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Thread: Rates for cartography commissions?

  1. #11
      mearrin69 is offline
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    Heh. I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon...though it's nice to dream about doing something you *really* like all day. At my current real-world rates (and with my slow map-making speed) my Haibianr map would have cost several thousand bucks. I'm really proud of the map and all but even *I* don't think it's worth that much.
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  2. #12
      Jaxilon is offline
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    I have yet to do any paid commissions, right now I'm still working on getting what I desire out of the digital tools and learning my techniques. Eventually I hope to do some however. (So folks, when you see my stuff feel free to critique with that in mind, I will try to be strong ).

    I do however currently own and operate my own business. I can tell you this, as you grow, if your prices are too low you will find yourself swamped with work until you burn out or your quality tanks at which point you will probably quit. More likely however, you will find that you are too busy to take on that next commission and it will become apparent that you need to start charging more just to keep the volume of business under control. It's basically supply and demand, you are the supply and there is a limit to how much you can produce. Of course, you don't want to enter the market too far out of the bubble or you will never get established.

    I am sure I will be asking the same questions if and when I start doing commissions. There was a podcast about pricing for artwork on Ninja Mountain Scrolls somewhere but it was weeks ago. Seems artists always have a hard time knowing what to charge.

    Before I finished school and went into Corporate America, I did sell a few art pieces I had done (I wasn't doing maps btw) and I had no idea what to charge. The problem for me is I want paid more for doing something I hate, say digging a trench, than for doing something i love. But just because you love doing something doesn't mean it isn't of value and you might be surprised by how much it really is worth.

    There are reasons for the "starving artist" tag and it seems not knowing what to charge is one of them.
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  3. #13
      OldGuy is offline
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    I'm coming in a bit late but I'd just like to add that I don't think time required to create the map should come into play. Some of you can create awe-inspiring works of art in a few hours. It may take me weeks to create a barely passable simple map. Clearly, mine shouldn't be worth more simply because I'm slow, and yours shouldn't be worth less because you are skilled and efficient. It might be interesting to track time and figure out what your hourly rate was for the sale, but I wouldn't base the price on the estimated time. Maybe you could base an absolute minimum on an hourly rate. For instance, it may not be worth your while to do maps for a fee for less than $5-10 per hour. I wouldn't suggest that for a price but just as a way of setting a low end to a range.

    Personally, I think $50 would be quite low and $500 would be a bit high. Level of detail and quality should dictate where in that range the exact price falls. But in the end, its whatever makes you both happy.

  4. #14
    Professional Artist RecklessEnthusiasm's Avatar
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    I've really got to find where I can compete for more commissions. I've only done one paid commission so far, one which I picked up on the request forum here. It earned me $2 per placeable tile/encounter map object (I ended up making over 150 of them). The idea of making my my hobby into a lucrative one is extremely appealing... though I should probably focus on my style and technique for now.

  5. #15
      Diamond is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by RecklessEnthusiasm View Post
    I've really got to find where I can compete for more commissions.
    If you don't already have one, start a Deviant Art page. The longer you're there, the more people will see your work, and even if you do absolutely no advertising at all, you'll probably still get requests. That's what happened with me, anyway.
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  6. #16
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
    I'm coming in a bit late but I'd just like to add that I don't think time required to create the map should come into play. Some of you can create awe-inspiring works of art in a few hours. It may take me weeks to create a barely passable simple map. Clearly, mine shouldn't be worth more simply because I'm slow, and yours shouldn't be worth less because you are skilled and efficient. It might be interesting to track time and figure out what your hourly rate was for the sale, but I wouldn't base the price on the estimated time. Maybe you could base an absolute minimum on an hourly rate. For instance, it may not be worth your while to do maps for a fee for less than $5-10 per hour. I wouldn't suggest that for a price but just as a way of setting a low end to a range.

    Personally, I think $50 would be quite low and $500 would be a bit high. Level of detail and quality should dictate where in that range the exact price falls. But in the end, its whatever makes you both happy.
    While I agree for the most part. For me only, I know how fast I can map, (ask anybody - its very fast) so I can look at a prospective map project and accurately guess how long it should take me to accomplish it. Even when I started I tried to imagine how fast I would become and then applied that faster rate in my commission fee, though at the time I couldn't make that speed - now I can.

    Secondly, while I agree that $50 is indeed low, its hard to find publisher/map commissioners willing to pay more. So until you can get commissions from companies like Paizo or WotC, you'll have to settle for the lower pay or not get work at all.

    Thirdly, because I know what I can do, I have received commissions when there were multiple bidders, and I had the highest bid - once I communicate my unwilliness to budge on price, yet purvey the idea that I can make them a better or more appropriate map, I get the job anyway. I have wiggle room depending on who the commission is for, especially for private users for example, but I stay in my preferred range, or I don't take the commission.

    @ Recklessenthusium - I did a commission for ProFantasy Software once, I created 287 map objects for their (I don't think its published yet) SS3 Modern Symbol Set and I charged twice what you did for map tiles... though it paid well, it was an utter pain in the butt and took longer than I had planned, but then 287 objects from helicopters to toilet seats was one long commission.

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    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 07-02-2010 at 11:55 PM.
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  7. #17
      tilt is offline
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    I think having a Deviant Art page is a fine idea... I haven't had mine long, but I do think that with all the art uploaded there you sort of drown - even a piece I asked Crititque on never got a single note. But its easy to show your portfolio there. I'm not sure its worth paying for though - don't really feel I got anything from those money... or maybe I just don't know how to use the page to its fullest - it does feel rather unorganized to me and lots of functions are just plain strange - incl lhamas (they are just plain stupid)
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