Architects and Illustrators

As we go through the archives of ASAI, we are running into these precious nuggets of knowledge. We don’t know when this article was written but find it still relevant in today’s industry. Gordon S. Grice, President Emeritus of ASAI, is now the editor of The Right Angle Journal.

by Gordon S. Grice OAA, FRAIC

We architectural illustrators have a great deal in common. That’s why we all get along so well. But there’s something about us that may seem a little surprising. When it comes to how we deal with our clients, there are as many methods as there are illustrators. No two are the same.

Well, maybe it isn’t all that surprising. A lot of us are self-employed mavericks who enjoy the independence that our career offers, so why would we want to imitate anyone else? As a result, when it comes to our business relationships with our most faithful and dedicated patrons — architects — anything goes. Maybe there should be a few guidelines?


Let’s start with how we work. Some of us prefer that our clients give us complete information about a project and then let us vanish until we have finished the job and presented it to wild acclaim. Others want to keep the lines of communication open constantly, avoiding any surprises at the end, pleasant or unpleasant. Some illustrators like projects in which everything has been worked out complete to the last detail. Others would rather have vague instructions — the less information the better — allowing them to create their images almost from scratch.

These opposites describe two poles in the architectural illustrator continuum. At one end, is the illustrator as supplier, selling an artistic product to a client for a price. At the other end is the illustrator as consultant, interacting with the client and providing advice for a fee according to specific needs. This is product vs process. So the first question to ask is: What does the architect-client want — a product or some advice — an illustration or an illustrator? Or a little of both? More than any other consideration, the answer to this question will provide the basis for the success or failure of the relationship.


In either case, a second element, one that is extremely important to any relationship, must also exist. That element is trust. In my discussions with other illustrators on this topic, this feature was given highest priority. Illustrators feel that each party must understand and appreciate what the other is trying to do as well as how this is to be accomplished — sympathy and accommodation.

For the architect, this means that the illustrator should be treated fairly. Comments will always be helpful ones and given at the right time. Decisions will always be made by the appropriate person. Deadlines will be honestly arrived at and reported and the effect of changes to the work will be considered. within the context of these deadlines. Some media (watercolor, e.g.) are notoriously difficult to change. Clients should understand the process and the necessary sequence of events, especially if the budget and deadline are fixed. One illustrator told me “Some architects seem to want to make changes solely as a way of maintaining control. But what’s really annoying is that their changes are often good ones.”

For the illustrator, the responsibilities are even greater. Hired for her expertise, the illustrator is being well paid to perform a vital (perhaps critical) function. First, she must meet her clients requirements regarding budget and deadline, but she must equal or surpass the client’s expectations regarding quality of work. The illustrator should maintain portfolio samples that are appropriate to the job and represent an accurate example of current capabilities. She should be familiar with and understand, as much as possible, the architect’s design philosophy and intent. As discussed above, she should appreciate the degree of involvement, camaraderie, and discussion that the architect is comfortable with. Most importantly, she should understand exactly what the illustrations are to be used for.


This last requirement is the result of the illustrator’s unique experience. Architecture in the twenty-first century involves the work of many, many specialists. No one architect can ever possess all the knowledge required. Illustrators are specialists in the communication of architectural ideas. If there is some particular aspect of the project that needs to be communicated in a particular way, it is the illustrator’s job to know how to do that. If the architect is having trouble connecting his design intent with the design execution, it is the illustrator’s job to find that connection and to help express it. If the project just needs a drop-dead gorgeous image to keep it afloat, then go to it.

OK, Money

But how can we leave the discussion without mentioning money? The illustrators that I spoke to were generally in favor of receiving more, but mostly agreed that they were currently compensated adequately. But, they all want to know: What is the deal with giving the illustrator a week to do the work and then waiting four months to pay for it? Any and all responses to this question will be gratefully entertained.

