Tip 6: Know Your Worth!
This has taken me a long time to establish. Knowing your worth is all about understanding the amount your client is paying, what can that money cover in terms of your time, and making sure it’s clear what it is that you can provide for that cost. You don’t want to end up doing multiple revisions or doing loads more than you’re being paid for.
Most importantly, though: never under-sell yourself. Do this by calculating all of the costs you incur as part of your practice and always make sure they are covered. For example, I spend a lot of time rendering my work, which is time that can’t be spent working on other jobs. Therefore, I always keep in mind that I need the payment for that time. Also, make use of the tonnes of guidance available on the internet. A-N, for example, has a guide to paying artists fairly – it’s really useful to know what the going rate is so as not to undersell yourself or undercut the market for other freelance practitioners.
Only do as much work as you’re being paid for! It’s hard not to get carried away with commission money and think that you need to create something that’s completely ground-breaking. Step back and remember that you need to provide what the commissioner has paid for. If it’s a micro-commission, don’t do more than the commission covers. If they want more, it’s going to cost more. It’s all about valuing your time and making sure you don’t do more than you need to, nor over-promise.
When it comes to unpaid work, I’ve learned from experience that exposure isn’t always a worthwhile reward, and it sets the precedent that you will work for free. Honestly, I can’t think of anything I’ve done for free that’s been a huge game-changer. Don’t just think of free work in terms of currency, though: sometimes I have worked for “free”, but in exchange I got a gallery space to experiment in and was offered development and support with tech and space. That’s not quite the same as offering your work for nothing.
One more thing, I’ve made the mistake of taking loads of opportunities purely to lengthen the list of my shows. The point of having that list is to demonstrate your experience, but if you’re not devoting your time or energy to those shows or learning from them, the whole experience isn’t worthwhile. It’s nice to have, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. People will look at your work, rather than your CV.