Q: I would think one of the hardest things about being a freelancer is determining how much to charge a client for your work. Do you have set prices? Do you bid on jobs like a general contractor? Would you charge different prices for the exact same illustration to for different clients?
A: That is something many freelancers agonize over, especially when you are asked to give a quote for a job. If you get the job, you always wonder if you underbid and could have gotten more, and if you don’t get the job you wonder if you overbid and lost it to another illustrator.
No, there are not set prices for illustration… not really. The Graphic Artists Guild publishes a book called the Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, and they say not to charge less than they suggest as these are prices set from real life professional jobs. It has been my experience that if those are prices from real jobs, they must be the equivalent of the payscale the likes of the Harrison Fords and Angelina Jolies of the acting world get, but in the art world. I’ve never been paid the rates listed in that book. I always cut them down to 75% at most, and even then I’ve lost a lot of jobs asking too much. Real life.
I wrote a long winded post on pricing some time ago that is still mostly relevant today. Read that here.
Thanks to Grant Jonen 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!
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848 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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