Salary for work!

May 1, 2021

Salary for work!

Tegnerforbundet presents guiding rates for illustration and comics.

In August 2020, the Norwegian Drawing Center's board published the article "Salary for work" in the magazine NUMER as a response to Klassekampen's case on guiding rates "May not discuss salary". We have long had guiding rates as a topic in the board, and in 2020 we established a working group that works to prepare a list of guiding rates.

Tegnerforbundet (TF) is a show room for drawing art and an artist-run union that was founded by newspaper cartoonists and illustrators in 1916, and has a long tradition of working in union politics. «The organization was decided formed and called: Tegnerforbundet . The members of the association shall be illustrators and illustrators by profession. […] The association's purpose shall be to bring together Norwegian cartoonists in order to jointly work together to safeguard their professional and financial interests ».
Taking care of our members' professional and financial interests is still highly relevant in 2021. Therefore, we are now publishing a list of guiding rates as part of our union work to strengthen the entire field. The list is indicative and an organic document that will be adapted over time.

For many years, there has been great frustration and uncertainty surrounding pricing in the field of illustration and comics. The Competition Act has been used as an argument that practitioners cannot discuss or make indicative rates. Tegnerforbundet therefore takes responsibility, and presents a list of guiding rates. The list is the Norwegian Drawing Center's recommendation and cannot be considered a price collaboration. Our wish is that illustrators and cartoonists should be able to have a sustainable economy, and that uncertainty in the field should be minimized.

In Norway, there are not many agencies that mediate and can negotiate prices on behalf of the practitioner, and it is thus the practitioner who appreciates his work. At the same time, the practitioner can not compare his price with others as these are not to be found in public.

Thus, situations arise where:

  • There is no widespread understanding of what an illustration is worth, neither among illustrators nor buyers. In such a situation, the practitioner is weak in negotiating fees with the client.
  • The athletes have varying prices that do not necessarily reflect their experience and competence, but rather whether they are tough enough to tell the customer that they should have paid more. Learning to value and negotiate contracts is not necessarily part of the education.
  • New illustrators enter the market with low fees without knowing what level to go to. Low prices undermine the profession.
  • Index adjustment of rates is absent and in reality one goes down in salary over time.
  • Prices often do not include supplements such as social expenses and operating assets that self-employed persons must add themselves, but which employees have included in their salaries.

Working as a cartoonist and illustrator is a profession performed by professional practitioners, but the rates and thus the income are so low that you can not really make a living from it.
Illustrators and cartoonists are traditionally self-employed and freelancers who take on project assignments of varying lengths. Some are delivered on the day, larger projects can extend over several years. Regular assignments are a rarity, and the practitioner must work actively to obtain jobs in order to work as an illustrator and cartoonist full time.

It is the buyer's market and the practitioner has weak bargaining power. Then it does not help much if the practitioner himself is unsure of what fee he should pay. If the client has set aside too little for the assignment, the performer is put in a dilemma. Should he take the assignment to get future assignments from the client, or can he afford to demand more fees and possibly lose the assignment? For a practitioner who is trying to work full time with illustration and comics, it is conceivable that one goes for a compromise, with a hope that it will pay off in the long run. But the result is that one undermines one's own profession and that prices fall at an abnormally low level.

The reasons for the low incomes are multifaceted and Tegnerforbundet will, by publishing guiding rates, hopefully shed light on why. The guiding rates have been prepared by a working group, and in dialogue with selected experts from the Norwegian Drawing Center's members who work in the field on a daily basis. The list is intended to be a guide for illustrators, cartoonists and clients.

Being an artist is a profession, being an illustrator is a profession, being a cartoonist is a profession!


The Norwegian Drawing Center's working group:

Tanja Thorjussen, Chairwoman of the Board Tegnerforbundet
Anders Kvammen, board member Tegnerforbundet
Mari Kanstad Johnsen, board member Tegnerforbundet
Fredrik Rysjedal, editor NUMER
Hilde Lunde, CEO Tegnerforbundet

The Norwegian Designers' Association's guiding rates for 2021

More background information:

‍ Class struggle- May not discuss salary

NUMER Salary for work

The Norwegian Competition Authority / the law

NBK's price calculator

Creo Freelance Kits (Smart Cards)

Grafill: Result from salary survey in creative industry

Grafill: Revenue report for book illustration, editorial illustration and comic book creation



Illustration: Åge Peterson