Stephen ,

It all depends on what sort of illustration you are planning on doing. Line, shading, stipple, color. The underlying research will need to be accounted for as well and will be similar for all techniques, but the rendering time could be drastically different depending on the technique.  I see you are proposing stipple illustrations. The complexity now comes into play. An extremally simple image would possibly be under $100. A full blown habitus of an insect could take you 3-4 days to do in high quality. What is your time worth?

Who owns the image after it has been used, who has reproduction rights? In the science field the author often experts to be able to distribute the image to any publisher or eve offer it up to the world for whoever wants to use it. In that case you will see no additional compensation for reuse, so you need to think of this as almost like “work-for-hire”. In fact you may want to look closely at your contract, it may in fact be “work-for- hire”, in which case you are not even recognized as the creator of the image. In the field of research publications this is not that unusual, and sometimes you have to role with it, but if you are doing anything that has public appeal, think twice about working this way.

Your time is worth more than you know. As a freelancer, you have lots of expenses that need to be covered. Incorporating a slice of what you would need for a business for a whole year is something you need to calculate for the days you are on this project.

You can find lots of discussion on this topic in the archives of this listserv:
search on the word “hourly”

But you need to cover stuff like:
health insurance (even if you are getting it for “free” from a spouse.)
Business travel
Office space (even if it is at your house)
Time to promote your business and hunt for more work (up to %25 of your time!)
And a profit for your business entity, even after you pay yourself for your work hours.

I have seen hourly rates for the research sometimes be quoted at a lower rate than the art hours, optional.

A hourly price range of $50-$125 is usually what is needed depending on where you live and what sort of operation you are running. The high end is what I have seen for medical art services. You would want to charge a little higher for short term work to cover startup and shutdown processes, and a little lower for big long project that give your steady work for an extended time.

We have shied away from giving definitive quotes on the listserve, for fear of being accused of colluding (Not a Crime! – assured by the President), but general pricing guidelines are encourage!


From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Stephen Nachtsheim <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 8:38 PM
To: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [EXTERNAL] [SCIART] Pricing Illustrations

Hi All!

After the conference, my boss asked me to do some illustrations for a paper he is publishing on a new insect species. This would be my first real scientific illustration job, and I’m not sure how to price it! He gave me suggestions, but he said I should look myself as well. As you can guess, the internet hasn’t been super helpful in how to price scientific illustrations. So I thought I would ask the experts! It would be just two images of an epiproct and an aedeagus.

It would just be a pen and ink / stippling illustration.

He recommended from $150 - $200 for Both. Is that a good amount?

Thank you!
Stephen Nachtsheim


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