience she knows how long a complex piece will take, and uses the hourly ticker to help create the pricing arch. Be mindful she doesn't go hard and fast with that hourly rate, it's just a minimum guide in her pricing calculations.
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