Of the various creative fields in which I operate, there is perhaps the most confusion over the cost of service with regard to architectural illustration and elevation drawings. This is due to a certain quiet conflict between architects, who like to do their own drawings, and artists, who like to eat, and therefore are more than happy to take on jobs creating said illustrations. Sometimes we artists are even commissioned to do rough designs of the architecture itself, which further steals away the non-technical aspect of their job. This is undertandable I think.
As a production artist, it’s my job to do my work as efficiently as possible, and make it look as good as the budget allows. Think of it like a glamour shot versus a license photo. Because of this mindset I can work very quickly, which saves the client money. The range of costs for my architectural renderings is from $500 for a basic residential home to $2500 for a commercial complex, or for high end custom homes. This is not based on the perceived wealth of the client; it is based on the expectation of quality, service, and the architectural detail involved. A higher end client expects more personal service, more expediency, and more polish than a regular client. This is because the people he sells to, his clients, expect that of him.
I would like to reiterate a general rule when trying to work with an artist or designer. I’ll include architects in this as well. Don’t try to low ball. If you’re looking to pay someone $200 for a decent rendering, or design of any detail, you will likely not get a decent product back. I work very quickly, but there’s little I could do for you in only 2-3 hours. There’s an old concept we have in contracting called the Project Pyramid. The points on the triangle (it’s really a triangle but pyramid provides a nice alliteration) are fast, cheap, and good. You can pick any two of those. If you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast because you’ll have to hire a novice. If you want it fast and cheap, there’s no way it’ll be any good. And if you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap because you’ll either hire an expert, or a team.