Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pricing Artwork

People often wonder how much they should pay an artist for custom graphics, including "simple" designs like logos. Let me share my thoughts.

There is a story about a factory manager who kept hearing a noise. After months of not being able to locate it, he called in an expert, The expert arrived, walked around for fifteen minutes, took out a hammer, and tapped a pipe. The noise stopped immediately. The manager was greatly relieved until the expert presented him with a bill for five hundred dollars! "Five hundred dollars to tap a pipe with a hammer!?", exclaimed the manager. "No." said the expert, "A dollar to hit the pipe and four hundred and ninety nine dollars to know where to hit."

We pay for a specialist's expertise. Hopefully you choose someone who is creative and knowledgeable, but remember, artists are specialists too. There is free clip art in abundance on the Internet and in books. We pay artists to create something that is uniquely our own. Simplicity is often valued more than complexity in a design, logo, or illustration. Pricing is often associated with usage as well as the artist's reputation.

Al Hirschfield, was famous for his extremely simple (looking) caricatures that graced the pages of New Yorker Magazine. Most school children can duplicate Charles Schulz Snoopy as well as the whole Peanuts Gang. The McDonald's Golden Arches, Nike Swoosh, and the MacIntosh Apple are recognized all over the world. Many of Pablo Picasso's paintings look like they were done by a drunken fourth grader until they are examined closely.

If you are looking for an artist for a project, look first at their established work and style and see if it looks like it will represent what you want. Go from there. My grandparents paid seven hundred dollars for a logo for their riding school. It was "merely" a silhouette of a horse and English rider jumping a fence. That was over thirty years ago! You can pay tens of thousands of dollars for a "simple" logo these days.

The most import thing is that it represents you and your concept and will it serve its purpose well.

The Graphic Artists Guild (www.gag.org) publishes an annual guide with pricing recommendations, but they are guidelines only.

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