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The responsibilities of an artist

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I see it time and time again, at almost every job I've had..... talented artists/designers that don't know how to price their work and gauge self value.

The issue of pricing work and agreeing on salary can be a sticky one. Many will say..."Oh, I'm no good at negotiating" or "Gosh, It's my first job and shouldn't I be making shit money?" or "Golly gee wiz, I just feel so darn lucky to have a COOL job in the arts and I'll  take whatever they give me" BLAH BLAH BLAH.  Let me be blunt and say you are screwing the rest of us for doing too much awesome beautiful work, for too little pay.  You as an artist have a responsibility to assess your value.  Your talent has a price on it and you really should get serious about deciding what your price tag is.

I honestly can't even tell you how many times the night before an interview or a big freelance job,  I have been sprawled out on the living floor with calculators, bills, wipe boards and pie charts trying to figure out how much I need to or should be making in my career. I will place calls to parents for moral support, friends or old colleagues for real advice and spend HOURS online researching what people make in my field.  I'm not going to lie...figuring out your worth is tough, not to mention the negotiating after you have put a dollar sign on it.

So what is the bottom line?  You need confidence and a plan. Here are just a few general tips that have helped me through it all...

-Know exactly what you are asking for before you walk into an interview or meeting. Have several back up scenarios and know how low in pay you can really go AND still feel good about taking the job.

-Do your homework. Talk to friends in your field and colleagues you trust.  Be open with them on what you plan on pricing yourself at. It also doesn't hurt to go on interviews or bid for jobs you don't necessary want. You could get an insider look at a companies pricing scale by doing this.

-Be confident and aim realistically high!!! You want this to be a negotiation.  Trust me,  if you're too high they are NOT going to say "get the hell out of my office!!"... So try to relax.  They will however  tell you that your pricing is way off.  It's up to you to choose to bargain further or decide if this really is the right place/job for you at all. Be honest with yourself and learn from every interview you go on. Don't ask for something insane, but don't be desperate either.

-In a full time job it is never too late. If you took a job and later realize you were off on your pricing, it may be time for a meeting on a pay reassessment or possibly a new job search. Don't feel trapped, they hired you and probably trained you as well, it would not be cost effective for them to let you go without more negotiating. 

-READ THIS ARTICLE.  Jessica Hische does an amazing break down of real rates (mostly for freelancers) and the details of licensing. She also encourages no one to work or do interns for free, which I strongly agree with.

-Also if you are freelance don't forget to consult The GAG’s Ethical Guide for Pricing.

Good luck!

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