You are viewing mysticcreatures

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Harly Kin
Since "Your fursuits are sooo expensive" and "I'm a student on a budget, can't you make me this cheaper ?" are reocurring comments for every costume maker out there, I decided to make a public price analysis of fursuit making. Yes, it is a lot of number crunching, but if you follow me through to the end, you will understand a lot more about how companies in general, and artists in particular have to calculate their prices, and why technically even 3000 Euros/Dollars would be a fair price for a custom fursuit.

It may also be a guideline for new makers out there, to find their own correct price.



ESSTENTIAL CONSIDERATIONS:

First of all, we have to agree that costume making is a professional business. Meaning the person making your costumes full time needs to be able to pay his bills and make a, by the standards of his country, decent living.

Second, creating costumes is a complex process that needs not only artistic skills, but also practice in handcrafting, sewing, polymer technology, resin working, barbering, metalworking and so on. A work that not anyone can do. ...otherwise you would build your suit yourself, wouldn't you ?
Now, what is a decent wage for a skilled artistic professional ? I think we all agree that it's worth more than mopping the floor at McD, which anyone can do. And we're neither talking about a student wage as well, but a real profession. The maker possibly wants to have a family at some point, like everyone else. Let's start low and set his wage at  20 Euro/Dollar per hour after tax.

Third, fursuit making comes with additional costs. The maker needs a workshop of some sort, machines, crafting materials, insurance, electricity, ... and lastly also taxes need to be paid.

Fourth, how long does it take to make a fursuit ? Or calculated from the other end: How many fursuits can you build per week/month/year ?




LETS CALCULATE:

In an ideal world, how fast can your custom suit be made ?

1 day   - that's how long it roughly takes to make a professional but basic body suit.
1 day   - for making your hand- and footpaws
3 days - creating your custom head. Sculping, shaping, furring, trimming, eyes, mouth,...
1 day   - texturing. Your suit has markings ? Add a day for sewing or airbrushing all the details
1 day   - Oups, you didn't provide ready made 1:1 paper patterns and materials ? Then your artist needs a day to make those, and do the material shopping, browsing for resources, ordering stuff...
0,5 day - Do you expect the artist to talk to you ? Answer your mails and chat about details ? Actually, that is lost working time for him as well.

So we are already at 60 working hours for a basic, textured full fursuit.

"Hm, not too bad.. 60 hours, 20 bucks.. makes 1200 for a full suit, right ?"  WRONG !
Not only did we forget the materials, there's a lot more fun stuff to be included.
For now, we will memorize that with 60 hours per suit, a maker could probably create 3 suits per month.

A year has 10, maybe 11 months. Wait, it has 12, you say ? Well, like everyone else, our artist is allowed a month of paid vacation, no ? And he needs some time off to attend conventions and meet you in person. So, a 10.5 months working year will create a maximum of 31 suits. And come to think of it, over 30 suits a year IS quite a lot, don't you agree ?




AUXILIARY COSTS:

We obviously need a workshop. That means rent. And we need water, heating and electricity there. We probably want to insure the place and machinery. And having a phone and internet there can't hurt either. Your milage may vary, but I would put down about 400 bucks per month. Add 200 per year for whatever maintenance and we have a nice round 5000 Euro/Dollar per year.

A workshop also needs machinery. A professional sewing machine, pro airbrush equipment, many many different powertools, spare- and replacement parts, occasionally some furniture/shelves. Equipment for 5000 money units is easily collected. Unfortunately this stuff ages. A machines lifespan is 4, maybe 5 years. That means we have a statistical machinery cost of 500 Euro/Dollar per year.

These 5500 annual money units need to be covered by the 31 fursuits. Which adds about 180 Euro/Dollar to each suit made.

Now the actual material cost. The materials for the actual costume will cost somewhere between 300 to 600. Good faux fur costs 30 to 60 per yard/meter. Silicones, resins, latex and sculpting materials that we need are very expensive. Buying taxidermy eyes/claws/teeth isn't exactly cheap either.  If you go for superspecial stretch-fur or leather, it's even more. So here we go, adding some (average) 450 bucks just for the material.




