Should Artists Be Paid What They Are Worth

Do you recall the last time you admired a piece of art for its beauty and intricacy? Perhaps, you’ve even had the privilege of commissioning an artist at some point.

Was the artist the one who quoted the price…

Or was it negotiated by you?

More often than not, artists tend to devalue their works of art, especially for artists who stay in LDCs (Lesser Developed Countries).
This article seeks to shed some light into the industry, and revolves around an important question, “Should Artists be paid what they are worth?”

Table of Contents:

Should Artists be Paid What They Are Worth? (B2B vs B2C Clients)

LinkedIn Poll Results - Should Artist Be Paid What They Are Worth
LinkedIn Poll Results

In the arts industry, no matter the client (whether B2B or B2C), the general process flow is the same throughout. Both parties would first agree on the price, duration, type of artwork, no.of amendments as well as the intricacy of the artwork.

Upon the completion of the artwork and the necessary amendments, the artist will be paid the agreed remuneration accordingly. Tips can be given if the clients feel that the artist exceeded their expectations.

  • Resources: Eg. Reference image, line drawing (including drafts), books/websites, etc.
  • Scope: Eg. Timeline and no.of artists (depending on scale of the art project)
  • Objectives: Eg. Fulfilling Clients’ Concepts and ideas
  • Materials: Eg. Sourcing for quality materials like the canvas, paints, primers, sealers, etc
  • Costing: Eg. Materials Costing, Shipping, GST, Miscellaneous Costs
  • Steps: Eg. In the case of oil painting. There’s multiple layers involved and one needs to take into account the time taken to let the paint sit and dry.
Should artists be paid what they're worth: What People Perceive About Artworks Vs In Reality
What People Perceive About Artworks Vs In Reality

What Artists Do After Accepting an Art Commission

Upon the completion of the ideation and conceptualisation process, the artists will usually proceed with purchasing the relevant materials. For instance, for an oil painting, Georgian oil Paint is used while Angelus Paint is used for Leather painting.

For Artist Celine Chia, her current favourite brand for colour pencils is Prisma. There are usually different renowned brands for various mediums, and the pricing of these materials tend to be more costly due to their quality.

Once the materials have been purchased, the artist is ready to start on the commission. For traditional mediums like acrylic and oil painting, they would usually have to prime the canvas beforehand.

The general process for traditional mediums is to start off with a sketch. The sketch would take into account the proportion, lines, space, form and shapes of the subject.
This is followed by adding the base colours and adding value (luminosity), before finally adding textures to achieve the desired effects and gradation.

The same process applies when using a digital medium, with the exception of the priming and waiting (for previous layers to dry) steps.

After the layers have settled, the artists would usually critique their art piece. Based on our experience interacting with various artists in the past, we (artists) are usually the harshest critique of our own works.

This step would take quite a fair bit of time as we (the artists) would make the necessary changes and amendments to the flaws that we see in our artworks.

When going about their craft, most artists would take pride while doing their work and relish while doing so. Artists also strive to achieve the best possible standards while doing commissioned work as it’s a reflection of who they are and what they stand for.

Some artists go the extra mile to test their artwork under different lightings and exposures to ensure that the quality of their works is assured.
An example of this would be when artists use a camera to capture the image resolution as well as the proportions, in order to take into account the potential parallax error from different perspectives.

For traditional mediums, there are usually no amendments or edits needed unless it is a minor edit. In this context, the artists would proceed with the finishing touches such as adding varnish to serve as a protective coat for the painting.

For oil painting, the varnish also serves as a tool to increase the intensity of the colours in the painting. (i.e Add ‘life’ to the drawing)

For digital mediums such as portraits and graphic design, the artists would usually send the completed artwork to the client for multiple vetting. Clients would then have the option to comment and share their feedback on the artwork.

The artists would subsequently make the necessary amendments based on the clients feedback. If multiple amendments are needed, the artists have the option to charge their clients accordingly.

For digital artworks, no varnish is necessary but animations can be added upon the clients’ request.
For both mediums, the artists would usually sign off to indicate their ownership or trademark of the art piece.

How Much Should an Artist Charge For Their Services?

These are two common practices by artists in the industry, either by Hourly Rate or by Project Basis:

Hourly Rate

Formula: No of hours x Hourly Rate + Materials Cost + Miscellaneous costs (E.g Amendments + GST + Shipping)

Project Basis

Formula: Estimated total number of working hours + Materials Cost + Shipping + Miscellaneous costs (e.g. GST and overhead costs) + Manpower Costs.

For project basis, the clients are usually billed a lump sum after taking into account the above factors. 

For every project or art commission, there is usually much more intent and planning than what meets the eye.
Artists are usually proficient in their style of work and tend to dedicate their time and effort to producing the best results for their clients. 

The final artwork is usually what is being presented to the clients, but in actuality, there are so many more intangibles that go on behind the scenes, from the planning and conceptualisation  and the post edits.

This article serves to shed some light on the time and effort that goes on behind the scenes of every art piece/commission and emphasises that artists should be paid what they are worth.

Ultimately, whether artists should be paid their worth boils down to you, our potential clients. At Ccmonstersart, all our artists are highly recognised and valued for the works that they put out, with majority of the credit and remuneration going back to them.

It is our hope that readers and potential clients will get a better understanding of the happenings behind the scenes, and support the artists accordingly.

If you enjoy our articles and feel that artists should be paid what they are worth, please support our LinkedIn page and stay tuned for the latest updates!

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