Monday, December 30, 2013

Ask "Stretch" - December

2013 is coming to a fast close and what a year it has been. How strange that it seems to go be SO FAST and getting faster every year. I hope everyone has had a healthy and prosperous year. It's now time for the final "Ask 'Stretch'" of 2013! A question has come up that I get asked about all of the time. If you're a service provider, creative or otherwise, you'll probably be able to relate. Let's get to it:

1. How am I supposed to figure out how much to charge for any freelance gig? I have a prospective client that's asking and I don't know what to say. How much should I charge?

Answer: Ah, the age-old question of how much to charge for services. There are a few variables to consider for your quote:

Know what your "threshold of pain' is:
This one is critical. Every artist/service provider must know what they need to make to cover all expenses. In order to figure all this out, make a list of needs:

Monthly rent/mortgage
Utilities- water, power, gas and so on.
Phone/cell phone
Transportation- insurance (if applicable), fuel, repairs
Medical- insurance (if applicable), prescriptions, doctor visits and such
Spouse/kids/pets- (if applicable)

Work with round numbers to come up with an estimate of what all of the needed expenses total up to for a month. This becomes the monthly amount needed for your earnings and also becomes the "threshold of pain". If you earn below this figure, then you will have some bills going unpaid and needs unfulfilled.

If you're considering a salary job, then multiply this threshold of pain by 12 to get how much you would be asking for an annual salary.

If you are considering an hourly wage and you want to be a full-time designer, then take the monthly threshold of pain and divide it by typical full-time number of hours, 40. This number will give you the hourly wage you need to cover expenses. Ex: if you need to bring home $3,000 a week and are working 40 hours a week, then your rate needs to be $75 per hour. These numbers are a bit high but insert whatever values needed for your individual situation. Anything less than what you work out for your unique threshold of pain hourly/salary is unacceptable.

Know your work habits to get labor and time cost:
When you have the figure that you require for your situation, then now it comes down to being really honest with yourself with your work habits. Will you need 4 hours or 6 to do a colored character concept? Time yourself or at least take notice of the time passing when you're on any one particular job or project you're on. Knowing how long it takes you to do things helps when figuring out your quote. This gives you the "labor/time" for your quote and be sure to factor in a bit of time/budget for a few revisions. Having enough work will help you get to at least break even with your monthly threshold of pain.

These are 2 concepts are key if one is going to freelance at all, part-time or full-time. You will be able to confidently say how much and how long for any particular job a client asks about. Also, keep in mind, that one should never be afraid of this one client walking away. If your services are indeed that good, there will be a niche for you and you will be able to support yourself : )

As always, feel free to take any of what I've said or leave it all. Got a question about being creative or about the industry itself? Shoot me a message by using the "contact me" form on the right of the page. Happy new year everyone and see you all in 2014! Tune in next time for the first "Ask 'Stretch'" of the new year : )

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arctic night

Whenever I think of winter, I think of snowy drifts, clear nights and dancing aurora borealis. I've never seen aurora in real life myself, only in pictures. One day I'll see them! In this picture, we're somewhere either way up north or down south. Either direction works. We have some seals hanging out on the ice flows as the aurora curtains float in the night sky.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Elf reject

There's always one i every group that's a bit unusual.....I wonder what he's thinking about?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dominic the donkey

Anyone ever heard of this song? It's really about a holiday donkey called Dominic. I heard it on the radio only once this holiday season and it really cracked me up to hear the donkey sounds in the song. Since it was entertaining, I felt the urge to sketch my version of Dominic.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Up on the housetop...."

Merry Christmas Eve everybody! Christmas day is just hours away. The little girl in this sketch peers out curiously into the night hoping to catch sight of Santa and his reindeer. They could be much closer than she thinks : )

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Bazooka Rabbit" drawn 2 ways

On Facebook, there's a great group called "daily spit paint" where several random concepts are shared each day. The group members take one or more of the suggested concepts and paint something representing it in Adobe Photoshop in only 30 minutes. No photo textures are allowed to be used. One day, a concept was suggested called "bazooka rabbit". Regrettably, I didn't get a chance to paint anything but I did sketch a couple of things.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Ever been hard at work at your desk just to look out your window and see how inviting outside looks? Happens to me a lot. Nature is my playground and I love being outside or camping in the great outdoors. It's a running gag between some of us artists that we say "Outside? What is this 'outside'?" because the long hours often have us stay inside at our work stations from sun up to sun down. This guy is in a similar state of mind of realizing there is an outside. Hopefully he'll grab his coffee and take a stroll. We all could use a stroll : )

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm gonna lead the world!

The world will be inherited by the next generation, right? This little guy is all set to lead his people......or is he? Maybe when he grows into his headdress and tunic : )

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shooting star over the jungle

The year's rapidly coming to a close. The holidays are in full swing and so are cases of cold and flu! Luckily, I've just had a sore throat so far. Today, I'm feeling great and ready to get back to creating at full throttle : ) In this scene, a young boy of the jungle has climbed a tree to look at the night sky. I wonder if he's familiar with wishing upon a shooting star?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Brand new store on!

I'm so excited to announce that I have opened a new store on! This new store is called "Treasures by Kris" and it currently features seasonal crafts I have made for the autumn season and the holidays fast approaching. New items will be coming soon and I will be creating some designs for digital download as well. Many of the treasures here are literally one-of-a-kind; order now before they're gone!

Drop by today and see what's happening:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Candy path's" Sugarplum Fairy

After I made the "Candy Path" background, I wondered about who would live there? Maybe a sugarplum fairy? Then I picked up my pen again and this is what resulted : )

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday wreath

I’ve been trying my hand at making crafts to sell on the side. This one was made for a local church in my community. Their church colors happen to be violet and white. It was surprisingly simple in concept and easy to assemble too. Anything personal has been blurred out out of respect for the recipient. Pretty good for my first wreath, eh? : )

Monday, December 2, 2013

Apple girl in full color; Whoo!

After many hours of work, my "Apple Girl" painting is complete! I'm excited to deliver this to my client. The painting took about 8 or 9 hours and acrylic paints were used. The canvas measures 5"x 7". As always, any personal information has been blurred out of respect for my client.

If anyone out there would like to commission me to paint something for them, acrylic or digital, please send me a message:!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Candy path" free form sketch

Having more fun with free form sketch and a black ballpoint pen. This scene is out in candy country with fruit flavor flowers, fruit candy path, chocolate signs, frosting trees, caramel mountains and a gingerbread house. Basic training for background design often involves a ruler, a perspective grid and essentially mechanical drawing with a creative twist. This scene was made based on tuition and flowing through shapes in my mind. The whole sketch took about 5 or 6 minutes.