Creatives Customer Service

The idea for this blog has been something running around in the back of my mind for months. I've written, re-written it- moved it from notebook to journal to notebook again- each time tweaking it here, changing it there... It's about something that probably not many even think about as being "A Creative" isn't a professional label by traditional standards- yet somehow we all manage to lend colorful perspectives and change the world (be it in small part or large). Creatives aren't just artists with funny colored hair doodling obsessively- we're also musicians, writers, woodworkers, sculptors, photographers, jewelry creators, tee shirt designers, clothing designers... Anyone one that thinks outside of the proverbial box is a creative in some way shape or form.

Now I'm not trying to be a martyr, to stand on a soap box banging a gong to grab attention with this post... I am not trying to draw attention to some great injustice- I'm just simply trying to illustrate a point. A point that while for myself, drawing and painting and photography are my chosen outlets- just because I'm good at it doesn't mean it doesn't cost money.

Creatives are creative as an outlet from real world stress or anxiety. It helps us- it's therapy. Cheap therapy. Given a chosen medium- most of them are cheaper them finding and going to a professional head shrinker. Sometimes people like what we can do, what crawls out of our brains and into our hands to fashion into something that wasn't there before, and they compliment us, like what we do when we post a picture of it on one of our social media platforms. The ultimate compliment is if someone likes it so much they can't live without it and purchase it from us. Sure- its like sending your kid to some foreign land in an envelope with a shiny stamp on it to us- but to someone else- maybe it speaks to them enough that they need to have it in their life.

Often we creatives cannot afford to be the variation of artist we want to be. We need a more sustainable income- retail, food service, real estate, office job, insurance agent- whatever. Some are lucky enough to get to do what they love to do creatively as a real job- i.e. Tattoo artists. But 90% of us have to button down into a uniform, lock away our creative souls to fit in and around that work schedule. We can only let it out when the time clock isn't running, we aren't following someone else's rules, and when responsibilities are taken care of- we can be whom we really want to be.

The ultimate insult (and it is just that- an insult)- however sweetly it is dealt- is asking for free or deeply discounted work because "We're family..." or "We're friends..." Even more insulting is to scoff or down talk or low ball our rates- especially if we took the time to draft a quote for you. For example- having a tattoo artist work long hours drawing up a tattoo for you, using their supplies, spending time locked away working instead of playing with their kids, or taking their lady out for dinner only to have you take that drawing to Joe-Bob who bought a tattoo gun on Amazon and drained a box of ballpoint pens for ink- is bullshit.

To say to a Creative "... it should be cheaper then that, seriously all you do is doodle (photographer aspect- push a button; tattoo artist- trace a picture). "Wow- really? That much?" also not okay. There is more to photography then pushing a button on my camera. There's more to my artwork then doodles on pretty papers. When we quote our rates or the cost of a commissioned artwork, if we ask for a deposit (something I am looking into)- that's because out time, our supplies all cost money. I don't have a magical tree out back that grows sketchbooks and colored pencils. There is no magical fairy that does my photo editing for me.

You wouldn't dare think about sweet talking free service from the person that fixes your car "Dude, you poured out the bad oil and put in good oil- and that costs THAT much?"
Or to the company that supplies your electricity "Why should I pay that much? All I do it flick on a light switch!"
Or the guy that fixes your toilet- "You unplugged the poop cork! For that I have to pay how much??" ...
 Let's go a little further into the trying to make a deal concept shall we??
 Paramedics/EMT's (note I didn't say ambulance driver- because they aren't- that alone, HUGE insult) "Can I get a discount? All you did was pick up my severed toes after I ran my foot over with the lawn mower and drove me to the hospital- isn't $800 a little much??" 
Firefighters- "You drove to my house and squirted water on my deck that just so happened to be on fire because I thought you needed lighter fluid on a gas grill- really? You need to be paid??"

Why does the general populous seem to think it's okay to play "Let's make a deal" with us creative types? It actually isn't any different- newsflash!!  Here- I'll break it down real simple like for you from my aspect...

See this pretty picture? It took me two days to make it. Four if you in fact count the three layers of paint alone that each had to dry for a day before the next went on.

