Recently I was commissioned by the Tate to create a poster for their gift shop, which was really exciting. The brief was really just the dimensions, and I could do what I wanted, which seemed crazy. When I went to meet them, they showed me detailed statistics on all the posters that had performed well in the past. It was the first time I had ever looked at it in this way, as I’d never really created a poster with a specific audience in mind. In terms of the fee, I could have spent a day on it, and then it would have paid a good amount. But I weighed it up, and because you get royalties on each poster sold, you want to put in the time to give it a chance to do well. It was a gamble, but in the end I chose to turn down another job in that time, and in total I spent about four weeks on it.
Taking the time to quantify whether a job is worth it and the time you need to do it well, is important. Constantly doing work just for the money can result in a negative feeling, but doing something you enjoy for less money can sometimes be quite enlightening. One thing I really recommend is getting in touch with other artists if you want to know how they made something possible. Still now, when I’m thinking of doing a project, I’ll get in touch with other people who have done similar things, to see how they made it happen and hear their experience. You can learn a lot from that, and most people are willing to spend five minutes shooting out an email.