Artistry vs. Efficiency: Comparing Two Sketches for Different Clients

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Education | 0 comments


In the world of urban sketching, each stroke of the pen, brush of the paint, and moment spent on paper is a dance between artistry and efficiency. It’s a delicate balance, one that I’ve honed over the last 10 years of sketching, and even more so the last 2 years living from my artwork.

Today, I invite you to join me in a journey of artistic exploration and introspection. Picture this: Two clients, the same scene, yet two different sketches. One took four hours, for which I charged 300 euros. The other, a swifter rendition, took just 1.5 hours and came with a price tag of 180 euros. At first glance, they may appear strikingly similar, but as artists, we know that each brushstroke, each moment spent, tells a story.

This brings us to a compelling question that artists often grapple with: Is it worth investing more time in our craft, and how does it affect not only the pricing but also the perception of our work? Do our clients notice the difference, and if so, does it matter? As I delve into the details of these two sketches, I hope to shed light on this artistic quandary and the choices we make as artists.

Join me as we dissect the nuances of these creations, explore the psychology of pricing, delve into client satisfaction, and ultimately, seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be an artist in the ever-evolving realm of urban sketching.  


The Two Sketches – A Visual Comparison

Client 1: €300 (4 hours) A commissioned gift for the owner of the restaurant. 

The drawing is more refined and delicate as it took more time to create. It took me two visits on-location to match the timing of the shadows. It was a short window of time.

Client 2: €180 (1.5 hours) Restaurant patrons sitting on the left requested another sketch.

I quoted the same price as the first sketch. The client said their budget is 180. I said, “okay, I will create a €180 sketch.” 

That meant, one session within the time frame of one hour and thirty minutes. It was also a time pressure as the client had a flight out the next morning. 

Pricing Considerations

In the world of art, pricing isn’t just about numbers; it’s a reflection of the value we place on our work, the time invested, and the experience we offer to our clients. Let’s dive into the intricacies of pricing and how it played a significant role in the creation of these two sketches.

The Pricing Structure:

For the first sketch, which demanded four hours of meticulous work, I chose to charge 300 euros. The rationale behind this pricing was based on several factors. Firstly, the extended duration allowed me to focus on minute details, achieving a level of precision and intricacy that I felt justified a higher price point. Additionally, the extra hours invested meant more of my artistic expertise and passion poured into the piece, making it, in my view, a more valuable piece of art.

Conversely, the second sketch, completed in a swifter 1.5 hours, was priced at 180 euros. This pricing was a result of a conscious decision to offer a more budget-friendly option to clients who did not have the budget or time for a lengthier project. However, it’s essential to note that this reduced timeframe didn’t diminish the quality or artistic value of the work; instead, it was a testament to my ability to capture the essence of a scene efficiently.

Value-Based Pricing and Time Investment:

Value-based pricing is a concept deeply intertwined with the world of art. It revolves around the idea that the value of a piece isn’t solely determined by the hours spent creating it but by the emotional resonance it holds for both the artist and the client. In essence, it’s about what the art represents to the client, how it enriches their life, or connects with their emotions.

In the case of the first sketch, the extended time investment allowed me to create a piece that was not only visually captivating but also emotionally resonant. The intricate details and the depth of the scene conveyed a sense of timelessness and authenticity that added significant value for the client. It became a piece that not only captured a place but also a moment in time.

For the second, swifter sketch, the value was derived from the client’s desire for a quick, yet still, a highly skilled rendition of the scene. The efficiency and boldness in this work offered a unique appeal, suiting clients who appreciated the essence of urban sketching but had time constraints.

Client Perception and Pricing:

The perception of quality in art is a multifaceted interplay of various elements. Pricing is undoubtedly one of them. Clients often associate higher prices with higher quality, expecting a level of excellence commensurate with the investment. In the case of the first sketch, the 300-euro price tag likely set certain expectations in the client’s mind, and the depth and detail of the artwork met those expectations.

However, it’s important to remember that perception isn’t solely driven by price. Art, like any other product or service, must deliver on its promises. The second sketch, priced at 180 euros, may have surprised clients with its quality, challenging preconceived notions about the relationship between pricing and artistry.

As artists, we navigate this delicate balance between pricing our work fairly, reflecting the time and expertise invested, and ensuring that clients perceive the value they receive. It’s a dance that requires both creativity and business acumen, and it’s a dance that I, as an artist and educator, continue to refine.

In the next section, we’ll explore the impact of these pricing decisions on client satisfaction and their perception of our artwork.

Client Satisfaction and Perception

In the realm of urban sketching, client satisfaction is not just a marker of success; it’s actually a very personal experience to the client. Each sketch, whether it takes hours or minutes to create, is a unique journey that culminates when the client discovers you in the streets sketching… or gets the chance to see your process.  It’s this moment of  connection in real life, of sharing the memory and experience, that makes our work truly meaningful.

