Keeping Crafty: My First Stamp Commision!

I’ve while been hanging in cafes a lot lately, carving as much as I can with the free time I have. A few weeks ago, I was doing just that at Alex’s cafe, where he just so happened to be hosting a brunch event for our friends. One friend saw me working on my stamps and came by to look through my stampbook.

“Wow, these are great!” she said. “You know, I’ve been wanting to get something like this for our hagwon. Will you make one for me?”

I delightfully accepted, considering it something to do for fun. But, being a kind friend, she insisted she pay me some money for it (never really discussed how much, but meh! I’m happy to do it!). And thus, my first casual commission was born! Yay!

The project: design a cute stamp for her in-house English hagwon. The whole process was super laid back – a.k.a. I had no idea what kind of design they wanted and they were just like, “Sure, whatever you think’s best!” I decided to go with sock monkeys, since that’s a class project they’ve been working with their students.

I needed sock monkeys, an element of conversation, and room for a phone number. Here’s what I came up with!

image

It’s about 10 x 4 cm. Perfect for stamping onto letterheads and notebooks!

Marta and I had a very fruitful and thought-provoking conversation today about commission prices for artwork – what’s fair, how to go about discussing it with a client, and the calculations to be made. I had asked for her advice about how much to charge for this stamp (though “charging” feels awkward to me, since I meant to do it for fun and had the money insisted upon me!), and she gave me some very wise advice. Here is what she said:

Throw them a line saying, “Btw we didn’t talk about this before but just to get it out of the way, what’s your budget?”

If they say on the low end and it’s really wayy too low (like 10K [10k won ~ $10 CAD]), be like well my materials+time together, I can’t really sell it for less than ____. If they ask you what you think is fair, say “Well, normally I’d charge ____ for the stamp itself, but because I did a logo design, I usually charge ____ just for that. So together I think around ____ is what I’m comfortable with. Is something like that okay?”

[A]t the end of the day, they asked for something you could make because they appreciate your stuff. That means they think it’s worth something.

Wise words! (With plenty more useful things said in our conversation, here uncopied).

So, artists, how do you go about charging commission? What do you think is fair to charge a client? A friend?

This stamp was cut from a block of rubber that cost $7, came to fruition after about 2 hours of sketches and drafts, and another 2 hours of carving time. Marta and I both agreed that $30 would be the absolute minimum for a custom piece like this.

What say you?


3 thoughts on “Keeping Crafty: My First Stamp Commision!

  1. Yay I’m quotable level! To throw in my extra two cents (three cents at this point?), I’d say charge the same to your friends as you would anyone else. Especially when it comes to the arts, people have a misconception that your creative work is less valued than more conventional work. But would you ask a plumber for a discount? For free labour? To pay them in a year and a half’s time because money is tight right now but they need it immediately? If they’re quality friends, they’ll want to support you. Having ordered custom commissions from friends before, I feel it’s an insult to feel like any less of a client than they’re used to working with. First step of becoming an artisan is be professional and don’t undervalue your craft or product! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pricing is the worst part of art for me. But in all truth who would refuse $30 for a personalized stamp? If you take a minimum wage of $10/hr (more or less depending where) x your 4 hours work on it and add the supply cost of $7 it comes out to $47. So $30 is a bonus price…for a very unique stamp. Which is super well done and so cute!

    Like

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