004: Know your worth
+ learning how to say no
Quick note from the top: Last week and this week for those doing the weekly drawing prompts, I’m sending out 13 “something specials” in the mail. Follow the instructions at the end to get yours!
Now let’s get into this week’s topic.
If you’re an artist of any kind you’ve probably heard the following:
“Can you whip something for me real quick?”
“I can’t pay you but I can tell all my friends about your work!”
“Hey I need a last minute gift for my Uncle’s retirement….”
For a long, long time, I felt really bad turning down my friends and family when they asked for free work. When you’re first starting out it might seem kind of nice to be thought of, or that they thought enough of your work to make it into a gift for someone else. But that’s just not sustainable over time.
They know not what they do.
Don’t take it personally. When I was younger I would sometimes feel like “how dare they ask me for free work!” — but the truth is people don’t really understand, they think it’s harmless to ask. Yeah, it can feel insulting sometimes, but I try to have a little empathy. It’s a sad fact that the world in general doesn’t value art.
It’s actually your fault.
At some point I realized I was part of the problem here. I was just going along with it because I didn’t want to let my friends or family down. Even on days where I was completely drained, I just did it anyways to make other people happy. You kind of do it to yourself.
Here’s how I handle this now in a much better and more sustainable way.
Remember, if YOU don’t put a value on your own art, how can you ever expect the rest of the world to?
Scenario 1: Only draw for free when I really feel it.
I’m not saying not to draw anything for free anymore and to become a giant primadonna. My rule of thumb is I really have to FEEL it. That only usually happens for me when something aligns with my values or passions.
And even if I do feel like doing it, I need to take stock of what else I have going on to prevent burnout.
Scenario 2: Have your standard rates at the ready
Have some basic flat rates to give. Here’s a sample conversation:
Them: “Hey I was wondering if you coud my wife as Thor on a sketch cover?”
Me: “I have an open spot next week. I can do color for $125 or BNW for $75. If you want to lock in that spot, I can accept paypal, venmo or applepay.”
They will either accept this, decline it or try to barter your rate with their own budget. Pretty simple? I know it’s easier said then done. Sometimes I would feel bad when someone would say they only had half of that and I would do it anyways. These days I stick to my rate and I rarely barter.
Don’t know how to set your rates? I included how I do it at the end of this email.
Scenario 3: Have your “I don’t really want to do this” rates ready
There are times when an offer comes in that I know I could probably easily do or I have the skills to do a great job with, but I’m just NOT feeling it for my standard rates.
I have to have an honest conversation with myself. Do I really want to spend X amount of time on this big project for this pay? Would I feel better and say yes at a certain rate? What is this time and energy worth to me?
And then I set a rate accordingly and offer it. A couple times I quoted super high and the client said yes. The only hard rule I have here (and you should to) is, if I quote someone high like that, and they accept, then I have to commit to doing it even if I didn’t feel it.
Don’t agree and then drag your feet because you didn’t want to do it. You rock that job out. It’s just part of being a professional.
Since this week’s theme is “all about the Benjamins” , it’s fitting that the drawing prompt be BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Draw him as you wish. Here his is looking bad-ass one of my favorite paintings “Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky”
Fun fact: Did you know that old Ben Franklin drew the first “editorial cartoon”. The famous “Join or Die” snake. Which by the way, helped to spark a revolution.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Post to Instagram, tag #drawordiechallenge. If you’re not feeling brave enough to post yet, DM me on instagram @djcoffman - This week I will send 13 special things out in the mail to those who do this prompt. (no repeats for now, until there’s a NEW thing to send)
How to set your rates. Here’s how I do it, and a good start for you.
Back to the drawing board for me...
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