Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

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Applegate
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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#46 Post by Applegate » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:39 am

Rozume wrote:
I am guessing the simplest answer would be to create an industry standard for prices and quality, but how would someone go around doing that in the first place?
Let me refer you to The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook.
I think it's interesting you're linking people to a product they have to buy in order to get to the "industry standard". If you don't make it accessible to everyone easily, it becomes difficult to impose it on others.

I think this thread as a whole is interesting. The underlying idea here appears to be that, "People who don't charge enough for their work undermine their craft". This is a funny statement, because it takes a field that has so much freedom and in one fell swoop attacks everyone in that field who doesn't comply to an unwritten rule about the "value of the craft".

Pricing art is difficult. You not only have a lot of variables you have to attach a value to, but you also have to ask yourself if it's fair to value those things. After all, we live in a society where it doesn't matter if you spent one month learning how to do your job or if you spent two years doing so: you get paid for doing your job, and your job has a fixed value to it. But an artist, so some people in this thread say, should be charging their clients for all the time they put into studying. An artist, so it seems, is the one job in the world where you charge people not only for the work you do, but also for how long it took you to get the qualifications to do your job. Naturally, this offends some sensibilities and people put question marks next to it.

Artists can be very snobby. They're one of few trades in the world where people will be angry when you're paid exactly how much you value your own work. I remember a game designer advising people to find artists whose asking price is close to what you're willing to pay, instead of getting the more expensive artists whose art are closer to what you want. The result was a lot of artists being very angry and calling for a boycott, because no one should be paying the artists what they're asking for if those artists are just flat-out wrong.

More often than not, this anger is directed at hobbyists. People who want to earn some money on the side doing things they love, and who don't charge professional rates. I can understand that: if I were to write you a story in my spare time, I'd be loathe to charge you as much as the guy who sets aside time in his schedule and who writes for a living. That feels arrogant and disrespectful from my side.

So if you ask me, "How do you feel about artists with low prices?", I'll answer that if they find that fair compensation for their work, I respect that. I will never allow someone's pricing to be a factor in whether or not I will give them work. "I feel like it'd be exploitation so I don't want to work with them" is basically saying that rather than giving them work and pay them less than you feel comfortable with, you'd rather they don't get work. Why work hard for little pay when you can receive nothing for doing nothing? That, more than anything, annoys me: who are you to decide how I should feel, and who are you to decide what I should charge for my craft?

If I'm happy with what I do, and I feel comfortable with myself, I think it's supremely disrespectful to try and make me feel bad about myself, to deprive me from work, and to declare to others that I am somehow terrible for not charging as much as you do. There's a certain argument to be made for keeping art accessible for those with lower dispensable income. I'm OK with that.

There's always be people who feel you get what you pay for and who'd happily pay you more for your work. That's your market. Stop tearing into other people's market and chiding them for what they do. That bloke with $20 to spend isn't suddenly going to triple his budget so he can buy one piece of your art, so you don't need to be concerned about your own profits.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#47 Post by LIZM » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:52 am

Mad Harlequin wrote:They're different issues, but according to Rozume's argument, those who undersell cheapen their craft. How is someone like me supposed to feel about such an assertion? So these two issues are actually at least partially related.
Which is why I was merely trying to explain my point of view instead as to why I feel like they're different issues. I obviously can't speak for Rozume anyway, but I don't think it was their intention to "look down" on people who offer their work for free at all. If what you're doing works for you, that's all that matters, really.
Mad Harlequin wrote:Did I say something that implied I'm not aware of these types of things? I know how valuable free time is. I just happen to have a lot more of it at the moment because I'm still seeking gainful employment.

Obviously I'd be happy to be paid. I have the required skill. But there's almost nobody out there who offers paying work of this type. I've applied for such positions (both here and elsewhere) in the past and have ended up being thrown out because my work wasn't seen as good enough.

I'm left with only one option: doing something really good for free, and then holding it up as an example of how good I am so no one can doubt me again.
Ah, my second and third paragraph weren't directed at you, they were more of a personal view on the general matter. I should've most likely placed them more accurately in my post. I never meant to imply that you weren't aware of these types of issues; if that's what it sounded like, then I apologize! If anything, your posts make me believe you have a better understanding than many others, younger people especially.

--

All this talk about passion makes me feel nostalgic. I sort of used to think that way when I was younger. Nowadays I am extremely passionate about my own game, but other than that, everything even remotely close to passion when it comes to making games is dead to me. I love designing characters, I love tearing my hair out when I'm dealing with tricky translations, but the bitter reality is that I'm not in a situation that allows me to "waste" time -- as harsh as it sounds -- for other people's projects unless there's a good reason why I should. In other words, money.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#48 Post by Deji » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:16 pm

I personally think it all comes down to the individuals, both artists offering their work for money and people wanting to buy art from artists.

I don't think anybody should encourage, let alone impose, a pricing chart or whatever for artists.
Something like... "if you live in A, your skill is B, your years of experience and study are C, you have D amount of work released under your name, and it takes you E amount of hours to do this, you should charge Z" for *everybody* just doesn't work, yet, we sometimes expect people to instinctively adhere to something of the sort.

