Work Related : Some Tips for New Illustrators



As a local illustrator, I hate to accept that most local clients/publishers are putting such a low-fees/budget/price on illustration works. And because I wanted to help the industry, I usually agree on the pricing even though I know that I'm also jeopardizing the small illustrator's industry as well. I wish they know that I actually put much higher service fees to other international clients - as my time and effort worth. And the reason I agree to work with the local industry is just because I wanted to help and be a part of the growing industry itself. 

But sometimes it is just not worth my time and effort.
Sometimes I am just so frustrated T^T

Here are some notes for budding illustrators :

Don't let them give the price of your work - it will demotivate you.
  • Ask them their budget on each illustration or spend the time for the illustration with the same amount of budget they have stated before agreeing to the project.
  • Or, give your service charge in advance : per illustration/per project/per day/per hour so they will know upfront.
  • Please don't let them give the price for your work, you are no longer a student waiting for the teacher to grade you. You are adding values to their project, appreciate your time and effort. You decide your price or they decide their budget.

Before agreeing to a project - make everything clear.
  • What they want? Which style - vector? hand-drawn? 
  • Rough price for each illustration - simple items, complicated item, full poster, icon
  • Make sure both sides agree on it
  • Send them an invoice 
  • Start working

Set timeline - try to follow the timeline 
  • If you need more time, tell them
  • If you can't submit in time, tell them
  • If you can't no longer listen to their never-ending amendments, tell them
  • If you think you are not up for it, tell them
  • This is a field that need your most contribution and creative ideas, if you are not fully up for it - I can't imagine how your artwork will turn up. So don't be afraid to reject a project, or a client.


Your client is not always right - even how professional you are trying to be.
  • I know they are paying you, but if your instinct is saying that they are evil - don't work with them. Ha.
  • People who are paying you to work with you is not your boss. Imagine them as a working partner. You want to feel full-filled and proud after you finish a project, because those works are your babies - and you are passing your babies to your clients and they will grow up together. So your clients are not your bosses - make sure you work with the right people.
  • I met super-manipulative evil clients before. So I'm picky nowadays.

Know the price, know your price.
  • Basic way if you don't know how to name your service price. Your basic monthly salary, divide by your working days, you'll get your daily salary. So there you'll get the basic salary for your 8-hour working time - don't let it go lower than that.
  • Research, experiment on several projects with various clients, you'll get the rough idea on how the local pricing goes here. 
  • It really not worth it - trust me, I'm doing this just for passion and charity - to help the industry and to learn. Don't be an illustrator working for local clients - work your way up, and soon you'll work with clients worth your time and effort. 
  • My cheapest fees I got was RM 12 per illustration, my highest fees I got for a full illustration was RM 12,000. So, yes, work yourself up and choose your clients.
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Note : Most local clients will have a REALLY low budget, don't expect an easy life out of it. They will negotiate to get a lower and lower price than you should get paid. And you will feel devalued and under-appreciated. If they are really on a tight budget, you can suggest them to download images from Freepik or subsribe to Shutterstock, by doing that they can't demotivated your burning passion and waste your time.

Or if it is not for money, just do it for your passion and you know that it will make you feel fulfilled afterwards. You know they are using you anyway, make sure you'll have a fun time while doing the project and you will feel proud and want to post it in your Behance and Dribbble later - if not then it is actually not worth your time :D

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