Professional illustrators offer traditional (pen to paper) or digital illustration services. Many digital illustrators aso offer graphic design services for individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations that seek logo design or visual branding services. Some illustrators charge by the hour, but most estimate project fees, which are based on how long it takes to complete a particular job. Other variables that go into project fees include the level of difficulty of the illustration, number of anticipated revisions and what usage rights a client requires. (Usage rights govern the artist’s and client’s ability to use the finished work in creative collateral beyond what is specified in the initial scope of work.) Hourly rates for illustrators range from $25 to $100. Nationwide, the average total cost for an illustration project is $90–$465, but larger projects can cost into the thousands, and every project is different.
Traditional vs. digital
In general, traditional hand illustration using art media is not necessarily more expensive than digital illustration work. Digital projects can cost more because the medium makes revisions easier, and more revisions increase the illustrator’s time commitment. Overall costs of drawings, murals and paintings depend on the size and medium of the finished piece. Muralist and illustrator Vincent Witcher’s rates for murals depend on the mural’s diameter and visual complexity:
6 feet: $850–$1,200
7–10 feet: $3,000
Larger than 10 feet: $6,500
Illustrators with a variety of experience creating commercial graphics can often provide a ballpark estimate for certain types of common projects. Here are some sample ranges:
Logo design: $200–$1000
Corporate identity package (letterhead, business cards, etc.): $250 and up
Newsletter design: $1,000 and up
Promotional collateral (brochures, etc.): $1500 and up
Projects with short timelines typically cost more—especially if it’s a rush job of two weeks or less.
Some illustrations typically specify a few common types of usage rights, and others give clients a choice that is reflected in the total project cost. Here are some examples:
Rights managed: The illustrator gives the client permission to use the illustrations in a specific way. Typically this choice restricts the length of time, the medium, the size, the format and the location of use. This usage option is typically less expensive because the client does not have exclusive use of the illustrations.
Royalty-free: The illustrator charges the client a single standard fee for repeated reuse of the illustration (usually by that client only). The artist typically retains the rights to the images. Exclusive use typically costs 20 percent to 50 percent more.
In marketing and advertising, most illustrators specify two revision cycles in a creative project scope of work. Costs increase when clients think they may require more than two revision cycles.