Recently I came across this contest. The contest mentions specific requirements and asks for a paperback cover with 2 characters on it. The prize includes 2500 dA points to the winner... 2500 dA points!!! That is less than even $30!
I used to think that people like writers, artists, musicians, they are all alike. They think the same way and value all art. But with time I realized that this isn't necessarily true. There are those who value other people's time and effort. And then there are those who don't.
A lot of artists think that they should get just about any commission they can get their hands on just to get into the business and then gradually make their way up. Most of these are the same artists who want to make a living from their art sometime in the future. But what they don't realize is that this is what underpaid work is going to get you: an overload of work with little time left for anything else, the feeling of being constantly undervalued and 'not good enough', not enough money to get you through a month, all of the frustration that comes with. Let me tell you that if you do a $30 cover today, you can't charge $300-$400 (which is the bare minimum price for a professional photomanipulation work) in a year or 2 when you get into it professionally. There is no way of 'gradually' moving from $30 to $300 in a year or even 2.
There is a lot of stigma about art and artists in general. Mostly that art isn't a 'real job'. I cringe whenever some acquaintance asks me to do a drawing of them 'real quick'. People think that art doesn't take any time, effort, training or even money. But you know that the time you spent watching those online tutorials for hours, practicing them, tirelessly creating one piece after another could also be spent sitting in front of a TV screen stuffing Doritos down the throat... or spending time with your loved ones, or doing any number of other things. Yet when comes the time to actually get some benefit out of all the effort artists have put into their passion, they end up short selling themselves. They do not value their own work enough and then wonder why artists are not taken seriously.
Quite a few people also think that art isn't useful like an electronic gadget or the services of an attorney so it is unfair to ask for a lot of money. Let me tell you that artists too make a contribution to the society. We all know that art is therapeutic. A piece of artwork on a wall makes people feel good, it makes the house beautiful. In a book cover's case, the artwork is even more important. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the most important element of a book's marketing, esp. in case of an ebook. While browsing through a sea of cover thumbnails, the potential reader is first attracted to the cover you create. It isn't the book's title, or the blurb, or the reviews, or the author's name if it isn't a well known author, it is the book cover you have created. If it didn't catch the person's attention, he wouldn't look at the book title, click on the link, go on to read the blurb and then the reviews. The author knows that and that is why he didn't contact his cousin who could slap some text on a stock image in his basement. That is why he needs you, the person who is constantly training himself to get better at his craft. The cover that you created is doing half the making or breaking of the book. Then why shouldn't your work be treated with the respect that it deserves and gets priced accordingly?
A while ago I ran a promotion for book covers. An author contacted me but wanted more from the promotional price than was offered. I was willing to do it at a little extra cost. The deal didn't pan out. A few months later, I discovered that she got a cover done from someone who charges almost double. The point I am trying to make here is that people can pay, whether they will pay you is up to how much you value and appreciate your own work.
I found this in a blog post:
"Finally, don’t work for cheap people. It is widely agreed among artists that the majority of the time, the less a client pays, the less they respect you and the more they will dick you around. If somebody thinks that image, which I’d guess to be at least an hour or two’s work, isn’t worth paying the measley sum of $7, which is like, what, the price of a bowl of soup and a coffee at a cafe? They don’t value your work and are not worth working for. They can piss right off."
I have read numerous chatters all over the internet by authors, musicians and several other clients on how a person should try to find an artist on dA because they can find very cheap work here. The website is full of desperate artists wanting to do just about anything to get started. A lot of times, there is a deep sense of disrespect for the artists on dA. Is that what we want for us? We all need to realize that undercharging is not only digging a grave for yourself as an artist, but for the entire community.
Please, respect, value, appreciate and appropriately charge your art. Yes, your art is worth it. Yes, you deserve it.