Q: How do you figure up how much time a project will take so you know you can promise it by a certain time? By paper size? By number of people/objects? I really should start timing myself to see how long it takes to do each step of my projects before I even consider charging anybody for my time.
A: If asked how long it will take to do a particular job, my answer is always the same: “It takes as long as you’ll give me.”
Some jobs require a lot of complicated imagery like crowd scenes or lot’s of elaborate detail, and some are simpler and therefore take less time. The difference doesn’t amount to much, really. I estimate it takes 2-3 days for a full page illustration. It might take a little more if the image is very complex, or a little less if it’s something simple, but 90% fall within that range. I guess after a while you get a feel for what a job entails and what you can realistically expect as far as time frame goes.
Most jobs come with a deadline anyway, and you either accept it in that time frame or not. I’ve been asked to do artwork overnight and been given 2 months to do it. If they give me two months I’ll take two months, I just accept other jobs along the way. I also find myself doing a lot of needless noodling on a piece if I have a long deadline, whereas if the deadline is short I would work quicker. The end result has little difference really, I notice but most would not. Therefore the exact same illustration would take longer in the second instance simply because I had more time to mess around on it.
Not much of an answer, I know… but it’s that’s the way it is..
Thanks to Garrett Williams for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here! I’m running low!
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903 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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