Computer Arts - - Project Diary -

In the first of our new se­ries in as­so­ci­a­tion with AOI, we talk cost­ing

At the AOI, we ad­vise on pric­ing on a daily ba­sis, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from the small­est pri­vate com­mis­sion to the big­gest ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign. We see il­lus­tra­tors be­ing of­fered fair – and of­ten gen­er­ous – amounts of money ev­ery day, yet we also see many who will­ingly give away their rights or work for free, and then are not able to sus­tain a ca­reer in the in­dus­try. But with some sup­port and a bit of ba­sic knowl­edge, il­lus­tra­tors are in­creas­ingly ne­go­ti­at­ing bet­ter fees. We say a big yes to that.

We asked fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor and AOI mem­ber Willa Gebbie to share her in­sight on cost­ing...

Willa Gebbie: Pric­ing is dif­fi­cult. it’s hard to know what the go­ing rate is, and no one wants to feel like they’ve charged too lit­tle.

For jobs in mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing, I charge based on us­age, which is a bit com­plex as you need to think about how the il­lus­tra­tion(s) will be used, who will use it (or them) and for how long. I loved Jes­sica His­che’s ar­ti­cle, The Dark Art of Pric­ing, which gave me so much con­fi­dence in how to speak to art di­rec­tors about money and us­age. The AOI’s pric­ing ad­vice has also been in­valu­able.

Some­times, quot­ing isn’t a straight­for­ward process. Re­cently, a reg­u­lar client was in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing a short an­i­ma­tion with my il­lus­tra­tions. I’ve never worked on an an­i­ma­tion be­fore, but I share a stu­dio with some re­ally great an­i­ma­tors, and knew it could be great to in­volve them and work to­gether.

When the role in­volves mul­ti­ple peo­ple, you’re not just be­ing paid to draw, you have to man­age the project for the client, and make sure that ev­ery­one in­volved is be­ing paid fairly.

From time to time, a client (usu­ally a pub­lisher) will ask me to as­sign copy­right. It’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing. I’ll al­ways give them a call and kindly ask them if they can pro­vide a li­cens­ing con­tract. Some­times that’s all it takes; not ev­ery­one un­der­stands what they’re ac­tu­ally ask­ing for. If the money is de­cent, or if it’s ob­vi­ous that the art­work will never be used for any­thing else, then I’ll set­tle with giv­ing rights ‘in-per­pe­tu­ity’. But of­ten, I’ll turn work down rather than give away my copy­right – mainly out of prin­ci­ple.

As for work­ing for free? No way. Not for a com­pany who is prof­it­ing from it. There are much bet­ter ways of work­ing for free, such as col­lab­o­rat­ing with other artists on per­sonal projects, so I do that in­stead. I al­ready do­nate a lot of my free time to the com­mu­nity through Yo Illo. Some­times I’ll do a free­bie for a friend’s wed­ding in­vi­ta­tion, but only for VERY good friends. More in­for­ma­tion about pric­ing can be found in the Mem­bers Area at

Willa Gebbie is a Scot­tish il­lus­tra­tor, work­ing in beauty, fash­ion and por­trai­ture. She also coruns the pop­u­lar monthly il­lus­tra­tion meetup Yo Illo ( that brings cre­atives to­gether with in­spi­ra­tional speak­ers in both Lon­don and Ber­lin.

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