In Australia the average hourly rate for an illustrator is $50 per hour. This can increase to $100 per hour (and more) for qualified illustrators with an established brand. Hourly rates are a good choice for small projects or revising an existing project. The average time to complete a standard cartoon illustration is 3-4 hours. However, if there are a number of revisions, this can push out the project by days or weeks. The risk of an hourly rate is that you won't know how much the project will cost.
With a flat rate or per-project rate you will know exactly how much the project will cost from the beginning. This is great for budgeting larger projects and will also help to avoid surprises due to revisions or course correction. The risk is with the designer who should clearly outline how many rounds of revisions are included in the flat rate. Typically you should expect 2 or 3 revisions to be included.
Major vs Minor Revisions
There is a difference between major and minor revisions. Minor revisions is changing colour/text/size. A major revision will mean redrawing part or all of the artwork. This can push out the project by a few days. It is important to ask your illustrator how many major and minor revisions are included in the quote.
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) publishes information on recommended rates of pay for writers and illustrators. This information helps negotiate and benchmark their work. A full colour page is listed at $675. In reality, many Australian illustrators charge a lot less than the published rates. At The Illustrators we charge less than half the recommeded rate.
Both flat and hourly rates have their pro's and con's. Bottom line: if you want to know the actual cost of the project upfront, go with an illustrator who offers a flat rate. If you have a smaller project and don't mind adjusting your budget along the way, an hourly rate could work for you.
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