What should my budget be to hire a comic artist?
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View Poll Results: Is $500 reasonable pay for a 30 page graphic novel?

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  • Absolutely not reasonable

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  1. #1
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    Icon What should my budget be to hire a comic artist?

    Hello All,

    I am a writer/filmmaker who has wanted to write a graphic novel for a long time. I can't draw for the life of me and with so many great artists out there I probably shouldn't try. But one thing that has stopped me from hiring an artist is concern over cost.

    There are lots of tools out there to help artists determine what to charge, but it seems less so to help people like me determine what to pay. Especially since I am one of those starving artists who doesn't much understand money and isn't super comfortable even talking about it.

    So I thought you guys could maybe give me a clue on what kind of pricing I might expect. To give a better idea of specifics, here's some info:

    Basic description of the job
    Graphic novel, about 30 pages. An average of maybe 6 panels a page. Finished quality ink work. Color (unless you have a really sweet Black and White style you do).

    Compensation
    Figuring a budget is really where this post comes from so it is hard to say for sure. But for the sake of the forum, lets say $500.

    Deadline
    Deadline would be a graduated system. As in 1 page per every X days. Specifics could be worked out in a fair way, as long as deadlines were adhered to.

    Usage
    Print Comic Book, to be shopped around looking for distributor. Also potential for using it as an episodic web comic.

    Synopsis:
    The comic is titled "Isaac Newton is The Most Dangerous Son of A Bitch in Space." Genre is sci-fi comedy. It's about Isaac Newton, tough as nails space cop/mathematician in the year 3000. The Chief of Space Police assigns him a new partner in an effort to control Newton's reckless behavior. But Newton is going to get his man no matter how many space stations he has to blow up, and he's going to use math to do it (and guns).

    Contact information
    I'd kind of like to keep the discussion open, so I can learn more about what artists think is fair to work for. However if you like you can also send me a private message on this forum. I can't promise every message will get a reply, but it will certainly be read and appreciated.

    Regards,
    Captain Skyfish
    www.themsgoodcomics.com
    www.lastnightofapril.com

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  2. #2
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    $500 for 30 pages is a page rate of $16.67 per page. Now, how long the page will take to make will depend largely on the amount of detail and how complex the shots are, but since you're also asking for colour we'll say that the page will likely take 8 hours or more to draw.

    So we're looking at a wage of just over $2 an hour, which is ridiculous for a work-for-hire situation. The only people you will get at this page rate are unlikely to stick with you for the long haul.

    I think your best bet is to get a bunch of business skills and/or web programming skills and go into full partnership with an artist, preferably one you already know. Then you will provide some valuable services to the artist to offset the uncertainty of profits and you're both much more likely to get something concrete out of this project.

    "Especially since I am one of those starving artists who doesn't much understand money and isn't super comfortable even talking about it. "

    Well that's a good way to get screwed over by people who don't have this problem. You'll want to change this as soon as you can.

    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

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  4. #3
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    These are older threads, but they might help:

    comic book page rate?
    Studio rates for producing a graphic novel
    Comics vs back end deals (split topic)

    I want to add that although you can find artists for $20 (and under) a page, you can find one that won't disappear, drop the project, or delay it when something better paying comes along, and there are artists who charge more that turn out to be flakes (every industry has em), in general you get what you pay for. Places like dA do have more new, cheaper, talented artists, but it also often means mean untested and unproven. Just in the past couple of months I've seen multiple ads repost because the "original inker seemingly disappeared" or the last colorist wasn't "able to stay with the project because his page rates went up". I don't know for certain who the OP hired, but the rates were low or back end.

    You're looking at closer to a budget of at least double, and even that's darn low. Also, chances are you want to own all rights, which raises the price.

    So is it doable? Yes. Is it reasonable? In my opinion, no.

    Last edited by paramnesia; May 3rd, 2011 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Further thoughts
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  6. #4
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    Most comic artists can barely hit a 21 page deadline in a month and that is them working the entire month with no day job. What you are asking for is for the artist to do the job of 3 separate artists( pencilling, inking, coloring) and believing over a months work, it would be reasonable to live off of $500?

    You can definitely find an artist to do this though but there is little chance that you'll find anyone decent and if you were to find a good artist it is nearly guaranteed he isn't going to finished as it's doubtful he realized how much work he was about to take in

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  7. #5
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    If you want to pay $500 for 30 pages completed with a pages per X day deadline (considering you put the X on days and not pages, you assume someone would take multiple days to make a full color paneled page for $16), your expectations for the quality of art would have to be very low.

    If you had no other option, and $500 is the maximum budget and 30 the minimum pages, I would post your project in the deviantart job forum where you would find a range of skills and styles that warrant the $500 price tag.

    But I think you're on the right track, as long as you don't ask for spec.

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  8. #6
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    $500 is the cost of about two penciled pages from a generic pro penciller, let alone inks or color or lettering. One pencilled page averages a day, with another for coloring and another for inks and letters. As is said above, what you are proposing is beyond less-than-minimum wage for months worth of overtime work. No one lives on that. And if they attempt it then they are probably in high school and likely not committed to your project. Be realistic.

