Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Illustration Business Finance: 1. Operating Expenses

Many illustrators are unaware of what it will cost them to run an illustration business, while others may be aware but are in denial about it. Most illustrators find it akin to a visit to the dentist. However, a business owner, no matter what type of business they are in, must be aware of the hard cold financial facts behind their business operation. For those illustrators who want to borrow money to start a business, a financial forecast is a necessity, and will be required by a lender for a business loan.

© 2013 Don Arday.
Whether it is referred to as a business financial model, a cost-of-doing-business (CODB) analysis, a pro forma financial calculation, or a break-even expense assessment, a financial evaluation will be required by a lender for a business loan. And even more importantly, it must be known by the illustrator to be able to calculate what to charge for, excuse the pun, services rendered. For illustrators who intend to make a living, support a family, etc., knowing
what it costs to run a business is essential.

Those new to business planning are often surprised by costs they never thought to take into consideration. This is sometimes referred to as “hidden costs”, but that is really a misnomer, for a well thought out, comprehensive, business financial model has no hidden costs.

A thorough financial assessment has three parts: 1) Operating Expenses; 2) Income Stream; and 3) Earnings Projection. This article will focus on the operating expenses, which for illustrator’s who generally work alone, will not only include obvious overhead expenses, but also the less obvious personally requisite ones.

Operating Expense Categories

Studio/Office Rent

Illustrators rent studio space in commercial buildings, aor may operate their businesses out of an in-home studio or office space. For commercial rental space the yearly cost is based on the entire sum of the lease agreement. So, if rent is $1000 per month, than the total yearly rental cost is $12,000. If operating a business in the home, the cost is based on the lease cost or mortgage divided by the percentage of space used by the business. If the mortgage is $1500 per month, and the business/studio takes up 33% of the square footage of the home, than the monthly rent is $500, or $6000 per year.


Electrical, water, and waste disposal are all utilities with fees that should be considered for an accurate financial assessment, and depending on the needs of the business and the business location, utilities can have an impact on total yearly expenses outlay.


Similar to rent, if a phone or phones are used exclusively for business than the cost is equal to 100% of the phones and service plans. For example, a cell phone costing $210 including tax with a service plan of $60 per month, which includes taxes and fees, would be a yearly cost of  $930. If a portion of a phone line is used for business it can be prorated for the percentage of usage, so if the usage of the above phone and plan was 25% than the yearly cost would be $232.50.


Internet costs include the basic subscription to an internet service provider, but may also include fees for a cloud storage or database services, and fees for other online services and subscriptions provided for business needs.


Everything created for purposes of advertising or promoting a business must be included in a financial analysis. This would include the cost for printed materials such as stationery, any advertising placements, any form of paid online presence, such as a website, etc. This can also include fees paid to designers for any services they provided for promotion. One time fees and monthly arrangements should be combined to determine the total cost of promotion for the business.


In the old days equipment for an illustrator meant things like easels, drawing tables, chairs, bookcases, flat files, art-o-graphs, copiers, etc. Today equipment not only includes the latter, but computers, digital tablets, scanners, printers, hard drives, and much more. The cost of which can be substantial. Equipment in general can be described as hard assets.

Studio Supplies

Supplies are a bit more difficult to estimate on a yearly basis because they are often dependent on the volume of work and a specific type of project that will be produced by an illustration studio. Some financial assessments separate office/business supplies from certain art/material supplies. Essentially, business supplies are defined as consumable items, i.e., those that support doing business like staples, paper clips, copier paper, etc.

The other type of consumables are those that are purchased for resale, such as specialized prints, art materials such as paints, pencils, etc. As an operating expense both business and resale expenses are considered equal, but for a loan application and even tax reporting they have a separate status. Here is an example of a resale consumable. A dimensional illustrator buys Sculpey® modeling clay to produce a figure model that is then purchased by a client. Since it is incorporated into a product that is being sold, the Sculpey® is considered to be purchased for resale.


Dues and subscriptions are a necessary expense of being in business. For an illustrator it may be membership dues for the Society of Illustrators, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators L.A., etc. Publication subscriptions provide information, research, and resources for illustrators. This would include fees for tutorial services such as Lynda.com.


