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Pricing Artwork

There’s a lot of stages in a comic book career. And sometimes you end up revisiting them. I’m at a stage where I can sell some of my original artwork (certainly not all of it or even most of it) though I don’t use dealers.

Pricing artwork can be tough, especially if you’ve never sold artwork before. The biggest difficulty is that artwork isn’t a fungible –  a page of my artwork isn’t identical to a page of someone else’s artwork, it’s not even identical to a different page of my own artwork. Every page is unique.

So I price my artwork on a simple formula: how much can I sell this page for that won’t make me regret selling this page.

There’s some factors in there:

I much prefer selling artwork to people that I know will enjoy the artwork. I’ve sold artwork that I like for way below normal value to a kid because they’d used the printed strip in a school project and were a fan. I was delighted, and, to be honest, I’d’ve given the page to him but for this second important factor:

Giving artwork away (or selling it too cheaply) makes the recipient perceive the artwork as cheap.  John McCrea has a great anecdote on this and you should ask him, but it boils down to : the more money someone pages for the artwork the more likely they are to put it in a frame and enjoy it. (The less money? the more likely the are to fold it over and use it as packing material for something else).

Sometimes I like a page and want to keep it. That page costs more. Sometimes I hate a page and don’t want someone to buy it. That page may also cost more than it should (but I’ll often not show it anyways). Sometimes it’s late on in a show, and I’ve sold no artwork and I’m tired and I’m hungry and that’s when it’s dangerous for me to sell, because I’m prepared to take any reasonable offer.

I did once sell a page to a celebrity. That page went for a little more than usual (though I suspect I could have doubled or tripled the price)

The real truth is though, you need to make pricing mistakes before you find your level- you need to ask for too much to find out what too much is for your art and you need to undercharge to find out what makes you feel sick knowing you didn’t charge enough. Only you can price your own pages.

(Unless it’s got Wolverine on it, in which case you can charge thousands.)

Weekly Workout…

Hey ho! First week of Feb nearly done, so here’s where I stand:

Work wise: 5 pages for 5 days. Looking good for a page a day for this month.

My working week looks like this:

Monday : All day work. Hopefully a nice pencil and ink day, or, if I’m lucky, get a page pencilled and inked and another pencilled.
Tuesday: I get to work while kids in school, until 2 o’clock. So far I’ve managed a page on those days, usually pencilling in the morning and inking in the evening. Sometimes it’s been harder and all I’ve managed is to ink a page – but I still count that as a page in the day.
Wednesday: I get to work until 2 again. Again, pencil and ink if I’m lucky, if not it’s just inking.
Thursday: Work all day. I hope to pencil and ink a full page and maybe start another page pencils.
Friday: Work most of the day. Knock off early, until everyone is in bed then I work.
Saturday: family stuff, then work when I can.
Sunday: family stuff, usually a little lighter, work when they’re asleep.

I’m trying my best to keep to just two projects at a time (I’ve juggled  more). I plan to deliver three pages per week on one project (fixed deadlines) and around three pages per week on the second project.  So far, I’ve done better than that, but that’s my minimum. The two projects will basically keep me working solidly until August (assuming I can do 25 pages per month). I’ve had to turn down a weirdly large amount of work, frustrating, given last year I was doing next to nothing for most of it (though that was largely me not being able to get any work done).

Dept of Monsterology has three more chapters to go, each chapter has 24 pages, plus a cover (and I have two covers to do for the first two chapters). Project G (my terrible codename) has 22 pages plus a cover for each episode – four episodes in total. Doing the two concurrently means I get one full book done every second month. Maybe I should have just done one book followed by the other… doing two totally different projects I do three pages of one then three pages of the other, a nice number jumping between two books means I don’t get bored. I find US books terrible big meals to swallow in one go.

Don’t forget to sign up to my monthly mailing list – I’ll be giving away a sketch (a full colour sketch) to one lucky list member at the end of the month!

