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Commissions How much do I charge?

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  • Commissions How much do I charge?

    An inlaw of my brothers comes to me and say they want to me carve them a 6 ft realistic indian for their country place. They have the cedar trees there. How much do I charge? $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000. I dont have the slightest idea. How do you come up with a price? I cant use hours cause nobody could afford that. I looked online for life size realistic carved indians and couldnt find any so I dont have any idea at all. I dont want them to pay for it then find a similar size one somewhere (they travel a lot) for less. And I dont want to give it away. I know some people like to pay a lot cause they feel its better if they paid a lot. Any thoughts?????

  • #2
    Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

    No clue but I'd stick to a sum that gives you at least$10.00 ahour .

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

      You could charge by the square inch. Measure up your carving and give him a price based on that. A reasonable price for a non professional carver is about $1.50 and about $2.50 up for a professional carver. Just an opinion, but will give you food for thought.

      Pricing a piece is always a challenge, but if your client is not a friend or direct family, then he/she's a customer and charge them appropriately. It is customary to get a 25% down payment before you begin, and get a clear understanding for both parties of what is expected and when. Mark down notes of what you agree on, doesn't need to be a formal contract, but just so you remember and there's no confusion later.

      Bob
      Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

        I think Bob's prices are a bit low. Anyone selling their carving at 1.5 per inch unless it is a very simple carving with little work to get it formed is really cheap.

        Here's what I mean an 1 x 8 x10 inch relief carving contains 80 sq inches. at 1.50 a square inch the value would be $120.00 to make the avg wage of 12.00 the carving would have to be from start to finish including pattern layout, cutting , and finishing time a total of less than 10 hours work. It is easy to spend more than 10 hours on a piece just in layout time.

        If the wood cost you 10.00, the pattern purchased 5.00 , time to put a hanger on 3.00, finish Danish oil 5.00 sealer 1.50 wear and tear on the tools 2.00 lighting , heat for 10 hours 1.75 ..and band aids..Wink you would have about 25.00 in cost. So 95.00 for labor for 10.00 hours or 9.50 an hour if your complete in 10 hours.

        For me to finish an 8x10 in a light relief carving takes between 30 and 40 hours from pattern start to finish complete. When a basically untrained labor at GM makes 28.00 and graphic artist working on computers make between 30 and 60 and hour there is no way I am going to work for 3.16 an hour just because I love what I do.

        That said ,if I was hungry , I would sell it for a loaf of bread.

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        • #5
          Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

          Wow Ash....that makes too much sense.
          I've been working for bread.
          Thor
          Steve

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          • #6
            Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

            Pricing as we all know is a sticky wicket.Are you charging too little or too much.You want the commission but at the same time afraid of pricing yourself out of work,,,yet you can't work for free.

            This question is in a sense ambiguous. Ultimately, you ARE working for an hourly wage.Unless you have done a few of these before you don't really have an accurate idea of how many hours it'll take you to carve one. So you'll have to guess as to what it'll take,,,a wrong guess and you could probably make more money at McDonalds.How many hours do you think this will take?

            I guess you could try to figure out how many square inches there are in a piece like this ,,I wouldn't know how to start that since it's not a flat relief (length X width ) but a 6 ft 3 dimensional piece. I also don't know how skilled you are ,,how fast you can carve,,what your style of carving generally has been up to this point,,and what price points you work usually brings,,nor how much demand your work has.

            Another factor is the market itself. I can't price my work the same when I'm in New York,Connecticut or Philadelphia vs. my home town. Who are your clients,,what do they expect as far as the finished piece goes.Some people go crosseyed at $500 for a mantle shelf,,,others don't bat an eye at $50,000 for a complete mantle.Pricing ,,for me anyway,,depends quite a bit on the market and what it'll bear.And there is nothing wrong with charging high prices ( a relative term) as long as you can deliver that type of quality and artistic talent. At times I find it helpful to simply ask the client what their budget is for a job.Often they have no idea what something might cost so you have to educate them a bit and kind of feel out what they expect and are willing to pay,,which at times hinges on how badly they want a piece.

