Can I make a living?

I see a lot of threads in comic book groups, and other art groups where people are asked what their page rates are or commissions,etc. the same discussions also in the sculpting for 3dprinting groups…🤔
Artists generally look at something they have drawn or made and wonder “how much can I charge for this?”—and feel almost apologetic about asking for money 😅

If you look at it from a different perspective (probably more like a businessman would, if deciding what he has to price it to stay in business…) then you would look at your costs of living first, and a reasonable number that you could live on, and divide that number by the amount of art that you can, or do produce in a year. —if you look at it from that direction, then you may quickly realize that you haven’t even been making minimum wage 😅! Which is probably why most artists are “starving” (or at least keep a lot of ramen in the pantry…)

I sculpt models that I 3dprint , and thought that I could make money selling the STL files for other people to print also…A lot of other artists are also trying to make a living doing this (and several that I know do quite well at it… )
But looking at how much time I generally spend on a sculpture, I really take at least a week from start to finish. And since I can’t actually work at it non-stop, and have to also LIVE, and do other tasks around the house, and not forget that there is the printing,painting, photography, social media, quotes,etc that eat up your time!😅—sustainably, I can sculpt something new every 2weeks, or 2 per month…

So that is only 24 models in a year… But to survive (cost of living) is a a minimum $30,000 per year [if we were to use the $15/hr, $600/week basis]…And honestly, that is just barely enough to survive…
A better number to use (and closer to a median for a 3D designer) would be $60,000/year as a goal. 🤔

If I’m only able to sculpt 2 models a month, then I have to somehow sell that work for $5,000 to make the sustainable income… This is not something that I’ve been doing, and I haven’t even really stopped to look at it and realized that I was not pricing my work to support my costs of living. I suspect that I’m not the only artist who has made this error ….

So to “make a living” as a sculptor, I have to sell that sculpture:

  1. To a single person, as in the case of a commission, or a single artwork, for $2,500
  2. Sell a limited edition of sculptures (eg. An edition of 5 sculptures, 3dprinted and hand-painted, for $500 each)
  3. Sell the STL file for $10 to 250 people, or $5 to 500 people, or $1 to 2,500 people….

I haven’t been doing anything like this. 😟

I do have an hourly rate that I use when quoting 3D design work, which IS sustainable (as a freelancer a good rule of thumb is to charge 3 times what you would be paid for the same job as an hourly employee ), but When I ventured into sculpting models and miniatures for 3dprinting I didn’t do any analysis of this…I just put up my Patreon page like everyone else and hoped to see enough subscribers to make it somehow work! This is the “magical thinking” that I have been guilty of, regarding my art….

And to make matters worse (for me personally), I feel very vested in the things that I create. ..My whole identity is wrapped up in it…so that if you like my art, then you must like me 😀! And if you don’t like my art, then you don’t like me 😭!

So if I have a Patreon that only brings in $500/month (and I do 🙄) I emotionally feel like what I do has no value…and I have no value 😢….No wonder I’m depressed!