You're planning an event.  Of course you're being charged with doing so "in your spare time."  You don't speak "artist" and have no basis for comparison.  The real "shot caller" hasn't given you much to work with - what THEY want or what the budget is, just "figure it out."

Sound familiar?  It does to us too.

We field over 20,000 requests each year.  Half of them want "the world for a nickel" and quickly fall of the radar.  Another 25% of them aren't very serious about their need, they just want to vet it a bit, see what it might cost and easily lose interest.  Of the last 25%, more than half of them have no budget (looking for donations, "working for exposure" and like that), unrealistic expectations or are requesting something we just don't do (even though there's a complete list.)

That last 10 or so percent is our market.

Of those 2000 left to have a discussion with, we may convert 300-400.  About 2% of the opportunities are really opportunities.

As the Northerners say, "Oofda!"

I share these stats with you as consolation that we completely understand what you're going through and are highly motivated to help you succeed.  Indeed, "sign #1" when you're speaking with a potential resource (for anything!) is that value.  The right resource will be more focused on service than on the budget.

Of course money factors in to what can and can't be done.  Of course everyone has babies and bills to pay.  However, once we can establish the "ideal" we can work towards the "real" or what's meant to be.

Scenario #1: "I have 400 guests.  Caricatures sound like a good idea.  We have a fun crowd.  The event will last about 3 hours."

Good ethical answer:  "You'll need more than 1 artist to take care of your guests."

Bad ethical answer: "I can do that.  Let's do that.  Can I send you a contract?"

Scenario #2: "I'm having a 1 year old birthday party.  How about a clown?"

Good ethical answer:  "Will your child be afraid of clowns? Perhaps we should test the idea?  We would feel terrible about arranging something that gave her a bad experience."

Bad ethical answer: "Sure! Kids love clowns! We have a highly energetic, colorful, interactive entertainer! Let's put it on the books!"

Very "Goofus and Gallant" isn't it? 

In our experience, good business is like dating.  You have to see if you're compatible. You take it slowly and one step at a time.  You can push, overwhelm, or act desperate.  OF COURSE, give good attention and ask for the sale.  But if you're not a good fit, trust that another opportunity will present itself.  The right market will emerge as well as the best version of yourself.

No mace required.