Ashley Dietrich a fellow Etsy Artist posted this in the Alchemy to get buyers attention.
I have been a freelance artist for 10 years, and have run into the same problem since day 1: people in general do not understand the cost or market value of custom artwork. I see many audaciously low bids for custom portraits, paintings, etc. and wanted to help educate the non-art public about commissions.
First, custom work is made to order, and therefore is more costly and difficult to make than ready-to-go pieces or mass-produced department store prints. There are expenses such as canvases (think up to $15 for a nice gallery-wrapped 8x10), paint ($10+ for a quality 4oz tube), brushes ($5 to $50 for decent quality), and then time.
You are purchasing an artist's lifelong experience and skill, not just the hours they put into a piece. Would you ask your electrician to work for $5 an hour?
There are certainly older pieces that artists mark cheaply just to clean out the studio, but you generally get what you pay for. Many good artists on Etsy and elsewhere on the net sell work for far below its gallery value. I consistently receive lowball offers for pieces already marked dirt cheap for the quality.
Please be considerate of professional artists. Shop around to get a feel for appropriate prices for size, subject matter and quality of work. There are many people trying to get started that will work for little to nothing, and my advice to those people is that you will regret it later on. Stick to your guns and ask what you deserve for your artwork. That is the only way you will ever make a living doing what you love.