No matter what service is used postage and delivery costs should be accounted for. This includes deliveries both to and from the business if paid for by the business. For example, shipping charges for art supplies ordered from Dick-Blick, fees for mailing promotional postcards, etc.

Transportation Expenses

Transportation can include auto mileage used for business and maintenance of an automobile. It can be based on a percentage, if only a portion of the auto usage is for business, or it can be based on the number of miles driven. The cost of auto insurance should be factored in as well. For those who use public transportation, like in New York City, the cost would be subway, bus, and train fares occurred in the course of conducting business. Airline travel can also be considered a business transportation expense if it is not reimbursed by a client or organization.

Cost Per Mile
The Internal Revenue Service issues a standard cost per mile for businesses. The 2014 rates are as follows: 56 cents per mile for business miles driven; 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

Professional Services

The cost for services provided by a professional would include legal services, licensing fees, the services of a business accountant or tax preparer, a computer systems or web consultant, etc.


Research costs are expenses associated with research for an illustration assignment. This could be in the form of many different things such as books and other materials needed for visual or informational reference. It could be admission to a zoo or museum, etc.


Health insurance provided by the business is considered personal insurance, which includes life insurance plans, disability plans, and also health and dental plans.

Liability insurance can include insurance protection covering accidents or mishaps that occur on the business premises, or off premises while performing work for the business, as well as protection from theft, loss or damage to business property.


Payroll means the amount of salary and benefits that are paid out to the employees of a business whether they are full-time, part-time, contracted labor, or temporary. And, depending on the size and scope of the business, payroll can be very simple if for a freelance illustrator who intends to work solo, or more complex as in the case of a 10-employee studio.

Operating Expenses Worksheet

Expense Category
Cost Basis/Monthly or %
Yearly Amount

Office/Studio Rent






Business Supplies

Resale Supplies




Professional Services


Health Insurance

Liability Insurance

Total Amount

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Illustration Estimates & Invoices

Estimates and invoices are nearly as important to an illustrator’s business as the illustration’s that are produced for jobs. For without an estimate, an illustrator
© 2013 Don Arday.
may never be awarded a job, and without an invoice, he or she would surely not get paid. An estimate usually comes before a commission is awarded and upon approval signals the start of a job. An invoice comes when the commission is completed and upon payment provides closure for an assignment. For illustrators, both estimates and invoices should be considered legal documents. Estimates serve as a record of services intended while invoices provide a record of services rendered for both the illustrator and their client.

Estimate Contents

Provider Company Information (Header)

1. Business Name
2. Business Logo (Optional)
2. Address
3. Telephone Number
4. Email Address
5. The Word ESTIMATE (Prominently Displayed)
6. Date

Client Company Information (Header)

1. Client Name (Person Commissioning Job)
2. Client Company Name
2. Address
3. Telephone Number

Services Description (Body)

1. Description of Illustration Assignment
            a. Type/Usage of Illustration
            b. Publication Name/Placement for Illustration
            c. Format/Dimensions of Illustration
2. Quantity (If Appropriate)
3. Cost/Unit Cost (If Job Was Based on a Single Fixed Fee) or
4. Cost Per Hour and Number of Hours (If Job Was Based on Hourly Rate)
5. Cost of Materials (If Appropriate)
6. Cost for Outsourced Services (If Appropriate)
7. Cost for Licensing  (Extended Usage, Copyright Leasing/Buyout if Appropriate)
8. Total Estimated Amount For All Items
9. Expiration Date of Estimate

Approval (Footer)

1. Client Signature of Approval
2. Date Approved

Invoice Contents

Provider Company Information (Header)

1. Business Name
2. Business Logo (Optional)
2. Address
3. Telephone Number
4. Email Address
5. Business Registration/Tax ID Number
6. The Word INVOICE (Prominently Displayed)
7. Date of Invoice
8. Due Date of Payment
9. An Invoice and/or Job Indexing Number (The Invoice Number Should Be Unique)

Client Company Information (Header)

