How to Price Your Art, Illustration and Design

how to price your art

Of course artists should be paid . . . but how do you price your art?

I think we can all agree that artists should be paid for their work, but how much do you charge? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to pricing art, but there are some factors that all artists, illustrators and designers should take into consideration when pricing their wares. Time, materials, overhead and reputation are just a few of the many items to consider when determining how to price your art. Keep reading below for more art pricing tips in this second part of our “How to Stay on Track and Get Paid” series. Learn more on how to price your art in this article by artist Margaret Peot.

Keep creating and good luck!


Pricing Illustration and Design

One of the hardest things to master is what to charge for your work. It’s difficult to make blanket statements on this topic. Every slice of the market is somewhat different. Nevertheless, there is one recurring pattern: Hourly rates are generally paid only to designers working in-house on a client’s equipment. Freelance illustrators working out of their own studios are almost always paid a flat fee or an advance against royalties.


If you don’t know what to charge, begin by devising an hourly rate, taking into consideration the cost of materials and overhead as well as what you think your time is worth. If you’re a designer, determine what the average salary would be for a full-time employee doing the same job. Then estimate how many hours the job will take and quote a flat fee based on these calculations.

There is a distinct difference between giving the client a job estimate and a job quote. An estimate is a ballpark figure of what the job will cost but is subject to change. A quote is a set fee which, once agreed upon, is pretty much carved in stone. Make sure the client understands which you are negotiating. Estimates are often used as a preliminary step in itemizing costs for a combination of design services such as concepting, typesetting, and printing. Flat quotes are generally used by illustrators, as there are fewer factors involved in arriving at fees.

For recommended fees for different services, refer to the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines ( Many artists’ organizations have standard pay rates listed on their websites.

As you set fees, certain stipulations call for higher rates. Consider these bargaining points:

•    Usage (rights). The more rights purchased, the more you can charge. For example, if the client asks for a “buyout” (to buy all rights), you can charge more, because by relinquishing all rights to future use of your work, you will be losing out on resale potential.
•    Turnaround time. If you are asked to turn the job around quickly, charge more.
•    Budget. Don’t be afraid to ask about a project’s budget before offering a quote. You won’t want to charge $500 for a print ad illustration if the ad agency has a budget of $40,000 for that ad. If the budget is that big, ask for higher payment.
•     Reputation. The more well known you are, the more you can charge. As you become established, periodically raise your rates (in small steps) and see what happens.


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