The New Client Guide To Illustration

Before billions of users occupied the Internet , illustration was a specific business. That term only rung a bell if you were an art director, editor or a publisher.

Today entrepreneurs and independent publishers can be anyone and this leads to certain problems.

If you need an artist to get something done, please read this post and pass it along

Never Assume An Artist Reads A Book Before He Can Do A Cover Illustration

Archive Fantasio 

A myth in self-publishing circles:

Artists needs to read a book before they can make a cover illustration.

No, that is not necessary at all! We never get paid to read a book. This is a personal joy that can help, but, more than a blurb about the story is often not necessary.

A Word About Visual References

Archive Fantasio / Warren Louw / Lady Morgana

Most agencies and art directors know this and hence approach artists with references. But yet, with the rise of self publishing, there are still some problems. Many authors approach illustrators for book cover art, without providing the necessary visual reference.

Artists are visual people and thus need images to create images to say it simple.

I for my part, am willing to go through written descriptions. But I can not speak for all illustrators here. Some prefer just stock photographs, others prefer a more strict guideline.

A helpful tool to gather reference images is Pinterest. This site allows you to create visual pinboards. It also has already a great pool of visual imagery to describe your story.

No, We Are Not Able To Change The Artwork As You Change Your Mind (Without Cost)

alphawham characters
http://www.alphawham.com/ - Paul Clay

Another common misconception seems to be the change of an artwork while in in process. I have especially experienced this with musicians. Good for you if you can communicate extra cost for changes beforehand.

There might be artists who are willing to work on major changes in the middle of a project. But I feel a lot initial motivation is gone this way. The best money can not buy intrinsic motivation.

Yes, We Need Guidelines And A Concrete Idea

Sure there are artists who only do their thing. But even those are open to work with you if the budget is right. Especially from high paying clients it is vital to have guidelines and concrete ideas. Every artist likes to have a certain amount of artistic liberty. You approach an artist because of a certain style. That choice is part of the artistic liberty.

A concrete explanation of your idea is important for two reasons:


  • It reflects your credibility
  • It shows that you are not going to change your mind soon.


I believe, to know about this, is going to be helpful for both sides of the table.

If You Don´t Know Exactly What You Want


alphawham characters
http://www.alphawham.com/ - Paul Clay


Take more time to think your goals through.

Mind mapping is helpful to get this in place.

Often it is possible to arrange a development phase for your project.

Regardless if agency or freelancer, this can be an expensive adventure.

In most agencies or studios, the hourly rates for conception and development are high. Compared to the regular cost of an illustration, it can be twice as much.

Don´t Hold Back With Your Need For Regular Art Upfront

Speak with the artist. It might be possible to get a discount on commissions when clients commit to do a series. Building a style in a series is easier when this point is clear upfront.

With just the right clients, this is for any illustrator a time saving engagement.


Convenient Communication

A convenient way to approach an artist is the way you would like to start a conversation.

I had people asking me per whatsapp or skype chat. To be honest, that is no convenient way for me. It might be a way for you, we are talking about personal values here.

It definitely says something about the value the work has for the proposing client.

When it comes to communication, like it or not, there is no way around email.

Email is a to-do list. I like to get back through a conversation to read about details. Many things that can be overlooked in the sketch phase become important later on.

Skype or phone-calls fall short in that regard as well. It is nice for a personal chat, get to know each other better. The real important information gets lost between lines. And hard to remember at times. That can lead to unnecessary questions per email again.


Do We Need A Contract?

Yes we do. At least a simple agreement. It is a respectful way of saying that you have read and understood all the above and agree with it. That is what an agreement does - nothing more and nothing less. If you want to skip that important step, there is no reason for me to value your project.


No We Can Not Do A Sketch Or A Sample For Free

In a professional environment we would not need to talk about work for free.

Even professionals can be black sheep. They approach artists in a way they would need a sample - that is a scam.

The best intentions don´t help an artist to create your facebook banner for free.

He sure could do that and many artists will do. Especially as a friend you will do him no good in the long run. The reason is that more and more people will turn to your friend for free sketches. Until he can´t think of any paid work at all. In the worst case, he will give up on a career in the arts, thinking of art as "doing work for free".
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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook

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