Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Money Thing - Part 1 of 4

I've got a great deal to share about how Colossians is being received, how the comic book show circuit has been going, and how the second issue is shaping up - not to mention the imminent relaunch of Megazeen in 2013.

But first, I've got to get a little something off my chest.

Let me say first that this comic book thang, for me, has never been my bread and butter.  I am an accountant by trade and have therefore maintained a decent living off that.  I made a decision very early on, when I decided to get into this game fifteen years ago, that this would not be primarily about money, and that I would only draw comics, which I love, for a single purpose which I also love, which is my faith.

I have had several conversations dealing the money aspect of comics and art lately, and it's caused me to rethink the way I've been looking at the situation.  I am happy to report that I have not had my mind changed in the more important aspects of what we're doing, but there have been some considerations that have resulted in more opportunity for exposure for Colossians and some of my artwork in general.


For example, I was at a comic book show recently in which I was furiously cranking out fan art sketch cards - full color renderings, by the way - for free. It had never even occurred to me to charge for them.  I was just using it as a avenue to talk about my comic book work.  When people would ask about pricing, I would tell them "whatever you want, I just enjoy doing them."  So some would pay me something and others would take them for free and all was good - frankly, I was surprised I was getting money at all for doodling.

 Then, when posting some cards online, someone asked me what I was charging and I made up something based on an average of what people were paying (or not paying), which I decided was about $4 each or 3 for $10.  And when I posted that price schedule, amazingly, I sold more cards than I had ever given away.  Seems, strangely enough, that people value something more if they pay for it than if it is a gift.

After doing a couple of shows at this rate, and raking in what I thought was an impressive result, I was told by a fellow artist that I was, in fact, undercharging and selling myself short.  And so, as a test, I raised the price to a firm $5 each (which I'm still told is too little), and once again, amazingly enough, I sold more than before. 

Then as an experiment in Baltimore (our first big show in a while), I starting using a larger "canvas", drawing on comic backing boards for two, three, four times the price.  And it worked - turns out people liked the big works more, I was happier being able to put more detail into them, and they were happy walking away with it.  The money that has been coming in at these shows pays for other shows, pays for my art supplies, pays for travel expenses, pays for the artists involved in Colossians, and allows for some nice donations, rightly helping this little "hobby/ministry" break even.  As a bonus, if they bought artwork from me, I would also knock a dollar off a copy of Colossians, making it a package deal.
I was told at another recent show that I was still undercharging.  I was even told that there is a huge movement of artists who are "not getting paid" or "not getting paid enough", and implying that by undercharging, I was part of the problem.


I'm just Joe.  I draw silly pictures.  I sell some, I give some away, I charge what I want, I draw what I want and I love talking with people.  If putting a higher price tag on my table would cause someone to walk away, then consider the opportunity I've missed.  I am not the cause of your problems and I am not leading a revolution.  I will charge what I feel comfortable with and do my best to get my customer to smile.

The whole "not getting paid enough" issue leads into the next part, in which we explore what the Bible says.  YES, it says the worker is worth the wages.  But that's not ALL it says...

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