Will draw for money

Tanya Devaeva, April 9, 2013

Let’s take the risk of causing hysterics of all the creative people and  imagine that illustrators make a living by illustration. At least that that’s the main part of their income.

If there lives an imaginary illustrator who rents a flat (750 euro) or a room (350 euro) in Moscow and lives on 1 700 euro (if you substract the monthly rent the sum is quite small), 2 500 euro (that’s better) or 5 000 euro (enough to show off) we can try to calculate how much he/she should draw to get some adrenalin as well as new paint.

Life won’t be easy for those who have their own style and want to work for Russian magazines. Most of them don’t pay much. The cover costs about 350 euro, a type rage picture’s price is from 170 to 220 euro, and this is half of the sum if it’s half of the size. Thus one should draw dozens of pictures regularly what requires great speed and deftness as well as lack of both fastidiousness and nerves. In fact, there aren’t so many magazines here, and not all of them need drawings. One can also illustrate books, but there are just ones for children that are illustrated which are terra incognita for us. If there is anyone who can share the information about illustrator’s emoluments, the floor is yours!

If the illustrator is a photorealist he/she lives in clover. One can get up to 1 200 euro for one billboard picture. Those who draw in fashionable styles like that of Pixar earn the same tidy sums. Or if this person can make verisimilar pictures of people striking different poses he/she will be able to earn a living although such work is like a short distance run.


To get more interesting work and money one should keep to a cocktail diet of storyboards + advertisements + pictures for magazines. Besides, one can draw pictures for tees, bags, postcards, covers. But that’s one successful case in a million, people hardly ever get much for such work.

Illustration banks are seldom used in Russia. There are just photobanks that store pictures. We tried to develop this sector but it wasn’t a success. The illustrations there are easy goods. And it’s not customary here to buy the works of illustrators, especially the prints of limited edition. Sometimes an illustrator can sell a watercolor  or a canvas.

So illustrators, tell us where you get your money from.