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  1. #1
    Senior Antumbra's Avatar
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    Is Free/Cheap Art so Bad?

    I was wondering how people here felt about free art and requests in terms of harming commissions and the artists who offer them. I've heard people say it dilutes the amount of people who pay for art, it attracts the wrong people, etc.

    I had someone bring it up to me after I recently did a large batch of requests. I had some artist block and figured drawing stuff for other people would help break it up and allow me to practice. They told me that other artists can lose business from people doing that.

    I'm not worried about getting crap pageviews from people who just want handouts (I didn't do it to be one of the cool kids), but I didn't want to commit an art community faux pas.

    I dunno, what is everyone's stance on giving out free art?

  2. #2
    Senior Tiido's Avatar
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    A person who is going to pay for art will do that regardless of availablility of free art and whoever is doing it.
    Nobody should come in and say what you can and cannot do, and when they do you do not have to listen.
    In the end you make some other people happy. Cannot please everyone

  3.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #3
    I want to shake my head at your friend, but the truth is as I'm not a commissioned artist, I don't really know for sure. My plebeian stance on it is that it has the potential to help the artist, too. If you do something for me, I'm always going to +fav it, and if I like it I'll probably feature it in some way (as a story or music cover, or an icon) and credit you where appropriate. This at least brings exposure, especially when you get good views and exposure to your account. I've also gone on to purchase art from said artists, though it's not terribly often I'll admit. But yeah, what Tiido said sounds about right. If people want to pay, they will pay regardless.

  4. #4
    I do commissions from time to time, but sometimes I will do pics for free. I find it helps with practice, since others may think up poses and ideas you might not yourself.

    ....however, I don't color them...

  5. #5
    That's me! Hewge's Avatar

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    Well whoever brought that up to you is a dumb ass.

  6. #6
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    I've only done a tiny portion of contract/freelance work, and mainly worked at a couple studios for about 3 years, so I'm not as experienced as most full-time freelancers, so take what I say with a grain of salt (or handful :V ).

    On paper it sounds okay - don't charge so little you hurt everyone else's business - its a bit tricky and vague in its interpretation so we should try to expand on it more; I find its more damaging than helpful to beginning artists and by extension everyone else to throw it around without acknowledging the difficulties of starting out as an artist and grading ones self worth, much less one that wants to create a business out of it.

    I use to believe it as well, that if 'we stick together' by basically price-fixing that everybody wins, we charge more in order to pay for materials/costs incurred/make a living etc, therefore we allegedly invest more into our art education and get better at art, therefore deliver better quality work to peeps looking to buy art and the cycle goes on, it sounds nice but I think its kind of an unrealistic stereotype in itself that the entire spectrum of clients and customers all 'just want cheaper art'.

    That's not denying that some people will get connected purely through "x artist charges only $5/per sketch" for example, but I think it is a mistake to say everyone is just looking for cheap art which essentially is what is being said when someone says 'don't charge so little you're hurting our commission rates'. Especially when the same customers paradoxically are often willing to go buy their favorite brand Sennheiser headphones and shell out extra because they know they're getting quality for their buck for example. You also get peeps who are so extremely fickle that they'll chase cheaper rates across the board with all their needs/wants but to be honest? I find there are many more large studios or companies to be the absolute 'worst offenders' of this especially when you consider the behind-the-scenes budget subsidies that further obfuscate the real problems, rather than the people I mention, let alone other individual commissioner's or peeps on their own looking to secure a contract for artwork of their favorite fiction. But perhaps that is only from my observation having mainly worked in studio settings instead of a freelancer basis and that I've been naturally exposed more to that than anything else.

    Regardless, people are drawn to art for several reasons, but I would not agree that pricing is a major determinant more of a simple restriction on acquiring art, that part is really an attempt of both parties meaning to find an equitable trade for something that is often extremely difficult to quantify in the first place and so its no surprise you often see artists ranging from peeps such as yourself doing the occasional cheaper request/free work up to whole modding teams doing complete art overhauls of classic games for completely free as well - and for lots of reasons, some more complex than others. Exposure, the love of the work, the love of interacting with people with similar interests, an exchange of refreshing new concepts and ideas to explore with others without the potential bureaucracy that comes with contracts and money, etc.

