How to Price a Wall Mural – Developing a Price Sheet and Proposal
by Maria Brophy
In this article I’m going to do something that some of my friends warn me not to because they are so darn practical:
I’m going to tell all. Oh My God, I’m sharing with the entire world our pricing structure for wall murals. (Subject to increase by 10% every year…)
Why would I do something so daring and crazy, you ask? Because that’s what this blog is all about – uniting artists and sharing information so that we all can be successful and live the dream life.
In a second follow-up article, I’m going to give you our that they scream from their rooftops “Use this artist for your next project. She’s/He’s the BEST!”
But first, I’ll go over the money part – because for me, money is important. I love to eat good food and travel. And for some strange reason, it costs money to do that.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP A STRUCTURED PRICE SHEET
You should have a detailed mural pricing structure in writing. And if you don’t have one already, you can use mine as a guide.
Determining what to charge for a wall mural can be tricky. But once you get a structure in place, pricing murals will be a smooth process. This month we have two large murals that Drew has been commissioned to paint. One of the murals is for a new store called Yogurt Wave. We flew mural expert, Katie Staib, down from Spokane Washington to help make it look great. The owners, Kerry and Tommy, contacted Drew because his fun style attracts young people that are into action sports, which is their target market. Their first question was “what will it cost to have Drew paint a 46’ foot mural?” In just a few short minutes, I was able to give them a quote thanks to my nicely organized price sheet.
One of the most common challenges for artists is determining what to charge for a project. Developing a structure & system will make it so much easier for you.
Our current system is working well for us and our clients understand it. But there may be alternative ways to do it, so if you know of a better system, please share in the comments! I’m constantly improving upon how I do things.
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR PRICE SHEET
Your price sheet should be structured in a way that makes sense and that enables you to easily determine what you will charge based on size of the mural.
We charge approx. $35.00 per square foot with a minimum of 160 square feet. Knowing this makes it easy to establish pricing based on various sizes.
Below is a copy of the price sheet that we give to people prior to a written proposal, to let them know how we price it and what they can expect as well as what we expect from them.
Giving a potential client a price sheet helps to do two things:
- It weeds out the people who can’t afford you (so you don’t waste your time or theirs); and
- It demonstrates your professionalism. People tend to feel better about handing you a big check when they think you know what you’re doing.
Keep in mind, our pricing may be considered high by some standards and very low by others. We know of many artists that charge a lot more than we do. And then there are some that are charging half of what we do. What you charge is relative to your experience, where you are located (some places are cheaper to live than others) and supply and demand of your art.
I hope that by sharing our methods I will save you time and confusion. You are welcome to copy and paste the form below and adjust it accordingly for your own use.
DREW BROPHY MURAL PRICING SHEET (Revised March 2010)
Minimum Price: Murals sized 0 to 160 Square Feet: Price is $5,600
Pricing starts at $35 per square foot and decreases with increased size of mural; at 290 sf price drops to $32/sf – at 500 sf drops to $30/sf – at 900 sf price drops to $28/sf.
(Square Foot is determined by multiplying the height x width of the painting surface)
*Price per square foot may increase if design requested is complex. This will be indicated in price quote and determined at the time that the final sketch is approved.
SAMPLE PRICING, per square foot:
Prices per Unit Size (sample sizes)
Up to 10ft. x 16ft.
11ft. x 16ft.
12ft. x 20ft.
13ft. x 20ft.
14ft. x 21ft.
15ft. x 23ft.
17ft. x 26ft.
18ft. x 28ft.
19ft. x 30ft.
20ft. x 31ft.
25ft. x 39ft.
28ft. x 44ft.
Non-Refundable Design/Sketch Fee: $1500.00 – Includes up to 2 sets of changes by client (Additional sketches charged at $100/sketch)
Pricing includes: Travel within South Orange County, all materials, rental equipment, assistant fees and work to completion.
Pricing does not include: Travel outside of South Orange County, liability insurance or Wall Preparation.
*Additional work due to adverse conditions on surface that requires extraneous labor will be charged extra, by the hour, at a rate of $150.00 / hour, and sometimes cannot be determined until after the job has begun.
PAYMENT TERMS: Design fee of $1,500 due prior to sketch process. A 50% non-refundable deposit is due two weeks prior to start date of painting (this allows ordering of supplies and scheduling.) Full balance is due on the final day of completion.
PRICE SHEET EXPLANATION
Every detail and *caveat on the price sheet is necessary and came from us learning the hard way. I want to explain each point:
Pricing Structure: I’ve talked to mural artists who charge $40 – $50 a square foot. For us, a starting price of $35 per square foot works, because Drew is extremely efficient and gets a project completed rather quickly.
