Creative Crowdfunding

We’re going to talk about how crowdfunding is helping our members earn a living followed by introducing you to a couple of artists who dived in head first with this newfangled concept with stunning results. I say newfangled, but this way of generating revenue has been around for years now.

The Little Mermaid by Ashly Lovett

Before we start, we’ll clarify a couple of definitions. An illustrator is someone who communicates other people’s ideas in a visual format, normally via a brief, and gets paid for it by licensing them usage rights. An artist is someone who creates artwork by scratching their creative itch and then offering their work for sale in one way or another after the fact. Crowdfunding is just a way for an artist to pre-sell their artwork before it’s officially launched or finished. Lots of creatives slip between being an illustrator and an artist, but there is a clear distinction between the two when you relate them to the processes and aims that I’ve just mentioned. An artist’s or illustrator’s professional title isn’t dependent on what their work looks like or even the finished product; it’s the process that counts.

  • (A) Illustrator: Client > Idea > Illustrator > Contract / License > Deposit > Illustration > Payment > Delivery
  • (B) Artist: Artist > Idea > Artwork > Sale OR License > Client > Payment > Delivery
  • (C) Crowdfunding: Illustrator / Artist > Idea > Crowdfunding Platform > Presentation / Proposal > Funding Round > Payment > Illustration / Artwork / Product > Overheads / Production > Distribution

As you may (or may not) know, we’re a community of illustrators, animators and artists. Each profession has their own ways of producing revenue streams to support their chosen career path and as a collective we try to support them in anyway we can. That does mean that finding people commissions and connecting them with new clients isn’t all we do. We offer professional advice on contracts, licensing and pricing, along with guidance on the best way for members to market or promote themselves whether they’re offering a product or service. With that in mind, in recent years preemptively generating funding for an artist’s project has become a necessity and this is where Crowdfunding comes in.

Kickstarter, in relation to the creative industry, focuses on an artist-created project seeking funding for publication or other endeavours to allow them to bring their vision to life in full. For example artist Ashly Lovett has just launched an impressive Kickstarter campaign which features an illustrated adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid – this is a perfect match for Ashly’s fondness of dark fantasy and romance, and a great opportunity to get her work directly into the hands of her supporters and fans without the backing of a publisher (although we believe Ashly wouldn’t have had any issues finding one if she had wanted to take that route instead).

Mermaids are truly wonderfully fun to draw, and I can’t get enough drawing of glorious long hair. It’s a simple thing, but I love it.


The video introduction for Ashly Lovett’s The Little Mermaid

It’s not always easy for an artist to get the word out there about a new project they’re working on and we always encourage our members to submit these items as news to us via their profiles. A lot don’t, as they see our space as somewhere to showcase their commercial and private commissions, but that is just not the case. We’re here to support all of our members and more and more are relying on Kickstarter and Patreon as a way to pay their bills. It’s not all about money though, some are artists who have toyed with the idea of being a commercial artist to fund their lifestyle and career rather than going all in as the traditional starving artist or taking on a part-time job. So when the opportunity arises where an artist can have the general public fund their own ideas or passion project rather than fulfilling a client’s needs like an illustrator would, they’re going to jump at the chance and take full advantage of the situation. For some, crowdfunding is the life blood they need and Patreon, like Kickstarter, is no exception.

Postcards from Graeme Neil Reid’s $5 Patreon supporter reward

A good example of Patreon being used to supplement a professional illustrator’s income while allowing them to share their own work with an appreciative audience without the pressures of a client brief is comic book artist Graeme Neil Reid’s supporter page. It’s taken time and he still has a long way to go to replace a full-time income, but he’s built up a loyal following of supporters who love what he does and want to own a piece of this talented creative’s work.

I’m looking for support to help me buy art supplies. Paper, pencils, paints, brushes, canvases, basic supplies can cost so much let alone that easel I really need. Art materials are expensive. Your support will buy me those much needed supplies.