I think, as an artist, you should regulate your own prices, like many people already said.
You usually start charging little, since it's probably a hobby and something you do for fun on the side.
You end up raising your prices according to experience, if you're spending time/money studying the subject, and demand: if you get a lot of people asking for your art, you can probably afford raising your prices a bit (it will also allow you to have less workload for the same amount of money), same if you feel like things take you longer to do now and that you have improved.
Now, if you price yourself "too high", there are two possible scenarios:
1. Only a few people will commission you, meaning little workload for higher income... however you need to find a balance!
2. People stop commissioning altogether and you have to lower your price to be able to make money.

When you're a professional artist (professional as in you draw for a living and you pay for your housing, food and daily life with the money you make from art, regardless of your skill), you have to find the magical number that balances the money you need to live, amount of work you can do and how many people are willing to hire you.
It takes practice to get it right ^^;

As people said (and like the silly statement formula a the beginning of my post implied), it also comes down to what the cost of living is in wherever part of the world you live in (newsflash for some people out there: not everybody on the internet lives in USA!).
I can get by perfectly fine making, idk, US$700 a month right now. But I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people in other places and in other living situations that have a cost of living a lot higher than $700 a month so they need to work and charge more than I do! And maybe other people would have a luxury life with that much money in some other parts of the world.
You can't compare them and ask them all to charge the same across the globe.


Now, for people commissioning things, I think it all comes down to window shopping a lot?

If you have a budget, try to find the best artists that fits that budget, period. It's that simple.
And you don't complain all the "good artists" charge more than what you can pay, there's a reason they're charging as much as they do (whatever that reason is) and you don't get to question their motives.
If you *really* want your project or your commissioned art to have a certain look that you can't afford, just keep saving until you can!

And if the artist you like is undercharging, according to you, try to leave them a tip to compensate and reward them for they good job! :)

At least that's my point of view and experience as both a person that draws for a living and that sometimes commissions others with her spare money.

EDIT 1 PS: I probably rambled a lot, I apologise if I did >>;

EDIT 2: I forgot to add:
While you lose nothing asking an artist to work for free on your project, try to avoid asking artists that draw for a living.
You see, we draw for other people all day for a living. anywhere between 4 and 10+ hours a day, 5-7 days of the week.
While your project may be awesome, we want to spend our free time drawing whatever the hell we want, like fanarts or personal project or maybe doing stuff other than drawing!
We're not machines that only fulfil their purpose in life by drawing for others :'3 We need to rest from work too!
And, sadly, for most professional artists, drawing for other people = work.
So please avoid this ^^;
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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#49 Post by papillon » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:22 pm

Applegate wrote:
Pricing art is difficult. You not only have a lot of variables you have to attach a value to, but you also have to ask yourself if it's fair to value those things. After all, we live in a society where it doesn't matter if you spent one month learning how to do your job or if you spent two years doing so: you get paid for doing your job, and your job has a fixed value to it. But an artist, so some people in this thread say, should be charging their clients for all the time they put into studying. An artist, so it seems, is the one job in the world where you charge people not only for the work you do, but also for how long it took you to get the qualifications to do your job. Naturally, this offends some sensibilities and people put question marks next to it.
Sorry, but this is ridiculous. We absolutely DO pay people more for their jobs based on the time and effort they put into learning their skills. Look at any highly-skilled trade. Look at the whole concept of qualifications in the first place.

Even burger-flippers get paid more for having more experience at burger-flipping! :)

Doctors, lawyers, etc - their expertise is very expensive. Would you pay a kid off the internet the same amount of legal advice as you would someone who's been trained in the field?
Last edited by papillon on Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#50 Post by Applegate » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:25 pm

papillon wrote:
Applegate wrote:
Pricing art is difficult. You not only have a lot of variables you have to attach a value to, but you also have to ask yourself if it's fair to value those things. After all, we live in a society where it doesn't matter if you spent one month learning how to do your job or if you spent two years doing so: you get paid for doing your job, and your job has a fixed value to it. But an artist, so some people in this thread say, should be charging their clients for all the time they put into studying. An artist, so it seems, is the one job in the world where you charge people not only for the work you do, but also for how long it took you to get the qualifications to do your job. Naturally, this offends some sensibilities and people put question marks next to it.
Sorry, but this is ridiculous. We absolutely DO pay people more for their jobs based on the time and effort they put into learning their skills. Look at any highly-skilled trade. Look at the whole concept of qualifications in the first place.

Even burger-flippers get paid more for having more experience at burger-flipping! :)
Note that I said how long it took them to learn their craft. It's true that we pay lawyers more than a burger flipper because we recognise it takes time to get to that qualification, but we don't adjust based on how long you took to do it.

If you spend 4 years in college learning a trade, you don't get paid less than someone who flunked twice and spent 6 years learning that same craft, even if they took longer to learn the craft. The time you spent getting the qualification to do your work isn't accounted for. In the OP, though, and popularly among artists who hold the same opinion, "time spent learning to draw" is put in the equation of how much they should charge.