Just as we illustrators all have different ways of working, we also all have different reasons for having chosen this profession, although we would probably all agree that we do this work because we like it. We chose it — some of us even invented it — for ourselves. Architects tell me the same thing: the work is rewarding, enjoyable and meaningful. Working together, architects and illustrators can expect to accomplish a great deal. And enjoy doing it.

Sergei Tchoban, 2020 ASAI President

We are very excited to have Sergei Tchoban join the ASAI Board of Directors. His longtime support of ASAI as a member has awarded him many awards in the Architecture in Perspective Professional Competition.

Among his other duties on the board, he is actively planning the 2020 Architecture in Perspective Conference in Berlin, Germany. We look forward to releasing those details at a later date.

Sergei Tchoban, Architekt BDA
TCHOBAN VOSS Architekten, Berlin
SPEECH, Moscow

Sergei Tchoban, born in Saint Petersburg in 1962, is a Russian-German architect. After his studies at the Russian Academy of Arts, Saint Petersburg, he worked as a freelance architect in Russia until in 1992 he started working at the architectural office NPS Nietz – Prasch – Sigl in Hamburg. In 1995 he became managing partner of this company, which since 2017 trades as TCHOBAN VOSS Architekten. In 2006 Sergei Tchoban founded the architectural office SPEECH in Moscow together with Sergey Kuznetsov. 2009 the Tchoban Foundation started, growing 2013 into the Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin.

Between 2009 and 2011 Sergei Tchoban has been member of the urban advisory board of the city of Linz and will resume this activity from 2018 on. Since 2013 he is member of the urban advisory board of the city of Moscow. Moreover Tchoban has been teaching at the Moscow Graduate School of Architecture MARCH during 2013 and 2014. He was jury member of the Iakov Chernikhov International Prize for Young Architects in 2014 and a jury member of the World Architecture Festival WAF in 2016 and 2017. He chairs the jury of the international drawing competition ArchiGrafik since 2013. In 2017 he founded the first Biennale for young architects in Russia, with the aim of encouraging and supporting their professional development.

At the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010 and 2012 Sergei Tchoban was curator of the Russian Pavilion. In 2015 he was the architect of the Russian Pavilion for the EXPO Milan. Further he was responsible for the exhibit design of several international exhibitions, the latest in the Vatican Museum in Rome. Since 1992 Sergei Tchoban is member of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators ASAI. His drawings have been displayed in several museums and galleries and several are part of the collections of the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Architectural Archive of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

2018 Sergei Tchoban received the European Prize for Architecture by Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

Are you collecting royalties?

Dear ASAI Members and Colleagues,

The American Society of Illustrators Partnership (ASIP) and American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI) are inviting all published illustrators to join the Artists Rights Society (ARS) as an illustrator Member.

There is NO FEE for this, and as an ARS member illustrator, you can then be assimilated into a global system that will allow you to receive licensing fees for otherwise unidentified uses of your work.

This global system (called IPI for Interested Party Information) assigns artists, musicians and other authors a unique legal identity tag called an IPI Number. If you are an illustrator, this will allow you to make claims for licensing fees for the use of your work currently being collected under international blanket licenses.

blanket license is a license that gives a user the right to use any work from a body of collective works where generic royalties (similar to jukebox money) can be collected and distributed to rights holders only through internationally established collecting societies.

In the US, IPI numbers can only be obtained for you by the Artists Rights Society. ARS is the fine art collecting society that represents over 40,000 fine artists, including the estates of Picasso, Matisse, Saul Steinberg and others.

Through the efforts of the American Society of Illustrators Partnership (ASIP), ARS has now agreed to represent illustrators. You must be a published artist  – with at least one published piece to your credit – to enter into this agreement. ASAI members, who have been chosen in any of the AIP Catalogues, would qualify, and once in the system would be able to realize any royalties that might accrue from the world-wide distribution or placement of the physical or digital versions of any of ASAI catalogues.

There is no fee for membership and you need only supply ARS with your name and birth date (and death date in the case of estates) and your contact information. These dates are necessary to distinguish between two artists with the same name.