Graeme Neil

About Graeme Neil Reid’s Patreon page

Breaking it down, we’re only talking about crowdfunding for a creative’s own initiative rather than a client hiring an illustrator to realise their ideas for a crowdfunded project. That would be a regular commission, like (A), although you do get a good number of clients trying to hire illustrators for their crowdfunding projects, but only offering them payment dependant on the success of the fundraising. That’s not cool; clients need to pay illustrators for their talent and hard work and maybe offer them a bonus based on a successful round, but not tie the illustrator’s earning to the project’s success. That’s not an incentive, that is a plain demoralising way to work. The illustrator already knows that there’s likely to be more paid work if the crowdfunding is a success and reaches its goals, which is more than enough incentive for them. If you don’t have the money for an illustrator and you believe in your idea, get a loan, make other cuts, get a part-time job and put money aside, do the illustrations yourself, sell your car or borrow money from family. There’s an endless list of things you can do to create a budget for your creatives, just don’t ask a professional to work for free or on faith. As I said, that’s not cool and you wouldn’t expect it if the shoe was on the other foot. Partnerships are another thing altogether, but they don’t normally arise through a client approaching a professional and rely more upon a mutual acquaintance or the aligned interests of known parties.

To finish this article if you’re a fan of Ashly or Graeme‘s artwork I’m sure they’d be happy to discus a commercial or private commission if you have one in mind and feel they’d be perfect for the job. Other than that, please support them via their respective Kickstarter or Patreon pages. It doesn’t take a lot and you’ll get an awesome book or pieces of artwork in return. My whole point is that we should support those whose work brings us joy! The world is always changing, we just need to keep spinning in the right direction, it’s as simple as that.

If you’re running a crowdfunding campaign at the moment we’d be delighted if you shared it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by tagging @hireillo and using the #SupportTheCreators hashtag.

Our Amazing Adventure with Jules Verne

We had a wonderful week in London and met dozens of brilliant artists! By all accounts the Amazing Adventures exhibition was a big success and we can’t wait to start planning our next show. We had around 140 visitors on the main day of the show and just over 200 throughout the week, with about 30 of our 127 UK and international participating artists making an appearance, which isn’t bad considering it’s not the biggest of spaces for the amount of work we normally showcase. It was a tight squeeze at times, but worth the effort.

We sold just over a thousand pounds worth of merchandise at the exhibition with most of the profits going directly to the artists. The majority of the sales were the open edition prints, and I think this was a fantastic figure to reach considering their low cost and unlimited edition. I’d like to have sold more of the original artwork, but I’m just happy that I’ve got a decent amount of money to transfer to our illustrators over the coming week. We’re committed to selling five copies of each print, after that the artists will be free to sell their work directly and hopefully make even more out their Jules Verne artwork if they’re not already doing so. We’ll be making the prints and the accompanying exhibition catalogue, along with a couple of original pieces, available via The Little Chimp Society webstore shortly – with the artists continuing to profit from the products we sell on their behalf via the site.

Now that the show is over, I feel that Jules Verne was the perfect subject for this occasion and it felt right to have the show at this point in time. I did have my doubts before the artwork started being handed in that not enough people would really know his stories or narratives properly, but I had no reason to worry, my concerns were unfounded. “Sea monsters” and “amazing adventures” were all most of our illustrators needed to pick up their pencil and run with it. The artworks created were some of the best I’ve seen them produce and I’m very proud to be part of this project with them. What makes this exhibition and project very special for me is that this is the first time I’ve asked our artists to create something specific for an event. With the exception of Mail Me Art we’ve always asked our artists for pre-existing artwork for our previous gallery shows. I know creating something from nothing or being inspired to create something new is what creative types do, but it always felt selfish to ask them to do that for us, even when it’s for a group show and their own benefit. I’m just pleased it worked out the way it did and I hope our illustrators are as proud of themselves as I am of them.

