Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spreadsheets & Negotiating for Artists

Spreadsheets are sexy!

With a spreadsheet, I can estimate how long each part of the job will take and how much the materials will cost. It's exciting to get to the final number, the bottom line - the great reveal!

At AvantGarb, my little mascot biz, there are many different jobs---designers, pattern drafters, stitchers, sales people, painters, IT people, web gurus, the HR department, the benefit package, accountants. estimators, and oh-my-goodness-this floor-needs-to-be-swept people. At one time or other, all of those people were me. Sometimes, they still are.

When deciding how much to charge attach a cost to each job. Some jobs may be $35/hr, some may have a set $2500 cost, some may be $225/hour, some $75/hour. Even if one person does all of the jobs, attach a cost to each specialty.

Put together a spreadsheet to get a sense for the real cost and extent of the project. Attached is a sample spread sheet that AvantGarb uses. It's for making mascots ---yours will certainly be different labor titles and headings --- this is merely a sample.

It's simple, yet it gives us a handle on costs and time. A spread sheet is for the business's information. It is not a document to share with clients.

When negotiating, it's good to have what you propose in writing. People hear what they want to hear. Put it in writing.

We put together a pretty specific proposal when we're going after a mascot job. We have a description of each part, fabric choices, a bit about mascot engineering, some photos of relevant mascot, a select list of clients and projects.

We have a separate costs page where everything is listed. 

We list all the parts of the mascot - head, body, mascot clothing, etc and put one cost for those items. It's not a menu. We don't separate cost for materials and labor. That might or might not work for everyone.

There is also a heading for Additional/Optional item. Something the client might want, but hasn't thought of.

I always use a spreadsheet to keep me based in reality.

You may have clients that want a fabulous production with fabulous clothes, a mural in their restaurant, a commissioned installation. Give them a cost. You may be surprised to learn how much wiggle room there is in the client's budget.

Under-pricing creative work is too expensive for the artist and practically guarantees tension between the artist/designer and the client. 

Why are spreadsheets sexy? 

They let you know what your work is worth, and with a good number in hand, the relationship with the client might be as much fun as dancing the waltz of the booga-loo.
xo Jennifer - An Artist in the Material World

©Jennifer Smith 2015