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Signage Pricing 101

Signage Pricing 101

Creating artwork at large scale is no small task. You may be thinking it's just a bigger canvas, how is it different? Well...

Creating artwork at large scale is no small task. You may be thinking it's just a bigger canvas, how is it different? Well...

If you struggle to put a dollar amount on your time, click here to grab my Free Pricing Calculator here and run your numbers for yourself.

It’s the best way to work out your unique recipe for your prices.

I love a large scale creation. Anything that feels larger than life, let me at it! Whether it’s painted, digital, with chalk or house paints, there’s something about a large wall or space that pushes my creativity into overdrive.

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So how do you work out pricing at large scale?

Just like there is more than one way to create any masterpiece, there is absolutely more than one way to price a large scale piece. The things that define which way you price will be based on your experience level, your familiarity with the work itself and the overall size of the piece.

Generally for any design created at scale, the overall fee is made up of two parts, the design fee and the installation fee.

The Design Fee

This is a flat rate charged to the client for the overall design of the mural, signage or design that you are creating that will be reproduced at scale. Whilst this can be as simple as mapping out how high or large a logo needs to be created at or as complicated as creating a design that wraps around a staircase or up a lift shaft (been there), that is time that you need to account for in your quote.

The design fee is often delivered as a once off, single cost, and loosely based on the time it is expected to take multiplied by your hourly rate and delivered as a single cost.

The Installation Fee

The installation of a large scale work is a whole other kettle of fish (although, why you would store fish in a kettle, I don’t know). Understanding how to install a piece at scale is an incredibly valuable skill, one that should be paid for well.

I’ll be honest with you right here and right now, you will underquote your first large scale piece. You just will.

My first mural that I ever created, I will never forget. The project was to create a large scale of the words “Best Day Ever” on a residential wall. It was going to be an off white piece of lettering on mint green background, one colour and something that could be achieved in a day.

I made so many mistakes on that first mural. From using a pounce pattern that didn’t pounce and chalk dust went everywhere, so I had to sketch based on the printed pattern I had attached to the wall. I used a blue signwriters pencil, thinking that would be best for removal, but it then ran into the off white paint, so I had to do more coats than I had planned.

This mural took me a full day, much longer than anticipated. Hell, I was still there when the kids were having their bathtime.

I charged $1200 for that mural. And while that isn’t anything to sneeze at, if I had been charging it based on the time it actually took, I would have probably charged double.

Have you calculated your personal Hourly Rate?

Use my Free Pricing Calculator to work out your rate.

How do I calculate an installation fee?

Calculating an installation fee is somewhat of a personal preference for creatives.

For example, there are some creatives that choose to price per hour it takes them to create a mural or large scale piece. This is generally delivered as a project rate, but the way it’s calculated is

Time x Hourly Rate + Materials = Mural Fee

This works well for some people, especially if they know how long things take. Sometimes you might put a buffer on, say +20%, to cover the time things might go wrong or when you underestimate.

This approach relies on you knowing how long things will take you and may be more suited to a creative who has done the same sort of work before. If they underestimate time, that can end up with a less profitable project. If they overestimate time, that’s simply a reward for a more efficient execution. But a balance needs to be reached to make sure you aren’t wildly expensive for no reason.

On the flip side, there are others that prefer to price based on size or area coverage. Again, this is generally delivered as a project rate, but the way it’s calculated is

Size (m2/sqf) x Complexity Rate + Materials = Mural Fee

The above equation is based on a complexity rate per square metre. You wouldn’t charge a simple, one colour lettering the same per square metre as a full colour, full coverage piece. They have a different level of requirement, effort, energy and skill to help bring them to life.

Personally, I cost out a mural the second way, with the size and complexity guiding the price. I have them in tiers, with the simple options being cheaper per square metre and the more complex being more expensive. This gives me a guide to price from, but still deliver the overall fee as a project rate.

Below is an example of the pricing table I have on my Mural Enquiry page

Bippity

$200per sqm*
  • Simple Linework
  • Simple Illustration
  • Simple Typography
  • Single Colour
  • Quotes under 10 words long

Boppity

$320per sqm*
  • Mid-Level Complexity
  • Flat Colour and Shape Based Design
  • Wider Range of Styles
  • 2-3 colour palette
  • Quotes up to 30 words long

Boo

$480per sqm*
  • Unlimited complexity
  • Unlimited Illustrations
  • Unlimited Typographic Styles
  • Wide Colour Range
  • Unlimited words
What classifies as a large scale work?

Anything that is needing a design phase and an installation phase, that requires a wall, large canvas or board of some sort to me can be considered large scale work. I’ve priced 80m2 murals this way, as well as multiple series of signage and wayfinding items, chalkboards for weddings and window displays. The important thing to remember here is it isn’t just a pretty picture, it has a purpose and that purpose has value, therefore needs to be charged accordingly.

What if the client doesn’t want me to install it or I don’t have the skills (yet) to install it?

This absolutely can happen, so don’t fret. You can simply provide a project fee for the design side of the job, but also take into account that the piece is going to be produced at scale, so therefore it may be higher in value than something small. There are also creatives that just do the other side of the job and only install. You may be able to partner up and both benefit from a mutually beneficial partnership.

Large Scale Pricing Calculation

Design Fee + Installation Fee +
(Expenses for the job + markup)

= Total Project Cost delivered as a whole number*

*You may want to adjust this based on the value you are bringing, the size of the company/client or the value of the outcome

Costing up your first large scale project will feel overwhelming. It’s normal. The thing to keep in mind is that you deserve to be paid for all parts of the job if you are doing them. But the feeling of standing in front of a massive space covered in something you created? That right there is priceless.

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