1. Client Name (Person Commissioning Job)
2. Client Company Name
2. Address
3. Telephone Number
4. Client Purchase Order or Work Order Number (If Provided by Client)

Services Description (Body)

1. Description of Illustration Assignment
a. Type/Usage of Illustration
            b. Publication Name/Placement for Illustration
            c. Format/Dimensions of Illustration
2. Quantity (If Appropriate)
3. Price/Unit Price (If Job Was Based on a Single Fixed Fee) or
4. Price Per Hour and Number of Hours (If Job Was Based on Hourly Rate)
5. Price for Materials (If Appropriate)
6. Price for Outsourced Services (If Appropriate)
7. Price For Licensing  (Extended Usage, Copyright Leasing/Buyout if Appropriate)
9. Subtotal Amount (All Items)
10. Tax Amount (If Appropriate)
11. Total Amount Due (All Items Including Tax)

Payment Terms (Footer)

1. Payment Terms (Payment Due Date, Due Upon Receipt, 30 Days, Etc.)
2. Payment Instructions (Payable To Whom)
3. Payment Method (Company Check, Bank Draft, PayPal, Etc.)
4. Overdue Payment Policy (Optional)

Estimate/Invoice Design

The design of estimates and invoices should coordinate with the other marketing materials used such as stationery, website, mailers, etc. If the business has a logo or signature illustration that is used as an identity on promotional materials, it should be included on the estimate and invoice. Although the above lists of information seem complex and highly detailed, when placed into an organized form they can appear to be quite simple. Since so much of the information that is contained in an estimate is also included in an invoice, both forms can utilize the same formatting, typography, color scheme, etc. In fact it is good design practice to do so.

Estimate/Invoice Production

The forms for estimates and invoices can be created using basic word processing or spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel, or they can be produced using graphic visualization software such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator. They can also be produced using dedicated OS desktop and IOS mobile apps available for downloading, and some of these apps (for a fee) provide a cloud service for the storage of estimates and invoices and additional business book keeping tools.

Online Resources

Estimate /Invoice Templates

Estimate/Invoice Services

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Logo Classification For Illustrators

Illustrators illustrate logos, but in order to create an illustrative logo an illustrator must also design the logo. Designers design logos, but in order to produce an illustrative logo a designer must hire an illustrator. At this point an understanding of what constitutes a logo is probably in order, in other words, what a logo is. And along with that, what a logo is not. There two basic types of logos and an entire gamut of subtypes in between. On the far right of the spectrum are pictorial logos that belie their meaning with their imagery. An example of this would be an illustrated cow that represents a butcher. The opposite extreme would be a symbolic approach to a logo. These logos are symbolic through an abstraction that conveys a suggestive message. An example of this would be a set of rectangles and spaces that represents the basic binary code behind all computing for a high tech company, as in the case of the updated IBM logo.

Physically, a logo is a picture that is meant to be an iconic representation of an entity such as a company, product, event, or individual. It can also serve as a symbol for a concept. The purpose of the picture, or logo, is to be a unique visual form that has an exclusive association with any of the above for the intention of establishing a singular identity for marketing purposes. Building upon this concept of identity, companies use logos as “corporate identities” to provide a visual reinforcement for their names. Corporate identities also display symbolic, narrative, and/or metaphoric associations to produce exclusivity. Illustrator’s can be particularly effective in providing the imagery within a logo to establish an association or message.

Logo Categories

As previously alluded to, even within special logo categories, logos can take a variety of forms depending on the subject they represent and how they must function. For instance, a corporate identity can conceptually be interpreted in any way appropriate to the company, it can be a logo, logotype, or emblem. However, as a corporate identity, a logo must be created to function in a very adaptable manner for it will most likely have to be used black only, grey scale, monochromatically, in full color, in enhanced color, dimensionally, and even as an animation. It will be printed extremely small, say on bank checks, and extremely large, say on a banner at a sports event. It will be used digitally at a wide range of sizes from an extremely small ad banner at the bottom of an iPhone app, to a full screen splash page. A logo may even have to be applied to clothing as well as other novelty items such as coffee mugs, key chains, and many more. For all logos, at least some portion of these varied uses will apply.


