It is difficult to find published rates for illustrators in Australia. One of the main reasons is that an illustration is custom-made and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks and more. Illustrators can charge a flat rate (per-project) or an hourly rate. In this article we will review the typical pricing options, discuss the average cost of an illustrator in Australia and the official published rates.
Illustrators in Australia start out on the national minimum wage of $25 per hour. The average hourly rate for an illustrator in Australia is $50 per hour. This can increase further for qualified illustrators with an established brand. For example: an experienced Disney illustrator who worked on "The Lion King" will cost more than a freelance illustrator. For corporate events and live caricatures in Sydney and Melbourne, the typical rate is $150 to $250 per hour. The time to complete a digital illustration will vary, depending on the style and complexity. A detailed background will increase the time needed. The risk of an hourly rate is that you won't know how much the total project will cost. Hourly rates are a good choice if you are revising an existing project.
With a flat rate you will know exactly how much the total project will cost. This is a great option for budgeting large projects and will help avoid surprises due to revisions and/or course correction. The illustrator should clearly outline how many revisions are included in the price and the cost for additional revisions, if needed. Typically you should expect 2-3 revisions included in the price. For smaller jobs, payment is collected upfront and with larger projects 50% down payment is normal, with the balance due on completion. Progress billing is an option for larger projects with more complex timelines and deliverables.
Feedback and revisions are an important part of the design process and allows the client to make adjustments to the sketch or design concept. The illustrator should include the number of revisions in a contract, scope of work, and on the tax invoice. Defining the number of revisions will help keep the project on-track.
There is a difference between major and minor revisions. Minor revisions are relatively quick and easy, such as changing colour, text, size and position. A major revision will require redrawing part or all of the artwork. The best time to make changes is during the sketching stage. Once the artwork is coloured it is more difficult to make changes.
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) publishes information on recommended rates of pay for writers and illustrators in Australia. This information helps negotiate and benchmark their work. A full page colour book illustration is listed at $688 ex GST. This reflects the cost of living in Australia and income tax rates. In reality, many Australian illustrators charge less than the published rates due to competition from overseas.
Both flat and hourly rates have their place in Australia. If you want to know the actual cost of the project upfront, go with an illustrator who offers a flat rate or price per project. If you have a clearly defined scope of work and don't mind adjusting your budget, an hourly rate could work for you. A good starting point is $50 per hour, which is the average hourly rate for an illustrator in Australia.