Thursday, December 27, 2012

How To Price Your Illustration For Clients

I've been wanting to make this video for quite sometime. I get asked all the time by students, people at conferences, and visitors to my blog - how should I price my work? In this video I share my opinions about figuring out exactly how much to charge and how it can vary depending on many factors that are happening in your life. I realize it's a bit lengthy but I didn't want to leave stones unturned. I wanted to have a detailed answer that I can email out whenever I get asked this question in the future.


If you've even wondered how much to ask for on an art project I hope my ideas help you.

56 comments:

  1. Gez, I'm living in the wrong country!

    Most of the time they are trying to get you to pay them to do the work :-)
    It's like, you are an artist, you must love your work, why do you want to get paid?

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    1. I hear your Rob - it happens in the U.S. as well and as we get more and more connected globally I expect that more people will be willing to work with artists in a different time zone - those willing to work for less and less. I think this is why it's important to offer a higher quality - to set yourself apart.

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  2. Thanks for this thoughtful discussion of an important topic. What a great story about the Halloween gig!

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  3. To be clear the judge ruled against GAG because truth is not defamation. In other words you can't make stuff up and expect to win a lawsuit. http://www.kendubrowski.blogspot.com/2011/05/ipa-wins-lawsuit-against-graphic.html
    Nice video and I hope artists
    watch it...

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    1. Thanks Ken - you're a pioneer and have always been an advocate for illustrators. Blessings!

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  4. Great video Will! It's very helpful. I can't help but feel bad whenever I do lose a job though. I am always wondering if I would only have asked for just that little bit less if I would have gotten the job. So, maybe my rock bottom price is just a little bit lower than I'm telling myself. Thanks again for the great advise.

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    1. Hey Robot, You know - I've often felt this way...you can't win em all and probably shouldn't. I like to think that when I lose one someone out there just got their rent money :)

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  5. Well, I took time out from my very busy art schedule (not stretching the truth here, but thanks for that tip) to watch your video and it was totally worth it. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your experience.

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    1. You're very welcome Teresa - good luck on your work1!

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  6. I hate figuring out pricing. You make some good points! Thanks for the advice!

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    1. It's never the fun part is it - I used to really hate it until I came up with this system - now I don't sweat it as much.

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  7. Thanks Will for the pricing post...I especially liked your rationale behind pricing for service. I recently was thumbing through an illustrator type magazine and it spoke of design for a message...that has been my goal as of late. I really wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your advice...as I attempt to work out a price for my tailspring app "GIMME GIMME!!!"...do you have any thoughts in regards to partnering up with organizations to donate some of an apps potential revenue to if when sold?

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    1. Hi Sabrina, I've never partnered with an organization for profit sharing. I think it could be a great idea to help get sales. I've thought of it but worried about losing some control on content - so it only lasted as a thought. I'd love to learn what you learn in this process.

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  8. I thought the highlighted "sweet spot" between high passion and high fees was a great way to visually show where to be. And I love the explanations for how relative pricing really is, and that it is not a one-size-fits-all rate.

    Most professional sports have a league minimum salary for all players, but within the organization there are huge discrepancies in salaries.

    Great video once again--very helpful!

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    1. That's a good point on the sports teams...I've also heard that there is a huge discrepancy on salaries at animation studios...and that artists aren't supposed to discuss it amongst themselves. One thing I failed to put in that video (that kills me) is that the same assignment is worth different amounts to the same artist at different times in their life depending on other factors and circumstances. Dang it.

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  9. I laughed when I heard you say "clients you should not be watching this." I love hearing you talk about your work, it's quite evident you are passionate about not only your work, but helping others.

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    1. Thanks Monica - I am - and I hope I don't run into a client that says, "AHH HAAA - I know what you're doing! - watched your vid!"

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  10. This is awesome, great information. Thank you, Will!

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  11. Thanks Will! Another great video filled with information.

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  12. Great tips! thanks alot!

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  13. Thanks so much Will! Good Karma to you!!! Happy and Prosperous New Year :)

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  14. Have been illustrating for a number of years and it's great to hear sensible advise on the pricing question being dispensed to the illustrator population.

    Best
    Ron.

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  15. Thanks for a great vid. Pricing always gives me ulcers. Your little graph is so helpful. And so was that comment about the job being worth different amounts at different times for the same artist. I've always tried to be consistent, but now I see that may not be the right approach. I've used the GAG book, but always felt that the numbers didn't reflect the real world.

