The Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

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We found out a little while ago that HAI member, children’s artist Rachelle Meyer, was going to the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair and we asked her if she’d be kind enough to report back to us after the event. We felt it would be a good opportunity for Rachelle to share her experience via the staff blog. – Darren Di Lieto


I went to the Frankfurt Buchmesse with few expectations and lots of curiosity. I’ve been to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair many times and what I kept hearing was that in comparison, the Frankfurt Book Fair is huge and overwhelming. I had three days, a few appointments, an iPhone, and a sketchbook. I made a point of exploring beyond the English-language and European halls where I already had appointments to find unfamiliar faces and new experiences.

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I can’t say for sure if my observations are the typical visitor experience or simply what I’m drawn to based on my personal preferences. My feeling about the trends in publishing is that there are more books now which are personal, political and hand-crafted. There was an entire stand devoted to the independent voices of INDIECON, with zines available for purchase on site. I bought this lovely comic by Tine Fetz. The side-stapled comic had crop lines still visible on many pages, which I found quite charming and added to its indy credentials.

Nils Oskamp’s excellent process sketches for his graphic novel, Drei Steine, drew me into the booth for the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. It was refreshing and empowering to speak to people who ardently want to make a difference in the world.

I loved the textural richness of the crafted books. Take, for example XY Printing Group‘s folded accordion style book which was illustrated entirely with paper cuts. It’s a gorgeous retelling by Anne Montbarbon of the traditional Three Little Pigs story. The hand-printed pages at Tara Books smelled so delicious from the inks they used. In addition the Flanders and the Netherlands (99 Flemish and Dutch authors and artists from every genre) were the guests of honor this year and in the guest pavilion, you could snag a beautiful limited-edition Parade magazine. Another nice detail was the Happy Hour, hosted by the Netherlands and Flanders, which featured typical Dutch/Flemish treats like mini-beers and tiny bowls of french fries with mayo.

To prepare for the book fair, I reached out to my publishing contacts and printed up a new batch of cards for distribution. Once there, I had a meeting that led to a new assignment and I also received an email from a publisher I had worked with before. The publisher had received my promotional postcard at just the right time to offer me a new project, showing in my opinion that my advertising was paying off. As a working illustrator, the fair was not just inspiring, but also rewarding from a financial and professional standpoint.

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Being in Frankfurt allowed me to touch base with a number of professional groups. I’m the International Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and they hosted a very informative and motivating workshop called “Supercharge Your Submissions with agent Hannah Sheppard” on the Saturday morning during the fair. I also got to catch up with some nice people from the SCBWI local chapter.

Chatting with people from the IO (German Illustratoren Organisation) left me feeling energized and hopeful about our direction and place in the industry. They’ve been around for ten years and have grown exponentially in this relatively short time. With these sort of positive communities and support bases, we have a greater chance of setting better terms for illustrators and making the industry we work in, work for us.

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I don’t know if I’ll go every year, but it was a very rewarding trip and I’ll definitely go again. – Rachelle Meyer (professional illustrator)


If you attended this year, say hello, share your experiences or leave a comment in the section below, as we’d love to hear from you. For information about Frankfurt Buchmesse 2017, please visit buchmesse.de

Royalties Vs. Advances for Illustrators & Writers

We would like to welcome Tim Paul as a guest blogger on the hai staff blog. In this post New York illustrator Tim Paul has written down his thoughts and opinions for us with regards to illustrators and writers being paid an advance verses not being paid an advance on their royalties. Tim has worked as a colourist for Marvel Entertainment and been in the creative industry for almost 20 years, dare we say he could be considered a veteran… – Darren Di Lieto


So Where Do We Start?

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Getting even a simple book out can take a year or more. It’s a long, slow road from concept to paycheck especially if there isn’t an advance at the beginning.

PART ONE: Necessity

These days you hear that publishing needs to evolve to survive. One way large publishers are trying to evolve is to copy smaller publishers in how they pay the artist/author. A smaller publisher, who doesn’t have the finances for an advance, will sometimes offer a higher cut of royalties. This can be up to a 50/50 split after costs. Larger publishers are beginning to follow suit, with inexperienced and untried creators seeming to be the main focus of this shift.

If a writer’s goal is simply to be published, self-publishing is an option they should consider. They’ll be published, and it will even bring in some extra earnings if their book sells well. But for artists and authors whose goal is to make a living at publishing their work, the no-advance option puts more of the risk on their plate. Publishers are looking to manage the financial risks they are taking. If a book fails to make the necessary sales to cover the advance, the author isn’t obliged to pay back the advance. That money is their’s regardless of the how well the book sells.

For the artist or author, the potential for a larger paycheck in the form of higher royalties can be very tempting. However, an advance isn’t a case of the publisher being nice to the author. It’s a way for them to work on the project, without the pressure of having to take on additional work to pay the bills. This way, the artist or author can work towards giving the publisher the best possible product, distraction free.


PART TWO: Business

Getting even a simple book out can take a year or more. It’s a long, slow road from concept to paycheck especially if there isn’t an advance at the beginning. A long wait for payday isn’t the only thing creators have to consider under the no-advance approach. What happens if the work is completed but, through no fault of the creator, it gets canceled by the publisher? Naturally you can try and cover these and other possibilities in a contract, but this does mean more time-consuming negotiations with both sides trying to protect themselves.

Publishers aren’t looking to screw or trick their artists and authors. They’re trying to do what is best for their company financially, as any business would. This doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action for the author or the publisher’s long term goals, but it minimizes the financial risks for the publisher. Plus with no advance, the onus is on the author to produce the work, because if they don’t there will be no royalties.

With an advance, the risk is moved back to the publisher, which means it’s easy for an author to work out what happens if a project gets cancelled by the publishing house… they get to keep the advance. But how is that going to play out with payment based solely on sales? There’s no way for an author to say if a book is going to flop or be a 50 week bestseller. It’s the publisher who will have the experience and expertise to make that sort of judgement, rather than the author.

Smaller publishers don’t normally have much in the way of a budget for marketing. They rely on word of mouth, reviews, and the creator promoting their books along with social networking. If this method of getting a book to market is picked up by the larger publishers, how much self-promotion will their artists and authors be expected to do? After all, isn’t the point of signing with a large publisher that a creator can use the publisher’s resources, connections, experience and knowledge to properly market their publication?

Should large publishers decide that all untried creators have to prove themselves before getting an advance, it could easily become, “accept this deal, or remain unpublished” for all. The no-advance model reduces or takes away the ability of the creator to remain independent of the business side and solely focus on the creation of their writing or imagery. If no advance was to become the norm, there would be no reason for it to go back to the old ways. In the struggle to make a living as an artist or author, getting fair compensation has always been a fight. It’s better to know what you are going to be paid, than the promise of a potentially higher paycheck in my opinion.


PART THREE: Final Thought

Part of being a freelance illustrator or writer is making a plan on how you are going to support yourself while creating. Advances allow artist and authors to plan their finances with solid numbers and a real income. For publishers to receive the best products takes time and dedication. Insist on an advance when the big companies come knocking. Don’t do yourself a disservice, believe in your work and worth, and the big publishing houses will believe in you too.


Artwork & Words: Tim Paul http://illo.cc/15270

Zombies Can’t Swim

We recently received our copy of Zombies Can’t Swim, a comic by Kim Herbst. Let’s be honest here. We have a bit of a thing for zombies at hai and we know that Kim has produced some interesting fantasy-based artwork, so we just had to get this!

There’s plenty of blood, gore and action, as you would expect, and the story is very well drawn. The use of two-colour printing works well – better than if Kim had gone for plain old monotone, as it makes the artwork so much clearer. The print and binding quality is very good, and it’s bound rather than stapled as it runs to 40 pages.

No storyline spoilers here I’m afraid, although suffice it to say that if you like the undead, Zombies Can’t Swim will make a fitting addition to your collection. Head on over to Kim’s Esty store to buy a copy. You know you want to – it’s a no-brainer!