I personally got to meet so many wonderful people during the exhibition, but at the same time looking at the social pages the day after the show, I missed meeting a lot of people too, some that I didn’t even realise were there, sorry. If you got to chat with me, thank you for putting up with me and I really appreciated how far some of you had travelled to come to the show, even if I only got to speak to you for a moment before I rushed off for one reason or another. One artist called Gal Weizman had come all the way over from Israel and I wish I’d been able to spend a bit more time with her and should have taken her up on her offer to help me set up show, I just didn’t want to take too much of her time up when she had the whole of London to explore during her short trip. It was very nice to see Brendan Purchase (and wife) again and I was very happy that he noticed that we hadn’t put his original illustration up before people started arriving. It was also appreciated that David Cousens let me know that I’d hung his excellent illustration upside down… I’m not sure how that happened, I’ve been staring at the Jules Verne artwork for several months now and I know most of it inside out, although apparently not upside down. After the private view, which was actually open to everyone on the Thursday evening; Mark Borgions, Davor Bakara and Bruce Richardson along with a few others joined me at the Fitzroy Tavern. Tthe conversation was interesting and company was very enjoyable… there was a lot of drink. So much so, a couple of us, including myself almost missed the last trains out of Central London just making it with only moments to spare. All in all, things went very well and everyone had an excellent time, even the gallery staff enjoyed themselves.

Being able to talk to so many of the artists in person about their artwork was a pleasure. Learning about their process and new tidbits about the finished work was very interesting to say the least – there is so much that never crosses your mind and it gave me a renewed appreciation for the work our artists do. I can’t wait to start organising our next show and working with our amazing members again to bring it all to life.

The Gallery is located in fashionable Fitzrovia, the heart of London’s media, art and design centre, at the showroom of Artefact Picture Framers. Conveniently situated a few minutes walk from both Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road Underground Stations, close to many of London’s long established galleries, just around the corner from the trendy restaurants, watering holes of Charlotte Street and close to bustling Oxford Street.

The Framers Gallery

See our previous pre-exhibition post: Are you ready for an Amazing Adventure?

Are you ready for an Amazing Adventure?

We’re packed and ready to go! All the art prints have been printed and framed, the quality is amazing and we’re really happy with them. On Monday (8th) we’ll be setting up the gallery and getting everything ready for the 9th April public opening. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point and it’s not been easy, but we’re sure the hard work will be completely worth it. At the show, the exhibition catalogue will be available to purchase and take away – all of the art prints will also be available for purchase along with a number of original pieces.

If you’re coming along be sure to check out the Mail Me Art section too; there will be mail art from “Open All Hours” and “Apocalypse” on display. On this occasion the mail art will not be for sale, but if you’re interested in purchasing any of the work be sure to let us know. We can note your name down and reserve it for you when it does become available at a future date. Mail Me Art is taking a back seat on this occasion, but we hope to dedicate a full show to the project when time allows. We just thought the least we could do was make the collection publicly viewable while we had the wall space since we’ve been hiding it away since 2015 and the last actual Mail Me Art exhibition was in 2013.

Obviously the gallery will be open and the Jules Verne artwork will be on display from Tuesday ’til Friday, and all are welcome to visit us and take a peek at our illustrators’ wonderful creations, but Thursday is the day you want to be there if you can only make one viewing. The open-to-all private viewing (yes, we know that’s an oxymoron) will be on Thursday 11th April between 6pm and 8:30pm followed by an all-are-welcome gathering at the Fitzroy Tavern, just down the road after the show. Reserving a ticket via eventbright means we have an idea of how many are coming along and we can make sure the free bar is stocked with enough beer, but a ticket will not be required for entry.

Below is a random selection of about a third of the work we’ll have on display at the gallery.

The exhibition viewing hours are:
– 9th Tuesday 10:00am – 5:30pm
– 10th Wednesday 10:00am – 5:30pm
– 11th Thursday 6pm – 8:30pm
– 12th Friday 10:00am – 5:30pm
The Framers Gallery
36 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JT

Facebook Event Page:
Social Hashtags: #JulesVerneExpo or #julesverneexpo

We can’t wait to meet you all, so please come and say hello, and enjoy a drink with us. All staff will be wearing red ID tags and I (Darren) will be at the gallery every day of the exhibition throughout the week – I’m happy to do portfolio reviews, with the exception of Thursday, as long as you let me know what time and day you’d like to meet prior to your visit. Email or message me via one of my social profiles to make arrangements.

