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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A thought on pet portraits...

I was recently asked for a quote to do a portrait of a family member's beloved cat. It gave me the thought to write a bit of a note regarding the concept of pet portraits, and likewise the pricing of such projects. Basically, I have a set per-square-inch price that I try to follow as strictly as possible when quoting commissions or pricing my original works. This price, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) means that most people will not commission pet portraits. I say "or fortunately" because it ultimately gives me a way to politely say "no" to these projects without actually saying no. I quote the price, and the client realizes it is out of their price range, and opts out of the project. In this one case, I really actually WANT to do the portrait. I quite like the cat, and think he would make a great portrait. However, I am not comfortable in any way with giving a "family discount" or giving a better deal just because I really want to do the project. And so, I quoted my normal price, and offered the option of a payment plan, and mentioned it would be a few months before I could fit it in anyways (encouraging them to maybe save some money up for the project). Really, I can't "poo-poo" on pet portraits, as that is how I got my start as an artist. However, this is no longer my area of interest, and I feel that as a wildlife artist, I have to stay away from these projects as much as possible. They consume a massive amount of time, and result in a piece of art that may be special to one person, but ultimately is not going to have any mass appeal to the public that I am trying to market my work to. I've decided to only take on projects that meet the following specifications: a) I actually WANT to do the portrait (an interesting breed of dog, or a particular cat that I know and like) and b) I know the client is completely comfortable with the pricing. In most cases, either a) or b) (or both) are not met, and therefore the project doesn't go forward. I have a lot of respect for artist that make a career and a name for themselves as pet portrait artists, but it is not a route that I want to take. And so - I hope my family member plans to go ahead with the portrait, despite the high price, and I will enjoy the project - but I understand completely if they decide against it.

1 comment:

Heather Page said...

I hear you! I started out doing pet portraits but after about 3 years of it, I've had enough. Over the 3 years, I raised my prices significantly, just to make it worth my while and also to hopefully lower the interest. Instead, my workload increased! Go figure! I've decided to stop doing pet portraits because I just don't enjoy it anymore and I've had to put my own artwork on hold. I may eventually get back to doing pet portraits, but I'll pick and choose what I want to do. So I completely understand where you're coming from.

By the way, I absolutely love your work!