Friday, May 15, 2009

What’s an Artist’s Time Worth?

I got to thinking about this topic again when I ran across something the other day by fellow Etsian, Skaldi. She wrote, “I'll work for you for almost nothing. I'll sweat for 30 hours at a time along with 3 other graphic designers as we compete together in a project that only one of us will win.” I started to argue with this statement in my head until I read further and realized this was a tongue in cheek response to requests for final drawings to be submitted for consideration instead of previous examples of the artist’s work, at a laughable hourly rate for the project. (Laughable even if the job wasn’t to be completed before the bid was awarded.)

I’m sure that an artist shouldn’t be asked to work for free. I’m also sure an artist’s time is worth more than what an unskilled high school student earns in his/her first job. Currently the US minimum wage is $6.55 per hour. It is scheduled to go up to $7.25 per hour in July of 2009. While an artist’s rate may vary according to skill and experience level, as well as type of art/product, it is the artist’s time that turns the raw materials into a finished product and compensation for this is only reasonable. I once was told that I shouldn’t charge for my time involved in designing and making my jewelry, that I should only take into consideration what my materials cost. Well, beads don’t assemble themselves into jewelry, just as computers don’t generate the vision that someone has for a logo or a banner without the graphic artist’s skill and considerable investment in software and hardware.

There are many people out there that do understand and appreciate the skill that goes into producing custom graphic designs, handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, pottery, home décor, etc. To these people, I say thank you. To those that haven’t thought about it, please contemplate what you would value your time at. How long does it really take to produce a logo, custom jewelry design or a decorated gourd? Just because someone is self employed, it doesn’t mean that they should be paid substandard wages. It is an insult to the artist to expect something for nothing.

Everyone should get a good value for their time and their money. I hope that artists take enough pride in their work to get paid for what they do and charge a reasonable price. I hope that customers see the value that the artist has added to the cost of the materials and not expect to pay just the materials cost or some token amount above that for the finished product. I think long and hard when I am pricing something to make sure that I am getting paid for my time and materials in order to be able to stay in business, while keeping my prices at a point that customers can afford and feel good about. See for yourself,


  1. Very well said. People do associate handmade with cheap. This is not so. We are handcrafters of products and should be paid accordingly.

  2. I wonder what that persons reasoning was behind that comment for us not to charge for our time? That's nuts...our time is valuable, and so are our skills!

    Wonderful post EDC!

  3. I just read a fabulous post on pricing that I wanted to share, .