Client 1 Loved the Sketch – As Did Client 2!

Both of these sketches were crafted with unwavering dedication and passion, ensuring that each client received my maximum effort, tailored to their respective time frames. Client 1, the recipient of the four-hour drawing, was enamored with the attention to detail, the intricate lines, and the depth of the scene. The commissioned drawing was to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the restaurant. This by nature applies a sort of sacred art to the drawing as well. Below is a detail close-up of version 1.

On the other hand, Client 2, who opted for the 1.5-hour sketch with a looser approach, also shared their enthusiasm and appreciation. They were prepared for a different style and embraced the boldness and vibrancy of the sketch. The speed and efficiency of the process didn’t diminish their satisfaction; instead, it aligned perfectly with their expectations. Below is a detail of version 2.

The Influence of Experience and Expecations:

Client satisfaction, in many ways, is a reflection of the experience we offer and how it aligns with the client’s expectations. It’s not solely about the hours spent creating a piece, but the emotional impact it carries. Client 1 expected and received a meticulously detailed work of art, and their satisfaction stemmed from the realization of those expectations.

For Client 2, the satisfaction arose from a different set of expectations. They anticipated a swift, bold, and vibrant rendition, and that’s precisely what they received. The experience of watching an urban sketch come to life in a shorter timeframe added to the thrill of owning a piece that encapsulated a moment in time.

As artists and educators, understanding these dynamics is paramount. It highlights the importance of effective communication with clients, managing their expectations, and aligning our artistic vision with their desires. It reaffirms that our clients’ perception of the artwork’s value isn’t solely dictated by the price tag but by the emotional connection and experience they derive from it.

In the next section, we’ll explore the artist’s perspective, delving into what makes each sketch special and how our artistic choices influence the final outcome.

The Artist Perspective

As an artist, reflecting on the creative process is not just an exercise in self-analysis; it’s a journey into the heart and soul of each sketch. In the case of these two sketches, I find immense satisfaction and pride in both, though for distinct reasons that offer a glimpse into the intricacies of urban sketching.

Satisfaction and Diversity:

Version 1, the result of four hours of meticulous pencil work in phase 1 and attention to detail in the last phase, holds a special place in my heart. It’s a testament to the sacred container of time, an acknowledgment of that specific day, hour, and the celestial alignment. This sketch encapsulates a momentary piece of time and existence, a tribute to the unique circumstances that surrounded its creation. It’s a reminder that art is not just about lines on paper; it’s about the experience woven into each stroke.

Version 2, on the other hand, satisfies a different artistic craving. It’s a celebration of energy and confidence, attributes that we, as artists, ultimately desire to display in our work. In this sketch, I allowed myself to break free from the constraints of excessive detail in earlier phases. It’s a recognition that sometimes, less can indeed be more. The image breathes with a freshness that invites the viewer to engage and explore without being overwhelmed. It’s a reminder that selective admiration from the subconscious to the conscious is a service that expert artists provide—a skill honed through years of intuition and expertise.

Artistic Intuition and Expertise:

Throughout the creative process, my artistic intuition and expertise played a pivotal role in shaping both sketches. In Version 1, my intuition guided me to invest more time in the pencil phase and detail work. I understood that this particular scene required a depth and intricacy that could only be achieved through patience and precision. The expertise I’ve developed over the years through hours of reptition granted the knowing when to add a delicate line or shade to capture a specific texture or atmosphere.

In contrast, Version 2 was a deliberate departure from the usual path. My intuition led me to embrace boldness and confidence in my strokes. I recognized that not every scene demands a surplus of details. By consciously choosing simplicity over intricacy, I allowed the essence of the scene to shine through. It’s a testament to the understanding that viewers don’t consume an image all at once; they selectively see, subconsciously. My expertise guided me in curating the elements that would engage the viewer’s subconscious and draw them into the representation of the scene.

In the world of urban sketching, each stroke, each decision, is a delicate dance between intuition and expertise. It’s an art form where we pay homage to the fleeting moments of existence, capture energy and confidence, and, above all, offer our viewers an opportunity to see the world through our selective and expertly crafted lens.

In the upcoming section, we’ll explore the concept of finding a balance between artistic integrity, time efficiency, and pricing—a challenge that resonates deeply with artists and educators alike.

Finding a Balance

As urban/travel sketchers, and creative professionals, we often find ourselves at the intersection of artistry, efficiency, and how the heck do you price something so personal. This delicate balancing act shapes not only our work but also our connection with clients and the world. Here are some insights and guidance to navigate this dynamic landscape:

1. Set Clear Prices Before Hitting the Streets:

One of the fundamental steps in this journey is to have your prices determined before you embark on your urban sketching adventures. Know your price range, from the minimum to the maximum, relevant to the size and complexity of the piece. Having a well-defined pricing structure ensures transparency and helps you communicate the value of your work effectively to clients. In a future article, I’ll break down my pricing services to provide you with an example, but remember, your pricing may differ based on your location and personal needs.