    Artists block totally sucks and I hope you pull through it. Even though I occasionally feel 'art block' gets thrown around as a bit of a scapegoat it can also be a block on everything even cognitively challenging and not just art - a will to create and learn - and so we may find ourselves unable to draw and simply associate it with 'art block' because we haven't yet addressed what is most intrinsically important to us WHILE we are trying to make art. So what I find helps is to analyze your own feelings about yourself and your relation to art in general, why you got into it in the first place and why you do it, not just the act of drawing and painting but what makes you break down in tears about it, what makes you break into a caffeine injected sweat over it, etc.

    Observe your motivations for creating art, whether its for free or priced it doesn't really matter.

    Don't feel compelled or pressured into thinking that what you're doing is inherently bad (free work does not inherently mean 'bad').

    If other people - particularly other artists - are saying don't charge so little because its hurting their commissions, they'd do well to look to their own work before blaming others for their own problems. If they aren't making money off their commissions then they need to up their game, not price fix the market because by doing that you come back to where we started, it hurts the beginners the most as they'll feel forced to charge higher prices for quality that might not actually be up to the standards of a lot of people AND feel terrible about it at the same time, and no-one needs that. The people repeating this 'advice' may even be in a completely different market, and would not appeal to those looking for cheaper commissions in the first place anyway, so not only are they scapegoating their own problems but simply hurting others not even related to their area or interests in art.


    I hope this helps some and sorry for the wall of text ;x.
    Last edited by forkingspoon; 05-08-2014 at 07:50 AM.

  7. #7
    Premium User QT Melon's Avatar


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    It depends.

    Some people do have that mentality that "art should be free" so when you get to the point of asking people to pay they may not pay.

    But if you enjoy doing free art it's fine. Just understand that the audience you may attract are people that don't have income, and it's not really the blame if they don't pay when you do commissions.

    There's people who feel someone's art is good enough to watch, not good enough to pay for.

    So the idea of doing free art isn't exactly the problem but doing free art with the mentality that people will pay for it when you switch to commissions isn't really that sound.

    People who will pay for art will pay for it because they like your art and can afford it, not always because you did a freebie.

  8.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #8
    Didn't try, Succeeded Fay V's Avatar



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    In my experience there are levels of customers you'll get.

    There's certainly a group of people, particularly in fandoms, that will only get art in the cheapest manner possible, so for the people that are doing 2$ commissions because they can't get a better price, then it absolutely hurts them. If someone can get for free what that one person creates, then they will not sell well.

    That isn't the fault of the free artist. When your quality improves and you can charge prices that are more worth your time, you'll find a different group of people that are more willing to pay and appreciate the time and work the artist puts in.

    The downside I found for cheap or free art is it can attract people that feel entitled to art. They expect free art and make stiff demands, or they bad mouth more expensive artists as greedy because they can get X for free or for cheap. It's annoying.

    In my experience there isn't a lot you can do about that, and it's certainly not the case for everyone (there are tons of appreciative people getting free art), but you will see fewer of those types of people when your base prices are a bit higher (starting in about 20$ range for me)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rory View Post
    I want to shake my head at your friend, but the truth is as I'm not a commissioned artist, I don't really know for sure. My plebeian stance on it is that it has the potential to help the artist, too. If you do something for me, I'm always going to +fav it, and if I like it I'll probably feature it in some way (as a story or music cover, or an icon) and credit you where appropriate. This at least brings exposure, especially when you get good views and exposure to your account. I've also gone on to purchase art from said artists, though it's not terribly often I'll admit. But yeah, what Tiido said sounds about right. If people want to pay, they will pay regardless.
    That's what I had originally thought, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't wronging other people.