Logotypes are identities where the visual customization manifests itself in the structure of letterforms. Logotypes can be purely stylistic or can be suggestive of a metaphorical or narrative message or representation. Logotypes can be names, initials, or even single letters that signify a subject.

Lettermark/Initial Logotype

A lettermark logotype is a symbol that is primarily comprised of a single letterform or a set of initials. Similar to a wordmark, the form of a lettermark relies heavily on letterform convention. Because lettermarks are abbreviations of names, there is more freedom in regard to styling and customization because a lettermark contains so few letters. So, for example, a lettermark that contains letters that are made up of a combination of curved and perpendicular strokes can be altered so the contrasting forms take on a structural similarity, as is the case with the ABC logo. Many times, the decision to go with a lettermark rather than a full name is based on the visual aesthetic possibilities for a logotype.

Manhattan Laundry lettermark by Don Arday.

American Broadcast Corporation initial mark by Paul Rand.

Cable News Network initial mark by Anthony Guy Bost.

Wordmark/Name Logotype

A wordmark logotype is a symbol that is primarily comprised of letterforms that have been altered and arranged in a customized manner. Good logotypes follow either traditional proportioning and/or visually pleasing aesthetics of letterform construction and anatomy. Whether a logotype uses an existing font or creates custom designed letterforms, an understanding of letterform proportioning and the application of letterform conventions are important. Resume reviewers and particularly designers are acutely aware of inappropriate “bastardizations” of existing letterforms, or poorly drawn versions of the alphabet. So if a logotype is used for purposes of identity on a resume, for the sake of legibility and aesthetics, it should follow letterform convention as a guide for any customization.

Canon Corporation workmark, designer unknown.

Walt Disney Corporation name mark by Mr. Walt Disney.


Logos differ from logotypes in that they are purely pictorial in nature, whether or not they appear more illustrative or more abstract and symbol-like. Logos are very personalized visuals that represent their respective sponsors.


When creating a logo with abstract forms to be a unique identifier and for visual interest, any symbolism within the logo should be projected to a viewer through its appearance. These iconic abstracts must work for the audiences they serve even if those audiences are not visually acute. Logos that are too abstract can loose or confuse a viewer. Symbolic abstractions, which communicate as plain as day to an illustrator, designer, or client, may look like a foreign language to the client’s audience or customers. Abstract logos often rely on visual illusionism and the interplay of positive and negative shape relationships. Since there is often misinterpretation concerning a message or narrative that is to be imparted by an abstract symbol, one might ask, what the purpose is in creating an abstract logo. Abstract logos are best suited for representing large very diverse companies. For example, the Japanese company Mitsubishi manufactures automobiles, aircraft, audio and video equipment, chemicals, steel, sewing machines, phones and much more. A pictorially representative logo would either, have to be extremely complex, or exclude a great number of products that Mitsubishi manufactures. So an abstract symbolic logo functions much better under the circumstances.

National Arts Centre abstract logo by Ernst Roche.
Woolmark Company abstract logo by Franco Grignani.

In The Too Much Information Category
The name "Mitsubishi" refers to the three-diamond emblem. "Mitsubishi" is a combination of the words "mitsu" and "hishi." "Mitsu" means three. "Hishi" is used to denote a three-sided parallelogram or rhombus diamond shape. As customary, "hishi" is pronounced "bishi" when it forms a latter part of a word, hence the combination of "mitsu" and "hishi" reads "mitsubishi."

Mitsubishi Corporation abstract logo, artist unknown.


In the 19th century, businesses used pictorial logos to quickly identify the products or services they provided. Logos functioned not only to identify a company and its offerings, but they did it for both the literate and illiterate populous. For example, a fishmonger would have an image of a fish on the sign that identified his business, so anyone, even foreign and immigrant customers, unfamiliar with the local language, understood the nature of the business. Since then, pictorial logos have remained in constant use, but have progressed far beyond the purpose of pure business indexing and identity, These logos now project personality, economic status, marketing specialization, regionalism, etc. Pictorial logos require the skills and expertise of those that create pictorial works, whether they are based on realistic drawing, or on stylized or characterized versions of subjects. The greatest success comes from illustrators, particularly those that have spent hours drawing the figure, still life objects, and scenes, and those who have experience developing characterizations of subjects.

Greyhound Transportation picture logo by Raymond Lowey.

Major League Baseball picture logo by Jerry Dior.

Turner Classic Movies picture initial mark by Michael Schwab.

In The Too Much Information Category
The Leo Burnett Agency of Chicago arguably can be credited with the popularized success of character branding. Uncle Ben, the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, Nine Lives’ Morris the Cat, Charlie the Tuna, the Pillsbury Dough-Boy, the Marlboro Man, and many more, were all Burnett inventions. The implementation of these character based advertising campaigns required hiring illustrators who were kept on staff. Burnett also outsourced to other companies and freelancers for production of the characters.

Pillsbury Dough-Boy picture logo by Martin Nodell.

Word + Image Emblem

An emblem is a type of identity that combines words and visuals. The visual elements can be in the form of any class of illustration, symbol, and/or graphical device. Descending from the medieval coat of arms and family crest, emblems have been used for centuries to represent not only conventional lineage, but also any number of subjects. Today emblem logos are used to identify and market companies, products, services, events, teams, clubs, organizations, and more. Just as logos and logotypes can be, an emblem can be used for any subject requiring a visual identity.

Pringles Brand emblem by Louis R. Dixon.

Emblems, due to the fact that they contain both words and visual elements are more complex in structure than logos or logotypes. Emblems that combine words, illustrations, and graphical devices can be highly complex in their configuration. The combination of these elements affords an identity with both pictorial appeal and informational exactness. Another result of the complexity involved with emblems is that their function is more limited than that of logos or logotypes. Emblems do not function as well as the other identity types do at very small sizes. However, emblems are generally not lacking in visual interest, and work very will when it comes to specialty merchandizing. In fact, many companies whose identities are conventional logos and logotypes also develop emblematic versions of them just for this very purpose. These emblems are then applied to wearable items and other forms of products to further sales revenue and reinforce brand recognition.

Dallas Mavericks emblem by The Propel Group.

Starbucks Coffee Company emblem, designer unknown.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 6. Typography

The last mentioned element of a resume is the most critical…typography. Setting aside all other forms of visual enhancement, a resume must impart written factual information, and this job is performed by typography. To admit that typography, in and of it’s self, is a complex subject, would be an understatement. And expertise in the subject is not easily acquired. Even so, in order to produce a professional looking resume, a basic knowledge of typography must be learned and applied. Despite what many think, typography is a visual medium, and when thought of as such, visual people, for example illustrators, can develop an understanding of it. The truth be told, typography is far too expansive of a discipline to be discussed in depth here So what follows are a few very basic explanations and suggestion. For more information on typography refer to the link below and the other articles in the Typography for Illustrators series on this website:


In order for text to function in the most basic sense on a resume it must be arranged, organized, and prioritized. Typographical hierarchy is the use of font selection, type size, character weight, color or tone, word placement, set style, and spacing, to articulate the relative importance of the written text content of a document. Any practical use of any two of these options will in effect create a typographical hierarchy, although in many cases more than two are used.

© 2013 Don Arday.

Font Selection

There are thousands of fonts available to choose from in addition to those fonts that are supplied with software products such as those by Adobe and Microsoft that were designed for a myriad of purposes, some having little to do with readability. Good advice is to choose fonts that have been designed to read as paragraphs of text, rather than those that were designed for display. Fonts that are too ornate or stylized will call more attention to the way they look than what it is they say. A common practice is to use both san-serif and serif type classifications together on a resume, with one as headings and the other as body text. Naturally, for illustrated resumes, the fonts should never upstage the visual or disrupt the reading flow of the written content. A quick note about italic type: Although italic type can be selected as a stand-alone font, it is primarily used for emphasis within a statement, or for captions and call outs.

