How To Price Murals Using The Practice Wall Method

This is the practice wall that was built in my backyard after it was primed.

When I was planning my first mural, I had no idea how to estimate the price so that I could send an expense sheet with my proposal. It is so important to know how to price a mural if you want to be a muralist. Like pricing any kind of art, it is challenging. This method may or may not work/make sense for you but I think it is something to consider. More resources for pricing murals are linked below.

I am super dyslexic when it comes to math. Even so, I found a way to figure out how to price my murals. I did this by building a practice mural wall. I got all the materials at home depot and my shed. It’s a big wall, 12 feet by 9 feet. I wanted to build this for two reasons, to get the feel of painting a mural, and to use it as a reference for future mural pricing.

The design of my practice mural was ⅓ of the total design that I was trying to create an estimate for. I had no idea how long it would take me, how much materials I would need, or how much I needed to charge. So, I used a practice wall as a reference to estimate time, materials, and cost.

For reference, this took about 45-50 hours over a few weeks. It was hard to paint for more than about 4 hours straight as it was so hot outside. I even painted during the night with a flood light as it was much cooler. I think the hardest part of the mural was getting the motivation to keep working on it every day at my house. It is so easy to be lazy at home. But, I got it done and it is so dope to have a mural in my backyard.

After I finished the wall, I was able to make my own formula to calculate how much the full design would cost.

So, here is an example on how to price mural work using the practice mural method.

First, create a design

I used lots of paper and graphite to create my design, then I finalized it in procreate.

Then, build a wall

Find someone handy to help you, it’s not super complicated. Mine was attached to the side of my studio. You definitely don’t need to do one this big, I only did because it made sense for me. My wall was three big pieces of wood from home depot and some scrap wood for the rest. I primed the wall with basic outdoor primer. There are more inexpensive ways to make a practice mural.

Alternatives to building a wall would be:

  • using a large canvas 
  • using large pieces of butcher paper taped together placed on a wall
  • a big piece of wood from craigslist 
  • someone’s wall you get permission to paint
  • a sh*t ton of cardboard put together 
  • nailing a tarp to a fence if you primarily use spray
  • think outside of the box if you have a budget. There is a solution to everything, you just have to manifest it.

Artist Fluid Tunes often uses big paper on the wall to create his art. You could do something similar to practice working large. Check out his work on instagram or on his site.

After you have your practice mural surface, start the mural process

keeping track of:

  •  how much materials you are using (you can use this for reference when determinant material cost and amount for future projects)
  • How much time it is taking, you can use a stopwatch on your phone or write down your start and stop times
  • Take into account how long you can paint in one day, it might be less than you think. Although murals are super satisfying, they are a lot of work. If you know how long you can work per day, you can have a reference for calculating how many days a mural could take.
  • Helpful Tip: Keep all your notes in the same place. A nice notebook, or google docs works great.

After you have concise notes taken about how long that piece took you, how much materials you used, and how long you can work in a day, you will have a reference for any other mural project you do.

For example, say your mural took you 40 hours to complete, and you can only work well for 4 hours in the day, you can estimate that a similar project (similar size and level of complexity) would take you 10 work days to complete. This can be modified into a formula for bigger projects.

For example, if a wall is 100 square feet and your practice mural was 50 square feet you can use a formula like this:

If 50 square feet takes you 40 hours to complete, a wall that is 100 square feet would take you about 80 hours to complete.  50 x 2 = 100      40 x 2 = 80. Then, multiply the amount of hours x the hourly rate you would like to be paid. For a beginner muralist, I would recommend $20 an hour. 80 x 20 = $1600 for labor, excluding materials.

If the wall that is 100 square feet is a bit more complicated, estimate a bit more time. Same goes if the wall is less complicated, estimate less time. I would recommend adding a few extra hours just in case something happens that you don’t expect during the project.

There are so many ways to estimate the cost of a mural but this one is the only one that has really worked for me. Some other resources that may help you price your murals are linked below:

I hope this made sense. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me, I would love to help.

Check out my other mural related posts below:

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