- You might charge less if you’re new at it or if you live in a low cost-of-living area, or
- You might charge more if you are very experienced or in high demand, or live in a high cost-of-living area (like New York or LA).
Minimum Price: We charge a minimum for small murals under 160 square feet because it’s a lot of work and time to set up at a location. It’s not worth it for us to have Drew go out to paint a small mural and only be paid a couple thousand dollars. You may want to adjust this number up or down, depending upon where you are in your career.
Realistically, for murals smaller than 160 sf, an artist is better off painting an original painting in their studio. It’s easier and doesn’t require travel or set up someplace else. Often we will suggest an original painting on canvas, instead, to clients who ask for a small mural. The upside for the client is a piece of art that they can remove from the wall if they move, or that they can resell if they want to later.
Non-Refundable Design (Sketch) Fee: Every mural we do is designed on paper first. We offer the client the ability to pay just for the sketches first, because sometimes a client isn’t sure if you can do what it is that they want.
If they don’t like your design or decide not to use your services after all, they only lose $1,500.00 and you are at least paid for your time to sketch it for them. We don’t sketch out anything without the design fee because it’s a lot of work. Just meeting with the person to discuss what they want can take a couple hours. You want to make sure that you are paid for that time.
Why You Should Limit the Number of Sketches: We have a limit of up to 3 sketches (2 sets of changes) and then charge for each additional sketch beyond that. When you do this, your client will be motivated to be very specific about what they want. If you don’t limit the number of sketches, they will just go on and on with changes. Trust me on this!
Wall Preparation: So far, we’ve never had to charge additional fees for wall prep. We’ve only had brand new walls to paint. But if Drew arrived at a location and the walls were in bad shape, we have this caveat in the price quote so that we can charge extra for getting the wall paint-ready.
Payment Terms: This is very Important! We require 50% of the total amount 2 weeks prior to the scheduled start date. This allows us to block out 5 or more days on the calendar (thus not accepting other projects for those days) and to purchase the necessary materials prior to the painting.
Paying a deposit is also a psychological thing with your client – you want to who expects prompt payment, and they are fully committed when they pay half up front.
If you are just building your portfolio, you may want to only require 30% up front until you’ve become established and you have a good reputation for following through and doing top quality work.
THE BALANCE is due on the last day of the painting. This is because I personally hate chasing money. I want to be paid and done with a job when it’s finished. Also, I have to pay our assistant on that last day as well. And if you know anything about me by reading my posts, you know that I got out of the years ago!
When we get a call from someone interested in a mural painting, our process is:
1.) E-mail them the pricing sheet above. This is so that from the very beginning, your client knows your general pricing and they can determine if it’s in their price range.
2.) Gather details about the mural, such as: Height and Width of the proposed mural, physical location, the shape that the wall is in, and what design they want. (I ask the client for this – we rarely go out to see the mural space until after we know it’s a “go”.)
3.) Based on the information provided above, then I’ll write up and e-mail a written proposal. (My Sample proposal template available )
Throughout the process I will verbally clarify, up front, how we work (meaning our payment policies). I’ll usually say: “We will begin the sketch process once you pay your $1,500 fee. The fee includes up to 3 sketches, so please be as specific as you can about what you want. A 50% deposit is due 2 weeks before the painting begins. The mural will take approximately 5 days (or however many). We plan to work from 9-5 daily. Your final payment is due on the day it’s finished.”
Being clear and direct helps to prevent misunderstandings later. I don’t like surprises, especially when it comes to money. That’s why I’m so specific in both my and my verbal discussions with clients. Everything goes better that way, and clients appreciate knowing what to expect.
GIVING A DEAL/PRICE BREAK
Your client may ask for a . Sometimes it’s reasonable to give a small discount or freebie to a returning client.
For new clients: If it seems like it’ll be a less complicated design, sometimes I’ll offer to deduct their $1,500 sketch fee from the total of the mural price. Basically I’m waiving the sketch fee, but I still require a payment of $1,500 prior to the sketch process. (Read to see why I require this).
You could also offer to lower the per-square-foot fee if the mural is going to be very simple and easy, say, like a basic design. On the other hand, if the design they want is extremely detailed, you should consider increasing the per square foot fee.
ONCE THE SKETCH PROCESS IS COMPLETE
After we get the sketch drawn out, and the client is ready to move forward, we ask for 50% down and we schedule the dates that the painting will take place.
Typically Drew can get a mural completed in 5-7 days. Using a system of gridlines and efficiency, along with the help of an assistant, most murals, even very large ones, can be completed in that time frame.
In the end, the most important thing is to make sure that your client is extremely happy with your work. Read my article “” on how to make your client so pleased, that they are screaming your name from their rooftops!
SAMPLE WALL MURAL PROPOSAL TEMPLATE AVAILABLE HERE:
Read more at mariabrophy.com