Illustrators’ Survey 2018

We’re happy to share with you this year’s results of the annual illustrator’s survey that Ben O’Brien (AKA Ben the Illustrator) started in 2017. We did our own survey of illustrators in 2014/15, but until Ben came along we didn’t have time (or the energy) to work on an updated and current round of questions. That’s no longer the case and we’re excited to revive this public service.

Share: #WeAreIllustrators
Illustrators’ Survey 2018/19

There were lots of really interesting results, some good, some discouraging, and some that’ll encourage conversation about specific subjects for the long term. We didn’t address the open questions and answers that we were sent as part of the survey results, but we hope to put those to good use in the near future to give additional insight into our cherished community. A word of warning before you view the results: be careful not to jump to conclusions. Although just under 1500 illustrators took part in the survey, that’s still a very small percentage of our industry as a whole. If we’re able to do a survey each year, we hope that number will grow exponentially, allowing us to build on the results each year to give them more legitimacy and context. As with all surveys there’ll be user bias in play and results can be twisted and manipulated to work in favour of opposing views and opinions, so be careful of the connections people may make between the results and state as facts. Remember, correlation is not causation.

One thing we will need to address if we do more surveys in the future is the way we handle mental health questions. What we realised after receiving feedback from various sources is that having self-confidence issues and sometimes feeling anxious about things is not the same as having a diagnosable mental health problem like an anxiety disorder or depression. We did not make a distinction between the two in the survey, which was a mistake that would need to be updated with the correct terminology and wording in the next survey. Also, while talking about mental health, a lot of people have made a connection between mental health issues and low incomes – there was no defined connection between these two factors and the data was completely anonymised for the sake of our contributors privacy. This means that even if we wanted to, we can’t make a connection between the two as we don’t know who did or didn’t say that they were affected by both mental health and had a low income. GDPR advocates would be proud.

We were able to correlate some of the data we collected and it would be great to use that to make some really interesting infographics, as some people have suggested. What would be great though is if we’re able to collect a few years’ worth of data so that we’re able to show how the industry is changing from year to year. Even better is to be able to use the survey results to encourage change for the betterment and health of our colleges and friends. We all want a decent wage and a good life, and as a community making that happen is in our own hands.

Share: #WeAreIllustrators
Illustrators’ Survey 2018/19

For pricing advice, promotion and support – become part of our community and join Hire an Illustrator.

Amazing Adventures: Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne @ The Framers Gallery, London

Hire an Illustrator presents Amazing Adventures: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne, in collaboration with The Little Chimp Society. The group show will feature over 100 original works and high quality digital prints from our international community of talented illustrators, traditional and digital artists. This is not a travelling exhibition, so this is your only chance to see the artwork in person and, if you’re coming to the Thursday viewing, meet the attending artists.

The work will be on display from 9th-12th April 2019.

The exhibition viewing hours are:
– 9th Tuesday 10:00am – 5:30pm
– 10th Wednesday 10:00am – 5:30pm
– 11th Thursday 6pm – 8:30pm
– 12th Friday 10:00am – 5:30pm
The Framers Gallery
36 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JT

All of the artwork will be influenced by the Voyages extraordinaires series of novels by author Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days and so on. All are welcome and invited to come and check out the show. There will be an open bar on the Thursday evening and all of the work will be avalible for purchase, including the prints and orginals. The accompanying publication will also be made avaliable for a limited time at the gallery.

I’ve set up an events page for the show. We’d love to have an idea of how many are coming and please do share the page with whoever may be interested. 🙂

And for those who don’t use Facebook:


There’s also been a consensus on the hashtag we’re using on social media for WIPs and finished pieces related to the show see: #JulesVerneExpo or #julesverneexpo

Notable featured artists:

Paul Shipper is an English illustrator, artist and graphic designer, working from his home studio in South-West England. Shipper is renowned for making imagery for movies, entertainment and adverts and is known for keeping a retro feel in his artworks. He has produced posters for movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Infinity War, Warcraft, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, many Star Trek movies, Frozen, Batman and more. He has also worked wth the band Muse, including producing the alternative artwork for their upcoming LP Simulation Theory. See Paul Shipper’s Illustration Portfolio.