TAXES:

Yes, I know, nobody likes them, but as a business, you have to pay them.
And therefor you have to include them in your calculation.
In my country, they are roughly as follows:

- 15.5% Health insurance. (This may be debatable, but there is no way around it here, and to be honnest, asking your costume maker to risk his health to work cheaper for you is rude.
- 20% Income tax and other minor duites
- 19% VAT value added tax.




LETS DO THE NUMBER CRUNCHING:

 1200 for the actual work your artist is doing for you
+ 180 auxiliary costs
+ 450 material costs
---------
 1830 total net cost
+ 284 (this suits share of 15.5% income based health insurance cost)
+ 366 (20% Income tax and duties for this suit)
+ 348 (19% VAT for this suit)
---------
2828 Euro/Dollar total, without shipping.
Yes, this means that a decently priced normal fullsuit should cost almost 3000 Euro/Dollar.



WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ?

A) Costume artists love their work. But they have bills to pay just like you.
B) More than half of the pricetag is for taxes and auxiliary costs.
C) If your fursuit is cheaper than 2500 Euro/Dollar, your artist is likely working for less than minimum wage.


Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
syredronning
Oct. 24th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
Great posting.

In addition: All those companies that have special student pricing use it to promote their software/newspaper/whateverproducts so that students in the future will come back as full payer of high-priced stuff -> "Anfixen".

A fur suit maker not only doesn't need that, he also can't really reduce student prices and raise the other prices for normal buyers in a cross calculation, which these companies do.

/edit for typos

Edited at 2011-10-24 04:14 am (UTC)
shirikdraguinea
Oct. 24th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for making this post, I well undercharge for my work and people don't seem to get how much work goes into them!!
mysticcreatures
Oct. 24th, 2011 11:03 am (UTC)
My pleasure, shirik. Feel free to reference anyone to it. :-)

I encourage that every maker should charge prices that are fair to him as well as the client. If someone does the math for himself and finds out that he/she can and wants to work for cheaper prices, I will be the last one to stop him/her.

No maker in the fandom has to fear being undercut. Most of the makers have a several month long waiting list anyways.

But I see so many artists undercharging their work because they shot their prices out of the blue, and then wonder why they never make any profit in the long run, or worse, get a financial shock when it's tax time.

So this post may serve both: Artists who 'accidentially' undercharge, and clients who never really understood why an artists work seems so expensive when they themselves probably just take material and a net wage into account.
icywolfy
Nov. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
>> Well, like everyone else, our artist is allowed a month of paid vacation

Canada/US you're lucky to get more than 10 days paid vacation at any job.

As for taxes, in the US, income tax is between 25 and 35%; and VAT is only paid if you ship in-state(0-9%, depending on state), out-of-state(0%)

Health Care in Canada is a flat $40/mo in many provinces, or part of property tax in others.

Health Care in the US would be variable. When healthy, I'm paying only $1800/year. When ill, I spent like $15,000 in a year (with insurance) Since health insurance means "we'll pay only some of the costs, only if the insurance company feels it's medically necessary, regardless of whether the doctor says it is"

Though artists in and out of the fandom routinely undercharge. It's just a matter of course, unfortunately.
silverlinz
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
And then there is lost $$ on US/CAD/POUND exchange, plus duties and sales taxes up here in Canada. Free enterprise in Canada is not nearly as easy as in the USA, where small business is encouraged and occasionally breaks are given (through bank, grant, or tax). However up in Canada we are told to fend for ourselves and are commonly penalized for searching for lower rates on anything.

It is an artists life.
mysticcreatures
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
As for the different amount of vacation days, tax rates, insurance fees:
Naturally these vary from country to country. You likely see my point why my initial statement is "make a, by the standards of his country, decent living".
Thank you for adding the according bits of information for the US/CAN based readers.

