Why Price Murals By the Foot?
This is a really good question because not all muralists price this way, but there are some specific reasons I do. I only learned to do this a few years ago, before that I was pricing by the project and dealing with the attendant problems that creates. Because I like the security that pricing by the square foot provides to me and my clients, I am pretty committed to this approach now!
First off- what are some of the ways muralists price their work? It varies widely and a lot depends on how long they have been painting murals and if they do it professionally or not.
- Some muralists price by the whole project, estimating cost of paint, equipment, hopefully their time, etc. There is one flat rate for the entire project, and each one is a little different. The pros of this are that each project is tailored for cost, but there are a lot of cons too. Artists can’t always estimate how much paint they will need, or how much time a project will take. If they estimate wrong in this case, they just need to eat the cost, which is something between aggravating and financial suicide depending on the project.
- Some muralists price by the hour. The idea being that they will be compensated for each hour they work, which has its merits. They can include the cost of materials and time in their rate and know they won’t be gouged if something takes forever. The downside of this is that it puts the clients in a risky position because an artist can’t always estimate how long something will take. This means the client can’t know the total cost upfront, and it’s no fun to get a hefty surprise invoice at the end of a project. On the other hand, and if it takes less time, the artist can get less money than they’d hoped for. I don’t love either of those scenarios.
Finally, some muralists price by the square foot as I do. When a piece is priced by the square foot, it allows me as the artist to know and communicate exactly what my client and I are getting into. I have a set rate I charge per foot and the cost never goes below that. This allows me to add my costs and pay right into the price and know I will get paid for every inch I paint. Meanwhile it allows my client to know at the outset how much a piece will cost, as well as providing me with an easy way to estimate costs that doesn’t have surprising price hikes. (If you want to know more about my pricing structure, you can find that here.)
Finally, pricing by the foot allows me to tweak costs to work within my client’s budget. Instead of getting paid less for my work and time, we can make the mural smaller or not use all the wall. This gives clients a chance to participate more actively in the creation of the mural or still get a mural they may not be able to afford otherwise.
But what about the painting, you ask? What if it’s very detailed and difficult? That is the other piece to my pricing, I charge more per foot for complex work that I do for simple work. A square foot with lots of detailed work will take me much longer and require more skill and experience. So I have my rates for simple images by the foot and my higher rates for complex images. This not only makes sure I get paid appropriately, but it gives my clients another way to know what they’re getting. If they start with a simple image, it's nice to know up front what it will cost to transition to a more complex image. Lots of clients do this. Meanwhile, if we start with a complex image, clients know how much it will cost, even if it takes longer than anticipated to complete.
Pricing by the foot allows me to provide the maximum amount of information and security for my clients, while also ensuring I get reasonably paid and that I can anticipate my income. Win, win, win.
If you have other questions about hiring a muralist, leave them in the comments!