Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Cost and Pricing of a Mural - 8 Factors to Consider


“Creativity is magic. Don’t examine it too closely.” – Edward Albee

Flower Mural Aria Ballroom Durham NC

Let me start by saying there is not a standard, set method for pricing a mural.  Some artists charge by the square foot, but this approach does not consider the complexity of the design among other things. I start with an hourly rate based on an estimate of the time required to complete the work.  Formulating the final quote also involves  taking into account eight additional factors listed below.  

To begin, my hourly rate is based on my years of experience, portfolio of work, and cost of living in the area in which I am working. Very generally speaking, muralists might charge anywhere from $50-$125/hr.  In addition to my hourly rate, I consider the following...

  1. Condition of the Wall - What kind of preparation will the surface require to be paint-ready? How much time will it take to achieve?  If it is an exterior wall, will power washing, crack repair, etc. be handled by the client in advance?
  2. Working Conditions - Is this a rush job with a tight deadline?  Will I be climbing up and down ladders and scaffolding or driving a motorized lift? Will I be working at night, outside in difficult weather conditions, in a crowded area with numerous distractions? Will there be a crowd watching my every move?  If so, then I am providing a form of performance art which requires an additional fee.
  3. Location - How far will I have to travel each day?  Will I have to arrange for lodging? 
  4. Materials Cost - Is this mural expected to last for centuries or just a few years?  Is it outside?  I have to consider these factors when choosing the quality and related cost of my paints and protective finishes.  Do I already have the necessary supplies on hand, or will I need to purchase additional materials? 
  5. Equipment Cost - Will scaffolding, ladders, lights and other specialized equipment be required?  Will I have to supply them or will my client?
  6. Design Work and Sketches - Time spent on sketches, design, revisions, and meetings are included in my mural quote at a lesser hourly rate.
  7. Level of Experience - My years of experience, body of work, references, unique ideas, and reliability figure into my hourly rate.
  8. Time-Lapse Videos of Work and Promotion - I often provide time-lapse videos and limited promotion of my work on social media, tagging the client if they agree.  There is an additional value for these services though I usually provide them at no additional charge.   
To sum up, I determine the cost of a mural project by estimating how long the project will take including design time.  I multiply my hourly rate by the number of hours.  Keep in mind that this is an estimate.  I do not relate the number of hours I expect to work along with my hourly rate to my clients.  I simply give them a set quote which either will meet their expectations/budget or not. This number will not change due to the amount of time the job actually takes to complete if that differs from my estimate though any deadlines must be met.  I do not punch in to a time clock.  My errors in estimating time more often benefit the client than the other way around. Then I add in supply cost, travel and lodging costs, working conditions fee (if it seems necessary for difficult conditions or performance art), and promotional fee (if I am asked to do anything beyond my typical social media promotions which are at no cost). I ask for a percentage of the payment up front to cover my supply cost at least.  I ask for the remainder of the payment on the day I finish the job.  

There are a lot of variables in this formula.  In my case, one benefit to my clients is that I work very quickly thus reducing the overall cost of the mural.  I work steadily with few breaks in order to get the work done quickly and with the least disruption for my client.  I show up on time and work long hours.  If my client has budget constraints and my quote is higher than they expected, we discuss alternate design options which might work for them and consider other ways of reducing the expense.

If you have any questions, please feel free comment.  

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