And.. artists undercharging their work may be routine, but I refuse to accept it as matter of course. Given the art produced is good enough for buyers to accept the price, knowing what your work is worth is the basis of finding a fair price.
latinvixen02
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
I am actually impressed with this post. Do you mind if I link this post around to a few others?
mysticcreatures
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Hi LV. :)
Not at all. Link away and spread the word.
bncreation
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
Eeyup. Exactly.
mechsae
Nov. 16th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Friend on FA just left a journal up about this. Very nicely put together, explains everything clearly and concisely.
mysticcreatures
Nov. 16th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
neithersparky
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I never thought to justify my health insurance in my prices - I can only get high-risk, and it's almost $300 a month. :P Also I am still paying off my machine, for the same amount per month. (I do machine embroidery.) I've been charging only $15 an hour labor, I guess $20 is fair after all. :P
mysticcreatures
Nov. 17th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
That's the spirit ! :-)
tekfox
Nov. 17th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
It takes you 8 hours to make one set of handpaws and footpaws?
snapcat
Nov. 8th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
Takes me 4 hours for hands, 5 hours for feet. that includes breaks. Its a full day's work. Hard to believe eh?
chibi_alu
Nov. 19th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Oh you are so right.
I'm a beginner in Fursuit making and take comissions for learning purposes. But the most people think 150€ for a head is to expensive.
I don't get it. Did they think the materials are for free?
mysticcreatures
Dec. 18th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
People don't mean bad usually. They really do not understand how much work or material go into this. Stay polite and explain to them your own expenses. Be clear about if you actually want to make a profit, or make it as a hobby and/or want material cost covered.
Rowan Wolfe
Dec. 18th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
OMG LOVE!
This is fan-freakin-tastic! I am just starting out "officially" taking commissions for people beyond friends and family (and doing my own stuff), and I've been writing up a business plan and deciding on price ranges for different things.
While I don;t have enough experience in doing fur suits and heads etc YET, I have done some and aim to get very good at this.

SO... my finding my way here comes at a very opportune time! Very helpful indeed, thank you!

I am wondering if you would mind me putting this on my facebook page and website, with credit given (and your website listed)?

Many thanks!
mysticcreatures
Dec. 18th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG LOVE!
Hi Rowan,

I'm glad that you find my thoughts helpful.
Feel free to link to this post anytime.

If you want to copy the actual text, yes, please include the link to this and my website for proper crediting. Thank you for your considerate question and best of luck with your plans. :)
Rowan Wolfe
Dec. 18th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG LOVE!
Thanks so much! :)
Steve Bosworth HFx
Dec. 21st, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
Great breakdown!
just a thank you. i've shared this to my facebook group as it's easy for people (us) to underestimate costs.
personally i offer student prices on the basic teeth and fangs i make but just because i'm nice and every set out there is an advert!
not so much lost money just less profit to pay the bills, lol
but as most of my work comes from recommendations it has it's advantages. pay for advertising with a magazine or give a few away cheaper for actual product placement??

thanks again :)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2012 08:13 am (UTC)
um... no.
Alright, no offense to all you suit makers, but they ARE over priced! If you think about it, the materials for a suit should only cost up to $500 MAX for good fur, and for the labor I say you should pay about $400, which is only $900 for a fullsuit. I don't care if you have to pay your damn bills! Find another business if you don't like the pay you get!! I can't stress this enough, but NO ONE HAS THAT KIND OF MONEY LAYUNG AROUND FOR SOMETHING YOU COULD GET FOR 600 BUCKS FROM A PROFESSIONAL!!
I'm sorry, but its true! Its over-priced. :I that is all. rofl
mysticcreatures
Jul. 15th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC)
Re: um... no.
Heh, I think I have seen this trollmentary before.
But hey, everyone is entitled to his own opinion. :-)

Do me a favour and show us all the good looking professional suits that you get for those 600 bucks ? I would totally buy some cool suits for myself at that price.

Oh, and... have the balls to post logged in with your own account instead of anonymous. ;-)
star_of_silence
Jun. 25th, 2013 02:19 am (UTC)
snapcat
Nov. 8th, 2013 06:20 am (UTC)
your are spot on. Thanks for posting this!
mysticcreatures
Nov. 21st, 2013 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks. My pleasure.
Given it's now 2 years old, maybe I should do a refurbished repost somewhere.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )