Cross posted from DeviantArt: Thoughts on commissions - Tactical Ninja
Sep. 30th, 2013
01:08 pm - Cross posted from DeviantArt: Thoughts on commissions
A couple of people have asked me about taking commissions lately. I have vaguely entertained the idea once or twice before, but when people specifically started asking, I had to consider it more seriously. So in order to get my mind straight about it, I thought I'd try to express my thoughts.
It's flattering. Hell yeah! *fistpump* Someone thinks my work is good enough to pay me for it! Eeeee!
It's terrifying. If someone's paying me, they expect professional quality stuff, and I see all my mistakes as glaring faults.
I live in New Zealand. This means that in order to use the authentic materials that make my work stand out, I often have to import (or pay a premium for someone else having imported it). Maille stuff is an example. So, my materials cost is probably higher than for someone living in the US for example.
I love making things and I love the challenge of being presented with an idea and having to work out how to make it reality. When someone else is coming up with the idea, I get the added bonus of unknown and unexpected challenges.
I used to do commissioned pencil portraits and I was horrible to myself about a) deadlines and b) their imperfections.
The idea of making something and having it not fit people scares the crap out of me.
I make stuff for my friends as gifts all the time. I'm no stranger to sizing from a distance or making custom stuff for people who aren't the same size/shape as me.
When you give something to a friend they love it even if it's not perfect. When someone pays you, it has to be perfect.
Hehe, I see a theme developing here. Yep, I'm a perfectionist. That's why my work is good. It's also why it's slow, and why I'm so hard on myself when it doesn't come out how I'd hoped. And these things tie together to make another quite big issue:
I have no idea if people would be willing to pay what it's worth to have a perfectionist make their thing.
I've tried really hard to come up with a suitable rate for this kind of work. I see it as artisan-level skilled labour, kind of like custom art on a car might be. So I looked that up and it seems that ~$50 to $120 an hour is the going rate for that.
*watches as anyone who was considering commissioning me bails for the hills*
So let's take the lowest rate for that and halve it. $25 an hour is less than I can make shearing sheep, and quite considerably less than my day job. But I love making costumes and props, so let's run with that and use an example.
The Grey Warden outfit cost me ~$1200 for materials. *gasp* I know, don't tell my Mum, mmk? But yeah, I had to ship in a bunch of stainless steel maille from Canada (Over $100US just for shipping), and using authentic materials like leather (over $500) etc etc blah blah.
And then there's the time. I spent on average 3 hours a day for 30 days on this costume. Actually it's probably more but we'll use that for the sake of easy maths. So that's 90 hours at $25 an hour, and we get $2250. Plus the $1200 for materials.
So the Grey Warden costume would be $3450. And then I'd have to ship it to you. It weighs 10kg. I checked, and to ship that to say, San Francisco using Fedex, that's between $290US and $350US. So our grand total for the Grey Warden outfit, to your home, is *fanfare*
And now there's nobody around at all to listen to me going "Hey guys, most folks working at this level get twice as much per hour!"
So my conclusion is that although I would theoretically like to take on commissions and would be willing to work at a cut-price hourly rate because I love what I do, the fact is that the practicalities are prohibitive for all but the most dedicated folk,and the bottom line is..
Well, it's a lot of money. I dunno. Would you pay that for a cosplay made by a perfectionist with OCD that lives on an island in the middle of nowhere?
So yeah, that's about where my thoughts on commissions stop. Although, I guess I would never be swamped with requests at that rate, eh?