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The Average Hourly Rate for an Illustrator

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Illustrators are part of a creative industry which often has a wide subjectivity when it comes to costs and hiring rates, and it’s this subjectivity that makes it hard for outsiders to know the hiring rate of illustrators. This can lead to a number of questions, such as, how much do illustrators charge per image, and should you expect to pay more for one type of artistic style than another? 

Many freelancers prefer to charge per hour instead of per image. Below we’ll dive into why that is so that anyone looking to hire an illustrator will have a clear picture of what to expect during the hiring process and the motivations common to freelancers. 

Understanding that motivation can help frame questions to ask a freelance illustrator in an interview and help you extract the most value from any answers they give. Here, in particular, we look at how much freelance illustrators for hire charge per hour.

The Average Rate per Hour of an Illustrator

The average rate per hour of an illustrator is around twenty-one dollars. But the typical range for an illustrator falls between a rate of seventeen dollars and twenty-five dollars for an hour’s work. Any variation outside of that will depend on many different factors. 

If beginning their illustration career, freelancers may charge below the usual hourly rate due to their lack of experience. They may be setting cheaper fees to attract more clients to grow their portfolio, intending to charge more once they have an extensive range of work. 

Conversely, if a freelance illustrator already has a highly reputable portfolio built up over many years in the industry, they will likely charge more than the going rate. 

Freelance illustrators may also charge more per hour due to the project’s complexity or when a project requires a quicker than average turnaround time. And if they expect any above-and-beyond expenses, artists may wish to charge a higher rate than billing a client directly for the costs they incur. 

Why Do Illustrators Charge per Hour? 

Illustrators that charge per hour instead of per image often find it a better way to work. They will not be doing so as a simple excuse to charge more. Instead, they are likely to find it a fairer way of being paid. Even with the most thorough brief in the world, it can still be difficult to accurately estimate how long a piece of work will take an illustrator to complete. 

In particular, if illustrators do not charge per hour with very complex pieces, they may find that an image takes them so long to finish that a flat fee does not reimburse them adequately for their time. Instead, what they earn will equate to much lower than the average hourly rate.

Additionally, charging per hour also means that they do not lose billable time researching their work and performing all the administrative aspects that they may have to complete for a project. All that work can add up to a lot of time, and they would not receive a proper payment if they charged per image instead of per hour.  

Why Do Illustrators Charge per Image? 

While illustrators often charge per hour for the reasons above, some find it preferable to price things per image. There are several advantages to setting fees this way, and again, it is not just to increase their profit and income. 

One of the main advantages is that some illustrators find they attract more work by charging per image. Additionally, many illustrators charge a flat fee per image because it is easier for them to do so. 

For some, that’s because their process is so efficient. Illustrators know charging a certain amount per image will still mean appropriate reimbursement for time spent creating the final product. 

Or, it may be the case that setting a price per image is better, as a less complex brief requires less complicated imagery, making it faster to draw. Or it could be that a client may want several illustrations that are so similar that reproducing them is a quick process. As a result, charging per image can be more financially rewarding. 

There are advantages to hiring an illustrator on a flat fee basis for employers. Charging per image is an attractive prospect as it can make budgeting for projects much more straightforward and more likely to remain on budget. 

Why Knowing Average Costs of Illustrators Is Key

As previously mentioned, an illustrators’ work is a subjective product. As a result, it can be challenging to know what you should be paying for it. By understanding the average fees that illustrators charge, you are arming yourself with the best information possible to ensure you are not paying too much for work you commission. 

Additionally, it can help you project costs before you even approach illustrators about potential projects. It can also help you better target the illustrators you want to work with if you understand the different commission rates that are common. It can also help decide which payment structure works better for you and your needs, either paying per hour or image. 

So take a step back and think about the big picture. It is the only way you will find the right illustrator for you.

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