Thursday, November 22, 2012

Castles dreams & Popsicle stick budgets

Mural pricing info and preventing hard situations.

 I received a call the other day from a past client wishing to get a quote for a new mural. Now under normal circumstances this would be good news. Only this time the client is a non-profit. A few years back I was approached by members of the “non profit “ board. At the time, I was new to town and felt that participating in a community endeavor was good for all concerned. As it turns out the board came to me “hat in hand” asking if I would consider “fixing” an existing mural pleading they had no budget. So we all met at the museum one night and discussed said mural in need of repair. Well it didn’t need to be repaired as it was done by some well intentioned amateurs about 20 odd years ago. I did the only thing I could do......replace it. Turns out they spent 5 k on a steel chest, not that it matters but imho they really have no need at this point in the game.

Now in the spirit of good will, I did the mural at cost under the inferred idea that they would do some fund raising on their own for the next one at par- “ish”.          Silly me, I should have known better!
 So this time three of us get together and the whole exchange lasted 5 minutes or less. After doing some measuring it turns out that the new piece they want is three times the size of the first one. So this time they insist I give them a straight out price for the mural which is strange from these guys (I don’t give out written quotes, just basic agreements signed by both parties when it’s money time). So I give them the straight up goods and that was it for the meeting. .......hmmm! Did I mention the mural I did helped win them an award, (as I was told this past summer by another board member) so they probably got a bursary of some sort too which is great, glad I could help.....but!!!!

Having done many meetings, there are a few things I have picked up....sometimes I’m wrong but not very often these days! This is what I think derailed the project:

Someone new (to the board with lots of plastic friends) knows an artist (that thinks they can paint murals, “some can”) and is pushing hard to send them the meeting was loaded before I even turned up. Probably even before they called me.


I’m bidding against......  a vinyl reproduction of a photograph! (which makes more sense in this equation).

A couple of things lead me to these conclusions:
 I could be wrong but I think not
first, I can paint what many can’t (that’s not say I can do anything but I have only had one complaint in almost 30 yrs), and there is no one I’m aware of any where near, that can match what I do in product or price.

What do I think I learned...hmmmm.
-If you do something for cheap/”the deal”, then expect to never ever earn more than that price point from that client no matter what they “say”.
- Never go out to quote on a job or ask for a quote unless you know what your asking for or doing exactly.
- Just because your friend is losing their house doesn’t mean they can paint murals at a professional level
- Some things just shouldn’t be done in vinyl, use the right medium for your venue (some things just look tacky no matter how "great" it looks on the screen)
- Don’t disrespect a mural artist by using vinyl all around a painted photo-real mural.....(unless its on a placard giving the artist credit and/or describing the mural its near! (it just looks tacky)
- Hire an artist/designer for artist designer’s what they do! (yes I know you’re talented...but you may not or don’t have, the training!) The difference in the end results are “Huge”!  Product knowledge is a big help to achieve quality.
- If you are not confident enough to charge, (or prepared to pay if you’re a buyer) $35... give or take $10 - $20 either way, plus materials/rental equipment, per square foot for a mural then you should seriously practice/save your money until you are.
                                                  Murals are not for the faint at heart.
An additional thought, vinyl is not for museum displays, and museum displays are not a place to practice mural painting even though you can paint 20 x 30 inch canvases of cats, dogs or horses etc! (imho of course)

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