Bonjour! And welcome to this new blog post on how to quote your work as an illustrator, and especially how I quote. I hope my experience will help you in finding the right price or, if you would like to commission an illustrator, know how pricing work.
Pricing an illustration and putting a price on you art is always very difficult, mostly because us artists may put our esteem lower than what we think we are worth.
What is my worth as an illustrator?
I am not too sure this question is the right one to ask. Instead of “I am worth x money” you should ask yourself :
How much do I need to live as a freelance illustrator?
As a freelance illustrator you are a professional of your craft. You have taxes to pay, a house to rent, art supplies to buy and food to put in your plate. The first step will be to define how much you need to live every month. And once you have it we will be able to determine how much you need to be paid.
Let’s take me as an exemple. I live quite simply and am lucky to have a partner to pay my bill with! So let’s count, take a paper with you and write along with me (note that I rounded up some fees since some varies each month)
- House : 400€
- Electricity : 50€
- Food : 200€
- Internet : 35€
- Insurances : 70€
- Art supplies : 20€
- Restaurants and outings : 40€
- Holiday savings : 50€
- Safety Savings : 100€
I try to put some money on the side each month for my holidays and for the safety net! It is important to keep a safety net with a bit of money, let’s say you computer broke and you need one ASAP because you are in the middle of a book to illustrate. Well the money you put on the side is here for that. It’s also here for the month you get less commissions, you’ll be able to have that money to still be able to live comfortably and not accept every project that come up at a low price (but we’ll talk about this in a later post).
So now I determined I need 965€ each month to live correctly, you might have more spending than I do, you might need less. I still think it’s very important to know how much you need and I highly encourage you to try to find how much you need! You will feel much more at ease with what you need to earn.
How can I define my minimum hourly rate to live as an illustrator?
Now we need to define the minimum hourly rate. So each month let’s round up and say you need 1000€, you now need to know the number of work days. It’s obviously not 30 since you need weekends to rest (yes yes you do! please take some rest) so let’s take away the weekends. You’ll also have “admin days” that are around 2 days a week to answer emails, do quotes and a bit of social media and finding new clients. It leaves us with only 3 days per week for drawing. Let’s say there is 4 weeks in a month :
30 days a month – ( 2 days weekends X 4 ) – ( 2 admin days X 4 ) = 14 work days
Yes only 14 actual work days! Let’s do 7 hours a day, I feel like it’s harder for longer period of time even if I happen to often do days with 8 or 9 hours. It makes 98h of work each month.
1000€ / 98 hours = 10.20 €/hours
so this is my minimum without taxes!
Because yes being an professional artist in my country also mean paying taxes but I think it’s everywhere the same. I pay around 30% taxes that I need to add up to that number and also note that depending on the money transfer platform you use with you client you will also have fees for it. I count between 5% and 10% for the transfer fees. Never under estimate those! They can be quite the bad surprise.
So I round up my ultra minimum wage at 15€/hour.
What is my worth as an illustrator?
We all know now that price depend on demand. As you advance in your career you can ask for more because more and more clients comes to you. When you gain experience you can up your prices little by little and get more confortable. If you are in high demand, people will be ready to pay to get your art in their books. It is a bit like sports, good athletes are paid more because they are capable of winning because they trained hard. You too, you trained hard to become a talented illustrator, and clients are coming to you for it.
This being highly subjective I can’t really advise you anything. What I can tell you is that 15€/hour is a really low minimum for a wage, but hey, I like to live simply (I hardly ever buy clothes for exemple) ! Entry level illustrators goes between 20 to 30€ an hour, and prices goes up and up and up from there!
How to quote my work as an illustrator?
Now you know what you need to earn and what you’re worth, now let’s talk about how long do you take to make an illustration. Here it highly depends on your style, and your speed. What I recommend to you, is for a while, time yourself as you work on a few illustrations. Determine on average how much time you take to do an illustration. You will have your time base. Do this for every style your propose in your portfolio and then count like this :
Hourly rate X time per illustration = Your illustration price
Note that in the timing you count per illustration, you can add a little bit for mail exchange and some corrections on the illustrations.
Well I hope this blog post helped you to clear some things up and see how I price my illustrations and how to quote your work as an illustrator.
You can see more about illustration project and such in my Childbook 101 post series.
Tell me in the comment below if it helped and if you have any more questions about pricing!