Rod Hunt is an award winning London based Illustrator, map designer and the artist behind the bestselling Where’s Stig? books for the BBC’s hit TV show Top Gear. Rod has built a reputation for retro-tinged Illustrations and detailed character filled landscapes for UK & international clients spanning publishing, design, advertising and new media, for everything from book covers to advertising campaigns; campus, amusement and theme park maps, and even large scale museum and exhibition installations. Rod served as PR and Media Relations Chair of ICON The Illustration Conference for ICON8 (Portland, OR) and ICON9 (Austin, TX) for 4 years until October 2016. He was also Chairman of the Association of Illustrators from August 2009 to March 2012, and was a Director for 9 years. The AOI was established in 1973 to advance and protect illustrator’s rights and encourage professional standards. See Rod Hunt’s Illustration Portfolio.

Brian Allen is the man behind the design of the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, “Gritty.” The Flyers were one of the only NHL teams to not have a mascot. A representative from the Flyers organization reached out to Brian after seeing the campaign he did for Chick-fil-A promoting the Georgia vs Auburn football game last season. The Flyers gave him a list of about 10 ideas, and he did a 30-minute sketch of each of those ideas, and about 20 mascots in total. Reaction to the NHL’s newest mascot on social media was swift, and not all that flattering, with people comparing Gritty to the McDonald’s character Grimace after drinking too much orange juice, accusing him of being on drugs, and calling him “terrifying.” Despite the initial reaction to Gritty he became a PR goldmine and fans on both side have grown to love him in their own special way. – Central Daily Times. See Brian Allen’s Illustration Portfolio.

Illustrator’s Survey 2018

The 2nd annual Illustrator’s Survey is up now! We’ve teamed up with Ben O’Brien and we’re asking for anyone who worked in commercial illustration in 2018 to please fill in the survey and spread the word! #WeAreIllustrators


Last year I launched the first Illustrator’s Survey and with an overwhelming response was able to put together a well-received report containing some very thought-provoking statistics about the illustration industry and those working in it throughout 2017. This year I’m working alongside Hire an Illustrator to do the same, looking for responses from anyone who has worked as a professional illustrator (whether full or part time) throughout 2018. If you have been working as an illustrator over the passed 12 months then please do take ten minutes to respond to the survey and of course help to spread the word amongst your fellow illustrators!

The survey will run until the end of January when we will compile the results to be released in early February.

Ben the Illustrator

2018, Wow, OK, That Went Fast! Merry Christmas!

2018 went so fast and it was our 11th official year of serving our members; we don’t know about you, but we consider that an accomplishment. This year has been an amazing year and we can’t quite believe it’s nearly over with 2019 just being round the corner.

Over the last several months we introduced the Art Card Collections, which replaced our Mail Shot Packs. We were a little worried our illustrators wouldn’t take to them, but we shouldn’t have been concerned as they’ve been a big success and everyone loves them. In the new year we’ll hopefully be expanding the program to allow clients to order cards that they’re missing and let the general public to get in on the action.

We also announced our 2019 exhibition which will be at The Framers Gallery in London in April and will feature many of our talented members. For the first time this won’t be a showcase of our illustrators’ previous commissions, but will be a collection of new and creative works inspired by Jules Verne’s Voyages extraordinaires series of books. We’re very excited about the show and can’t wait to start showing off some of the amazing pieces we know our members are going to create! Read more: Amazing Adventures: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne.

And last, but not least we started our Artist in “Virtual” Residence (AiR) program. So far we’re on artist number two (Nathan Shelton) with several more lined up for the coming months. What this entails is working with a specific artist over a 1-2 month period who fulfils our creative needs and creates some cool merchandise for us too during the process. Working directly with the artists has been so much fun and I wish we’d started doing this years ago. A big thank you goes out to Tom Martin for being our first AiR and the test subject for the initiative.

During the following dates we’ll be operating a skeleton crew with regards to job requests and members’ questions… and our laptops will be turned off completely if we find we’ve eaten too much Christmas pudding or become a little too intoxicated during the family gatherings.

24th December 2018 – 1st January 2019

Wishing you all happy holidays,
Darren & Jane Di Lieto

The festive snowmen were created by “AiR” Nathan Shelton. Merry Christmas Nathan! 👋

Member Note: Please be aware that news submitted over Christmas and the New Year period may not be published on the site until 2nd January and there is normally a little bit of a back(yule)log.