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  9. #7
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    If you're skilled enough to work fast and well, you can put out a page per day of just pencils (not including inks, lettering, etc..). If we're qualifying a "day" as 8 hours, you're essentially offering to pay the artist $2 per hour.

    $2 an hour.

    I know you're just trying to ask an honest question, but-- $2 an hour. Don't take this personally, but I could probably find $3 just wandering the streets looking for shiny objects.

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  11. #8
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    30 pages for $500 jobs like this are killing the industry my advice to all professionals and semi professionals and aspiring professionals don't work for less than the hourly rate to work in fast food like a mCDonalds restaurant in face you should ask for double the hourly rate you would get for working at McDonalds. Know your worth illustrators, artists and designers and if you cant get work just get better to the point where the best clients cant refuse you. Its better to wait also than just produce crap even if you need money do something else that is related like graphic design, website design or anything remotely related and build up your folio of work. No one deserves $2 an hour not even kids in Africa or Afghanistan!!!

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  13. #9
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    @ibenk: Is the conversion rate on the IDR really that good? Looks like it would be a little better for you, but still not a decent cost of living payout. Of course, I can only look up averages...

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  14. #10
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    One Million Dollars

    Sketch book
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...93#post2949493
    Portfolio
    http://julianrivera.daportfolio.com/

    "The only thing I know is that I know nothing" - Socrates
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  15. #11
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    The average spec industry rates for a Marvel/DC job are in the region of 75-150 USD for someone who's name your not going to necessarily recognise straight away. That's just for one aspect of the job though. For one page at this rate you'll be looking more at like 150USD for pencils, 75USD for inks, 75USd for colours and 15USD for lettering (just to take an average).

    That's a very rough guesstimate of what you'd be looking at for an average quality looking Marvel/DC title for your book. You can get people to do this for less obviously and generally people would expect to be paid less for independent work. But to convince someone to do this you really need to convince them that the concept is so good they don't want to turn it down.

    I think your best bet is to find some artists you like the style of on places like DA and start to build some relationships and gauge interest. If you cut your deadline expectations and agree to profit share the ip then you may be able to get some good talent working for less in their spare time just because they think the writing merits it.

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  16. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirana View Post
    @ibenk: Is the conversion rate on the IDR really that good? Looks like it would be a little better for you, but still not a decent cost of living payout. Of course, I can only look up averages...
    well, our country has a very low monthly rate, for a fresh graduate in any field , ur looking for around usd$200-usd$250 monthly salary , so ..go figure.
    still if it was me , i wont take the job as i want to value myself as an artist which is more than those low rates.

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  18. #13
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    Graphic Comic Book...about 30 pages and the cost is $500 and 6 panels on a a page, then it makes $16 for one page and $2 for one illustration...then you want not so detailed illustrations? I do think $2 for one illustration is not good money...
    if the price for one page is $3o then it would be very good money but of course it is upto details of the comic book page

    Last edited by eydi; May 3rd, 2011 at 12:24 PM.
    http://www.3d2dizayn.com/
    interested in painting storybook illustrations
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  19. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaintLConcept View Post
    well, our country has a very low monthly rate, for a fresh graduate in any field , ur looking for around usd$200-usd$250 monthly salary , so ..go figure. still if it was me , i wont take the job as i want to value myself as an artist which is more than those low rates.
    I applaud you. I know people in a similar situation, but like you they don't want to undersell themselves as cheap foriegn labor.

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  20. #15
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    @SaintLConcept: See, artists foreign to the job for who the conversion would favor need to realize there are much better paying jobs to be had for their time. That being said, if the conversion is decent and you can't find anything else worth your time, you do what you need to do.

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  21. #16
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    Even I living in South-east Asia. This rate is lower than that my customer was paying here. ( I'm intermediate level.)

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  23. #17
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    Icon remarks

    I would like to thank everyone for their remarks. Some of which were a little rude, but given the nature of an internet forum I consider myself lucky no disparaging remarks about my racial of genetic ancestry were made. Thank you especially to those who had suggestions on approaches to take.

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  24. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Skyfish View Post
    I would like to thank everyone for their remarks. Some of which were a little rude, but given the nature of an internet forum I consider myself lucky no disparaging remarks about my racial of genetic ancestry were made. Thank you especially to those who had suggestions on approaches to take.
    A lot of artists have basically been told (via want ads) their time on a marvelous, big, brilliant, sure to be a hit project* isn't even worth minimum wage. I'm not implying you're a bad person or saying you're trying to insult anyone. I just want to provide a bit of information as to what the folk you want to hire often deal with and why artists in this forum get passionate (maybe even a little rude) about page rates.

    I suggest you create an internet presence. Stick around here and a few other art & writing forums and get to know people. Just like you would want to see an artist's portfolio and references, they'll want to know about you, and sometimes it's easier to convince someone you know to work for less.



