Hire an Illustrator: Year in Review 2019

Welcome to Hire an Illustrator’s Year in Review, an abridged list of our highlights and achievements. This year has been fantastic, and with it almost coming to an end we’re already looking to the next and the future beyond that. What a ride this year has been!

Our Amazing Adventures with Jules Verne

In April this year we held the Amazing Adventures exhibition in London, with just over a 120 of our members showcasing new artwork inspired by the legacy and stories of Jules Verne. It was a fantastic event and we’re very proud of what we achieved with the show. The footfall was amazing, the launch night was a blast, and we met up with old friends and made lots of new ones. It was very stressful and a lot of work, but well worth the effort.

If you missed the show, you can purchase the show catalogue for £12, including P&P – we’re happy to ship a copy anywhere in the world for no additional cost. It’s a great addition to anyone’s art book collection and we think everyone should have one!

ORDER NOW: Amazing Adventures: Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne

High quality prints of the Jules Verne artwork are also available upon request. They’re printed on A4 Hahnemühle German Etching, 310 gsm paper with Epson Ultrachrome® K3 inks. £40 (inc P&P) each. If you want one (or more), enter the name of the artist below and hit Add to Cart. Payments are all done via The Little Chimp Society.

Name of Artist

We have already started working on our next show which will likely be held in 2021, and scouting for a new gallery has begun as we’re sorry to say The Framers Gallery is no more. After a partnership with them that stretched back over a decade they closed their doors for the last time a few months after our exhibition. A recent trip to London was very enlightening. We know where we want to be and where we don’t want to be; enquiries have been made and we’re excited about the possibilities.

Social Insanity

Taking into account that HAI is only me (Darren) and Jane, and we personally manage all of the accounts, we feel that we have a firm grip on social media and we’re confident we’re doing everything we can to take advantage of the platforms. It’s also nice that when you send private messages to us via one of our accounts, you’re speaking to one of us directly, which allows us to advise our members and clients alike very quickly.

Period: January 1st – December 16th 2019

Facebook Page followers increased by 5% over the year which brings us up to 26.2k. Our post reach was just over half a million at 511,986 during 2019, not including the last couple of weeks of the year.

Twitter Our follower count went up by 6.9%, bring us to 19k. Overall impressions of our 691 tweets, not including replies, was 648,747.

LinkedIn Our LinkedIn page updates had just under 300k in views, which resulted in 6.5k new followers over the year. Around 10,000 additional visitors were curious about what we do during the period and had a gander at our primary page too, according to the statistics. LinkedIn was our biggest grower this year and we’re seeing some real value and returns coming from the platform as we build our following there.

We’re on Instagram, but were late to the party with that one, so analytics are limited. Vero was a waste of time and we probably shouldn’t have bothered… I think we can all blame Zack Snyder for its continuing existence. Our Google+ account was retired the year before and we’ve let our YouTube account slide as we need to find a better way to utilise it for the promotion of our members and their going-ons, especially with regards to our motion artists and animators. It’s a case of different methods for different beasts in this fast moving world of social media.

The Illustrators’ Survey

We started doing surveys of illustrators in 2011, calling them The Illustrators’ Survey. As of now we’ve done five of them and a couple of mini ones, but we are hoping to make it an annual thing from now on to allow for comparisons and consistency. Information is power and that’s what a community needs in order to grow and flourish. Being able to compile and share the statistics and data is one way we can give back to the network of like-minded individuals and groups we owe so much too. It’s a privilege to be able to give so many a voice and show everyone they’re not alone in what can be a very solitary profession.

In March we shared the results of the survey we ran at the end of 2018. There were some interesting elements, but most of the data for the basic questions were very similar to the previous year… the outlook was quite depressing actually. Luckily, this year things seem to be looking up. We ran the 2019 survey in November for 30 days and the response and feedback we got was fantastic. We’re working on the results at the moment and should have them available for public consumption any day now. More than twice as many people took part this year than previously, which was very encouraging.

Going forward, we think we’re going to reduce the number of questions we ask each year as we really want to focus on the important things, the stuff that really matters. We’ve also decided that we’re going to change the name of the survey to something less generic and to avoid confusion with other surveys. As of now, including the forthcoming results, we are going be referring to our survey as the State of Illustration. We don’t know about you, but we like the new name.

Also in November, we also got to meet a few of our members and other illustrators, that we’d known for years, but only as internet friends at the Yorkshire comic art festival, Thought Bubble. It was a fantastic event and we’re planning on going again next year – we’ll even grab a table if they’ll let us have one, but we’re sure the demand will be high, so we won’t be holding our breath. It was the best and most interesting comic con we’ve ever been to and we’d like to thank André Caetano, Mark Reihill, Jonathan Edwards, Chris Thornley and Marc Jackson for taking the time to chat. We hope you all had a good time and hope to see you there again in 2020.