Signup here.

If your name is not down…

You can’t be on my mailing list (it’s called Channel Hex).

Sign up now, over the weekend I’ll send out some snippets of some of my favourite things I’ve drawn this month – super exclusive (but spoiler free).

I’ve had the mailing list for a little while, and it’s rarely used, but this month I’m firing it up for a regular monthly transmission of art – highlights from the month along with how much work I managed to get down (I’ll try and keep it interesting) art aside, much of the rest will turn up on the blog, but if you want to see something before anyone else… the mailing list is the only way…

Back to the drawing board.

I’ve ordered a new drawing table. It’s pretty basic (and here it is on Amazon) I’ve never liked drawing tables with parallel rulers on them (though I concede the last time I had to deal with one was in the late 80s, so who knows now?) but this is a plain, boringly functional table which tilts at and angle, and should be small enough to fit in to my studio. Right now I’ve drawing on my large computer desk (that I’d hoped would replace my old drawing table and my rubbish old computer desk, it was brilliant idea that …er… didn’t work out.)

Anyway, I’m going back to old fashioned inking, let’s see if I can stick to it the entire year. Sometimes my inking / drawing process needs a reboot – I slip into bad habits quickly, and the work suffers. Usually I switch up to digital (or if the digital is the problem, I switch up to analogue) and then the problems go away.. for a short time. It’s a problem with the artist rather than the tools. And since I derive more satisfaction from the traditional methods of working, that’s what I’ll stick to. Core values!

I really want to up my productivity this year, I have two big projects for the year, and that’s all I’m doing. I’ve a checklist of pages to draw (it’s a scary long list) and as long as I tick one off a day then I’ll have a great year, guaranteed. (Course there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to check them off, that’s where will power/luck come in to play.)

Screenshot 2015-01-04 17.38.15

There are 12 of those little grids on each page, the gap at the top is the project name, the numbers 1-25 are the number of pages I potentially could do per month. Hey, if I get 20 per month I’ll be like the happiest little artist in the world.

You can download a pdf to use for your very own if you like here:

Comic Progress

Let’s check back at the end of the year to see how we all did.

I set aside two drawers in my big old art storage folder for the two projects, which means, hopefully, I’ll not get lost in switching between them (I often start projects with the best organisational intentions only to end the year wondering where all the art went – it’s never a problem as it’s all scanned in to Manga Studio and stored in a single story file, but those originals are lying around here somewhere dammit..)

Also: more pomodoro’s this year. 2015 will be the year of the Pomodoro! Anyhue, got to go, this is clearly fallen into procrastination now…

2014 Year in Review

Cheerio. 2014, you were looked upon with some serious optimism, a chance to fix all the things that hadn’t quite gone to plan in 2013 but within a very short time (the first week, in fact) you quickly became hell on earth. Anyways, as is the norm here’s my comic book year in review…

endofyearreview2014_001 endofyearreview2014_002 endofyearreview2014_003

 

So, entire year overshadowed by Nathan’s bout of anxiety/depression. I’ve gone into detail about this before, we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of it kicking off and we’re still watching Nathan just in case – this year though he has a helper in school to make sure he can cope with change and what’s going on (because otherwise he’s as smart as a whip).

Then my health took a real nosedive. I’ll be honest, the IBS didn’t come entirely out of nowhere; I stopped drinking in my late twenties because I’d find standing in a bar drinking I’d get a deeply uncomfortable pain under my ribs and in the last few years other things have happened that are all linked to IBS. Only this year the minor annoyances and weirdness coalesced into one incredible stabbing pain in my stomach. It really was night after night, at least until I took up the fodmap diet. Now, I’m mostly ok – though it doesn’t take too much to upset my tummy and it feels like I have to watch everything I eat just in case. On the plus side: actually lost weight! on the negative side: it’s incredibly depressing to be ill all the time.

