Concept Artists Help Rates please?

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  1. #1
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    Concept Artists Help Rates please?

    Hi I am just beginning to do some freelance work, currently still a student, and I have done calculations and estimates, but I REALLY need a more experience freelance artist to let me know what is a reasonable rate, not too high or too low. I believe this will help me not only currently for this project, but for future references as well. A person, just graduating university had contracting me with a job offer, they told me the budget is undetermined for the time being, however they told me the concept art should be produced over the two month period July/August, but can be spread over the June/July/August. They told me they would need this much stuff done for their project:
    Main Town Hub plus surrounding area
    10 further themes/designs for levels and distinguishing features
    10 primary character designs
    30 secondary character designs
    15 enemy type designs
    6~7 bosses

    ROUGHLYthat is 72 assets, which broken up in 3 months would give me 3 months to do 6 concepts weekly and 24 monthly. He wants the project done in a more simplistic style, like Wind waker, as the game will be a 2d side scroller. However, any way I calculate it, the project isn't going to be cheap, I don't want to devalue myself, but I don't want the employer to get scared away from concept art rate, I would love a job as a concept artist. I believe i've blown my chances in the past by saying a rate that honestly I was giving the employer the benefit of the doubt, but it was still too high.

    Can anyone help me come up with a reasonable rate? Or how high are typically the budgets of employers like this for me to get a good estimate of a price range at least to begin negotiating?


    my breakdown of the project is like this:


    Main Town Hub plus surrounding area

    Last edited by hondamoo; February 23rd, 2013 at 01:56 PM.
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  3. #2
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    I'm currently a student animator selling my soul in advertising; anyway, junior position wage in Australia for concept artist/animator is AUD $40,000 - 50,000.
    I just did the maths and figured out the hourly rate of the workload.

    If possibly try and get the pay in waves.
    Like 1/4 at the beginning to seal the deal, another 1/4 midway and the rest of it at the end. Just what I've been told by friends in industry and it seems to go well. I've had issues with being paid in the past where it takes several weeks for the client to pay you.

    Also, make sure you get a contract written up! It can be a nightmare!

    Again, I'm fresh in the industry and am still learning the business side of it myself... My suggestion is look for what junior concept artist wage in your country is and then go from there.

    Hopefully you'll get some replies from some members here who have more experience in the matter.

    All the best.

    www.travismillar.com

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  5. #3
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    Hello hondamoo,

    I'm currently working on the exact same type of conceptart as you, mainly character modelsheets (body turnarounds) of several dozen figures, and I can tell you this:

    If your time estimates are based solely on how long it takes you to draw the modelsheets, you make a mistake. You also have to include the time it takes you to:

    - resize and convert your files in the format your clients wants them and send it to them, several times if you deliver in sketch- lineart- finished drawing- stages
    - make alterations and changes because clients almost always want them, and there will be changes at each stage
    - a lot more small things both you and the client haven't thought of yet until the client needs them ("can you make separate files with the heads too, separate in bigger sizes?" - "please make an older version of this face too" - "we need another outfit for the figure")

    All these things need to be covered by your calculations.
    You can specify in your contract that a certain number of minor changes is included per each stage, and further changes will be charged separately.

    YES, DO WRITE A CONTRACT. Both sides need to be able to read and re-read, at any time, what exactly they're each giving and getting. Because things WILL be forgotten or get lost in a swamp of e-mails that grows as you work.

    If you want a number: 200€ per model sheet is realistic (one nude body, one outfit, one separate turnaround of the head)
    My current client is thus going to be paying a five figure sum for the entire project (and yes, they know it)

    Hope that helps.
    Ask me anything else you'd like to.

    Kristina

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  7. #4
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    Just another thing, regarding other things that take your time.
    If you ever use 3D or edit video make sure to include render times as it is using your resources which you have to pay for (electricity); although there's usually other work that can be done during that time too.

    Client project I'm working on right now is going have a 50 hour render... Joy. -.-"

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  9. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hondamoo View Post
    10 primary character designs
    probably 10 hrs/finished design, thumbnails etc.
    Way, way optimistic. 20 is on the bare edge of feasibility.

    x 8 dollars per hour (just really min. wage)

    Minimum wage? That's just sad.

    You haven't factored anything but drawing time in. No exploratory sketching, clerical work, meetings with the client; no scanning, cleaning, mailing. Those can easily add 50% to your estimates.

    You haven't factored revisions in, either.

    And minumum wage? Are you this eager to get this project?

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  11. #6
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    72 assets
    3 months
    6 concepts weekly.
    24 monthly

    weekly:
    $350=50 dollars per concept

    $3,600 for 72 assets.
    Another perspective on the minimum wage.

    Have you divided $3,600 through 3 months?
    That is $1,200 per month before taxes.

    And even this will work ONLY if your client is as fast as you are and gives you feedback so quickly that you can actually finish a third of the project in a month!
    Will your client be fast enough to ensure that you can make a (small) living?

    As already mentioned you also need to include all the other small things that add up immensely, as mentioned above. You should add another month for these.

    (For example, my client wants all modelsheets, head turnarounds, poses, etc. arranged nicely in PDFs -in three stages: sketch, lineart, final color drawing, and each correctly named and dated! - and this, for a large number of drawings, is a real time-eater that shouldn't be underestimated!)