Amazing Adventures: Jules Verne Exhibition

Presenting Amazing Adventures: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne. We’re partnering up with the Little Chimp Society again to bring our members the opportunity to be part of an exclusive exhibition and publication next April in London. The show will feature original works and high quality digital prints from our international community of talented illustrators, traditional and digital artists.

All of the artwork will be influenced by the Voyages extraordinaires series of novels by author Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days and so on. This will be our first event where works are being produced specifically for the show, if you don’t count our involvement with Mail Me Art many years ago, and we’re really excited about it. So excited in fact, that our recent Artist in Residence Tom Martin has already produced a Jules Verne-inspired spot illustration for us for this very blog post – we can’t wait to see what our other illustrators create as well!

A special members’ update email will be sent out in the next few days with instructions on how to sign up for the show, and the requirements. We’ll also get events pages up on Facebook and Eventbrite as the gallery is already locked down and there’s no point in wasting time… and when it comes to the show, we’re hoping to see as many of you there as possible. It should be a fantastic event!

If you don’t want to miss out on future updates, make sure you’re signed up for our email newsletter and following our Facebook or Twitter accounts. Also if you have any questions or just want to say hello, leave a comment below.

Artist in Residence: Tom Martin

Over the previous month of October, we had our first ever Artist in Residence (AiR), Tom Martin – or more accurately, Artist in virtual Residence! This has been something new we had wanted to try out for a long time and we’re very glad that Tom was kind enough to come along for the ride.

The residency involved one of our members (Tom) fulfilling our illustration needs over the period of one month. You would have thought finding an illustrator would have been an easy task for us, but things aren’t always that simple. Our first problem was that any artwork produced would need to appeal to our members and also draw in a wide audience of art directors and commissioners, so we didn’t want to go for anything too niche or risqué. Secondly, and most importantly, we needed to take into consideration that whoever we worked with would be a full-time freelance illustrator and we didn’t want them to be turning down commissions due to being too busy with working on pieces for us. You need to remember that part of our commitment to our members is that we’re constantly networking and finding them new opportunities and connections, so making sure that whoever was our AiR could handle the additional workload was essential.

When we asked Tom if he was interested in being our first AiR, we hadn’t quite ironed out all of the details, so there was some trial and error, but essentially we gave Tom directions and then allowed him to guide us. It was a misstep that we had Tom creating Halloween artwork for us in October that would be turned into physical items at some point, as lead time hadn’t been taken into consideration with all the excitement. There was no real need to worry about that though, as we’ll be getting the stickers and pins made up for April to show people at our next exhibition and we’ll have plenty in stock to give away as promo items to lucky clients when next October comes around. However with that in mind, from now on if an artist is working on something seasonal for us, we’ll get them to do it one or two months beforehand.

We really can’t wait to have the pins and stickers made and in our hands! The artwork looks great and we’re really pleased with the website background that Tom created for us, it’s brilliant! There were several other images that he created for us as well, two of them specifically for future posts on this very blog. You’ll have to keep an eye out for them.

We love Tom’s work and we hope you do to, he’s open for commissions and you can find more of his illustrations at

Happy Spooktacular Halloween!

We love Halloween and we hope you do to. It definitely tops Christmas when it comes to festive holidays. To celebrate, here is a selection of all of our members’ spooky posts from the last week to today.

In no particular order, here is a list of all the contributing artists: Tom Martin, James Bousema, Alternative Aesthetics, Meritxell Garcia, David Clifford, Zoe Ranucci, Sam White, Kevin Myers, Jason Heglund, Scott Balmer, Caragh Buxton, Nathan Shelton, Helen Trupak, Sue Todd, Richard Huante, Jonathan Hunt, Kaela Graham, Josh Lewis, Elisabeth Alba, William Chajin, Merrill Rainey, John W. Tomac, Graeme Neil Reid, Bernard Lee, Elly Walton and Kate Oleska.

Have a fantastic Halloween from all of us at Hire an Illustrator and our talented members.