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  #1  
Old 07-26-2014, 07:58 AM
Mack Mack is offline
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Artist's Profit

Does anyone out there who does large public sculpture commissions have a set percentage amount they charge after all their costs are accounted for?
Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2014, 03:31 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

I don't think it really works that way. The amount of the grant is generally fixed, and has to include everything: artist's travel expenses, the design, the materials, the artist's labor, payment for subcontractors, the installation, studio rental, etc. Then they have a way of loading more stuff on, by requiring insurance policies, or maintenance, or union workers, etc. Usually, you go into something like this expecting there to be some profit at the end, but generally things take longer and cost more than expected, and you're lucky to break even.

Andrew Werby
Juxtamorph.com
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  #3  
Old 07-26-2014, 05:35 PM
Mack Mack is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

Thanks Andrew...this is for a state university, and as far as I know I'll be giving a 'quote', a lump sum and a description of the piece. I've gathered all the numbers for all the aspects of production, delivery etc. but wondered about what percentage over and above all my costs, would be hopefully my profit. I wondered if there was some sort of percentage of the entire cost that was 'typical' to add on..maybe not.
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  #4  
Old 07-26-2014, 06:08 PM
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Chris_Johns Chris_Johns is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

It really depends how you work out your costs and exactly what work your will be doing on the project.

Often the easiest way is to calculate a daily rate based on your fixed annual costs (things like studio rent and running costs) and what you would expect to earn over a year and just charge for your time according to that.

Obviously there is the time, spent designing and planning, plus things like meetings and presentations and any project-management that you do.

It's also wise to add on a small amount for contingencies as there are almost always unforeseen costs with any project.

Different aspects of the costs can vary hugely according to the scale, materials, production methods and complexity of a piece so it's almost impossible to give a generic percentage.

In terms of selling your proposal it's also much easier to justify charging X amount per day for however many days than just tacking on a percentage.

I agree that it's fairly unusual for public art projects to be that open ended in terms of price, I rarely see anything which doesn't have at least an idea of a budget.
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  #5  
Old 07-27-2014, 10:07 PM
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Ries Ries is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

For the last 25 years or so, I have figured a 20% to 30% Artist Fee.

I do a lot of public art projects- and they are all fixed budget projects, where I have to take their number, and work backwards to come up with a budget.

I design the piece to fit the budget, and that means paying for my own time, along with the normal expenses- materials, subcontractors, shipping, insurance, consumables, and so on.

I always have a separate line item for labor- both Artist's labor and any paid labor.

And, in addition to that, I shoot for at least a 20% Artist Fee- that is not paying me for my hourly work building the piece, but for all the intangible time, design time, design fee, meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.

Too many artists try to give too much away on these projects (dont ask me how I know)

pay yourself an artist fee, then pay yourself labor.
pay for your overhead- rent, utilities, ongoing costs. figure a rough monthly cost for that stuff, and bill the project.
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  #6  
Old 07-27-2014, 10:50 PM
Art-Deco Art-Deco is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

Quote:
pay yourself an artist fee, then pay yourself labor.
pay for your overhead- rent, utilities, ongoing costs. figure a rough monthly cost for that stuff, and bill the project.
I guess we all have our methods and criteria, but you said these projects typically have a fixed budget and you have to work backwards from that and figure on 20-30%
With that in mind you can't pay yourself an artist fee or pay yourself labor, or bill the project for anything more than their fixed budget, if you figure 20-30% for the artist fee it leaves only 70-80% of what's left (their maximum budget) to cover everything else.
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  #7  
Old 07-29-2014, 08:13 PM
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Ries Ries is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Art-Deco View Post
I guess we all have our methods and criteria, but you said these projects typically have a fixed budget and you have to work backwards from that and figure on 20-30%
With that in mind you can't pay yourself an artist fee or pay yourself labor, or bill the project for anything more than their fixed budget, if you figure 20-30% for the artist fee it leaves only 70-80% of what's left (their maximum budget) to cover everything else.
I can, and I do.
I have completed probably 30 public art projects since 1978, my wife has done another 20 or 30.
We ALWAYS include paying ourselves in the budget.

What most artists do is propose too much artwork for the budget, and then, not pay themselves.

When given a budget, I try to design a work appropriate to the amount.

This is an actual project budget, from a piece I did a bit over ten years ago.
At that time, for this piece, I was able to assess a 15% Artist Fee, in addition to paying for everything else.
The actual monies spent were similar to this, obviously not exact, but pretty close.
This budget has a few oddities- because it was a federally funded transportation project, in my state, I am only liable for sales tax on materials- usually, there is tax on the entire amount, which is the first thing backed out.