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    1. I'm so glad that part came across - I forgot to say that at different times I would price the same job differently based on my hunger at that particular time.

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  16. Wonderful video and such a great way to begin the New Year. When you spoke about learning to be a business person (not just an artist) and discussed strategies to do this it really resonated. This is a great challenge for me, I tend to make things more personal than they need to be. For 2013 I will certainly be using your "bottom line" suggestion. Always a great and informative visit.
    Thank you and Happy New Year.
    Lisa

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    1. You're welcome Lisa - I wish I had been given this advice when I was starting out - I learned these lessons the hard way :( ...but at least I learned them right?

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  17. That was very helpful..thanks a lot..I had the same thoughts about GAG but I gave in and got it..still struggling to make a pricing decision :)
    a questions for you:

    - do you need an agent or a rep to "reach out" potential clients that are willing to pay more?(especially publishers)

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    1. Hi Hatem, In some circumstances having a rep can really help you get more money per job. In other pricing situations having a rep won't help you get more - especially when the client has a budget and is willing to share it with you upfront. With publishing it is true that it's often hard to get through the door without representation. However if an editor or art director see something they like they won't pass it by because it isn't represented. - I hope this helps.

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    2. Thanks..that really helps..It has been on my mind frequently..I end up feeling that I "should" be looking for "better" clients with no precise plan...
      is there any videos of yours on promoting yourself or reaching out?? I seem to be discovered more than responded to..are postcards and samples not enough? or counter productive even?
      sorry for the long response and thanks so much :)

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    3. I'll be making a youtube video about self promotion in the not too distant future - giving my perspective on what it takes to get freelance work and general success as an illustrator in today's market place.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I've done it wrong so many times that I finally have something to say :)

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  19. Thank you, Will! Yes indeedy, very helpful.

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  20. Hi Will, I've just discovered your blog and would like to thank you for your informative video about pricing. It seems it doesn't matter where you live or how long you've been doing it, we all have the same problems when it comes to pricing jobs. I will definitely be trying to get the budget out of the client in future (although they've always been rather cagey about this in my experience). I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future and wish you the best of luck with any future projects :).

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  21. The video was very helpful. Thank you!

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  22. Many thanks, Will - that's very helpful. And if you create, say, a sheet of combed paste-paper, it's going to have a different value if it will be used for a trade book's cover or end-papers, cut and used for one-off personal greetings cards or a brochure for the local hairdresser. The end use and print run is important. It's certainly an enormous help if you can find the client's budget. I'm sure we've all been later told that what we've done was cheap - more's the pity. I must try some of your tips. If you don't know that budget and have to quote a price which you discover is too high for them, if you can talk over the phone you may be able to get more if you tell them they can also use it for an advertising campaign as well as the quoted primary use in a training manual. Or you may be happy to accept the lower payment providing they'll let you keep the art and sell it to another business to use after a while (an end-paper pattern for bed linen??), or for products that you can have produced and sell yourself, and that you will own and be able to sell the originals through a gallery.

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  23. I appreciate your honest opinion here! I love the chart reference. Thanks for posting this!

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  24. Thank you for the clarity. I have posed this question to a few artists and they have been elusive and vague in their responses. I like the idea of finding your own bottom line and considering the idea of being flexible to fit your current circumstance, makes the process less daunting. Thanks again for the post!

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  25. hey will, good stuff! thanks for taking the time to post this. do you have any advise on figuring out book royalties? ha...

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    1. Hey Bryan - the publishing industry has pretty much all fallen into the same royalty structure. 5% on trade and 3% on mass market...if you're working on your own or with smaller publishers it's all negotiable...

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  26. You nailed it. Thanks, everything you said is so true, it's just great to hear it from someone else.

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  27. Just watched your video. Very insightful. Appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts.

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  28. Thank you Will for the wisdom! I really appreciate it. Haha if only I watched this video sooner, then maybe I wouldn't have lost a client today! Thanks again.

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  29. Thanks for sharing you experience! I am struggling to price my work now, doing Christmas Card for a small local(Singapore) company... find it hard to negotiate most of the time.

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  30. Just want to add another thank you to the list here! The advice is very helpful!

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  31. Awesome video, and super helpful. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and knowledge!

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