An artist’s IPI Number is the code for a name or pseudonym related to a person or a legal entity. For example,

Pablo Picasso has the IP Base Number I-001068130-6. Or one entity can have several names: the late musical artist Prince has three IPI-codes: 00045620792 (Nelson Prince Rogers), 00052210040 (Prince) and 00334284961 (Nelson Prince R).

Musicians, fine artists and writers have been in the IPI system for years. Collecting societies require these identity numbers in order to pay royalties to the proper rights holders and to avoid fraudulent claims.

The IPI system and database are administered by the Swiss copyright society SUISA (the Swiss Cooperative Society for Authors and Publishers) in accordance with guidelines and standards established by CISAC (The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers).

To join ARS as an Illustrator Member, please download the simple pdf Member Agreement from the dedicated ARS website. Then fill out the form, listing all names, pseudonyms, and other variations under which your work is credited and sign it. You may sign the agreement with a digital signature or a traditional signature.

Please return one copy to ARS via email: or via postal mail: Artists Rights Society, 65 Bleecker St, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10012.  ARS will return a counter-signed agree-ment to you and will then send you a W-9 form to fill out for any payments due you.

This Agreement is for blanket licensing fees only, and will not in any way preclude or limit you from exclusive licensing of your works by any other means.  For more information please see these Frequently Asked Questions.

Please take a few minutes to review the sites and materials, to take advantage of this artist advocacy program; which benefits you, ASAI, and the eleven other groups that comprise ASIP.


Frank M. Costantino, ASAI Co-Founder
V.P. and Charter Member, ASIP

Architecture in Perspective 33 Professional and Student Competition

International Architectural Illustration Competition
The American Society of Architectural Illustrators is pleased to invite professional and student illustrators from around the globe to take part in the 33rd annual Architecture in Perspective competition. This international juried competition recognizes the world’s best architectural illustrations with over 10 awards in four categories. Submitted artworks may be created in any medium including drawings, paintings, renderings, and digital imagery.
The competition’s top award — the Hugh Ferriss Memorial Prize — carries a cash prize of $5000 USD and is considered one of the highest professional honors for an architectural illustrator.
Competition winners will be invited to a special awards ceremony and gallery exhibition October 12, 2018 at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. In addition, award-winning entries and honorable mentions will be published online and in a commemorative Architecture in Perspective catalog.
For more information on entering the competition including deadlines, awards, eligibility, and submission guidelines, please visit
The Architecture in Perspective 33 Conference will be held in Marina del Rey, California USA at the Jamaica Bay October 11-13, 2018. Stay tuned for more information or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates and news from ASAI.