Type Size

Size is another important consideration in the creation of a well-functioning resume. Type should not be too small, or it will cause difficulty for a reader. Neither should it be too large, or the written contents of a resume will not practically fit on a page. Unfortunately there is no global rule of thumb when it comes to selecting a type size. This comes down to the “visibility” of the font, i.e., how easily it can be recognized, and every font has presents its visibility differently. Some like Helvetica and Lucida have a high degree of visibility, while others such as Perpetua and Cochin are less visible, and consequently harder to read if set at the same point size.

Character Weight

Many fonts were designed as a family of character weights. This was specifically done for use in situations requiring the establishment of a typographical hierarchy.
Character weights include ultra-black, extra black, black, heavy, extra-bold, bold, demi-bold, semi-bold, regular, medium, plain, book, light, extra-light, ultra-light, thin, and hairline. So, weight alone can be used to create quite a stylish hierarchy.
Although all these weights are available, text weight which includes; plain, regular, medium, and book; and bold weight; are most commonly used.

Color and Tone

Like character weight, color and tone can not only add visual interest, but it can add subtlety to a resume and aid in the establishment of a typographical hierarchy. However, the use of color can add another level of difficulty when it comes to how the type will be perceived. Fortunately, illustrators are well versed in color theory. So it would be highly unlikely that lemon yellow would be chosen for text that will appear on a white sheet of paper, or display screen. Color has a strong visual impact on a viewer so it must be selected carefully, used consistently, an in a limited manner so as not to distract a reader from absorbing the written content. Colored text used together with an illustration in a resume works best when it is keyed to the illustration's color scheme. 

Word Placement

In addition to the other elements that can be used to create a typographical hierarchy, word placement can play an incisive role in improving the speed in which a reviewer can read through a resume. Type alignment style and the use of logical indentation can add a sense of well-designed organization to a resume’s appearance. This would include effectively utilizing the negative unused space with the establishment of functional margins as well.

Set Style

Set style refers to the manner in which a word or set of words are set. Set styles include setting type in; ALL CAPITAL LETTERS; Capital And Lower Case; all lower case; Capital And Small Capitals; all small capitals; italics; and underscored. Superscript and subscript are seldom, if ever, used on an illustration resume. The most commonly used set styles are all capitals, and capitals and lower case. Nevertheless, the other style options remain as a means for establishing an effective typographical hierarchy, and adding aesthetic appeal.


There are four types of spacing typically used on a resume; letter spacing; line spacing; paragraph spacing; and the much less commonly used column spacing.

Letter Spacing

Available on page layout programs with refined character controls, letter spacing adjustment allows for fine-tuning the appearance of words through kerning. It can also be used the to add extra space between letters for word  e m p h a s i s  and/or aesthetic reasons.

Line Spacing

Obviously the vertical spacing between lines, but not so obvious, line spacing can be finely adjusted. Spacing is added between lines to air out a paragraph, thus making it easier to read; to add some additional separation to a list of items, to separate a heading; and more. Normal line spacing for text in paragraphs is 1 point. So, 10-point text will be set on 11 points from baseline to baseline. The text in this article is set 10-point on 15 points of space to improve readability. When space is limited, as an alternative to reducing the size of the type, line space can be reduced to zero added space between lines. This is known as being “set solid”.

Paragraph Spacing

The space between paragraphs, which is vertical space, can also be customized. It does not have to be in the form of a carriage return, even if that is the most commonly used paragraph space. It can be more or less according to preference. One established, the paragraph spacing must remain consistent for all like paragraphs in a resume. Inconsistency is the single most common flaw apparent in poorly crafted resumes.

Column Spacing

Column spacing refers to the horizontal space between columns of text. Although many publications use a column structure, resumes are rarely formatted this way. However, depending on the content of the written information in a resume and/or for aesthetic preferences a column layout may be desirable. The standard minimum space between columns is 1 pica, which is equal to 12 points. Columns can add an additional dimension of organization to a resume as well as quicken its readability. A column structure also works well with the placement of illustrations. It does this by providing an opportunity to place imagery in open spaces.

In Conclusion

Whether you believe it is good typography that supports an illustrated resume, or that an illustration supports good resume content, the coordination of all visual elements, which includes typography, is important. When well presented, an illustrated resume will not only catch a viewer’s attention, which will focus their interest on the written text, but will impart a long memorable impression.