Part of our job, as architectural illustrators, is to sell our work. A lot of illustrators charge an hourly fee, but to me, that doesn't make much sense. You'll find with that logic the more experience you have, the faster you can create your art, and then the less money you'll make. So, how do we charge for our service? If you are like me, and purchase high-end software with anual subscriptions, it is expensive to operate. Not only do we purchase software, we have to have reliable hardware to meet tight dealines.

Yesterday I was talking to a construction manager, we'll call him Bob, about costs for interior and exterior illustrations. The construction manager was preparing for a meeting with his potential client. The project was a design-bid-build, with design going to three local contractors for bid.

After talking with the architect, I found out that the homeowner is particularly concerned about the building process. The architect is passing his design along to the builder. The architect said, "The homeowner needs a builder that can take their hand through the process". Their life savings are being invested in their dream home based on a series of 2-D drawings. This doesn't make sense to the homeowner, and they are terribly concerned, that they were not able to make intelligent decisions.

Bob inquired about prices for illustrations, which might help him get the job. These would be illustrations the architect didn't provide. I studied the drawings, briefly while he was standing with me, and I gave him an approximate price. The room got quiet… I asked Bob how much it would cost to re-paint an average size room, or move a window a couple inches?

Let's say the homeowner opted not to invest in some superb illustrations and the first afternoon, in their new home, they can't watch TV in their new living room because the sunset is glaring on their screen. Easy fix: they go to the home improvement store and buy some terribly expensive window blinds to cover up the glare, and the beautiful view.

Several years ago I was part of the design process for a church built. I positioned the building on the site with a large cross shaped window, behind the pulpit, facing Southwest. My intents were as the congregation looks at the pastor, with the soft, diffused light from the cross behind him, that image would be captured in their mind-eye when they close their eyes in prayer. The point I was after was no different from looking at a lightbulb, closing your eyes, and still seeing the light of lightbulb. Once the design was done I was removed from the process, and the drawings went to the builder. At some point, the builder decided to mirror the building on the site, save some money, and guess what happened on that first Sunday morning service? The 10 AM sunrise blinded the congregation! Easy fix: get some darned dark tint, put on the glass, and problem solved.

These quick fixes are called value engineering. To fix something in the field, as it's being built, is frightfully expensive. Homeowners see their dream home for the first time as it's being built. Any changes to the design will be exceedingly costly, which could have been avoided, with some strong initial illustrations.

Every design warrants an illustration, in my opnion. If you want a happy client, make sure there isn't value engineering, which is very expensive. We have to sell our work based on its quality, and its value to the project.