Pricing Guidelines for Professional Calligraphers
Although I’ve been working as a professional calligrapher and lettering artist for over ten years and have participated in countless projects for corporate and private clients, I have always been less than comfortable with the business aspects of my art. Like many of my fellow creatives, I just want to write beautifully!
While negotiations, invoices, quotes, and contracts aren’t my favorite parts about being a professional calligrapher, learning to become a better businesswoman has allowed my business to expand and evolve.
One of the first challenges I encountered when I decided to turn my hobby into a profession was pricing. How does one determine the value of their writing? When I turned to the internet, I discovered that my fellow calligraphers were experiencing the same problem, and many were charging far too little for their impressive skills and experience.
When one searches the term “price for wedding calligraphy,” one of the the top results is an undated article titled “Wedding Calligraphy Basics.” This article states, “Calligraphy is a time-consuming process with a fee to match. Pricing can range anywhere from $2 to $5 per envelope – or higher for special requests.” Unfortunately, there is simply no market research to back this statement. Since the publishing of this article, the $2 – $5 price range has been repeated across the internet. This only helps to further conflicts between professional calligraphers and their clients, who often assume the average price of an envelope is $3.50.
This past year, several clients questioned my pricing, referencing these misleading online blog posts. My husband and I searched the internet and found several articles published by major media outlets that state how much an envelope or place card should cost. Each piece provided no basis for their assertions and were simply the opinion of the author. There was no discoverable pricing guide for calligraphy and no research on which to base my pricing.
After wedding season slowed, my husband and I decided to try and tackle the question ourselves: what is a fair price for calligraphy? We designed a detailed pricing survey and sent it to over 600 calligraphers in various states. The goal of this survey was to develop an educational tool to inform members of the industry and the press about reasonable cost expectations for the art of hand calligraphy.
We would like to thank the 237 professional calligraphers who participated in the survey and shared their pricing guides with us, and all of the people who sent us emails thanking us for initiating this experiment. We look forward to continuing this project to develop a dynamic, authoritative source for calligraphy pricing that answers to changes in the economy and industry.
You may download the full text of our 40-page survey – including detailed results organized by location and services offered – using the link below. By sharing our results here at Calligrafile.com, we hope all our fellow creatives can learn to make the most from their art!