    Quote Originally Posted by forkingspoon View Post
    I've only done a tiny portion of contract/freelance work, and mainly worked at a couple studios for about 3 years, so I'm not as experienced as most full-time freelancers, so take what I say with a grain of salt (or handful :V ).

    On paper it sounds okay - don't charge so little you hurt everyone else's business - its a bit tricky and vague in its interpretation so we should try to expand on it more; I find its more damaging than helpful to beginning artists and by extension everyone else to throw it around without acknowledging the difficulties of starting out as an artist and grading ones self worth, much less one that wants to create a business out of it.

    I use to believe it as well, that if 'we stick together' by basically price-fixing that everybody wins, we charge more in order to pay for materials/costs incurred/make a living etc, therefore we allegedly invest more into our art education and get better at art, therefore deliver better quality work to peeps looking to buy art and the cycle goes on, it sounds nice but I think its kind of an unrealistic stereotype in itself that the entire spectrum of clients and customers all 'just want cheaper art'.

    That's not denying that some people will get connected purely through "x artist charges only $5/per sketch" for example, but I think it is a mistake to say everyone is just looking for cheap art which essentially is what is being said when someone says 'don't charge so little you're hurting our commission rates'. Especially when the same customers paradoxically are often willing to go buy their favorite brand Sennheiser headphones and shell out extra because they know they're getting quality for their buck for example. You also get peeps who are so extremely fickle that they'll chase cheaper rates across the board with all their needs/wants but to be honest? I find there are many more large studios or companies to be the absolute 'worst offenders' of this especially when you consider the behind-the-scenes budget subsidies that further obfuscate the real problems, rather than the people I mention, let alone other individual commissioner's or peeps on their own looking to secure a contract for artwork of their favorite fiction. But perhaps that is only from my observation having mainly worked in studio settings instead of a freelancer basis and that I've been naturally exposed more to that than anything else.

    Regardless, people are drawn to art for several reasons, but I would not agree that pricing is a major determinant more of a simple restriction on acquiring art, that part is really an attempt of both parties meaning to find an equitable trade for something that is often extremely difficult to quantify in the first place and so its no surprise you often see artists ranging from peeps such as yourself doing the occasional cheaper request/free work up to whole modding teams doing complete art overhauls of classic games for completely free as well - and for lots of reasons, some more complex than others. Exposure, the love of the work, the love of interacting with people with similar interests, an exchange of refreshing new concepts and ideas to explore with others without the potential bureaucracy that comes with contracts and money, etc.

    Artists block totally sucks and I hope you pull through it. Even though I occasionally feel 'art block' gets thrown around as a bit of a scapegoat it can also be a block on everything even cognitively challenging and not just art - a will to create and learn - and so we may find ourselves unable to draw and simply associate it with 'art block' because we haven't yet addressed what is most intrinsically important to us WHILE we are trying to make art. So what I find helps is to analyze your own feelings about yourself and your relation to art in general, why you got into it in the first place and why you do it, not just the act of drawing and painting but what makes you break down in tears about it, what makes you break into a caffeine injected sweat over it, etc.

    Observe your motivations for creating art, whether its for free or priced it doesn't really matter.

    Don't feel compelled or pressured into thinking that what you're doing is inherently bad (free work does not inherently mean 'bad').

    If other people - particularly other artists - are saying don't charge so little because its hurting their commissions, they'd do well to look to their own work before blaming others for their own problems. If they aren't making money off their commissions then they need to up their game, not price fix the market because by doing that you come back to where we started, it hurts the beginners the most as they'll feel forced to charge higher prices for quality that might not actually be up to the standards of a lot of people AND feel terrible about it at the same time, and no-one needs that. The people repeating this 'advice' may even be in a completely different market, and would not appeal to those looking for cheaper commissions in the first place anyway, so not only are they scapegoating their own problems but simply hurting others not even related to their area or interests in art.