Budget:


Office, Overhead and Administrative Costs
Utilities, Phone, Fax, supplies,documentation 2000.
Insurance 1000.
Engineering and Consultants 3000.
Materials and Supplies:
Stainless Steel 11,500.
Shop Supplies 7303.
Electropolishing 7000.
Freight 2000.
Sales tax on Materials only 2197.
Fabrication Costs:
Labor
Artist 10,000.
Assistants 20,000.
Installation Expenses 2000.
Artist Fee-15% 12,000.
Total 80,000.
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  #8  
Old 07-30-2014, 06:11 PM
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Chris_Johns Chris_Johns is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

Also 'profit' is a bit of a vague term and how you define it depends a lot on how you see your business and your overall strategy.

In general it only really makes sense to talk about profit in the context of a set period of time (usually a year), for specific items, jobs or contracts it's more usual to talk about 'gross margin'

The reason for this is that the costs of running a business can broadly be divided into fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are the bills that you need to pay regardless of what you sell, including things like studio rent, insurance and rent or depreciation on equipment as well as the wages of any permanent staff (possibly including yourself) . Costs of utilities are often also included as fixed costs even if they are somewhat variable.

Variable costs are the costs associated with actually making and selling work. Things like materials, consumables (abrasives, welding gas, etc), payments to subcontractors, casual labour, business loan repayments, delivery and installation costs.

Obviously the fixed costs can be calculated on a job by job basis and depending on the terms of your contract you might want to allow a certain percentage for contingency, especially for one-off or experimental projects where it's impossible to estimate the direct costs precisely. Clearly if you're making editions of a sculpture you will have a much better idea of the costs than if you are making a one-off commission.

When you charge for a particular job you need to cover both the direct costs for the job and some portion of your fixed costs. If the job will take 6 months it will need to cover at least 50% of your fixed costs.

Another factor to consider for artists is that you might also need to pay for things like marketing, research, training, professional development, investing in new tools, etc etc which aren't tied to a specific job but affect your ability to function as a professional.

In terms of how you pay yourself there are several options; you can charge a daily rate, a yearly salary or take to profits from the business. Ultimately it comes to pretty much the same thing there will be a certain minimum amount that you need to live on and pay your own personal expenses.

Ultimately you should look at how much you need/want to earn in a year and work back form there to establish a daily rate.

I tend to use the day rate as a baseline and look on the artists fee as a reserve for absorbing losses and investing in equipment etc and if you're lucky this is what funds your own work.
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  #9  
Old 08-01-2014, 04:54 PM
Art-Deco Art-Deco is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ries View Post
I can, and I do.
I have completed probably 30 public art projects since 1978, my wife has done another 20 or 30.
We ALWAYS include paying ourselves in the budget.

Great, but I think you misunderstood what I said, or I wasn't clear enough with:

"With that in mind you can't pay yourself an artist fee or pay yourself labor, or bill the project for anything more than their fixed budget,"

If they have a fixed MAXIMUM amount you can't bill them for more than that (assuming there's a contract that includes a figure as their maximum)
Sure, you can still pay yourself an artist fee and labor etc but it would have to come out of what's left after costs- the foundry, shipping etc are fixed amounts, you can shave alittle off here and there and make up a lot by going with a smaller sculpture, plainer, using aluminum instead of bronze etc., my point was just that if they have a maximum you can't go over that and if there's fixed costs you can't reduce you have to cut where you can.
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  #10  
Old 08-02-2014, 07:06 AM
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Chris_Johns Chris_Johns is offline
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Re: Artist's Profit

The point, though, is that you break down the total budget to get an idea of what it is possible to produce. It's not a question of cutting costs it's planning the work according to the available budget.

In my experience customers who's expectations are unrealistic compared to their budget should be avoided. As Ries says, if you want a sustainable business, you need to propose work which is appropriate to the budget available.

In general a client will want one of two things, either they have a very specific brief (eg a life size bronze bust) in which case you quote a price based on your calculations of costs etc OR they have a fixed budget and you propose something based on that.

To put it another way they tell you what they want and you tell them what it will cost or they tell you how much they want to spend and you tell them what that will get them.

In reality there is a certain amount of room for negotiation and one of the skills of this sort of work is teasing out what the client actually wants to achieve and if it is remotely realistic.

There are times when you might want to offer a discount on a project that is particularly interesting, will significantly enhance your portfolio or is likely to get you more work, but this needs to be the exception rather than the rule and you still need to cost it properly in the first place.

It doesn't really matter if you make your money as part of your own labour charges or as a percentage fee the main thing is that you charge enough to cover all your costs, both the direct costs of making the work and the costs of staying in business and manage to pay yourself at the end of it.
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