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Getting a comic book from script to print can be a complicated undertaking, with lots of moving parts to consider. We’ve complied this article to help simplify the process and hopefully explain how the relationships between the illustrator, writer and publisher work in general without going into too much detail, but while still covering all the main talking points. Although this article is written with comic book writers being the primary audience, we do encourage comic book artists and others in the creative field to read it too.
These questions were devised and answered by Jason Piperberg (professional comic book artist), and edited and updated with additional content added by Darren Di Lieto and Jane Di Lieto. Feedback was also given by comic book artists Matt Timson, Brendan Purchase and Christine Larsen.
So, should I hire a comic book artist?
If you are working independently to publish your comic or graphic novel and you want to get your book into the hands of an adoring public, absolutely, yes, you should hire an illustrator – or more specifically a comic book artist. Independent and self-published comics are a vital part of the publishing industry. A lot of new writers and artists make their mark in the independent (indy) market, which can be a natural stepping stone into the mainstream market if that’s what they want. New ideas and creative stories keep the market vitalised and interesting, plus, everyone needs to start somewhere, so stop dithering!
For those who are more inclined to work with a publisher that will hire and handle the illustrator, you may want to submit your script directly to a publishing house for consideration. If a publisher decides your story is right for their brand, it’s very likely that the they will hire the illustrator directly without the author’s input, although some do require an artist to be attached to a book before it’s pitched to them. Either way, you’re only going to know what each publisher’s requirements are by finding and following their submission guidelines, and in most cases these will be available on their websites. Continue reading →
We’d like to introduce our newest background, created for us by the very talented Emily Hare. We love Emily’s artwork and thought that one of her paintings could work really well with the site, so after discussing what was needed for of our backgrounds, we left it in Emily’s capable hands to come up with some ideas.
Here’s the first attempt and the work in process illustrations…
At this point Emily decided to go in a different direction, something a bit more cuddly. Although we did really like the previous image and were advising on direction, we gave full creative control over to Emily and we trusted her to complete the task at hand.
And here is the final piece…
We think Emily did a brilliant job and we love our new background! Please note: Emily may have already given the dragons names, but we’ve decided to call them Myrtle and Xaddrarth. 🙂
This year we will be retiring our mail shot packs and refocusing our efforts on collectable postcard-sized art prints. They’re going to be high quality and of limited runs. Our hope is to build a collectable series of prints that will also work as a promotional device that our client base will treasure and retain. There will be more than one set as our clients work in a large variety of markets within the illustration industry, for example we’ll have a children’s series, a separate editorial series, and so on. Our hope is that this new direction will lay the ground work for our physical promotional items for years to come and create a buzz that will expand our customer base beyond our dedicated contact lists.
We’ve been sending out mail packs and printing postcards for just over ten years now, and we always aimed to make the process as simple and accessible as possible for our illustrators. We believe we achieved what we set out to do and the packs have always been very popular with our clients. It has now got to a point though were we believe that we need to evolve and do more than what we were doing to continue to stand out from the crowd. We’ve always had more success with our physical promotions than other companies have had, but that has probably been down to our unique and guarded contact lists. Also, maintaining a healthy relationship with our clients – and potential clients – doesn’t do any harm and I’m sure is appreciated.
We’re not going to be making a sudden switch to the new collectable prints, as we would like to test the water and get some feedback from our long-term clients and members first. The plan is to phase out the regular mail shot packs over the next 3-4 months, so until then it’s business as normal. Keep sending us your cards and designs and we’ll keep sending them out.
2017 has been a fantastic year and we’re already planning for 2018. We can’t wait to share with you what we’ve been working on… Showcase 2, hint, hint! As you can probably imagine, we are very excited about the coming year and the sooner it gets here the better. But before it does, it’s time for a short break to recharge the batteries. 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 at the Christmas party.