2. Embrace Your Artistic Identity:

What you believe is “good work” may differ from your clients’ perspectives. It’s crucial to be proud of your art, not in the sense of pride, but in that joyful, deep-sigh-of-relief kind of pride. Embrace your artistic identity and recognize that your unique style and approach are what make your work special. Trust your intuition and artistic expertise in making choices during the creative process.

3. Balancing Integrity, Efficiency, and Pricing:

Balancing artistic integrity, time efficiency, and pricing is an ongoing challenge. Remember that each sketch is an opportunity to find this balance anew. While efficiency can be important in meeting client demands and deadlines, it should never compromise the integrity of your art. Seek harmony between these aspects, allowing your artistic vision to guide the way.

4. Communicate the Value of Your Art Effectively:

Communicating the value of your art to clients is an essential skill. Here are a few tips to help you convey the significance of your work:

Unique On-Location Art: Highlight the essence of completing your works on-location. Explain to clients that this creates a truly one-of-a-kind artwork that captures not just a scene but also the emotions and atmosphere of that specific moment in time. Relay that drawing from a photo at home would NOT convey the same results, and would actually cost more. 

Urgency and Limited Opportunity: Emphasize the urgency of your art. If you are only in a location for a short period, make it clear to clients that this is a unique opportunity to capture a piece of that place and time. Limited availability can create a sense of exclusivity and desirability.

Personal Connection and Storytelling: Encourage clients to see the art as a chance to match their experience and connection with the environment to the piece. Explain how it can become a story, granting another life to the memory and creating a shared narrative that resonates with others.

Finding the right balance in your artistry, efficiency, and pricing is a journey that evolves over time. Embrace your unique style, communicate the value of your work effectively, and remember that each sketch is an opportunity to create something meaningful and cherished by both you and your clients.

In our concluding section, we’ll tie together the insights and lessons learned in this exploration of two sketches, pricing, client satisfaction, and artistic perspective.


In the intricate world of urban sketching, the comparison of two sketches has unveiled a myriad of insights and considerations. We’ve explored the nuances of pricing, the significance of client satisfaction, the artist’s perspective, and the delicate balance between artistry, efficiency, and pricing. As we draw this exploration to a close, let’s recap the key takeaways:

Pricing and Value: We’ve seen that pricing is more than just numbers on a page; it’s a reflection of the value we place on our art and the experience we offer to our clients. Whether you charge 300 euros for four hours or 180 euros for 1.5 hours, the perceived value is intricately tied to the emotions and expectations of both you and your clients. If you can meet the clients budget by delivering your best – trust that what you create is also accepted as the value they have asked for. 

Client Satisfaction and Perception: Client satisfaction is probably a lower bar than you might imagine. We set such a high bar for ourselves that when you do your best combined with the magic of on-location art – something truly special happens, and the client will be genuinely pleased. The client’s perception of value is shaped by their experience and expectations, this emphasizes the importance of clear communication.

The Artist’s Perspective: We’ve explored how pride and satisfaction stem from different aspects of our work. Whether it’s the intricate details of a four-hour drawing or the energy of a swifter sketch, each piece encapsulates a moment in time and a piece of existence. Our artistic intuition and expertise guide us in making choices that resonate with both us and our audience.

Finding a Balance: Balancing artistic integrity, time efficiency, and pricing is an ongoing challenge. It requires setting clear prices, embracing your unique style, and effectively communicating the value of your art to clients.

Now, let’s revisit the central question that has guided our journey: Is it worth spending more time on a drawing? The answer, as we’ve discovered, isn’t a simple yes or no. It’s a question that should be met with thoughtful consideration of your own artistic values and the preferences of your clients. It’s a question that invites you to delve into the heart of your artistry, to explore the essence of your work, and to navigate the dynamic landscape of urban sketching. Just know this… more time will naturally lose the essence of that “completed in the moment feeling”. 

As you continue on your artistic path, remember that every stroke of your pen, every brush of your paint, and every moment spent on paper tells a story—a story that connects you, your clients, and the world through the beautiful medium of art. Let this exploration be a stepping stone in your creative journey, guiding you to make choices that resonate deeply with both you and those who appreciate your craft.

In the end, the worth of spending more time on a drawing is not just about the hours invested; it’s about the moments captured, the emotions evoked, and the lasting impressions left on both you and your clients. It’s a journey of artistry, connection, and the celebration of the beauty found in the lines of our environment.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration. May your future sketches be filled with inspiration and creativity, and may you continue to find joy in every line and wash of your artistic journey.

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