How To Be Confident About The Price You Demand For Your Art


Art is everywhere. But for some weird reason, if you talk to any parents, they ask how it's a profitable venture.

They will probably ask, "Have you considered your future? Art is not something you can do for the rest of your life."

However, in the age of the internet, if you go to Fiverr, you'll probably find a lot of jobs relating to design and art. True to its name, people are offering to pay only $5 for works of art... and artists are accepting this.

It's considered OK. But quite frankly, that's ridiculous.

It's ridiculous that people believe a job will only net them $5 at the most. Even more ridiculous is the fact that artists believe their work is worth so little.

Talk to Janelle Monáe and ask her how much she paid to hire Sam Spratt: the artist who drew the cover for her The Electric Lady album. She definitely did not pay him $5 for his work.

Branding is exactly why artists should be valued. There is a certain level of prestige that comes with high-quality work, and that is paired with high pricing.

Artists are partially responsible for the feel of the coffee mug you're holding right now. They're even partly responsible for how your monitor is standing to display this very article to you.

There are a lot of crippling things that we artists tell ourselves. That's why so many of us still take those $5 jobs, even though they take us forever to complete.

Let's talk about why that is the worst thing to do. It is NOT beneficial to your clients. You need to get out of that mindset in order to truly understand your value:

If you love art, you should ask for the appropriate value for your efforts.

Starving artists believe their suffering makes their creativity better. By extension, they also believe it makes their art better.

These artists are also often the ones who refuse to learn the business side of art. They think their dedication to the creative aspect of art gives them more of an edge over the people who sell their souls in order to make money from their art.

Let's be honest here: Does anyone dare to say Queen had no artistic integrity because of the amount of money they made? What about Leonardo DiCaprio? Andy Warhol? Chase Jarvis? Elizabeth Gilbert?

No. None of them had this starving artist mentality. Suffering for your art is not an expected part of life. In fact, Elizabeth Gilbert had a lengthy discussion about this in her newest book, "Big Magic."

The point is, suffering for art is a very short-term mindset. In order to really create art in the long term, you have to get something out of it.

So, if you really love your art, ask for your due compensation. It is only fair, and you will create better art for it.

Think about it: Wouldn't you work harder if you were encouraged and recognized, rather than devalued and unappreciated? It all comes together when people have higher value for your work.

The starving artist mentality is toxic to your clients.

Alright, so you may agree that I have a point. But what if the clients refuse your demands?

Who wants to pay more money? Not you, and not your client... right?


Assuming you've not asked for something outrageously crazy, it is actually beneficial to your clients for you to ask for a higher price.

By asking them to pay more, you are actually increasing the effectiveness of your services, whether that is drawing a portrait of their dogs or creating an advertisement campaign.

This is actually covered extensively in Dan Ariely's book, "Predictably Irrational."

In his book, Ariely explains that clients are less inclined to think about money in the practical sense. It is very similar to how we groan at milk that costs us $4 instead of $3, but we quite happily buy $200 business suits for ourselves, all the while sneering at the suits that cost $59.99.

How does all this benefit the artist in question? It's simple.

When you're offering your services for ridiculously low prices (or even for free), you are ultimately labeling yourself as a low-level commodity. People don't respect you for your work, and they don't really expect much from you.

You're not even given the chance to create results that will be attributed to you before you deliver your work because you've already been branded for your service... and your service is CHEAP.

When you are priced cheaply, you become generic, non-branded salt. When you value yourself appropriately, you give yourself the opportunity to become Himalayan pink salt instead. Do you know what they say about Himalayan pink salt? People respect its health benefits fervently.

That's the sort of belief you want to inspire your clients to have in you as well.

You aren't selling out if you ask for money.

As artists, there is a lot expected of us.

Whenever we decide to ask for money for our work, we get a lot of backlash from the community. Every artist goes through this.

We do some lovely work, post the work online and just give it away for consumption, like it was easy to make. But when you ask for money, you're suddenly selling out.

But you can't think that of yourself.

First of all, there will always be people who will think you're worth nothing. It's sad, but true.

And you can't please everyone. There will always be people like this.

Suffering doesn't create great art.  In fact, it robs you of the ability to create great art in the long term.

A higher price point will improve your client's perception and appreciation of your work.

Forget everyone else. There will always be people who don't appreciate what you do. That's just the way the world works.

The starving artist mentality is a bunch of bullshit. If you're dreaming of pursuing a career in creativity, GO FOR IT. Your odds are better than ever.

The statistics are all working in your favor. The only thing you need to do is give yourself the permission to earn that amount.

If you really love your creative pursuit, you need to give yourself the permission to earn the value you are owed. Earning that value will create a much healthier creative environment for both you and your clients.

Celina Wong is a freelance creative consultant. She designs and directs marketing campaigns for companies in order to help them get the most out of their exposure. She is also the founder of Art of Commissions, a website dedicated to helping artists find their career paths.