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I ask these questions to know what some would do when faced with an art form you have experience with but it is being replaced by better technology. I shall use two examples:

Bending neon is a great art form and many years ago it was the standard for lighted signage. Lately with the better machines and tools for channel lettering LED is greatly weeding out neon and the people that are great at it.

Another art form that is being replaced is airbrushing with the advancement of digital printing. Many years ago this was the standard for gradients and shadowing for advertising.

These two are examples of what I am interested to know how some would proceed with a skill set that is dying.

  • Do you price as normal?
  • Do you not bother?
  • Do you spend the time to market your skill set on a dying art form (and this question may dive into if there is a market which I would imagine will still be)?

I understand that you must price to make a living but there is certainly a difference in time it takes to airbrush over a digital print.

  • How do you decide where the end of the road is or should you always offer it?
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Can't offer any personal experience, but there are artists and crafts folk who keep dying arts alive and the formula appears to be: 1) find niches of people with very specific requirements who need your rare skill (or, enthusiasts, cranks, hipsters or posers who want it, or, can be talked into wanting it...) 2) build really strong personal relationships and reputation within this small world, 3) charge as much as they can afford, 4) do everything you can to keep this small world alive: live it, breathe it, promote it. ...It looks like hard, precarious work: I wouldn't choose this path. –  user568458 May 29 '13 at 16:39
great comment why not add it as an answer so I can upvote it? –  Matt May 29 '13 at 16:47
Commoditification does not mean 'better' nor does it supplant professionalism. Even if those skill sets inch toward the 'fine art' arena, how you market them would change, but it strangely seems to me they become more valuable under certain circumstances. Plus you have a leg up if you add digital to your skills set. –  vector Jun 21 '13 at 16:52

2 Answers 2

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The price depends heavily on the environment and community you are marketing for, as well as how you present yourself.

If you make your clients feel like you are nothing special or that your art is going extinct from natural selection, then you will undoubtedly be charging a lower price. I suggest you make an online resume, if you haven't already, and let most of your consumers come to you.

From there you can offer your services from a high asking price and haggle until both you and the customer are happy. This allows you to set a higher price, with the rational that if the art is dying, then there are much fewer talented artists (less supply → more demand), and that if the art is harder to do, then you should be paid more.

If you feel like you are good enough at your talents to market them, then I say go for it. But like I said, establishing your reputation as an artist online is important if you want to find enough clients to support yourself.

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How do you decide where the end of the road is or should you always offer it?

If you, like me, love doing something, you'll always offer it. I never stop offering a service I enjoy doing, ever. While it may be true that the need for such a service dwindles, it doesn't make my love of doing it any less.

The sad truth is that as a service dwindles in use, the cost for the service may rise. At least it does here. This is primarily due to the nature of traditional services vs. digital services. Digital is always faster with less set up. Traditional services take supplies, time to set up and tear down, careful craftsmanship (as opposes to something like hitting an "align" button in software). So the trend I see is the less a service is called for the more money it costs, which in turn makes customer shy away from it more. However, there are some companies/clients who appreciate the "old-world" craftsmanship and style which is so often not possible with digital media.

Most of my old-world services transfer to digital media (like airbrushing would) So really, the client isn't aware of the work behind something at times. I don't generally charge the same for a quick Adobe Illustrator drawing as I do for a hand-drawn illustration. The manual work takes skill... the digital work just takes technical proficiency.

In the end, it all depends upon the project. If my company was hired to complete an illustration, after discussing the requirements it's up to me to decide what method would be best. If I feel only traditional techniques would suit the project, then the pricing is adjusted accordingly. So, it is not so much that I market old-world skills... I market the work. If someone likes the particular style of work which utilizes the traditional techniques, then that's what I quote for.

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