HI folks! Well, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I posted anything here, having found myself somewhat distracted and overwhelmed by several other things going on at the moment. But, I’m back! Whether I’m back for any longer than this single post remains to be seen, but there is something that has been playing on mind a lot lately that I feel the need to get down. And this feels like the most appropriate place.
Recently I got into a bit of a spat with another person after they removed the signature from another artists artwork with the intent to embroider it on … whatever they planned to embroider it on and sell. I do not regret contacting the artist involved, and although it caused some conflict what I did was an appropriate response that, I hope, other people would do that for me if they saw my artwork being altered and butchered without first getting my consent. Ever since, I have been particularly vocal about issues surrounding both copyright and artists getting their worth. Today I choose not to focus on the copyright issue, instead I want to focus on your worth.
I have been guilty, as have many artists, of feeling somewhat uncomfortable and downright dirty for quoting a price for my artwork when people ask. Even to this day, it frightens me to give a quote anywhere over £30 because I’m still very much stuck in the ‘am I good enough’ mindset when it comes to my artwork. That people gladly pay that and more for my artwork has done only a little to calm me and to convince me that, actually, I do have a right to ask this of people when they show interest in my work.
A lot of artists, when they first start out, will experience this. They may find themselves, as did I, doing work for free based on the promise of ‘good exposure’ because we simply lack the confidence to ask for a fair fee. We find ourselves exploited by the people who know how to work ‘our kind’, and who can spot an unsure artist a mile away. Having been exploited in this way I find it incredibly insulting and frustrating when I see people using new artists in this way. On many an occasion I have butted in on the odd facebook conversation, stating that the artist would probably appreciate payment rather than empty promises for their hard work, and generally the artist is grateful that finally someone aside from themselves thinks their art is worth something. The turning point in my ‘career’, I suppose, was when someone first offered to pay me for my art. Until that point people were happy to get free doodles, and request more doodles, which I didn’t mind so much as they were friends. But when someone came up to me and said they would give me £15 for a drawing of their rat I almost cried. Here was someone who understood, someone who gave me the confidence in my talents and skills that I desperately needed. And it changed everything for me.
I still worry about my prices, when I upped them at the beginning of the year to try and reach something that at least resembled a minimum wage I didn’t sleep. I honestly didn’t sleep that night, convinced I would get several pm’s from people telling me how greedy and horrid I was, to wake up and find no more likes on my facebook group and that I would never see another commission come in again. But that didn’t happen. I woke up to find another commission had come through from someone who didn’t even blink at the new prices, and only once has it ever been brought up. I still under price myself, I’m painfully aware of that, but now I am at least earning enough for me to seriously consider moving onwards to full time self employment.
The lesson, really, is to never ever doubt your worth. I’m not saying you should overcharge, an inflation of ego can do even more damage to your business and career than a lack of, but you should try and remind yourself that, you know what? Your time IS worth something. Your talents ARE worth paying for. Don’t cut yourself short because you fear what people will say to you and because you doubt what you are capable of.