    *My personal "favorite " is a back end deal where the OP said, "If there's an illustrator/artist out there that can understand that passion and pride in your work is much more valuable than a dollar amount, I urge you to send me an e-mail." If true, then surely the OP should have no problems paying in advance for much more valuable art with not so valuable money.

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  25. #19
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    I agree, this price is just silly. But it's not silly for a stick-figure comic book.

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    Coming from a fellow cheap-ass who is currently producing a self-paid, self-published (when it's done) graphic novel, I can tell you that you're not too far off from what you can get for 30 pages, but you're likely to not get an experienced artist at that rate.

    Currently, I'm working with two artists for different things: One charges ~$50 per page for a solid gritty B/W, and the other charges $25 per page for a more comic book style B/W. Both are amazingly talented, and one of which I'm pretty sure does this for a living but does freelance on the side for extra money. Both of them do the work "on the side" and whenever they can get around to it. Usually I get 3-4 pages per week from one, and 2-3 pages per week from the other, but sometimes have lulls of no work at all. This works for me because I have no deadline...we've been working on it for 4 months, and probably won't be done until the end of the year at best.

    If you're looking for a kid in high school or college who just needs money, then maybe you can pull off $15-$20 per page, but I've been that route and wasted $150 before he backed out on me because the project was "too big". That's not to say that others won't back out either... I lost a Marvel/DC artist at $100 per page before real production of art even started. We talked for a couple months and threw around ideas, then he raised the price and flaked. I've actually gone through 6 different artists before I found a place where people actually want some kind of long-term work, which is how I found both of my artists.

    I'm not sure if it's ok to promote other sites, but I abused a free trial over at Freelancer by posting 1 free ad there, and [broke the rules] provided artists with my email contact via PM so we could discuss outside of the limits of that site. That tactic succeeded and I left with two artists where every other avenue failed. All of the artists who approached me from that site that I contacted back were ready to dedicate to the job.

    Now, I'm sure you can accomplish the same thing here by actually posting a "Want Ad" in this section...but I've run into nothing but flaky artists via my postings for artists so far. Yes, a few of them are actually working on stuff, but you better have a deadline. Why? Because in the past month, I've only seen one page finished out of 10 total split among 5 artists. I figured if I didn't set a deadline, it would let them have a little extra time to put out quality work, but so far all I've gotten is no contact for weeks unless I initiate it, extremely rough early sketches, and excuses why the work isn't even near ready or why they haven't been able to email me back. I'm still new here, so I won't claim that's the norm on this site, but it hasn't been a very professional experince so far.

    So, expect no less than $25-$50 per page if you want someone with some kind of experience and reliability. You may need to look elsewhere if you're looking for cheap, timely, and dedicated. There are some amazingly talented people on this site...but with great talent usually comes great price, and not everyone out there is willing to undersell themselves, nor should they be expected to.

    Last edited by StrikeCommando; May 8th, 2011 at 12:05 PM.
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  27. #21
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    In the end, it depends on your expectations. You will more or less get what you pay for. If you book an amazing artist for $20/page, you may lose that artist to a higher paying gig before your project is completed. At that rate, you may find a great foreign artist because your dollar may go further for them, but then you need to overcome the potential challenges communication. If your artwork expectation is something on par with a Marvel or DC title, then you're clearly not in the ballpark.

    If you're only paying enough to get a mediocre to poor artist, you're potentially going to get a poor product - a product publishers and distributors will probably not want to put their stamp on. You have to decide if you're willing to accept questionable art quality in order to get your story told. This actually may be the way to go for your first time just to get the experience of writing a comic and working with a sequential artist.

    You can find decent and even terrific artists in the $25-$50 per page range as StrikeCommando says, but my suggestion would be the lose the color requirement. Particularly since it appears like you want to print and distribute yourself, your costs of printing color are going to dwarf your budget for the creation of the art itself not to mention that the color requirement puts more labor burden on your artist.

    The printing cost is solved if you make this a web comic. However, you also limit the number of artists willing/able to do the full package - pencils, inks, colors. Then there's still lettering, the cover, logo design...

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  28. #22
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    We here at HTFS we pay $40.00 a page. We don't pay hourly rates because we have no way of knowing if the artist is actually working consistently through that time. We also don't pay unless we are satisfied with the work. Some of you will find this reasonable some of you will not. But what really makes HTFS a different animal is we also share the post production royalties 50/50! That is almost unheard of.

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  29. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ojollands View Post
    I think your best bet is to find some artists you like the style of on places like DA and start to build some relationships and gauge interest. If you cut your deadline expectations and agree to profit share the ip then you may be able to get some good talent working for less in their spare time just because they think the writing merits it.
    The problem with this is that you're likely get teenagers or college students who will bail as soon as real-life issues hit. I know some writers doing webcomics who are now on their third or fourth artist. It's difficult to get a paying project off the ground when your partner is an unknown quantity who might just get bored and disappear into the ether one day, most likely at the worst possible moment.

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