Stop undervaluing your digital art - get fearless

Stop undervaluing your digital art - love what you do and do it for yourself in the first place. If you do it just for money, it might work for some time, but one day you will have enough.

Jul 23, 2021
7 min read

Hey  Scatchers!

Did you ever feel like your work is undervalued and you should do something about it, but you feel bad trying to do so?

We all were there and we all needed to cut through the ruthless jungle bushes out there. But maybe it's time to look for the beauty instead of poisonous spiders and snakes, just meet the danger and face it.

The artist's self-awareness

We all know this feeling - you love to take pictures, spent hours and hours polishing them, not mentioning you needed to run away from a crocodile or the hours waiting to see the lion cub; you paint through the daylight to the sunset and once you are done, (well, we all are big self-critics) you feel exhausted but proud of the new world you just opened. You have just designed the perfect logo for your client, knows the brand as much as your shoes, and gets ready to present your artwork.

Because in every hard work, there is a reward - you create something nice and meaningful, you are improving your skills and all of this in your own time.
This dance company performed in Ramallah contemporary dance festival in Palestine, they called Icecraft From India - KIN.
Photo by Ahmad Odeh / Unsplash

And with all of this maybe you are just in the middle of the path, same as I am. Still working full time, having kids or family to take care of and every tiny bit of the time is precious. So your art or design or whatever you are doing is not your profession yet, and I'm sure that's where you are aiming. Doesn't mean that your time is more valuable than the time of people who has it as their own job but it means, so just have less time to work on projects for your clients or customers.

When is one a professional?

But this is exactly the right spot to realise, you are the one who needs to own your time and value it. Even if you don't feel like you should call yourself a professional, think about this - when do you become a professional and you can call yourself as such? Is it after 5 years, 10 years? Do you need to have an education? Do you have to prove your experience?

Maybe you have just finished your studies. Or maybe you are self-taught or you were painting since you could hold a pencil in your hand. Or you started a few months ago but really love what you do.

I'm sure your clients or customers choose you because they saw your portfolio and heard about you based on your previous customers' recommendations. You didn't have to show them your school certificate or prove how long you are in the industry, right?

Is a school crucial?

What I hear or read from many artists, the school didn't prepare them for what they have to deal with in real life. I very often hear that their creativity suffered during their years at art school. Of course, they have learnt the fundamentals. But we can learn it too. There is thousands of book out there, for example, 3dtotal publishing is just about books for artists.  YouTube is full of videos and many popular artists have their own courses or books.

The learning curve is longer, but also cheaper and you are the owner of the time.  And in the end, we all learn by trial and error.

Photo by javier trueba / Unsplash

Think like a businessman/woman

Many of us, are not businessmen. We don't care about it. We want to create, bring joy to other people. We want to share our inner worlds, our knowledge. We want to show our fantasy and find other artistic "soulmates" out there. But if we want to succeed we need to think like a business - when we are selling our artwork.

I have made so many mistakes in this. I have created designs and paintings for my family, friends and friends of my friends. Here are the mistakes I did and what did I learn from them:

  • Creating artwork on request to family or friends - unless it's an art you are creating because they have b-day or wedding and you decided you will do it by yourself as a gift/surprise then it is fine. For the rest, get paid for your time and your art. Trust me, they will come with another 50 revisions and a project that should take 14 days will end up three months quit
  • Not asking part of the money in advance - another mistake I did, there were many people I thought I know and trusted them that they will pay me for my work as agreed. They never did. Ask for a deposit in advance and never provide the raw file until you are fully paid
  • Do not undervalue yourself - everyone has their price and even though, we artists feel shy and awkward to ask for money. Do not. You need to trust yourself and your skills. Every time the customer feels our insecurity, that's their turn into an attack. And many of us fall for that. I'm not saying you should give them a sky-high price, just a reasonable price and do not go below the line
  • Do not create extras for the same price - many times when I was creating design or artwork, we and the customer ended up with much more than it was originally agreed. Again, it stole a lot of my time and in the end, I wasn't even happy about it. I felt used.  

People often do not realise the value of art. And it's up to us to show them. Do not go for the Fiverr price or Facebook group price. These are usually people who are willing to sacrifice their skills (if they have them) and undervaluing others artists work. You are saying that you need to start somewhere? Yes, start but not under.

Two middle age business workers smiling happy and confident. Working together with smile on face hand giving high five at the office
Photo by krakenimages / Unsplash

Pricing your art

Every customer and every case is different, also every artist has a different approach. Choose the one that suits you the best.  I would say none of that is wrong per see. But stick to your quote and do not argue. If the customer doesn't want that for the price, let them go. He/she is not the right customer for you. If you would agree, you would probably spent tons of hours extra, feeling demotivated and exhausted.  And if this customer would return to you in the future, you would need to go through this over and over again.

If the customer is asking you, why so expensive? Don't go there. You do not have to explain why is your price as it is. Just say, this is my price.

The word "NO"

Many of us have problems in our daily life to say NO. It's a magical word. Somehow let us feel strange, guilty. I used to have a lot of problems with that in the past as well. But I was overloaded with work, stressed and the art didn't bring me joy in the end. So I started to choose carefully and say the word NO more often. In the end, I'm very happy that I did.  

It's just not worth the money and people will slowly learn that we are not roundabouts - to drag us around to infinity.

Of course, this has to be done with a dip of politeness.

Nope Hand Lettering On Wood and Glass
Photo by Daniel Herron / Unsplash

Do not fall for haters, but admire constructive criticism

Ah, we all know this.

"Your art suck"

"Can you even draw, I can't even say what it is?

"Go back to...." (fill whatever hate you needed to deal with)

Yep and many more. What are these comments? Just pure hate, maybe jealousyThese comments will bring nothing, only negativity. Ignore haters, they are usually people hiding behind the wall of the internet boosting their ego. Do not react to it at all. It's not worth it. And apart from that, you will show that you are mature.

But what you should do, never discard constructive criticism.

"I love that picture. I have only noticed that the shadow has a very strange angle and I think if you would change it, it would make the drawing even more realistic."

This is a constructive critique that you should accept and shouldn't attack these people. I know it is hard to hear it, but give it a day or two of thinking and then come back to that comment. Maybe ask additional questions or thank for the insight. For sure you will realise that it was for something.

Love what you do and do not lose yourself

Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

The last and biggest to realise is - love what you do and do it for yourself in the first place. If you do it just for money, it might work for some time, but one day you will have enough. I saw many people starting tattooing and other arts just because it brings a lot of money. It is really making me sad, especially if these people are not putting quality work out there.  But we cannot the whole world. We can just try to be better. Be yourself.

It's a little bit contradicting with thinking like a businessman/woman. But there is one difference - we need to draw with love, not losing our soul and still be able to live -

I'm suggesting this video to give some thinking, it's more for graphic designers but there are also fair points we can take for our digital art careers. It helped me a lot to realise a lot of things

Have fun and stay Scatchy!💜

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