I get a lot of the same questions from clients and prospective clients, so I thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most common questions here:

Can I Get A Laser-Engraved Portrait?

Simply put: No.

Laser-engraving is ideal for projects requiring lettering, logo-art, line-art, non-realistic images, and cut-outs of a wide variety of shapes. This application is especially great for all kinds of signage (both business and home), as well as for creating multiples of a single project, such as; wedding or business coasters, Christmas ornaments, cut-out (non-metal) jewelry pieces, personalized items of all kinds, etc.

Portraits, where realism is required/desired, will continue to be hand-burned via my Professional Pyrography Art Service. The primary reason for this is that I am able to much better control the level of shading in a realistic “photo reproduction” piece with hand-burning than is possible with the laser-engraver.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Custom Laser Engraving?

Each project cost varies depending on it’s unique requirements and specifications. But I can offer a ballpark idea and tell you how my process works:

Art Setup – I charge a flat $45 initial art setup fee. This is based on the expectation that I will need to spend approximately 30 minutes working on your project to get it set up and laid out in our software program. This includes importing and re-sizing your High Quality Image (if an image is being burned or engraved), helping you select a font, style, and size, if lettering is included, emailing images of the layout for your approval, and one initial Engraved/Burned Sample to confirm layout, settings, etc. are set up just right before we move forward with your actual project.
If you are providing the materials that I will be burning/engraving onto, and can supply material to me for creating a sample, then I will include the first sample piece in the $45.00 flat-rate fee.

IF, however, your art setup takes MORE than 30 minutes, if you don’t provide me with a High Quality Image to work from, if you need me to locate artwork or images for you, if I need to go back and edit numerous times…then my hourly rate FOR ART SETUP of $90/hr. will apply for any additional work, outside the normally estimated 30 minute setup time.

Also, if I have to obtain material that matches your material for purposes of creating the initial sample (different materials…even similar ones…burn/engrave differently and will produce a different outcome/result. So, it’s important to create the initial sample on the same material your end project will be on) then I will pass all of that expense on to you as part of your final project cost.

Time On The Machine – IS BILLED AT $60/hr. Most smaller projects take from 5 – 20 minutes to engrave or burn. But this varies greatly depending on the size of the piece and depth of engraving/burn you desire. But for our ballpark purposes; a 5 minute job will cost $5 per piece ($60 an hour divided by 60 minutes in an hour = $1 per minute), a 20 minute job will cost $20 per piece, etc.

Shipping – If you are not local to the Greater Portland Metro area, and are not able to deliver and pick up at my shop in person, then I will pass my cost for shipping along to you at no additional fee. I normally prefer to ship via USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail.

TOTAL COST – One-Time Art SetUp Fee + Time Per Piece On The Machine + Shipping (if applicable) = Total Cost. Example: 10 pieces that take the standard 30 minutes for art set up (with sample material being supplied by client), and 13 minutes per piece on the machine to burn, with local delivery and pick up would look like this:

$45 Art SetUp + 10 pieces @ 13 minutes each = $13 a piece x 10 = $130 and no fee for shipping = $45 + $130 = $175

Can Any You Engrave / Burn Any Image I Send You?

There are limitations both in copyright law consideration and in quality consideration that we need to take into account. Here are the basics –

Copyright Law and Limitations – As a business, I can not charge a fee or make a profit from selling any product that includes copyright-protected artwork to anyone other than the copyright-holder.  What that means is that if you come to me wanting me to engrave a logo that belongs to an NFL team, a Disney character, a Nike logo, a Harry Potter character, or any other copyrighted image, symbol, or logo, I can not do that “for consideration.” For profit.

I can make gifts and give-aways, that I don’t make any money on, all day long. No legal limitations there. But I can’t receive payment to do that. So, you need to be the copyright holder of any art you send me to reproduce for you, or have purchased the legal rights to reproduce the art, or the artwork you want to use exists “in the public domain” ie; no active copyright exists on that particular art, or we have to create something original together specifically for use in your project.

Image Quality Requirements – The laser-engraver is kind of like a printer on steroids. They work in basically the same way. What that means is that I’m only going to get out of the machine the same quality I put into it. What does that mean in practical application? If you send me a 75dpi (dots per inch) image that looks great for web browsing purposes, but is lousy for print purposes, and that image is 150px square (approximately 1.5 inches square), and you expect me to reproduce it as a 12 inch square image onto a wood or leather surface….yaaa…no. Sorry, but you’re up in the night, lol! It literally just won’t work. The burn/engraving that results would be very grainy and pixelated. So, a high resolution image is imperative for a quality outcome.

File Type Matters – It will always be best if you can supply me with what is known as a vector file. One that can be resized to any size and retains it’s quality for print purposes. .EPS or .SVG are best. Not .GIF, .JPG or .PNG when at all possible.

OPTIONS – If you only have a lower-quality image that you really, really want to have burned onto something, I may still be able to help you. But I need to do this kind of work BY HAND.

have been hand-burning art, images, and lettering onto wood and leather for more than 20 years and hand-burning allows me to work with a much lower quality image, while still producing exceptional quality results.

IT IS MUCH MORE EXPENSIVEBecause it takes much more time to do the burning by hand than it does for the laser-engraver to do it.

And many years of skill development…

My hourly rate is still the same; $60/hr. But most pieces created this way usually take a minimum of 10 hours to complete (depending on the size and complexity of the piece, of course.) However, hand-burning also produces much more depth of character, the allowance for editing things out or adding things in, the option to apply spot or full-color highlights, etc. So, there are certainly enormous benefits to hand-burning, where the laser-engraver wouldn’t produce the desired result.

For examples of my hand-burned work visit: PORTLAND PYROGRAPHY or for portraits TRACY JOHNSON ART

How Long Will It Take? – That depends largely on my current work load and how large and complicated your project is. I can normally fit a new project into my calendar within a week to two weeks out (at present) and most projects will take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete, from start to finish.

What Is Needed To Get Started? –  Once you have emailed me your project requirements, any associated images and/or lettering, and we’ve discussed terms and payment issues and we are agreed that your project is a good fit, then:

  1. I will prepare an invoice based on our agreed upon estimate for your project. A DEPOSIT OF 50% of the estimated price is required, up front, before I will add your project to my calendar and begin work. I bill exclusively through PayPal and prefer electronic payment of funds. Talk to me if you need other arrangements and I will try to work with you.
  2. Once I have received confirmation of payment of your deposit, I will add you to my work calendar, and begin work on your project. Throughout the creation process, I will be in regular communication with you, either via email or text message…sending updates about my progress and to secure your approval, before moving on to the next phase of work.
  3. My initial estimate is just that; an estimate. Though I have been doing this kind of work for more than 20 years, and have a pretty good idea about how long a project will take, the final price is based on actual hours worked. Your deposit will be deducted from the final price and you will have to pay the balance owing prior to pick up or delivery of your completed project.