Survey artwork © Pete Underhill

Creative Crowdfunding

Last June we wrote an article on crowdfunding, it was well received thanks in large part to the input we had from Ashly Lovett and Graeme Neil Reid, and we’re thinking about following it up with a related FAQ. While talking about FAQs, we’ll be updating our children’s and comic book FAQs, too. We always intended for them to be living documents that grow and change over time, but apart from a few minor updates that plan never materialised. 2020 will be the year when we take action on all our intentions, including the addition of the occasional guest blogger for long-form features – that’s something we’re pretty excited about.

On the subject of blog posts, and as the year comes to an end, we shared a list of our members’ festive web stores, where people could buy seasonal cards and festive merchandise. With the fantastic response the post received we decided to revive our end of year Top 10 Xmas Gift List, which we hadn’t done for several years. The problem we found was that our members produce so much amazing merchandise that we couldn’t whittle it down to just 10 items, so we did our primary top ten, followed by a Top 15 Gifts, an Under £30 list, and then a list of Honourable Mentions. We were happy with how it turned out, so we’ve decided to make it a regular feature. Plus, for the first time ever, in 2020 we’re going to be producing a series of charity Christmas cards! We will start turning the cogs once the end of year and holiday madness is over. No one likes creating festive artwork in February, but illustrators are used to creating seasonal work at unseasonal times (and we really don’t want the panic of leaving it until November or later).

Artist in Residence (AiR)

In 2018, we started a program called the “Artist in (virtual) Residence” or AiR for short. Tom Martin was a willing guinea pig and our first AiR. We really appreciate all the feedback he gave us and since then we’ve fine-tuned the process and found a proper workflow that works for everyone.

We had a couple of false starts after Tom, but Nathan Shelton got things back on track and was a joy to work with. Following Nathan, deadlines got in the way and we had three superb illustrators drop out and ask to pick up the baton again at a later date. Unfortunately, this meant 2019 was pretty devoid of AiRs, that is until the amazing Ashlee Spink came along. Ashlee is our current Artist in (virtual) Residence and if you’ve not seen it, she created the festive background that currently adorns our main website, as well as the spot illustration at the top of our Year in Review. In 2020, Ashlee will be working on another spot illustration for us, plus a pin badge and stickers. For anyone interested in being an AiR in 2020, we don’t accept applications, sorry. What you can do, though, is make sure you keep your portfolio up-to-date and, of course, submit news – that way we’ll know what you’re up to. Every item of news that gets submitted gets viewed, checked and shared when we can… we see all of it. Illustration is our passion and we love what we do, so if you’re producing exceptional work we’re going to notice and want to work with you, it’s as simple as that. We really enjoy art direction and working with illustrators. After all, why should the clients have all the fun!?

On a side note, I (Darren) occasionally talk to or work with students at various universities. Sometimes I offer, other times I’m asked or invited by lecturers or heads of departments. I’m happy to do it, as the more art and design students know before they enter the market place, the better (and the easier my job is). At the moment, I’m working with Becca Thorne and a talented bunch of design students at De Montfort University in Leicester. I’ve had them working on a pseudo Artist in (virtual) Residence brief and some of the work and ideas they’re coming up with are fantastic. I’ll be checking out their finished projects and giving them feedback in the new year and hopefully they’ll give me permission to share some of their artwork with you. They’re a lovely bunch with a bright future and I’m glad I’ve got to meet them.

In Conclusion

2019 has been a fantastic year and we have a feeling 2020 is going to be even better! We’re planning on phasing out the Art Card Collection over the next year and we’re going to be replacing them with a new product that we will launch as part of our 2021 London gallery show. Even more importantly, Darren has been working on a completely new website and system, it’s not just a redesign or update. HAI is being completely rebuilt from the ground up and it should be ready for beta testing around March-May time. Not to blow his own trumpet, but Darren might have outdone himself with the rebuild on this occasion. We’re very happy with how it’s going and can’t wait to share it. Once the new system is up, we’ll start migrating our members across to it. You might also notice we’ll have a new name along with the new website… it will be changing from Hire an Illustrator to Hireillo. We’ve thought about a name change for years, but never felt brave enough to do it. However, 2020 is the year we stand up, galvanise our identity and put our stamp on the world.

Have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year! We love you all.

Darren & Jane Di Lieto
Hire an Illustrator

About Us

We love illustration and that’s why we do what we do! HAI is just Darren & Jane Di Lieto and we’re both illustrators. We advise our members, promote them and help them find commissions. It’s a passion and we can’t imagine doing anything else. We’re never going to sell-out or work with companies we don’t trust. We’re independent, we do what is right for our members and that’s the way we like it. No pressure, no ulterior motive and the freedom to do what is best for freelancers and the illustration industry we represent.


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