This is a question with a lot of facets, and I’m assuming you’re referencing our minimum quote for a completely original commission, because we have critters in our line-up that cost less than a trip to the movies.
I’ll start with the big one; because we are professional artists. Being good at a craft takes training and time, and you pay for both. My favorite illustration quote, and I apologize for having forgotten the source goes something like this;
"Q: If it only takes you 15 minutes to draw that, why do I have to pay you so much?
A: Because you’re paying for the years of practice it took me to be able to draw it in 15 minutes.” While we’re not talking about illustrations OR 15 minutes here, the meat of the statement is still applicable.
Bones and I have been sculpting since we could be trusted not to put the play-doh in our mouths. We have some expensive educations between us, and have logged many hours of studio time under other professional sculptors. I’m sure you’re going ‘ho hum, I don’t need this backstory!’ but this is all experience that informs the final product. We like to think we’re pretty good at what we do, and we have a lot of wonderful clients who agree.
An off-shoot here is also design. We’re pretty meticulous about our designs, both from an aesthetic point of view, and a structural one. We don’t do ‘good enough’, and while design and engineering are two of the most fun parts, they’re skills that also take time.
Time, which is another factor. This should be a no-brainer, but lots of people forget that answering emails, anon tumblr asks, comments, updating websites, photographing and posting things four thousand places all fall under the umbrella of working hours. Commissions involve a lot of back and forth particularly, between ourselves and the client, and between ourselves. Its not just the actual hands-on workshop hours we’re talking about.
We are careful about the sorts of materials we buy as well; cutting corners leads to crappy creatures that look horrible. Buying expensive supplies in large quantities costs more than buying cheap craft-grade supplies from the local art store.
The boring stuff is that we have bills to pay. We also need to buy doughnuts and cat food and occasionally new shoes or glasses (Bones I am looking at you here). We have vet bills, and insurance, gas and sometimes I splash out on a new pair of socks. What we do needs to be worthwhile monetarily for two reasons; one, we need to live and two, we’re bringing down the market if it isn’t.
Under valuing your work is a huge disservice to the art community. It tells people that “Hey, artists don’t need to earn a living wage! They can live off sunshine and pot noodle!”. It tells people that what you’ve created isn’t worth all the time, energy, and expertise you’ve invested. Your work’s price tag also carries an assumption of value. This is why in studies, people drinking wine they’ve been told is expensive are not only more satisfied, they rate it higher in terms of flavour. If your pricing is on par with Walmart, people assume that its Walmart quality, which is not the message any artist wants to send.
I’ve already gone on longer than I intended, but that’s a brief overview of the factors I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure if I had another cup of coffee in my I could go on, but I’ve got painting t’do.
~W (who kinda likes pot noodle anyway)
This needs to be spread around more I think.