    I hope this helps some and sorry for the wall of text ;x.
    That was very helpful, thank you! I probably did generalize my artist block, really what was happening was I was trying to design and tweak my own characters over and over again and I wasn't satisfied with the outcome. I figured I should draw a wider range of things to get some inspiration and then I figured why not do some stuff for other people if I am going to that anyways.

    Quote Originally Posted by QT Melon View Post
    It depends.

    Some people do have that mentality that "art should be free" so when you get to the point of asking people to pay they may not pay.

    But if you enjoy doing free art it's fine. Just understand that the audience you may attract are people that don't have income, and it's not really the blame if they don't pay when you do commissions.

    There's people who feel someone's art is good enough to watch, not good enough to pay for.

    So the idea of doing free art isn't exactly the problem but doing free art with the mentality that people will pay for it when you switch to commissions isn't really that sound.

    People who will pay for art will pay for it because they like your art and can afford it, not always because you did a freebie.
    Yea I'm not too worried about getting commissions from it, I was more doing it for the experience and inspiration. I was more worried that someone mentioned it hurts others besides myself by saturating the market with quick free stuff. Don't get me wrong, I would love to make money (who wouldn't?), but it wasn't what I was going for in either short or long-term plans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fay V View Post
    In my experience there are levels of customers you'll get.

    There's certainly a group of people, particularly in fandoms, that will only get art in the cheapest manner possible, so for the people that are doing 2$ commissions because they can't get a better price, then it absolutely hurts them. If someone can get for free what that one person creates, then they will not sell well.

    That isn't the fault of the free artist. When your quality improves and you can charge prices that are more worth your time, you'll find a different group of people that are more willing to pay and appreciate the time and work the artist puts in.

    The downside I found for cheap or free art is it can attract people that feel entitled to art. They expect free art and make stiff demands, or they bad mouth more expensive artists as greedy because they can get X for free or for cheap. It's annoying.

    In my experience there isn't a lot you can do about that, and it's certainly not the case for everyone (there are tons of appreciative people getting free art), but you will see fewer of those types of people when your base prices are a bit higher (starting in about 20$ range for me)
    Yea I don't mind it may hurt my sales right now, I was just worried that I was hurting other people's. I would like to think my finished pieces are commission worthy and while I didn't put nearly all of my effort in to the requests, I did experiment and try somewhat so I could progress. I knew what it could do to me (such as getting people looking for more free stuff) but I was shocked when someone else mentioned it bugged them.

  10. #10
    I don't think you can say its bad, and you can't say that it is good.

    Most people have already stated what i was thinking about.
    It's not going to stop people from paying for it, most people who actually collect art know it takes time and are willing to dish out something to get exactly what they want. Some people consider it a hobby thing and that it "should be free" and you are never going to convince those people to pay for anything. then there are the people in the middle. The ones who can't afford much, who troll for freebies and may or may not be grateful for it. However in that group are also people who "pay what they can." Sometimes that isn't much.
    I think what hurts the most is people that do super high quality, time consuming work and ask for very little when doing commissions, as if their art was worth nothing. I mean, ok if you are that desperate for cash but I wish they would have more pride in their work. Thats just my opinion though.
    I myself sell "cheap artwork" but I also sell what people consider "expensive artwork" but you also need to consider where people live.
    $20 CAD is cheap compared to $20 EUR and so on.
    The point of cheap artwork really comes down to opinion, and I will say nothing more on that topic.
    When you do free artwork you are going to find yourself getting requests from all of the above in several cases.

    In the end I feel that it depends on how you want people to look at you and your artwork.
    You may even find the people who sit there and wait until every time they see the words FREE on your account and that's when they pounce you. It's not good, its not bad, but it is totally up to you.
    As a person who does commissions, art trades and the occasional free artwork, this is my opinion. Also when it comes to offering "cheap artwork" I honestly prefer to call it "affordable" because I was and kinda still am one of those people who admire work but cannot always afford it, and there are times when I go to a high end artist and buy something they offer at a much more affordable rate.

 

 

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