That piece is what's called a Multi-Media Piece. Meaning more then one method was used to make it. Here's a list of what I used and how much it cost-
Acrylic Ink: $7.00 a bottle
Sharpie Marker: $2.00
Micron Pen: $3.99 each
Prismacolor Colored Pencils: $2.89 each
Prismacolor Blender Pencil: 3.00 each
Watercolor Paint: $8.00-$26.00 per half ounce tube
Multi-Media Paper: $20.00 per pad (20 sheets)
Tape: $6.00
TIME: $55.00 per half hour

A simple water color piece with a doodle in the center-
Watercolor Paper: $25.00 a pad (12 sheets of paper)
Paint: $8.00-$26.00 per half ounce tube
Masking Agent: $25.00 a bottle
Pens: $2.00-$6.00 each
Tape: $6.00
TIME: $55.00 per half hour

Now- as far as my photography- I'll ballpark figures. Yes, I drastically undersell my work to the point where if I actually did the math I'd be making probably $3.15 an hour. But- it is what it is.
Studio Rental: $45.00
Hourly Rate: $85-$115 per hour
Editing Rate: $85.00 (most often only charged with paid shoots)
Editing Time: 2-40 hours (depending on size of shoot, desired quantity of images- blah blah blah...)
Fuel surcharge for driving to location shoots not in my studio.
Prints and CD's- entirely different story and I haven't had enough caffeine to pretend I can math at this point.

What is didn't give figures for is all this- maintaining my gear, replace or purchase of new equipment, supplies for specialty shoots (i.e. powdered paint or fabric shoots), money I pay for my website, time spent keeping up to date with all of my social media platforms outside of just the website (Instagram, Facebook Professional Page, this blog, Patreon...), money I spend on advertising, time spent away from my hubby to study and learn new techniques, time spent building lesson plans and gathering materials for my classes... on and on and on...

Do I do freebie photo shoots? Yes, yes I do. If the concept benefits the portfolios of both myself and the model in question- absolutely. Often I pay in a great home cooked meal (made by my Hubby) and honestly I've had a lot of models tell me that almost better then a handful of cash. Do I change my rates? Yes- I have degrees of discounts I sometime give- I'm not going to lie and neither should anybody else! I have "Close Personal Family" rates, I have "We're Friends OR Super Cool Human Type Person" rates, I have "Don't Know You OR Haven't Heard a Single Good Thing About You" rates... I'm honest, ya'll. I'm not trying to be a bitch or be shady- I'm openly honest about this. And anyone that says they would charge their mother the same as they'd charge a stranger is flat out lying to you.

Do I give away free artwork? Yuppers- guilty of that too. Often a free giveaway or something artsy and pretty gets me more likes on my professional Facebook page. If we're really good friends that I just so happen to have doodled a picture of some wild ass idea we had while drinking beers- you're probably going to (or did get) it. I share my talent with those whom I love and adore- have you any idea how many free prints of my photography I've given as presents for people? How many decorate the walls at my parents house?? How many times I've drawn a doodle as a thank you card or just to send to someone who might need a little cheer delivered to them in the mail? 

I have certain talents that I will pass along freely (no pun intended) however that absolutely doesn't not mean that EVERY Tom, Dick, and Joe I meet or talk to gets it for the dirt cheap. Girl's gotta make money. That's why I started a Patreon page. There I can offer this or that per level of money someone pays me monthly. My tiers (levels of patronage) range from $2 a month to $150 a month. I've been too horridly busy to keep up with it like I should, but that's about to change. I'm going to go full tilt blasting this across my platforms to see how far that'll take me.

I guess what I am so desperately trying to pound into peoples brains is that yes- I enjoy making art, be it with my camera or with my hands so do a huge amount of other people out there in the world. But that doesn't mean that I'll do it for free. Until Santa actually does exist and drops off a semi-trailer load of artistic goodies in my driveway upon request- I'm going to give you a quote for something or ask for a deposit. So will every other artist type person out there. So seriously, don't throw shade at them when they want to charge you. If you don't want to pay for it- better head over to Ikea for a piece of "Art" or "Handcrafted" whatever. I hear Hallmark sell cards with glitter on them- surely that'll make someone smile...

Shameless self-promotional spot here...
If you gives me money- I gives you pretties!!!

It has a NSFW page on it... Like, come on.... You know you wanna look. Just don't get caught by your boss. Corporate doesn't understand the difference between Porn and Fine Art... Fun fact- Neither do website hosts algorithms...

Seriously- are you waiting for me to steal your phone and force you to like this page already?? Come on!!! It's super cool and fun to check out!!!


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