Sep 8, 2013

What about money??

PREMISE: This is going to be a very long post, but if you're interested in illustration prices I think it will be worthy reading through. 

A while ago I was lucky enough to get contacted for a job for an advertising campaign from a very popular international advertising agency. 
I was thrilled and completely terrified at the same time
And not because of the huge amount and complexity of the work itself.
But because they were asking me to give them a quote for the whole campaign. 
And I just didn't have a clue. 
I didn't have any experience with advertising jobs and none of my usual resources seemed to be able to help me on this. 
I felt completely lost and the prospect of a) looking like an unexperienced young professional who undercharge 
b) undercharge and being paid an unfair price that I personally set up for myself
was just making me feel sick in the stomach. 

In the end, I didn't get he job.
Worst than this, I was shocked how unprepared I felt when I got the opportunity to quote for the gig. 
So, instead of just try to forget about the whole experience, I decided I really wanted to get to the bottom of this and get to know how much I should have quoted when they asked me for a ballpark figure. 
This is because, I said to myself, next time I have a similar opportunity I don't want to feel unprepared again. 
Luckily, I got some really useful tips on how to quote the job by some great illustrators I knew... but what if someone is not able or willing to contact other illustrators to ask for pricing suggestions?

Pricing an illustration is very complex and there are so many things to take in consideration (size of clients, complexity of the job, time taken, exposure, to name a few). 
But still, every field of illustration has his own market value and standard rates that illustrators will adjust and change accordingly to the factors I just mentioned. 
These are not state secrets but still I've found that often illustrators are reluctant to talk about it, especially to talk about actual numbers. 

Of course there are books which contains this type of information. 
My favourite one is the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical guidelines. 
It's a great book, containing prices for lots and lots of different jobs. Also it contains lots of other precious information, such as business practices, copyrights issues, contracts, trade customs and so on. That's why you should probably get it anyway, not only for the pricing aspect. 

But going back to the pricing problem, why paying 39.99 American dollars (which is the price for the 13th and last edition of the book) is apparently the only why to have access to that information? Why shouldn't that information be free and out in the open? 
It just doesn't make sense to me. 

In my opinion, this is because of three main reasons:
1. If clients knows how much a particular illustration job is worth, they won't contact me with a ridiculous low budgets. 
2. If people don't know what to charge, they almost always end up undercharging because they're afraid to ask too much and lose the job. 
3. If I know what my work is worth, I will be more confident in asking for the right price and I will also able to justify the price to the client. 

And I'm sure there are lots of many other reasons I can't even think of right now. 

So why not being open and transparent about it? 
Luckily, there are people out there who think sharing is the right thing to do.
I can't say how much I'm grateful for those people. 
I've decided to collect all the knowledge and free resources I know of about pricing in this web page (you can also find a direct link in the top menu of the blog, next to about me).
Some of them are from people who not only share their numbers but also the method they use to come up with a price. 
I'm sure you will find them useful as I did. 

In the end, of course, it's up to each one of us. Illustrators can go as high or low as they wish. 
However, I hope these resources will help people like me who feel that still need guidelines, especially for dealing with unfamiliar jobs and markets. 

Please if you happen to have more resources just shout. 
Thanks. I would love to hear other illustrators opinions about this. 

To finish off, I would like to post a link this this great article by Anna Goodson
Here a little extract

Illustrators have to start taking the blame and responsibility for what is happening to our industry. They are also the ones that could make things change. When you quote on a job remember to respect yourself and the work you are doing and put a real value on that. Please don’t under quote. If you have a rep that is quoting on your behalf then encourage them to do the same. Market value is market value and we are the ones determining that value. - Anna Goodson

Please read it, I think she's right on everything she says! 

Have a good day and happy quotes everyone!

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