            One of the biggest mistakes I believe people make is pricing to what they themselves feel is expensive.

            Truthfully,,,I can't afford my own carvings.At times I think they are stupidly expensive. That doesn't matter one bit.I'm not buying it,,they are and if they can afford it,,well then it's priced right.
            There are potentially so many variables to this that it's hard to give a specific formula for pricing.If you were doing nothing but the same style of piece over and over you'd have a good reference as to a ballpark.A one off piece is a different animal entirely.I faced this problem with my first full size statue.Basically what I did back then was take my best guess as to how many weeks it might take,figure how much I wanted to make a week,,and presto,,a price.Even back then though,,I would never pick up a chisel for $10.00 an hour and at that time it might not have been a bad wage.
            At times I still "guess" this way,,but now I have an idea that something might take a day,,week,,month etc. to do and that is my starting point.I never have priced anything by the hour,in my case it's not even relevant. I'm sure if I did there are times I'd get really depressed,,sometime you win,,sometime you loose a bit of your shirt.But that's the price I'm willing to pay to stay in the game,,learn how to price,,and get the chance to carve alot of really neat pieces I would not do on my own.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

              This is just a thought, but since you have never done one of these before, why not carve this one for YOURSELF. Then you will know how long it took, what the supplies and materials cost, etc. Now figure how much you think your time is worth and throw them a figure.

              One of two things will happen.

              1: They will gasp and say that's way too much. That's why I said to carve this one for yourself. You now have a Cigar Store Indian to advertise your carvings.

              2: They will roll their eyes (behind your back, of course) and wonder how they were able to get it that cheap.

              Try doing a search of Cigar Store Indians...you will find quite a few for sale, and prices for one your size seem to be over $1,500.00 plus a third more for shipping.

              Don't sell yourself short.

              Al

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                Well that certainly is a possibility but I personally would question it's practicality. Carving a 6 ft Indian is going to be labor and time intensive to use as a gauge to find a price point and have something to use for show.Let alone after doing all that work you just might or might not have to turn around and do it all over again.It's not like doing a small sample. I'd rather do it once and get paid ,,then photograph it and advertise it that way to reach a larger audience. Who wants to have a big piece like that hanging around let alone drag it all over the place to exhibit,,,if that's what Jartzh actually does for sales...I don't know,,I have never done that myself.Besides how big is the market for these Indians,,especially if they can be had for $1500 bucks plus shipping...to me ,,,that's dirt cheap if you really want one.And if it's going to be custom carved,,,that's nowhere near the price I believe is realistic.
                Like I said ,,it's a problem. If for example you carve Santas,,and realistically it takes you say from start to finish to lay out a pattern ,,band saw it,,carve it,,seal,,paint etc. one maybe 6 inches tall ,,what,,,maybe 8-10 hours,,and using the previous guidelines of basic pricing for different trades 30 an hour,,, are you really going to sell it at $300.00? How many are found on e-bay for that price. How about $10.00 an hour,,,$100.00? Don't you see them for 30-50 bucks sometimes less,,sometimes more.

                With many items it's cheaper to just buy it than make it. Over the past few weeks I've restored 4 small statues. The clients could have gone out and purchased new ones for under 50 bucks or so. Instead they paid me $300.00 each to restore/repaint them,,took me less than a day each.Where is the logic in any of this? I 'm not sure. I do feel that you have to separate yourself from the herd and do things no-one else does,,or do things markedly better to command proper pricing that gives you the incentive to do any type of work.
                Sure ,,you could price it in the same ballpark with the others that are available,,but it'll get you nowhere fast.Been there done that,,,I don't care for starving nor working for peanuts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                  Some real good advice here, I’m going to go over it again. I sort of took a simpler approach. I charge $200 per foot (with average amount of detail) up to 5 feet. Than after 5 feet I charge $300 per foot. After 10 feet $400 per foot up until 13ft it than goes up $100 after every 3 ft. Due to the fact that I have to climb. Detail makes the difference for example I carved a Giraffe, 7 ft tall, I charged $100 per foot (not much detail) up until I reached the head than it was $300 for 1½ feet. I’m getting a little faster with the chainsaw so it sort of works for me.



