How Much Should an Artist Charge?

Hey y’all!

As many of you may already know, I posed an important question on the YBA Twitter and Instagram account: “How much should an artist charge an hour?”  This is important because it is something that many artists that are starting out struggle to figure out.  Here a few of the responses:



There were answers anywhere between $15 to $100 an hour.  On both ends, the logic makes sense: if you are just starting out then $15-30 is good, but others argue that any design company or professional artist would charge no less than $100/hour. Even then, most agree that for any freelance artist, anywhere between $20 to $30 an hour is a fair charge.

Even with this information, I know what many of you are still wondering, “I am new to this art thing, how much should I charge?”  Here are 3 things for you to keep in mind when setting your prices (all points are based on answers given and about 10 minutes of Google research):

1. The cost of living where you are based

If you are living in small town Colorado, then that that would be much different than living in Los Angeles.  What is the minimum wage where you live?  Do you want to make minimum wage?  How much money do you need to pay rent and keep your head above water? This goes into my next point…

2. Do you want to make a living out of this?

This is crucial. If you want to be a full-time poet, painter, designer, musician, or alien, you would probably want to set your price at a rate that will allow you to actually LIVE.  For example, if you want to make $30,000 a year, then you calculate how much money an hour it takes to make that much with taxes factored in (don’t forget to pay your taxes!)

Lets break it down:
30,000/12 months = $2,500/month
2,500/4 weeks = $625/week
625/40 hours = $15.62/hour

In order to make up to $30,000 a year before taxes, you would have to charge at least $15/hour and would need to work on average 40 hours a week.  Keeping in mind that you may not create that many hours a week, this may compel you to increase your price.  That’s up to you!
Sidenote: You can consider charging by project and not by the hour.  Many artists believe that it’s more fair on both sides when they have a set price for a specific creative service.

3. How dope are you?

It’s true that the more in demand your work is, the more it’s worth.  This is something that you as an artist have to be honest about; if you have people knocking down your inbox for commissions, then you may need to bring up your price.  You are worth it!  If you have not made it to this point, that is okay because one day you will!  Every full-time artist that you look up to started off the way you are.  Keep going!

Overall, setting your price as an artist is pretty much OC (Midwest talk for “outta control”), but we got to do it because our lives depend on our craft.  Hope this helped!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment telling your thoughts. Do you charge by hour or by project? Why?


2 responses to “How Much Should an Artist Charge?”

  1. Thanks for this post. I have been painting for about two years but I usually give my art away. I am now getting to the point where I realize (through lots of persuasion from friedns) that I can actually sell my pieces to others. I just didn’t know how to price it. This helps a lot!

    – Raven

    1. No problem! I definitely believe giving away work is a good thing in many situations too. I have done it myself just depending on the person and cause! Definitely I say you should try selling some pieces, it’s a great feeling when people are willing to give you money for your talents!

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