And those were the lowlights – throughout the year one disaster after another – any of which would be a real low point, but since they were all cast in the shadow of Nathan’s anxiety I barely remember them at all (though I know they happened).

On the plus side, invited to Shanghai to talk to kids about drawing comics, and I went – and had an amazing week around Shanghai. Totally incredible. And Belfast had a couple of comic cons that were great, too.

Lots of high points, but my productivity just feel into the ground and dug itself lower than I could imagine. This year I want to fix that. Get out of the gate and draw. That’s it. That’s all I’m planning for. Hopefully I’ll get the breathing space to do so. Hope you have a great 2015!

 

-pj

Arrived!

Now totally knackered. Sat beside lovely old Chinese couple who despite them not speaking any English and me not speaking a word of Chinese insisted in showing me all their photos. Then the old man rubbed my belly! Presumably for luck.

Flew over Russia. Which was an unexpected surprise, discovered I don’t really understand the options on my fancy camera, so can’t really show you the awesome pictures I should hav been able to take of the orange glows from the Russian cities at night. They did look amazing. Anyway, I’m tired now so going for a jet lagged induced nap…

SHANGHAI!

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(This is my welcome banner! )

I’m heading off to Shanghai today. To be honest, my excitement is tempered somewhat by the weird tingling sensation from two day old dentist work (I suspect a nerve was clipped and it’ll feel like this for months) and the ongoing struggle I’ve had with severe stomach pains, which I’ve sort of self-identified as IBS and I’m on the FODMAP diet which is definitely having a positive impact, but I’ve no idea at all how that’ll go in China and this is the longest I’ve been away from my wife in 20 years.

Bringing a large sketchbook, a hudl (preloaded with game of thrones series 2, and the BBC Human Universe documentary) some books (digital) and tools with which to draw. I’ll be meeting friends new and old, but it’ll be particularly fun to see Tom Kline, at one time director of the Queen’s Drama Society (20 years ago) and writer/director of many of the plays I was in then too. He also, coincidentally wrote one of the first comics I ever had published, in the comic DNA Swamp (issue 1 and 2) (actually it also appeared in the comic DOMAIN for one issue) and he’s now the director of an English language school in Shanghai, I’ll be there, I think Scott McCloud will be too – it’s going to be very surreal.

Book Review: A Canticle For Leibowitz

A Canticle For Leibowitz written by Walter M. Miller, jnr.

SO, can’t remember when exactly I first heard of this book, but the name stuck – for a long long time. Honestly had no idea what it was about but that name.

I picked up the book in a second hand shop, and the first thing I was struck by was the text on the cover:

Pound Pastrami
can kraut
six bagels
-bring home for Emma.

Written in the form an illustrated script, which suggested this would be a funny, funny book.

And it was. Mostly.

The book is broken up into three parts, separated by hundreds of years, each section dealing with the rebuilding of civilisation following an atomic war.

I found the first book funny and moving, telling the tale of the Novice Brother Francis and his discovery of the remnants of Leibowitz – dead centuries- who, following the atomic wars had become a catholic and formed an order of monks who would attempt to preserve and remember the knowledge of the world (knowledge which was mostly destroyed when people turned against technology and scientists in the aftermath of the war).

This whole section is very funny, despite some of the darker stuff running deep within it. It was only towards the end that the grislier stuff bubbled up. (Unexpectadly for me, since I hadn’t expected the next section of the book to jump forward from the 26th Century to the year 3174.

In book 2, the reality of the Leibowitz memoribelia is unquestioned, Leibowitz has been granted Saint hood, and the Albertian Order of St. Leibowitz is slowly starting to build technology again.

This book deals with that interface between the secular world and the religious, and while the humour is downplayed, it’s still present in some of the characters.

Book 3, set in the year 3781 is funny, but considerably darker, and, oddly, the chapter I struggled most with.

I’d recommend you go read it.

(But don’t read this wikipedia entry about it, until AFTER you’ve read it – spoilers!)