Right! Time to get you up-to-date with all of our recent improvements. It was long overdue, but our entire website (including the administration area) is now accessed via https rather than http. Along with making the site more secure, it puts us fully in line with what the public and search engines expect these days. All old links will automatically redirect, but feel free to update any links you have from your websites or social pages to include that all important S.
Brief the illustrator by including the following information in your message;
Usage and Distribution
Image Licensing Requirements
If the illustrator agrees to take on the project, fees and contracts are then negotiated, and the client will pay a deposit.
The illustrator sends the client a rough sketch or selection of thumbnail drawings based on the brief. The detail and quality of these drawings will vary from illustrator to illustrator.
Revisions, if needed, are made. Normally 3 rounds of revisions are included in the contract.
Once the sketch work is approved, the illustrator will produce the final artwork.
Low resolution copies of the final artwork will then be sent to the client for approval.
There may be some minor revisions at this point depending on how detailed the original sketches were. Major revisions at this stage will normally require additional funds.
Once the artwork is approved, the illustrator will send over the high resolution files.
An invoice will then be issued. If it’s not paid instantly, it will usually need to be paid within 30 days subject to the contract.
Note: Depending on the client and illustrator, it’s not unusual for the illustrator to withhold a high resolution copy of the artwork until the invoice has been paid. Corporate or editorial clients often do not pay a deposit upon signing of the contracts unless previously agreed upon by both sides. There are always exceptions, but communication and clarity is key.
On Contracts: The contract between the two parties should be a reflection of the negotiations and conversions had before work commenced. It is generally bad practise to have terms hidden within a contract that have not been made clear or previously discussed, for example talking about a usage license while the contract states the job will be work-for-hire. Both parties need to read the contract and know what’s in it. Don’t blindly start working or pay a deposit on a job until all the terms have been agreed. On many occasions boilerplate contracts can be used, which are easy to revise so that they meet the agreed requirements of client and illustrator, and avoid any conflict or nasty surprises.
Doing the boring bit properly will help make the fun bit awesome! Happy and confident people produce their best work (and win awards!) when they’re under pressure, but not when they’re stressed out over the technicalities. Our members have access to free boilerplate contracts that can be modified to fit the needs of the project.
Autumn is here and we’re well into October now, which can mean only one thing… it’s nearly Hallowe’en! We get pretty excited about this time of year here at HAI HQ and, as usual, we will be sending out a Hallowe’en Special newsletter at the end of the month. We are going to be showing off everyone’s Hallowe’en news on the website throughout October – whether it’s creepy, spooky, scary, cutesy, gory, kid-friendly or downright terrifying! Monsters, witches, ghosts and zombies will be included. 🙂
The newsletter will be sent out on Tuesday 31st October at 3pm GMT, so please make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter before that date. Sign up for the HAI Newsletter!
Calling all members! We’re doing a big postcard order this weekend. So if you’d like to be included in our current batch of mail packs, send Darren an email for printing information.
We send out our mail packs to clients across the globe and each pack is catered to the recipient. We’ve found over the years that physical mailers are still appreciated by the clients on our mailing lists. We think it’s also the personal touches we include and actually being able to hold something physical that makes this type of promotion we do so special. We’re not hipsters*, but we do feel old is the new new.
* Slightly guilty of having a beard**, owning a record player and wearing t-shirts with pugs on.
** Darren only, Jane does not have a beard. I repeat Jane does not have a beard. 🙂
Spring is here (yay!), so what better time to log-in to your HAI profile and make sure everything is up-to-date? Here are a few suggestions to help you freshen-up your portfolio and get the most out of it…
As the first thing that potential clients will probably see, your Highlight image is really important. Check that the image you have uploaded to the ‘Images’ section in your profile represents the work that’s in your portfolio and really stands out. The image you upload should be 160 x 160 pixels square, jpg.
When did you last add new work to your portfolio gallery, and maybe get rid of some older pieces that aren’t the kind of thing you do any more? This is where you can have a really good Spring clean, dust out the cobwebs, and make sure you have your current – and best – work on show!
