The Smoking Room – The Process


This is one of the illustrations I worked on for Broken Pencil magazine. It was an illustration for a short fiction story, titled The Smoking Room. The story is a semi-romance; a man meets a woman in the smoking room of their office. He falls in love with her; near the end of the story another man makes a racist comment toward the woman, and the main character doesn’t stand up for the woman. It’s a love story, but also brings in elements of race and discrimination.

This is the rough sketch I sent to the art director.


To complete the final illustration, I did my lino/digital method. I carved lino blocks for the woman’s face, and the cigarette. I used the smoke shape from my rough to create the smoke texture digitally.

Once I had all my elements carved and scanned, I collaged them together digitally in Photoshop to create the image. For the smoke texture, I use the shape from my drawing and a roller texture that I have in my texture files on my computer. I have roller texture scans in my files that I use in all my illustrations, as background texture or elements in the illustration.


Once I am happy with the composition, I color the illustration digitally in Photoshop, using multiply and screen filters.

That’s my process in a nutshell, hope you found it interesting!



Fairy Tale Print #2 – The Process


This is another image of the One Eye, Two Eyes and Three Eyes fairy tale, also focusing on the part of the story where the goat entrails are buried in the ground and a tree with golden fruit grows. I started by drawing a goat, and also a tree. I played with putting the goat upside down (alluding to the fact that the goat is dead).

I did my lines with soft ground, to give the lines a pencil look. I did aquatint for the tree top, and some spots on the goat.

I added texture and shadow to the tree trunks with a roulette. I fixed some areas where the soft ground linework didn’t work by adding drypoint lines.

Once I was happy with the proofs, I printed the edition. I tried Hahnemuhle printmaking paper (the white paper in the photo) for the first time. Soooooo nice. I may have a new favorite printmaking paper. I usually print on BFK Rives for etchings.


I added watercolor to the fruit in the tree, to add color to the print.


To see this print in person, come to Dundarave Print Workshop on Granville Island in November. The show I am in with two other print makers will be up in the month of November.

Pricing Part Two – Licensing and Editorial Illustration

In this post I will be going over licensing and how it affects your prices. I will also talk about my experiences and pay with editorial illustration.

In my previous post I talked about hourly rates. Another thing to think about when deciding on your hourly rate, is billable hours. You may be working 40 hours a week at your business, but not all of those hours are billable to the client. Administrative work like writing contracts, invoicing, updating your website, etc. are not billable. So you have to factor in the work to run your business, as well as your billable hours. For example you might work 40 hours a week, but can only bill 30 hours to the client.

Another factor in pricing for illustration work is licensing. How is your client going to use the illustration? Is it a logo? Is it a short time use, like an editorial illustration for a magazine? Pricing for a logo vs. an editorial illustration would be very different, based on the license extended to the client.

I use the Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines when I am figuring out licensing, because otherwise it hurts my brain. For logos, the client needs all rights, so they can use the image in any media, for an unlimited time, because it is their brand, so they will be using the image for the life of the company. For all rights usage I charge an additional 50-100% of my fee. For example, if I charge $800 for a logo, it would be an additional $400-800 for the rights. So a total of $1200 – $1600. For small companies I include all rights in my fee, so I would only charge them for the hours worked (usually around $800), which is low for a logo. I don’t do branding packages, which cost a lot more (in the thousands).

For other short-term projects, the price would be lower, because the licensing does not cover as much. For example, when giving an estimate for a custom greeting card illustration recently, I calculated the flat rate, for example 5 hours x $80/hour is $400. In this price I included a limited license of 3 years, for printed greeting cards only. After the 3 years, the rights of the image revert back to me. If the client wanted to purchase additional licensing (or a longer license) the fee would increase.

Editorial pricing is a different ball game. In my experience so far, the magazine determines the price for the illustration. They will offer an assignment to you, for X amount of illustrations, and they will give you their budget of $X. The magazine determines the price, not you. Larger magazines have bigger budgets, therefore you get paid more. Smaller magazines or non-profit magazines have small budgets, so you get paid less. Which is kind of unfortunate, because the illustration is the same amount of work either way. But that’s how the industry works. So far in my experience, I have worked mostly with smaller magazines or non-profit magazines, which pay anywhere from $0 – $200 for one or more illustrations. I have done a couple illustrations for mid-size magazines, and have been paid $500 – $600 for doing one or two illustrations. My goal is to do more work for larger magazines, so I can make bigger bucks.

Thanks for reading! Hope these posts were helpful in shedding some light on the complicated world of pricing.



Pricing Part One – Hourly Rates

This post got kind of long, so I am splitting it into two parts. Part One is on hourly rates, price estimates, and revisions. Part Two will be on licensing and editorial illustration.

This post is inspired by a recent conversation with an artist friend about how to price for jobs. I thought I would go over my experiences and try to be transparent about pricing because it is hard to find straightforward advice on the subject.

I charge by the project, meaning I give the client a flat rate, so they know exactly what they will be paying you. When I first started out doing freelance graphic design, I charged by the hour, but ran into problems with that. I had one project that went over the estimated hours, and got some pushback when I tried to collect payment. So after that experience I started charging by the project.

