This topic has 2 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 4 months ago by Kristen Boyer.

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     Kristen Boyer
      • Experience: 10-15 years
      • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

      Hi! My name is Kristen and I have been a free lance scenic artist for about 15 years but only recently started getting significant pay per project in the last 2-5 years. Still nothing close to live off of full time, but I’ve been getting more jobs outside of my usual small non profit theatre circle such as murals and restoration painting for businesses.

      I know we can’t talk about specific dollar amounts due to anti trust laws, but I’m interested in how other free lancers built their pricing, specifically when it comes to murals. There’s not much to go off of in my area and unless I ask another mural artist in my area for a quote on a fake project (which I think is unethical) I have no idea what they charge. I’ve tried researching regular interior house painting jobs in my area to base something around that, and they range from $12-$20/hr. What other things can I look for to compare?

      I’ve found some blogs about mural pricing but if anyone has a favorite resource that has helped them, please share! Most resources I’ve seen price by square foot.

      I have a BFA in painting and although I’ve never worked for a shop, I don’t want to sell myself short but I also don’t want to look like a dummy asking for an outrageous rate.

      Thank you so much and let me know if you have questions on the specific project I am currently trying to price!

       Lili Lennox
        • Experience: 15-20 years
        • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

        Partner Member

        Hi, another muralist here.

        The prices you estimate should first and foremost cover your project costs, pay you the salary you need for your life, and allow you to roll money forward to cover any expenses your business occurs until the next job comes along (advertising, insurance, shop rental, tool purchases, etc). Those expenses will be different for every muralist, so prices will be similarly different. I wouldn’t worry too much about what other people are charging or what people are being paid in shops (running your own business as a freelancer has different costs involved), what’s important is that your work supports your life.

        Pricing by square foot is easy for the client to understand, and gives you a clear way to alter your estimate if the size of the project changes. Here’s how one could arrive at a square foot charge:

        • Start with the time needed to produce the project. Go by hours, days, half-days, however you like to think through the work. Add cost of assistants.
        • Add up your project material costs. Overestimate your paint, and estimate the cost for a mid or high-quality paint. Add in a bit for buying a new brush here and there. Don’t forget about any sort of tool/scaffolding/lift rental (and delivery/pickup), permits, rendering printing, etc.
        • Overhead costs are a little more ethereal– liability insurance, travel, taxes, shop rental–multiply your current total by a percentage that would allow you to put money toward these expenses.
        • Job specific factors– is the wall really rough? Are there areas of the mural that are going to be really difficult to reach? Do you expect innumerable revisions? Is the timeline insanely short? All of these things can and should factor into your pricing.
        • Take this estimated total and divide by the square foot of the mural.

        I should also note that all of this is outside of design costs– charge those up front in the event that the mural doesn’t end up happening. A simple $$/hour with some number of revisions included, larger re-toolings billed per hour.
        Designing is entirely separate from completing the mural and they both shouldn’t be rolled into one big cost.

        Though I understand you’re freelancing in a local market, what’s important is that you are confident your estimates are covering your expenses and paying you the salary you need, and if a client is curious how their money is being spent you have a ready idea of how you came at that number. Quality work comes at a cost in any industry. The responses to your estimates will give you a glimpse into the local market and where you’re landing within it… if no one ever thinks twice about hiring you, you have room to increase your fees.

         Kristen Boyer
          • Experience: 10-15 years
          • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

          Thank you so much, that’s really helpful!

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