Instead of being employed on given work for so many hours a day, the free-lance obtains her own commissions either directly from business houses and magazines, or through agents. Less frequently the free-lance may sell drawings already prepared which happen to suit the client's purpose, or which were cunningly designed with the hope of doing so.

Work so commissioned is nearly always wanted for a specific purpose, and required within a specified time. For example, one is commissioned to draw a given hat or a particular dress for an advertiser's press announcement which must appear next week. Between this and work given out in a studio, there is this important difference. The artist must know all about the job, from the beginning to the end, even to seeing it through to the printers. If she is behind with the work, there is no one to help her finish it.

In place of a regular salary the free-lance receives just whatever

her drawings secure, less any agents' fees, and bad debts. Bad debts may be a very serious item. Materials, another item of no small consideration, must be purchased out of the artist's own pocket. Her income therefore depends entirely on the amount of work obtained, and the price it will command. For a number of reasons free-lance artists generally get lower prices for equal work than a studio does. Nevertheless, for the purpose of comparison, it may safely be taken that an average good free-lance can earn for herself about one and a half times as much as when doing an equivalent amount of work in a studio. It should be realized that payment for drawings is seldom made on delivery, but usually on publication. One must therefore reckon on waiting three months before the money comes in, and some sort of account should be kept.


Payment for drawings varies according to the treatment. Line drawings fetch less than line and wash: colour drawings more. For a line drawing of a standard size, say a 12 in. single figure, the price is from half to three guineas, dependent on the standing of the artist, the studio, and to some extent the buyer. For line and wash, and wash, payment varies from 15s. 6d. to five guineas, and for colour drawings anything from one to fifty guineas is paid for a single work. Not every artist can command the top figures, but the better drawings of certain London artists, and the drawings, sold in London, of the famous French and German artists regularly do fetch those prices. These scales cover all classes of fashion work, both from studios and by free-lance artists; and although the studios do generally secure the better prices, the rates given will indicate to the free-lance what she may expect for her work.


Although regularly employed in a studio, an artist is often permitted to earn additional money by free-lance work. This is more particularly the case when one is a versatile enough artist to be

able to work in other mediums. If allowed to free-lance, naturally no attempt is made to get work from the regular clients of the studio, nor is the kind of work one was specially engaged to do for them deliberately undertaken. But such stuff as colour drawings for menus, calendars, and show cards are not likely to touch the studio's business, and are in good demand provided they are offered at the right time and have the right appeal. The proper seasons for offering different sorts of work are discussed in Chapter VIII, which should be carefully noted by the aspiring free-lance.

Colour sketches for the covers of such magazines as Royal and Britannia and Eve are another very profitable sideline; so, too, are colour drawings for editorial use in papers like The Tatler and The Sketch, ten guineas being a usual price for a single page. By editorial use is meant the sort of drawing which forms part of the contents of the paper, as distinct from advertisements. Naturally, it must suggest absolutely nothing of advertising, and the fashion touch must be sternly suppressed. The illustrated periodical field is a highly competitive one; nevertheless, besides the good payment, getting into one of these papers is worth the effort for the versatility and prestige it gives to one's work.

Studio artist and free-lance are both able to supplement in various other directions their earnings from fashion drawing. Advertisement work, for example, occasionally comes one's way. A local tradesman or printer may require assistance with a lay-out, or want some copy written. If it is about clothes he is likely to consult a fashion artist, if he knows one. On such an occasion, even at the risk of appearing mercenary, one might well emulate the legal profession, which never omits the appropriate charge for services rendered. Fashion writing is another line with possibilities for those with the necessary aptitude and facility with the pen; whilst dress designing is also a profitable avenue worth exploring.

Both these latter, however, are definitely for the fully-fledged artist with a real flair for dress. In any case, during the early days of training, it is better to keep to straight fashion work, with life

classes for further study, unless one intends definitely to go into fashion writing or the dress designing profession altogether.

Fashion Drawing Sections

Part-1 Part-2 Part-3