How I figure out my price estimate is pretty simple. I estimate how many hours the project will take and multiply that by my hourly rate. This gives me the project price. For example, if my hourly rate is $80/hour, and I estimate the project will take 10 hours, my estimate to the client would be $800. To use this method you have to be pretty good at figuring out how long the different steps of your process take you. If you’re not sure, start by tracking your time when you are working on a project. Use your time tracking as a guideline.

How do you figure out your hourly rate? I use the Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines as a reference when figuring out pricing. They list median hourly rates for different professions. For example for graphic design, the hourly rate ranges from $65-80/hour. Creative Director is listed at $100/hour. I don’t know how accurate these rates are in real life, but they are good to use as a guideline. When in school I asked an instructor about hourly rates, and they suggested me to start at $60/hour for illustration. So that was my hourly rate when I started, and I have since raised it to $80/hour. You should give yourself a raise of 2-5% a year (or more if you feel like you deserve it, you are your own boss, after all).

Also factor in revisions into your pricing. Decide how you will price them, and how many revisions you will include in your flat price. I include 3 revisions in my prices, and any revisions over 3 will be billed at my hourly rate, with a minimum charge of one hour (so minimum charge of $80, even if the revision takes me half an hour). This is one way to deter hundreds of revisions from your client. You are setting boundaries and respect for your time.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for Part Two.


Day in the Life


Another day in my freelance illustrator life. Very busy these past few weeks, and it will continue to be busy until the end of September. Illustration deadline looming, plus my parents are visiting!

Wednesday Sept 12

7:00 am Wake up and have breakfast and coffee

7:30 am E-mail and admin. Received feedback from Georgia Straight regarding my mailer – cool!

8:15 am Work on roughs for Broken Pencil magazine. Find reference images for final illustrations.

8:45 am Create jpegs of new work for update to website.

9:15 am Read Being Boss

10:30 am Personal appointment

11:45 am Lunch at Johnny Rockets

12:30 pm Arrive home

12:45 pm Start work on drawings and final illustrations for Broken Pencil. Carve lino blocks.

2:45 pm Take a break. Walk to Tandem Bike Café and get a smoothie.

3:20 pm Arrive home. Continue carving lino blocks.

4:25 pm Print lino blocks.

4:45 pm – 5:45 pm Scan prints. Listen to Being Boss podcast.

6:20 pm After getting this blog post ready, call it a day. Phew!

What are your core values?


I have been reading the book “Being Boss” and doing some of the exercises in it. The first chapter is on deeper parts of owning your own business. One exercise is on defining your core values. Step one is to go through a list of words and highlight any that resonate with you, without thinking too much. Step two is to look at your list of highlighted words and group together any that are similar. For example, one of my grouped lists is:




Keep whittling down the list until you get around five to ten values. My list of five values is:






Sit with this list for a few days to see how they feel.

Here are a couple of my core values, and why they are important to me.


Obviously this is extremely important to me, being an artist. But I think it can extend to other areas of your life as well. You can be creative with managing your finances, for example. Thinking about things outside the box.


This was an unexpected value to pop up, but after sitting with it, it totally makes sense. I think being comfortable with who you are as a person, and aligning different aspects of your life to line up with YOU leads to a happy life. I am going to use my career as an example of how this resonates with me.

My previous career was in graphic design and involved a lot of computer work, and sitting at a desk all day. I eventually got bored of this, and didn’t find it creatively fulfilling anymore. I decided to go back to school, and take a program in fine art and illustration. While at school, I discovered printmaking, and fell in love with it. After graduating from university, I started my own illustration business, and eventually landed a job at an art store. I also joined a local printmaking workshop, so I could continue printmaking.

Through this process of going back to school, I discovered that being an artist and image creator is who I am, it is a large part of my personal identity. I find my freelance illustration work extremely fulfilling, even though it can be stressful. I also love printmaking, and feel lucky to have a studio space with the proper tools, where I can create prints. I enjoy my job at the art store, as I am surrounded by art and creative people. My career at this point in my life feels aligned with who I am, and I am quite happy.



When has your confidence been shaken?

The first half of this year has been challenging for me business-confidence-wise. I had virtually no sales or illustration gigs until June/July. I sold a set of stickers to my Aunt, but that was my only sale. I also had a few job inquiries, but none of them panned out. Compared to last year, I was making money from my art every month, pretty consistently. This summer I started selling some of my prints at Dundarave, a small print workshop that also has a gallery. In August I got two illustration gigs, one right after one another.

When you have no sales, for an extended period of time, you start to wonder if you will ever make a sale or get a gig again. To overcome the confidence blow, I just worked through it. I kept creating artwork, for personal projects or self promotional pieces. I kept marketing and promoting myself. I focused on creating a special mailer and postcard, to send to art directors. That marketing promotion paid off, as I got some repeat clients out of it (that’s where the two illustration gigs came from).

It can be discouraging when you have no work coming in, but keep going and keep creating, and eventually work will come to you (providing you’re marketing yourself, of course).