Do you give a client the price first or wait for them to tell you their budget? Do you ever negotiate with a client?
A lot of pricing depends on the client — you know, the size of the client, what the project is going to be. And you’re not going to charge a non-profit the same thing you’re going to charge Vail Resorts.
If it’s a client you really want to work with but they might not have the budget you might bend what you would normally charge or work a deal out with them. For example, Armada [Skis] was great. We had an agreed upon price and then they’re like, Here’s a brand-new pair of skis, poles and everything, and a credit as well. So I was able to give my wife skis and poles. So it might not be the best price but it makes it worthwhile because it’s something that we’re going to use and something we love. That helps a lot. But when you have to argue with clients about the price that can be hard.
Jon: There is no formula. Take it as a project-based thing. Don’t bite off more than you can swallow. Start small, learn how to do it, learn how to price it. Certain artists go and paint extremely quickly and can paint large areas very fast. Other artists’ techniques may require them to be out there much longer. And if they’re an inexperienced artist maybe they need to refine their techniques to work with budgets.
That’s why I often advise younger artists to ask what the client can spend, not tell them what you charge. Know how much money they have to spend on a creative project, lock them in on it and then create according to that budget. Don’t trap yourself into a corner and paint hyper-detail for 40 months for pennies.
There are so many variables and complexities like what artist “A” needs versus what I need — I have overhead, I have a studio. Are you painting out of your garage or your mother’s basement? Maybe you don’t need so much, you know?
I’ll typically let the client make an offer first. Because a lot of times it’s more than I would have charged them, which is pretty nice when that happens. I’ll have an idea of what I would want to get and I’ll be stoked if I get that amount per day or for the shoot. But it’s the ski industry and stuff’s kind of loose, so I’ve got to be willing to potentially take a little bit less sometimes.
That piece of advice came from one of my teachers [Pat Cone] at the University of Utah. I got a journalism degree there and took a couple of photo classes as well. . . . He shot a ton of commercial and editorial stuff throughout the ’80s and ’90s and that was his piece of advice — to make sure to always let the client make an offer first, just for that very reason. A lot of times they’ll offer you more than you would have asked for.