Part of our job here at hai is to recommend members to clients who contact us directly looking for an illustrator. We get lots of enquiries each week from clients via our Art Buyer form on the site, by email and through social networks. Usually (if they haven’t already) we’ll ask the client to complete the Art Buyer form to give us the information we need to help them find the most suitable artist(s) for the job.
Enquiries come from a wide variety of individuals and businesses, including publishing houses, magazine art buyers, advertising agencies, self-publishing authors and corporate clients. The jobs can range from a private commission for a portrait to a global advertising campaign, but we’re always pleased to help out whatever the size of job.
We ask for as much information as possible about the commission and style of work the client wants, then once we have those details we go about recommending hai members who fit the bill. Most of the time the client will decide to directly contact the artist(s) they are interested in to discuss the job. Sometimes clients will ask us to get in touch with the illustrators they like first, to see if they would be available and interested in working with them. Either way, hopefully the end result is that one of our members gets the job!
It sounds pretty straightforward and it usually is! Sometimes there can be a lot of going back and forth with the client to work out the details, or when offering advice around the issue of cost. Likewise, if someone is new to working with illustrators they can have a lot of questions, and we’re always happy to help people understand how the wonderful world of illustration works.
Recently, I completed work on the first issue of my own comic/storybook ‘Sunrise’, a small, wordless story about a silent little monster on his search for the sun.
I wanted to publish it myself – to learn the whole process of creating, printing and selling my book myself, as I still think it’s one of the best ways to learn – to experience it for yourself. To pay for this, I decided to print each of my 4 planned issues as limited edition paperback copies, and sell them myself both online and at comic conventions – the problem being, it turns out people really like it, and 75 limited edition copies weren’t going to last long!
So I had to come up with another plan – lots of people wanted to read it, but I needed a platform to publish it on which would allow others to easily read it, yet not devalue the limited edition copies that so many people had bought in good faith. I completely intend to sell the final ‘full’ version of all 4 issues in a nice, solid hardback, but that is still a year away, at least! So I thought ‘Why not sell a digital copy?’ And so I began to look into alternatives.
There were many methods, most involved selling a PDF version on my own digital stores, which I wasn’t entirely happy with. Not only is a PDF a bit of a bother to read, you can’t sit with your child and read through the book together – and that’s still something that I find important. I even thought about making a book app myself to sell on the iOS and Android stores. However, with my experience with making games for tablet and phone devices, I knew how much of a pain in the behind this would be – I can create the art and menu systems easily enough, but then I’d have to hire a programmer (which, despite knowing many, I couldn’t ask them to work for free!), a testing team and most likely the tablet and phone devices needed to test the app – which is far easier with the limited amount of Apple products than it is with the plethora of Android-using phones! And then I would have to hire a PR team to get the word around – all of which is a little impossible with my teeny tiny budget! So I had to give up on that idea almost as soon as I had it.
Earlier this year though, popular digital comic outlet ‘Comixology’ opened the doors to small-press comic creators with ‘Comixology Submit’. Brilliant! A way to get a digital version of Sunrise on so many phone and tablet devices, as well as computer screens, in an easy to read way – and best of all, I didn’t have to invest any of my own money in it! So, as soon as I could, I prepared a tablet and phone-friendly version and submitted it.
There are a few things to take note of – as far as I could tell, there were no guidelines, so you are working a little blind. I worked with traditional iPad3 screen sizes (2048 x 1536) but this wasn’t big enough. Comixology contacted me to ask if there was a bigger size, so I decided to make it bigger. I can’t remember how I came to this file size, but 2292 x 3056 was accepted. I think the huge file size is to do with their guided view system, which is fair enough – it is essential for those reading on smart phones! Secondly, it takes a long time for your comic to go through the submission process. Sunrise was ‘Tentatively accepted’ nearly a month after I submitted it. After that, it took another 6-8 weeks or so to appear in-store. This is definitely not a quick process and you are not guaranteed to get on the store at all. Thirdly, once your comic is in-store, you can’t see what your sales are. This does annoy me slightly, as I like to know how well my personal work is selling – and Comixology is telling me to trust them with something very important to me, which I find quite difficult when it comes to big companies. Another thing is, that instead of getting your monthly share sent to you each month (like Redbubble, for example) you’re sent a cheque every quarter IF your comic sells over $100, which worries me a bit – what happens if you only made $99 that quarter? Does it roll over into the next quarter? My comic hasn’t been up there an entire quarter yet, so I can’t give an answer. I do worry about them sending a cheque though, rather than wiring it to my bank account. As I have found out in the past, by receiving a cheque in US Dollars my bank will charge me extra to put it into my account – usually about £12 – which is annoying, and what happens if I move house while the cheque is in transit? I know there’s only a small chance of that happening, but it still worries me!
But, even with those cons, there are a lot of ‘pros’ to submitting your work to Comixology Submit.
Firstly – a new, huge audience from around the world! Suddenly, you’re getting reviews and 5 stars from people who would never have found your work before. I now have access to the American market especially, which I would never have had on my tiny little table at UK comic conventions (I will most definitely still be at UK conventions though). Secondly, some of the people at Comixology found Sunrise in the submit section, and included it as the very first thing mentioned on the Podcast – even stopping their talk about Batman, to talk about Sunrise! My partner and I were sat open-mouthed while we listened to it! It was so nice to hear people I’d never met, talking about my little book in such a positive way. They even bought a physical copy of the book afterwards! Success! Even with the cons I listed, this Pro made up for everything 🙂 Thirdly – setting up your comic for Comixology is completely free for you. Yes, Comixology will take a 50/50 cut from your sales (after credit card fees and fees from tablet and phone companies for having the app on their store, which happens with every app), but the cost of hiring an entire team to get your comic on the app store yourself will cost you even more than Comixology’s fees. Plus you won’t get the same level of PR or open up to an entirely new market, like you will do if you go with Comixology. I have worked on many iOS and Android games and one thing I have noticed is, it is very difficult to get people to notice your game/app if you are not one of the top 10, or even the top 50! Comixology will help you with that. And lastly – submitting with Comixology means you are not bound to an exclusive contract – you can still sell digital copies anywhere else, which is perfect for the small-press creator!
So, in my opinion, if you have your own comic and you’re looking for a digital release, try Comixology. It won’t cost you anything to set up, so you have absolutely nothing to lose – and maybe even something to gain. Just keep in mind that it’s definitely not a quick process, and sometimes you can feel like you’re working blind.
I’ll post another update in a few months, once I know whether I get my first cheque or not!
Images and text in this post are copyright of Heather L Sheppard.
A short while ago one of our members, the highly talented and experienced illustrator Randy Gallegos, told us about a booklet he had produced: Learning How to Commission Illustration. It’s a really valuable resource that does exactly what it says: it shows people how to commission illustration!
Randy’s considerable understanding and knowledge of working with clients, especially independent publishers, has been compiled to provide a comprehensive explanation of the entire commissioning process. While this resource is targeted primarily at small and self-publishers, the information would be extremely useful to anyone who hasn’t worked with an illustrator before. Additionally, it would be a fantastic help to less experienced illustrators who may need advice on how to deal with artwork commissioners themselves.
The pamphlet describes the process of commissioning an illustration from start to finish, including how to approach an artist, choosing the right copyright, licensing, fees, time-scales and more. There are lots of examples of different situations in there too.
Randy’s pamphlet is available to download for free HERE, so you can keep your own copy to hand and pass it on to your clients as well.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a copy now!
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)