After several years out of the commercial art market, I was called, out of the blue, to bring my portfolio to a design studio 125 miles away. They had three large illustrations to assign, and it looked like a fair amount of work.
I was going to bid $1200 each, or $3600 for the trio. But when the art director asked me how much it would cost them, I asked in return what the budget was.
My usual tactic.
I was prepared for her to tell me something as low as $2500 which I would then try to squeeze up a bit before agreeing. I have never been good at guessing these things.
She told me “We have another illustrator whose work we like who has already bid twelve, but I really like your work, so it has to be in that ballpark.”
Trying not to sound huffy, I calmly ask, “Each? Or for the whole job?”
“No, twelve for all three.”
I paused. “These are worth at least nine, each,” I argued humbly… trying to get the work, but still retain my dignity and let her know I know this business.
Her eyebrows shot up. “Nine thousand each?!”
It was at that moment I realized I had just undersold myself to the point of glaring incompetence, and I said, “I really suck at negotiations.”
There was no recovering. I picked up my portfolio and left.
I drove 125 miles north, to my home, with a red face and my tail between my legs.