CFE: ArchiGraphicArts5

ArchiGraphicArts5   АrchiGraphicArts 5  Russian architectural site and Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing (Berlin) invite architects and artists of architecture to take part in ArchiGraphicArts 5 International Contest of Architectural Hand Drawings. Deadline for Entries: March, 1, 2018 The internet-platform of the competition Hand drawings created without using any computer technology are accepted. Participation in competition is free! Competition is held on 4 nominations – Drawing from Nature – Architectural Fantasy – Drawing to the Project – Moscow: Sense of the City. Special Nomination by Moscow Chief Architect Sergey Kuznetsov Participants can present 1 Entry in each nomination. Each Entry can be presented by 1 sheet or as a series of (up to 5) sheets united by the same theme and graphic technique.   Competition Stages The Competition is held in the Internet Format: the participants have to upload Entries in electronic form to the contest site. All Entries approved by the moderators will be published on the Competition’s website. After the end of the Moderation, the International Jury evaluates the works of the Contest by online materials and gives recommendations for a thematic exhibition. On the basis of the Competition’s Entries, a thematic Exposition is planned within the framework of the XXIII International Exhibition of Architecture and Design ARCH Moscow 2018 (May,16-20, Central House of Artists, Moscow). The presupposed theme of the Exhibition is the Drawing-Manifest, Drawing-Research. It could include works (originals, in exceptional cases – reproductions) from all nominations of the Сontest, illustrating the conceptual research / statement on the theme of architecture. For example: Drawing from Nature as a study of the features of certain objects in the context of their own architectural and town planning studies/projects; Аrchitectural Fantasy as a presentation of methods of work, approaches, a critical comprehension of reality or a vision of the future; Drawing to the Project-the quintessence of the author’s personality in architecture; projects, containing the solution of some important, actual problem or task. At the final Awarding Ceremony, winners will be announced in all categories based on the Jury’s remote vote. During the competition an online vote will also be held. This will allow visitors to the competition website to support entries which take their fancy, but will have no effect on the results of the voting by the competition Jury.   Awards  According to the results of the remote online work of the Jury, winners in each nomination will be determined. Winners of the Contest receive Diplomas, valuable prizes and gifts from the Organizers and Partners of the Contest. One of the participants in the Architectural Fantasy Nomination will receive a Special prize from the Sergei Tchoban Foundation – the Museum of Architectural Drawing in Berlin. The winner of the Special Nomination «Moscow: Sense of the City» will receive a Special Prize from the Сhief Architect of Moscow Sergey Kuznetsov. The winner of the site visitors online voting receives an incentive prize and a diploma from the organizers of the competition. Dates Submission of entries: until March, 1st , 2018 (inclusive) The end of moderation (reviewing and publication of entries): March, 10 th , 2018 Exhibition in the framework of ARCHMoscow: May 16-20, 2018, Moscow, Central House of Artists. Announcement of winners and Awarding Ceremony: the date will be reported additionally The Jury SERGEI TCHOBAN – Chairman of the Jury – architect, founder of the Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing, chief of the architectural bureau SPEECH (Russia) and nps tchoban voss (Germany) SERGEY KUZNETSOV – the chief architect of Moscow Thomas Wells Schaller – architect, artist. President Emeritus of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI) (USA). MAXIM ATAYANTS – architect, professor of the Academy of Arts (St. Peterburg), chief of the «Maxim Atayants’ architectural studio» (Russia) SERGEY ESTRIN – architect, artist, chief of the «Sergey Estrin’s architectural studio» (Russia) MIKHAIL FILIPPOV – architect, artist, chief of the «Mikhail Filippov’s architectural studio» (Russia) MIKKEL FROST – founder and managing partner of CEBRA (Denmark) RUBEN ARAKELYAN – architect, WALL architectural office cofounder ANDREY CHERNIKHOV – architect, Andrey Chernikhov Architecture & Design Studio founder (Russia) СINO ZUCCHI – architect, founder and chief of the СZA Cino Zucchi Architetti (Italy).   Forms of Submission All who wish to take part in Competition have to be registered (to create account) on the competition site Procedure of registration is simple. For creation of an account it is necessary to open menu (сlick red square on the main page under logo, click: Log in, enter login and your contact e-mail. Two e-mails will come to the specified e-mail address:
  1. E-mail with the link for account activation. 2. E-mail with your registration data.
After completion of registration all options will be available. Then you have to place necessary information about you and load 1 work in chosen nominations. Works are accepted in the digitized form, in jpg format, not less than 2000 pixels in size on width. The explanatory note (up to 1000 printed characters) has to be attached. It is NECESSARY to specify the original name of work, techniques of execution, original sizes of the work in explanatory note and short description of the concept, location of the objects, etc. The work allowed to participation appears in online gallery where the name of participant also is displayed. Detailed information about Terms and Conditions of Competition you can find on the page of each nomination (сlick Terms/English version).   Drawing from Nature Architectural Fantasy Drawing to the Project Moscow: Sense of the City. Special Nomination by Moscow Chief Architect Sergey Kuznetsov   Contact and technical support   Site Organizers: ( Group of webs) Programme Partners: Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing (Berlin), Chief Architect of Moscow Sergey Kuznetsov, The Union of Architects of Russia, The Union of Moscow Architects. Partner of the Drawing to Project Nomination: LAUFEN (Roca Group)