Comic Book Artist Commission Rates Explained

Embarking on the journey of commissioning artwork opens up a world of creativity and personal expression, bridging the gap between art enthusiasts and the artists themselves. However, navigating the intricacies of art commission pricing can be a daunting task for both artists and clients. From understanding the multifaceted factors that influence pricing to adopting a pricing strategy that benefits both parties, this blog aims to demystify the process. As we delve into the considerations of experience, complexity, market demand, and more, we equip artists with the knowledge to set fair and competitive rates while offering clients insight into the value behind the art they commission.

Understanding Art Commission Pricing

When commissioning art, the pricing can be as diverse as the artworks themselves. Key considerations include the artist’s experience, the complexity of the project, and market demand.

Factors Influencing Prices

Pricing art commissions isn’t just about time spent; it reflects a blend of intricate factors. Experience plays a crucial role, with seasoned artists often commanding higher prices due to their refined skills. The size and complexity of the piece directly impact the commission price, as larger or more complicated works require more resources and time. Material costs and additional expenses such as shipping can also influence the final rate.

Determining a pricing formula involves a thorough understanding of the art market and market rates. Artists must assess their hourly wage and commission rate while considering market demand to set a competitive yet fair price that reflects the value of their art.

Setting Your Rates

To set effective rates, artists should craft a clear pricing strategy. For this topic, we’ll look at how artists price their commissions based on the data.

Common Pricing Models

Based on the data above, you can see that there are a number of factors that need to be considered when pricing your commissions.

Generally, there are two overarching pricing models for commissions: flat rates and hourly rates.

  • Flat Rate: Flat rate is the vastly more common pricing model for commissions, whether it’s for a sketch, full body illustration, or whatever. The benefit to this pricing model is that it’s more concrete for the fan purchasing the commission. They know what they’re getting and what it will cost them. The downside for the artist is that they made the same rate, whether the piece takes them one hour or ten.
  • Hourly Rate: A less common, but equally valid approach to pricing your commissions is to set an hourly rate. You’re time is worth X and when you’re working on a piece of art, you should gain that much value from doing the work. A potential downside to an hourly rate is that it could turn off fans seeking commissions. Not knowing the cost up front could deter your fans from purchasing the commission.

Whichever pricing model you choose, be sure that you’re balancing your actual worth as artist (based on your skill level and your professional standing) and being competitive. Price too low and you’ll be selling yourself short. Price too high and you may miss opportunities for profit.

Commission Rate Survey Data

Now, let’s take a look at commission price data published by Stephanie Cooke over at in 2019. Cooke surveyed 290 artists, gleaning insights into the rates charged for different types of commissions, including:

  • sketches
  • black & white pieces
  • full color works
  • busts
  • full-body illustrations

Both digital and traditional mediums were covered, reflecting the diverse ways artists create and deliver their work.

If you’re unsure how to price your commissions, an easy way to get a benchmark is to look at what your peers and the pros are charging.

Accounting for Inflation

Because this data was collected in 2019, we will present the original findings as well as approximate current rates based on inflation (rounded to the nearest dollar). Due to inflation, $1 USD in 2019 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.22 USD in 2024.

Published Creators Rates (Traditional Art)

Category 2019 Highest 2019 Lowest 2019 Average 2024 Highest 2024 Lowest 2024 Average
Sketch $80 $15 $32 $97 $18 $38
Black & White $200 $20 $69 $243 $24 $84
Full Colour $300 $40 $122 $364 $49 $148
Bust $120 $12 $55 $146 $15 $67
Full Body $300 $45 $155 $364 $55 $188
Hourly Rate $70 $20 $37 $85 $24 $45

Published Creators Rates (Digital Art)

Category2019 Highest2019 Lowest2019 Average2024 Highest2024 Lowest2024 Average
Black & White$65$20$35$79$24$42
Full Colour$120$20$60$146$24$73
Full Body$125$20$65$152$24$79
Hourly Rate$45$7$29$55$8$35

Unpublished Creator Rates (Traditional Art)

Category2019 Highest2019 Lowest2019 Average2024 Highest2024 Lowest2024 Average
Black & White$64$10$35$78$12$42
Full Colour$100$15$52$121$18$63
Full Body$200$15$57$243$18$69
Hourly Rate$45$11$23$55$13$28

Unpublished Creator Rates (Digital Art)

Category2019 Highest2019 Lowest2019 Average2024 Highest2024 Lowest2024 Average
Black & White$100$10$43$121$12$52
Full Colour$150$30$73$182$36$89
Full Body$240$20$69$291$24$84
Hourly Rate$85$10$42$103$12$51

Managing the Commission Process

In managing art commissions, it is essential to establish clear and open lines of communication, systematically manage feedback, and ensure a smooth process for delivering the final artwork. These steps help maintain a positive working relationship with the client and underscore professionalism in your art business.

Effective Communication and Negotiation

Communication is the cornerstone of the commission process. A freelance artist should clearly articulate their terms in the initial discussions, including timelines, pricing, and the scope of the project. This sets the expectations straight and reduces misunderstandings. Establishing a transparent pricing method, such as charging per square inch of a digital art commission, can be beneficial. To market to the correct target audience, an artist should showcase an updated art portfolio on platforms like Instagram. This allows potential clients to view the artist’s range of work, including original art and art prints.

Handling Revisions and Feedback

Once the artwork commences, managing revisions and client feedback becomes a critical phase. It’s crucial to agree beforehand on the number of revisions included in the commission price, to avoid scope creep and ensure the artist’s time is respected. Record all changes requested and completed in a systematic workflow to maintain transparency.

  • First Revision: Comprehensive client input.
  • Subsequent Revisions: Limited to minor adjustments.

Creating a feedback loop through email or a social media platform helps to refine the artwork in alignment with the client’s vision, while also keeping your professional integrity and artistic style intact.

Final Delivery and Follow-Up

Delivering the completed artwork marks the culmination of the commission process. Digital files should be sent in high quality and via a secure method. For physical artworks, packaging and shipping require meticulous attention to detail to ensure the art arrives in perfect condition.

Delivery Checklist:

  • High-resolution images for digital art commissions
  • Secure packaging for safe transit of original artwork
  • Tracking information provided to the client

After delivery, a follow-up message to confirm receipt and satisfaction helps to solidify a positive client relationship and can lead to future networking opportunities and referrals. Maintaining a professional stance throughout the process establishes a reputation for reliability and quality in the freelance art community.

Final Thoughts

The art of commissioning and pricing artwork is a delicate balance of respect, value, and negotiation. By considering the factors outlined, artists can establish a pricing strategy that reflects their skill, effort, and the market’s demand. Moreover, by adopting effective communication and management strategies, artists and clients alike can ensure a smooth, rewarding commission process that culminates in the creation and appreciation of unique art pieces. Whether you’re an artist setting your rates or a client looking to commission artwork, understanding these principles is key to fostering successful collaborations in the art world. Let this guide serve as your compass in the vibrant landscape of art commissions, where creativity knows no bounds and every piece tells a story.

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Frank Gogol is a San Francisco-based comic book writer. He is the writer of Dead End Kids (2019), GRIEF (2018), No Heroine (2020), Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job (2021), and Unborn (2021) as well as his work on the Power Rangers franchise.

Gogol’s first book, GRIEF, was nominated for the Ringo Award for Best Anthology in 2019. Gogol and his second book, Dead End Kids, were named Best Writer and Best New Series of 2019, respectively, by the Independent Creator Awards.