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    3 month for 72 designs sound tight... Sure you can do one concept a day and work couple of weekends. But then you have to think about submission and feedback time. Plus revisions, there will always be revisions!

    Getting paid per project or assets can be dangerous, as things alway take more time than what is estimated. It is best to agree on an hourly rate that both you and your client are confortable with. They alway have a budget in mind when shopping for freelancer, it's just not in their interest to disclose it up front. If you quote too high and they are honestly interested to work with you, they will let you know.

    $8/h is super low. You are not an employee, if they were to hire you in-house as an employee at minimum wage, you would actually cost them a lot more, think of taxes, insurance, benefit, office space, idle time, equipment and softwares etc... Freelancers run business and you have to pay for everything yourself, that should reflect in you rates.

    That might help: http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/

    Cheers,
    M

    Last edited by Mikael Leger; February 22nd, 2013 at 05:35 PM. Reason: typo
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    i'm just a student, and currently I really do need money, preferably drawing. I wrote minimum wage to show the absolute bare cost would STILL be alot of money for the employer, but I am not sure his budget although I did ask.. I do understand I shouldn't be working for that amount of money.But that is EXACTLY why i made this thread...I really really don't know what to charge, as a student, for a 3 month project...

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    I don't know if this is relevant to freelance concept artwork in general, but in my own industry (architecture) it's not uncommon to ask for a retainer's fee (aka advanced payment) outright before any work begins. It's a solid down-payment on the part of the client to ensure that he's serious about enlisting your services for the duration of the project. This also ensures that you can't be shafted in the event that you produce your first batch of submittals and they decide to walk away from the deal (God forbid).

    I may be out of line here, so I'm definitely open to correction if this is outside the norm within the freelance illustration industry.

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  17. #10
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    You can sometimes get part up-front, yes (though I don't think I've heard it called a "retainers fee" at least not on any of the projects I've done...) Or if the client won't agree to that, you could negotiate for milestone-based or deliverable-based payments where you get a certain amount as soon as you finish each phase or each set of assets. (A certain amount on delivery of sketches, a certain amount on delivery of finished character sheets, or however it makes sense to break it down fo the project in question.)

    That way if you complete part of the work and they kill the project mid-way, you at least get paid for what you completed.

    Plus of course you'll want to negotiate a kill fee in case you start working and they kill the project before you even reach the first milestone.

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  19. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fez View Post
    I don't know if this is relevant to freelance concept artwork in general, but in my own industry (architecture) it's not uncommon to ask for a retainer's fee (aka advanced payment)
    Retainer and advance payment are not the same. Advance payment is paid to you in advance of the actual work (duh), and counts towards the final payment. Retainer is paid to keep you available for work at a notice.

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  21. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hondamoo View Post
    I wrote minimum wage to show the absolute bare cost would STILL be alot of money for the employer, but I am not sure his budget although I did ask.. I do understand I shouldn't be working for that amount of money.But that is EXACTLY why i made this thread...I really really don't know what to charge, as a student, for a 3 month project...
    They are not your employers if you are Freelancing for them. They are clients, there is a big difference.


    Ok then,

    -What are your total expenses over one month?
    -How much do you spend on occasional expense over the year? (divide by 12)?
    -And how much do you want to save up each year, for when shit hit the fan or to pay back student loan? (divide by 12)


    On top of that you need to add up 20% / 30% for taxes. Not only Income tax; but self employment tax, medicare etc...( note that I’m not Freelancing from the States, so I can’t give you exact numbers)

    Add it all up, and you get an idea of how much money you need to make per month to stay afloat.


    Then your hourly rate, There is 260 workable day in a year (week days). Let’s say that you will only take 10 days off per year (which is really not much). That leave you about 20 workable days, 160 hours a month.

    As a Freelancer it’s a BIG MISTAKE to think that every hours you work are billable hours.

    When clients keep on sending work, billable hours maybe account for 75% / 80% of your time, but you’ll have many days where nothing happen just waiting for feedbacks, when you need to take care of invoicing, scheduling or just new clients hunting. That is part of the business costs and you need to incorporate that in your rates to keep your business alive over the year.

    I think it is safe to say that over your first year you’ll be lucky if you can bill 50% of your workable hours. So you are left with an average of 80 billable hours per month.

    Now do the math.
    (total expenses + Taxes%) divided by billable hours and you’ll get your hourly rate.


    Cheers,
    Mikael

    Last edited by Mikael Leger; February 23rd, 2013 at 05:23 AM. Reason: typo
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  23. #13
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    Retainer and advance payment are not the same. Advance payment is paid to you in advance of the actual work (duh), and counts towards the final payment. Retainer is paid to keep you available for work at a notice.
    Ah, I see. My mistake. The way it was described to me made it sound like a hybrid of the two, and it definitely seemed like good advice at the time. Lessons learned: Be more scrutinizing when residential architects impart advice. Thank you for the clarification.

    Last edited by The Fez; February 23rd, 2013 at 08:20 AM.
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  24. #14
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    thank you everyone for giving me so much useful advice and many useful suggestions, tips etc for getting started. I am really glad I decided to post here to get feedback from people in the industry. Thanks again.

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  25. #15
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    Two words.

    Estimated. Taxes.
    If you're in the U.S. get to know that phrase.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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