I agree that the time you've spent actually doing the work is accounted for, but whether you spent eight years figuring out this 'burger flipping' thing or a month, you're not getting paid any more when you start out flipping burgers.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#51 Post by papillon » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:30 pm

I get the feeling that when they say 'time learning to draw' they are not actually referring to 'I spent eight years staring at a piece of paper'. :)

No, you wouldn't pay an artist more because it took them 25 years to get X good as opposed to another artist who took only 5 years to get the same amount of good. However, when I usually see the argument about counting training time in the cost, it's because someone's complaining that "This artist can draw a sketch really fast so why should I pay them the $100 they're asking for if it took them only 2 minutes to draw it?" And in that case, the argument is that you're not paying solely for the two minutes of sketching, you're paying for the built-up expertise, however that expertise came about.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#52 Post by Applegate » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:41 pm

papillon wrote:I get the feeling that when they say 'time learning to draw' they are not actually referring to 'I spent eight years staring at a piece of paper'. :)

No, you wouldn't pay an artist more because it took them 25 years to get X good as opposed to another artist who took only 5 years to get the same amount of good. However, when I usually see the argument about counting training time in the cost, it's because someone's complaining that "This artist can draw a sketch really fast so why should I pay them the $100 they're asking for if it took them only 2 minutes to draw it?" And in that case, the argument is that you're not paying solely for the two minutes of sketching, you're paying for the built-up expertise, however that expertise came about.
I make a distinction between "learning to draw" and "refining your skill", but you may be right that the latter was meant. I sometimes tend to take things very literally.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#53 Post by Enigma » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:41 pm

Applegate wrote: Note that I said how long it took them to learn their craft. It's true that we pay lawyers more than a burger flipper because we recognise it takes time to get to that qualification, but we don't adjust based on how long you took to do it.
.
Actually the reason we pay lawyers more is because there are fewer people with the proper training to be lawyers, but we really don't pay people more for how long it takes them to learn their craft (though as acknowledged by papillon we do pay more for experience). The years of college it takes to get the training is a barrier to getting the training, but rather than the time it is the training we're paying for. At least that's my understanding of economics.

With artists you're paying for the artist's value of their own art. If you want their art you pay what they ask. How much they want to charge for their effort time and experience is up to them and if you don't place the same value on them you can shop around, there is no shortage of artists on the internet.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#54 Post by Noyemi K » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:14 pm

I think a lot of the time, this happens because the artist sees what the audience of that particular site is willing to pay and adjusts just to get work. I can't really offer a solution to that, since I'd never do art work for free, but I do offer music for basically free so perhaps it makes me a hypocrite.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#55 Post by fioricca » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:15 am

Honestly at the end of the day price is about demand and supply. When there are lots of artists in the market and not enough commissioners prices would have to be lowered, unless there are other competitive advantages such as reputation/fanbase/etc. If there are more commissioners than artists then artists can afford to charge more. For instance, I have a feeling that 18+ artists are rarer than regular artists who don't draw genitals (like me), so I'd imagine that 18+ artists are paid more on average than regular artists. Programmers also cost more than artists because they're more rare, and BG artists can ask for higher pay than character artists not only because BGs take a lot of skill and time to make, but also because character artists are more common.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#56 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:50 am

>this thread
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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#57 Post by Shoko » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:37 am

Eh, is there even that big of a "LemmaSoft Economy" that this matters? I really doubt any actually good artists are being forced to undersell themselves due to the competition. Anything else about 'cheapening the craft' is just baseless opinion.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#58 Post by Noyemi K » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:50 pm

In my experience it's actually really good on LSF; artists and developers alike are getting some good deals at least 90% of the time. I myself don't get too worked up over it.

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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#59 Post by CrimsonMoon » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:46 am

I'm not an artist but I can understand people's argument regarding the prices. As a hobbyist, I tend to look for free sprites, BGs, etc because I can't draw myself. I think if people don't have asset (ie. money) to invest on art, they should just get free resources instead of haggling for lower prices, especially since art takes effort and investment on learning, time, idea, etc.

Personally, if an artist wants to set cheap price for their work, it's their choice. It doesn't mean that they want to undersell their work. I understand that some are here as a hobby and side income, and some seek for professional jobs. IMO, some artists are here because of their passion for VN, so they're willing to set cheaper price.
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Re: Cheap Labor: When People Undersell Themselves

#60 Post by Blue Lemma » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:12 am

I think this issue is somewhat self-balancing, in that someone who charges much less for the same product and service will eventually become backlogged with work and unable to take on more. This decreases the quality of the service (longer turnaround time) and creates incentive for the artist to charge more.

There are many ways artists can differentiate themselves in the marketplace. My business doesn't always go to the cheapest or highest-quality artist. Various factors come into play depending on the project:

* cost
* art quality
* delivery time
* artist specialties (is this project a good fit, are they excited about similar work)
* reliability (will the artist deliver?)
* consistency
* flexibility
* working relationship (once you work with an artist successfully, you're more likely to continue hiring that artist since you know what to expect)

edit: hey, this is my 2000th post! woo-hoo! :-D
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