Occasionally, members don’t choose the best categories for the work that’s in their portfolios – for example, artists who do beautiful figurative work who don’t select ‘Fashion & Beauty’. This means that when clients search these categories, they don’t see everyone who might be suitable for their job. Why not grab a cuppa and have a browse through your portfolio to see if there are any categories you could be missing out on using?
If you change your Facebook page or set up a new Instagram account, it’s very easy to miss some of the places where the links to them need updating. Have a quick check to see if the links from your portfolio are still working and correct them if not.
This is a list of the things that illustrators sometimes do that they really shouldn’t – or in some cases that they don’t do. Generally, it’s the really simple stuff that tends to be overlooked and for the life of me I have no idea how it happens half of the time. What freelancers sometimes forget is that they’re running a business and they need to present themselves as such. Uploading your artwork to the internet for your own satisfaction is a far cry from landing the client you’ve always wanted or being hired for a private commission. For a viewer to become a client, they need to get from A to Z with as few obstacles as possible. Shall we begin…
Not having a personal website with a custom domain name. Building a custom website is fun and can enable you to really show off your work and talent, but if that’s not for you, it’s OK to use a platform that uses templates where you just insert your own content. All of those systems allow you to have a custom domain name, whether you buy it through them or a 3rd party, so there’s no excuse not to have one. In the digital world, it’s the difference between having a business card or scribbling your contact details on a napkin . Show you’re a professional by having a custom domain name for your portfolio. It can take as little as 5 minutes to set one up and cost less than a couple caffè macchiatos each year.
Not having your name on your website or using too many different names. Or using a business name, but not telling the client the name of the person to address their email to. This one is a pet hate! It’s less common these days, but there was a trend for a while for illustrators’ websites not to display the artist’s name, full stop. I don’t know if this was an oversight or not in some cases, but if you ever had to get in contact with any of these illustrators and their name wasn’t in their URL or email address, you could feel the annoyance in their reply when you’ve addressed them with just ‘Hey’. Tell people what your name is! Don’t make the client feel uncomfortable before they’ve even got in contact with you.
Not showing your email address or any alternative contact method. You’ve created a beautiful website to showcase your amazing artwork and then you reveal no way for a client to contact you. Why?!
Keeping your social networks more up-to-date than your own website. Social networks may be easier to update, but this just looks lazy and like you don’t actually care about your personal brand. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
Having broken links to your social pages on your website where the URLs have changed when you’ve faffed around with your usernames. It’s like moving home; make sure a redirection is in place and everyone knows about your new address including your website. If you don’t, users are going to get lost and become irritated. It’s the little things like that which can put clients off when they’re on the fence as to whether to approach you for a quote or not.
Showing work of varying quality: either be crap or amazing, not both! You need to make sure you’re showing your best work and the quality of your portfolio isn’t being dragged down by including work that isn’t your best. Sometimes it’s better to show too little work than bulking it out with older work or pieces that should have been archived in a private corner of your hard drive and become a distant memory. Be proud of everything you produce, but also be aware of what works and what doesn’t. Quality over quantity and don’t listen to your mum.
Not having a consistent style or not showing a degree of separation between your different styles. This one has some similarities to number six. If you’re a jack of all trades and you’re approached by a client, there will always be a concern in the back of their head as to what to expect from you when you deliver an illustration. If you have more than one style, you want the client to be able to say before they commission you that they like your children’s illustration, or your pointillism artwork, or your horror pieces. But you need to have shown these in their own sections on your website and the styles need to have not cross-pollinated between the sections. Don’t make it difficult for the client to tell you want they want based on what you do. Keep it simple! Get them from A to Z as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
There are many more things an illustrator should do to optimise their operations and workflow than the list above, but we just wanted to highlight the most common mistakes we’ve seen in the wild over the years in relation to illustrators’ websites. Please feel free to leave your pet hates and advice in the comments below. We’ll add the best ones to the article.