Illustrators in Australia start out on the national minimum wage of $21-$25 per hour. The rate increases as the illustrator gains more experience and depth in his or her portfolio. The average hourly rate for an illustrator in Australia is $50 per hour. This can increase further for qualified illustrators with an established brand or an artist who has been recognised for their work on major projects with Disney, Warner Bros etc. For corporate events and on-site work, the typical rate is $150 to $250 per hour in Sydney and Melbourne. The time to complete a digital illustration will vary, depending on the style, complexity and skill of the illustrator. A detailed background will increase the time needed. Hourly rates are a good choice if you are revising an existing project. The risk of an hourly rate is that you won't know how much the total project will cost.
With a flat rate you will know exactly how much the total project will cost. This is great for budgeting complex projects and will help avoid surprises. It is important that the terms and scope of work are agreed and included in a contract or tax invoice. Payment terms are normally upfront. With larger projects, a 50% down payment is normal. 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, or on the tax invoice. The cost for additional revisions should also be included. 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. The recommended price for a full page colour book illustration is $699 ex GST. This takes into consideration the cost of living in Australia, income tax rates etc. In reality, many Australian illustrators charge less than the published rates due to competition from overseas.