Title: Zombies Can’t Swim
Author: Kim Herbst
Illustrator: Kim Herbst
Pages: 40

Gunther the Underwater Elephant

We’ve got lots of books that we’ve been meaning to post about for ages, but this one is especially overdue (sorry Ginger)! Written and illustrated by the very lovely Ginger Nielson, Gunther the Underwater Elephant is a charming story about a baby elephant (Gunther) who gets lost while swimming in the river with his family. He ends up having an adventure where he meets a surprising new friend who helps him to find his way home again, just in time to become the hero in a dramatic rescue! Colourfully illustrated throughout, this book would appeal to any animal-loving youngster and be a lovely book to share at story-times.

Gunther the Underwater Elephant is available to buy on Amazon.

Title: Gunther the Underwater Elephant
Author: Ginger Nielson
Illustrator: Ginger Nielson
Publisher: 4RV Publishing (2011)
ISBN: 978-0983274025
Pages: 27

Installing Exhibitions: A practical guide

Exhibiting your work is always exciting, but how do you know what the right way to display your artwork is? What fixings should you use? What’s the best way to light your work? How do you make a shelf for your 3-D pieces to stand on? Even if you have a professional gallery install and curate your art for you, it’s always handy to know how to the practical side of things work. And if you’re doing it all yourself, then it’s really important to know the best and safest way to do things. So, it’s time to look at another useful book from the hai bookshelf!

Installing Exhibitions: A practical guide, by Pete Smithson, does exactly what it says on the cover. If you want to know how to transport, fix, hang and display your prints, paintings, 3-D or audiovisual work, this book will give you the information you need. Pete Smithson is the Technical Manager for Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in London, so he definitely knows his stuff!

The book starts off by asking you to consider the space that you are using, then briefly talks about risk and health and safety issues (important as you will have people visiting your show). Next it looks at the tools you’ll need, how to prepare the space, and how to safely pack and move your work. There is plenty of information about different types of wall fixings plus a chapter on using rigging to suspend items. For 2-D artwork, there is advice on how to plan where to put the pieces so they look their best and how to hang different works. For those artists who create audiovisual art, there is a chapter that covers using projectors, video and audio, how to install the equipment and what to check to make sure it works.

If you fancy having a go at a bit of construction, this book will show you how to make various shelves and plinths. The final chapter looks at electrics (UK, Europe and North America), managing all those cables and using lighting. At the end of the book is a glossary and space to make notes.

This is a great book for anyone who exhibits their own or other people’s work at any level (or who is planning to). It’s totally hands-on and full of useful advice and plenty of diagrams. We recommend it!

Publishing info –
Title: Installing Exhibitions: A practical guide
Author: Pete Smithson
Publisher: A & C Black Publishers Ltd. (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-4081-1016-4

Nuts & Bolts: A blueprint for a successful illustration career

Time for another book review, one which I’ve been meaning to do for ages!

‘Nuts & Bolts: A blueprint for a successful illustration career’ is written by Charles Hively of the wonderful and highly regarded 3X3 magazine, 3X3 Annual and Creative Quarterly. Having worked extensively in advertising and design as an art director and creative director, in addition to having been an illustrator, Charles is ideally placed to pass on his extensive knowledge of the industry from both sides of the fence.

The book covers important areas such as treating illustration as a business, making a website work for you and maintaining visibility. The final section of the book consists of essential Do’s and Don’ts. Charles tells it straight throughout, no waffle, just good, solid advice from a man who really knows what he’s talking about.

This is, of course, a nicely laid out book, easy to read or flick through, and at 10 US dollars (8 GBP/9 EUR) buying it certainly won’t break the bank. Overall, a fantastic resource that is crammed full of common sense tips and vital information to help you succeed in your career. Definitely one to add to your book collection!

Publishing info –
Title: Nuts & Bolts: A blueprint for a successful illustration career
Author: Charles Hively
Publisher: 3X3 Magazine (2010)
ISBN: 978-0981940540

The Illustrator’s Guide to Law & Business Practice

Written by Simon Stern and published by the Association of Illustrators (AOI), The Illustrator’s Guide to Law & Business Practice is a great reference book for freelancers, agents and anyone else who needs to get their head around the minefield of business and legal issues relating to the UK illustration industry.

It contains lots of good, practical advice on everything from arranging contracts to copyright issues, bringing together a huge amount of important information in one place.

