For example, I slave a fair chunk of the day on an interior illo, for which I will recieve $35, eventually, in a few months. To unwind, I go doodle something.
The last few doodles sold in one to two days, for anywhere between $30-60 depending on size.
This is a pretty extreme example, quarter-page interior illos being the sort of rock bottom of game prices, and the statistical sample of doodle sales being very small, but still.
Then I spend four or five days doing a painting for a private commission (stretched out over the course of several weeks of correspondance.) For this, I will recieve $200, and while some are cool and interesting, the usual will-you-draw-my-character variety can turn into a Bataan Death March of unmotivation. And there are rarely, if ever, any print sales to be had in commissions.
In order to feed the muse, I will then spend two to three evenings--usually not the whole day, in fact, since I'll be painting on commissions during the day-- doing a painting of my own, which I will enjoy, and for which I will recieve between $250-400 if it sells (which it has been doing about 50% of the time lately) and which will then often rake in up to another $100 over time in print sales.
So...what this is lookin 'like on the surface is that I am actually being paid less to do things I don't enjoy nearly so much. And this is not a good state of affairs at all--it makes lousy business sense, if nothing else. I am losing money by taking commissions when I could do my own work in half the time and sell it for twice as much.
Mmm. Hmmm, hmm, hmm.
I am trying to think of solutions. Since my waiting list is out to the end of the year, I've got a current moratorium on new private commissions. I am thinking once they open again, I may hike my prices up to a whopping $350 to start. This will at least have the benefit of cutting down on my rather unmanageable non-commecial commission load. Whether ANYONE will bite at that price, I dunno, but once tweaked, I can always tweak again.
The other option is to change the sorts of commissions I do. I was unutterably delighted when a recent commissioner said "Paint anything you want, I just want an original, just include (element X)." That is a fabulous sort of thing. I would not protest in the slightest if all the commissions were like that. But I don't know if I can make such a switch profitably--if people would be willing to shell out money with no more direction than "Paint something with a star-nosed mole in it," or if most commissioners want Their Particular Character doing Their Particular Thing.
Part of it, of course, is that I am reluctant to depend on art sales. They tend to be capricious, and there's a real fear that I will glut the market--probably half the people who buy the big pieces are recurring sales to a few collectors, and these dear and wonderful people do not have unlimited funds. The small pieces, on the other hand, can go to just about anybody--it's easier to do an impulse buy of $50 than of $500. But with a commission, I have money built in. I know I'm gonna make X dollars off this painting. With my own stuff, I have no guarantees.
Hmm. Hmm, hmm, hmm.
I dunno. One place to start is to begin keeping better track of the commission vs. personal art sales--I know last month I made maybe $600 in commissions, vs. a whopping $3200 in sales. Now, last month was the best I've ever done, more than twice my usual sales, and there was a con which counted for a good $750 bump, but nevertheless, that's nearly four times the money in personal sales as in commissions, and this month (on a much reduced scale!) is shaping up in the same way. Even the months where everything absolutely tanks, like February, when I made under $400 dollars, the money I DID make was all in sales. So obviously I need to keep track of the exact figures for a few more months and see.
But if the money really is mostly in sales than in commissions, then I'm an idiot, because commissions far and away consume my time--I spend at least 75% of my painting time on commissions, both commercial and non-commercial. And if, as I fear, I make 75% of my money off 25% of my time, then I'm a bloody moron who is spending a huge amount of time doing stuff she doesn't enjoy that much in order to make a lot less money, merely in order to have a guarantee of payment somewhere in there. I may, in essence, be trading the vast majority of my time for certainty (which is idiotic, when you figure that very
I dunno. Anybody have any thoughts? I've gnawed this one over like a rat with a Nerds rope, and I'm not getting much farther along than that. Business ain't my strong suit, but it sure seems like I'm screwin' up somewhere here.