Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just The Facts, Ma'am

From time to time, I get asked questions about my business practices. Or people make comments Thought I'd answer some of the questions and comments here.

1. A bottle of ink doesn't cost that much so why are your (envelope) prices so high?

Well, I don't think my prices are high. My prices are competitive with colleagues in my area. I don't want to undercut my competition. That's just bad business. I also use The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. I have the 9th edition which was published in 1997. (Note to self: time to get the latest edition of the guidelines.)

Price are also set so I don't end up working for less than minimum wage. I'm sure you don't work for less than minimum wage, you shouldn't expect anyone offering services to you to work for less than minium wage.

For the laborer is worthy of his (or her) hire Luke 10:7

Also, art is my work. It's not a hobby for me. It's my bread and butter. While a bottle of ink doesn't cost much, it's part of my overhead for doing business: studio space, utilities, equipment (computer, scanner, copier), art supplies, professional development, organization dues, etc.

2. I'm a teacher, student, senior citizen, member of Junior League, why don't you give discounts?

I don't stock inventory which needs to be moved so I can add new inventory. I offer a service.

I'm also not a 6 week wonder. I'm a specialist. I've been practicing calligraphy and lettering arts for over 20 years. Pricing includes my expertise and skill with materials to create your artwork. You don't ask your doctor or your lawyer for discounts, why don't you offer the same courtesy to artists?

There were times when I first started out, I would cut my prices to get the work. What happened was I would be resentful of doing the work when I realized I was working for less than peanuts. Reducing my price also sends the message to you that you're right. My work isn't worth anything. And that's certainly not true.

But the bottom line is the bank, electric company, telephone company, don't give me discounts.

3. Why won't you donate your services to my group?

I do donate my services to groups and causes that are near and dear to my heart. Even then, there are only so many times during the year, I can donate services. The IRS frowns on too many charitable tax deductions.

4. My matron of honor said she would address my invitations for 50 cents each. But she's pregant and I don't want to impose on her. I really like your work, but don't want to pay that much.

So, you don't want to impose on your matron of honor, but you want to impose her less living wage rate on me.

Your matron of honor has offered you an incredible and generous gift. You'll have someone close to you putting a personal touch on your invitations. In the interest of cutting your costs, invite your bridal party to an invitation addressing party.

5. My Aunt Tillie does calligraphy.

How nice.

6. I have 10 certificates with names and dates to be done, and I have 10 certificates. Your rate is higher than what we have been paying.

I'm not a machine and sadly, mistakes do happen. A higher rate is charged for the stress and pressure factor of not having extra stock, just in case. You are free to comparative shop.

7. Why does it take you 7 to 10 business days to address 100 invitations?

 I'm not a machine so I can't pound out your envelopes in an hour. And, your project is not the only one I'm working on.

8. I can't pay you, but your art work will get lots of exposure.

While you may think that's a generous offer, it really isn't. You don't work for free, you shouldn't expect anyone else to work for free. See the Bible quote in answer number 1. What you're really saying when you ask for work to be done for free, is you don't value the work or the skill to accomplish it.

9. I only have one certificate, can you fill it out while I wait?


If you didn't hear about it, Sainsbury, a London grocery store advertised for an artist to decorate their staff room for free. Here's the article and an artist response to the ad.


  1. It seems like anything that involves creativity comes under fire, doesn't it? How do you get the word out about your area of expertise? Do advertise locally? Are you on etsy?

    1. Thanks for the idea of another blog post.

  2. Amazing what people will say isn't it? I always ask, "Would YOU do it for that price/time frame?" :-/

    1. And sometimes it'so hard to keep a civil tongue in my head.