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