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                  • #10
                    Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                    I have problems charging by size cause I can spend the same amount of time on a 2 ft piece vs a 3 ft piece. Now once its get over 4 ft then you have extra time sanding and such. This all assumes the wood is free as it is in all my commissions. They supply or pay for the wood. Before I have asked them how much they wanted to spend and I just did it based on that. For example I asked on a trophy how much they wanted to spend. 100 to 1000? They said about the middle. So I knew how much to put in it. The problem is if you take it and they arent satisfied. Has not happened to me yet but that would be a mess.

                    Actually in this case I just put it in my sister-in-laws hands since its her cousins. I said her job was to fix a price. I am still waiting.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                      Just a question of curiousity--would an art appraiser or an art curator be of any help in a situation where you just don't have a clue how to price something? I'm not art savvy but I was just wondering if an impartial art appraiser would be able set a price for your work? And then maybe you could have an idea that your price is too low or maybe it's too high, and you could adjust accordingly--or just ignore what the appraiser said.

                      BobL

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                      • #12
                        Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                        Guess I left too much for interpolation...under no stretch of the imagination did I intend to say to carve one for yourself just for display and then price and carve "another" one to sell.

                        Check those other Cigar Store Indian prices and float an estimate based on what you find there. Then carve yours and if they don't want to pay your final price, that's what I meant to carve this one for yourself.

                        Needless to say, I don't earn my livelihood at carving so I don't feel too bad if a carving doesn't sell. But having said that, if I want to give a carving away, I WILL give it away.

                        Mark is absolutely right that those 1500 buck on-line prices are dirt cheap. The problem is that they ARE out there, and that will affect your pricing, unless, of course, those folks want one carved by you. You might ask them up front what their price range is. At least then you will have some idea if it's worth your consideration.

                        Fer instance, last year a local company planning on sponsoring a Birkebinder type cross country ski event asked if I'd carve and paint two very specific trophies for them.

                        After looking over the request and considering it was, sort of, a good PR gig for our community, I quoted them a figure of $250 a piece. OOOOPS! Their "budget" was 25 bucks. This was a business opportunity for them, with a sales boost and free advertizing blitz for them which, I estimate, kicked their overall sales up by 100's 0f thousands. They wound up with a pair of laser burned placqes for around their budgeted fee.

                        Had I asked about their budget ahead of time I could have saved myself some research time and the poor gal I talked to some embarrasment.

                        Al

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                        • #13
                          Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                          Gotcha' Al !Thanks for the clarification.

                          Just wondering though,,,are we talking about hand carved pieces or chainsaw work? Just to repaint a statue about that size I'm charging what some seem to charge to carve it. If I carve it,,,guess I'm off the radar.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                            You're right Mark, there's a big difference, I for one wouldn't even think of starting one by hand, my hands wouldn't take it for one and the time would be 10fold. I appreciate any work done by hand, I'm limited to very little in what I do. The Giraffe I mentioned earlier took me 6 hours from start to finish, I'd never do that by hand. I couldn't imagine anyone would want to pay for my time taking 10 times that long. Heck I can't imagine anyone being able to do it by hand, this was a dried out ash tree, sparks were actually flying off my power tools, it was hard wood. lol

                            I should have considered whether Jartzh was carving by hand or by chainsaw, by hand you certainly couldn't use my pricing method.

                            BGH

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                            • #15
                              Re: Commissions How much do I charge?

                              Ahhh,,,now this is making sense to me. I was comparing apples and oranges.I still wonder ,,as you do,,,what the original plan was.

                              Whatever it was ,,,I think I'd have a hard time letting my sister in law set a price for a carving I would have to do,,think about,,design and be responsible for ,,,unless she herself was a great carver who gets top dollar for her work and would then be able to get a better price than I could get myself.

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