There is plenty of sound advice about pricing, negotiating with clients, licensing agreements, royalty payments and working with agents, plus a very handy ‘Terms of Trade’ contract that you can photocopy/scan and use yourself. We particularly liked the chapter on copyright which tells you what you need to know and where you (and other people) stand in nice simple terms.

As you would expect from an organisation like the AOI, The Illustrator’s Guide is nicely designed and contains fantastic artwork throughout. The book has been split into ‘Must read’, ‘Should read’ and ‘Read when needed’ sections, as well as providing a number of useful appendices. The chapters are very clearly laid out, making it easy to dip into the book as needed and Simon Stern has managed to write about a very difficult and dry subject in a way that makes it understandable and relevant. A must for any UK illustrator’s bookshelf!

You can buy a copy of the book here: The Illustrator’s Guide to Law and Business Practice (Association of Illustrators)

Publishing info –
Title: The Illustrator’s Guide to Law & Business Practice
Author: Simon Stern
Illustrator: Various
Publisher: The Association of Illustrators (2008)
ISBN: 978-0955807602

Welcome to Monster Isle (Raar!)

Well, it’s about time we started reviewing the books we have listed on the bookshelf. We’re kicking off with Welcome to Monster Isle, illustrated by Jeff Miracola and written by Oliver Chin. This is a fully illustrated children’s picture book and we have chosen it because a) we love Jeff Miracola’s artwork, b) it’s fun and c) Jeff is a good example of an artist with a very distinctive (and sometimes rather surreal) style who has successfully applied it to a number different markets.

Many people will be familiar with Jeff’s work, especially pieces such as ‘Asian Walker‘ and he has received recognition through features in numerous creative magazines, as well as working with a number of high profile clients. Jeff has created artwork for a wide range of markets, from Magic: the Gathering game cards to conceptual designs for Hasbro; from video game graphics (EA) to editorial illustration.

Welcome to Monster Isle is Jeff’s first children’s book and is aimed at the 4 to 8 year age range. It is a story of a family who find themselves facing a hoard of monsters on a deserted island and Jeff has applied his unique style and character design skills to every page of the book.

The page layouts utilize different perspectives and colours that should appeal to both parents and children and there are some nice little details to look out for in each illustration, too. Above all else, the pictures tell the story on their own, so a child looking through the book on his or her own could pretty much follow the tale based on the pictures alone, without being able to read the text.

All in all, this is a lovely little book to own and enjoy as a fan of Jeff’s work, and you’ll appreciate it even more if you have a small person to share it with!

Publishing info –
Title: Welcome to Monster Isle
Author: Oliver Chin
Illustrator: Jeff Miracola
Publisher: Immedium, Inc. (2008)
ISBN: 978-1597020169

Look out for Jeff’s second children’s book due out in early 2011!

See more about the book on Jeff’s website: www.jeffmiracola.com

What’s new Pussycat…?

It was always our intention with the Hai! website to continually keep things moving by making improvements and adding new and (hopefully!) useful features for the benefit of members, clients and others interested in the creative industry.
Our tech-head and all-round genius, Darren, has been hard at work again (actually he never stops, even to sleep) to bring you our most recent additions to the site!

First up is the new Video Showreels page, designed to put more of a focus on our wonderful animators and motion artists. Nice and simple, it brings together videos showcasing animation work by members from these categories.

We also have a Resources section on the site, which has been available for a little while now. Here we have links to carefully selected articles and videos created by professionals within the industry, which we feel are essential resources for artists, illustrators and potential clients. This section currently includes advice from Charles Hively (3X3 magazine), Nate Williams (illustrator and more!), Dani Jones (illustrator) and Marcus Cutler (illustrator).

Our newest addition is The Bookshelf, where we have listed books recommended and owned by us. We’ve split this into Business & Resources, Children’s & Young Adult, Showcase and General Interest sections. To make The Bookshelf as useful as we can, we will be working our way through posting reviews of the books here on the blog.

And finally, some changes have recently been made to the news headlines on the home page. You can now click through the headline articles, rather than having to wait for them to rotate, giving more exposure to all headline news.

Hope you enjoy!