A New Year With New Rewards…

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Although there’s the slight smell of nepotism here, we’re very happy to announce the entire Little Chimp Award shortlist all happen to be members of Hire an Illustrator, yay! The shortlist are all fantastic and very professional illustrators who The Little Chimp Society has worked with or had a degree of interaction with over the last year. The nomination is a recognition of their talent and skill as a freelance illustrator and the winner for Excellence in Illustration will be announced in April. There will only be one winner per year, who do you think is going to get it?

While we’re mentioning The Little Chimp Society, they’ve just release their first printed artzine called Secret Self Volume One. All ten of the artists featured in the zine all happen to be HAI members too :). The zine is available to buy from the LCS now at only £5.99.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy 2015!

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It’s been a fantastic year at Hire an Illustrator and we would like to wish all our members a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We’d also like to say a big thank you to all of the clients who’ve worked with and hired our illustrators over the period; may 2015 be a fantastic year for you too.

We will be operating a reduced service from 23rd December until 3rd January. This is due to reindeer playing havoc with the air traffic control and a Tribble-style infestation of Christmas puddings. Hopefully the abundance of mulled wine should solve these festive issues without compounding any Jack Frost problems.

Enjoy the holidays and we’ll be back bigger and better with a few notable changes in 2015! Ho, ho, ho and Finlay the office mascot says woof!

A special thank you to the very lovely Elly Walton, who has kindly lent us the above image. You can see lots more of Elly’s gorgeous work in her portfolio. 🙂

Santa, Snowmen & Reindeer, it must be the Christmas Mail Packs!

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The order of members’ (mostly) seasonal postcards for the final mail packs of this year have just arrived from the printer! We’ve also had some nice Christmassy ones sent to us directly from members, so the mail packs will be full of festive cheer.

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We’ll be busy getting everything organised and posting out the sample cards to the illustrators today, then we’re ready to start putting the mail packs together next week. Once these have been sent out to clients, we’ll be holding back on sending any more mail packs until around mid-January to give everyone time to get back into the swing of work again.

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It’s twenty days until Christmas and we hope everyone’s looking forward to it. We know we are!

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Agent search, submit your news and SC100 update

looking-agentWe’ve made a few recent changes and added a couple of things to hai in the last few weeks. The first one is that members can now tell us if they’re looking for an agent to represent them or not. We have always helped illustrators out if they’re looking for an agent, but we’ve now made the process simpler. There’s even a secret page for selected agents to browse for new talent.

gallery-sort-megOther changes are that there is now a reminder on the member’s news submission page to upload their new work to their gallery. And on the gallery ‘add image’ page there’s a reminder to submit new work as news. We have considered combining the gallery and news archives in the past, but we find it works best to still have the two as separate things. The galleries give the illustrators more control over what they’re showing potentials clients and the order they see the work in. Plus if they find their style of work changes over time they can adjust their gallery to reflect this.

Four boxes containing just over 100 black edged frames for the Showcase 100 artwork.

Four boxes containing just over 100 black edged frames for the Showcase 100 artwork.

With regards to the Showcase 100 project we’re running in conjunction with the LCS, all of the work from the final 100 artists is now in and the frames for artwork have arrived. Next on the LCS’s list is to get all the artwork printed up and the accompanying publication designed. You can find out more about the project at http://sc100.co.uk

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

ICON8 – Part 3: The Grand Finale

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This is the third and final part of Pat Higgins‘ ICON8 experience.
Darren Di Lieto

Part 1: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/874/icon8/
Part 2: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/882/icon8-part-2/


I woke up on the final day of ICON to a huge mess of styrofoam food containers, dirty clothes and empty bottles. The obvious signs of a fun night. Once again, I made it to the Art Museum just in time for the continental breakfast. Much like the other days of the conference, breakfast was a good time to grab a coffee, make new friends and trade contact information.

Saturday’s presentations began with Chronicle Books. Christina Amini (Editorial Director, Chronicle Books) and Kristen Hewitt (Design Director, Chronicle Books), joined illustrators Lisa Congdon and Susie Chahremani for an informative talk about Chronicle’s relationship between artists and editors, the collaborative creative process and working on projects that you enjoy.

On the first short coffee break of the day I received a panicked phone call from my brother (who came along for the ride but was not attending ICON). I was informed that due to a miscommunication/booking error we needed to check out of our hotel immediately and that most of the hotels in the downtown Portland area were booked up due to the combination of ICON and some other conference that was going on. At this point I headed back to the hotel so we could figure out accommodations for the remainder of our trip. We called around to a bunch of hotels with no luck. Somehow during the call to the last of the hotels on our list, Ryan convinced the manager into giving us the presidential suite for the price of a regular room, as well as checking us in immediately. The room was pretty awesome… It had a living room with two couches, an office, a bedroom and a jacuzzi. I wanted to hang out and enjoy the room but also didn’t want to miss any more of the speakers.

I made it back just in time to catch the last presentation before the break. I spent my lunch talking to some of the familiar faces and new friends that I had met over the past week, then headed back to the third floor of the Portland Art Museum. The rest of the day was full of really great speakers and topics. Brian McMullen talked about weird books for weird kids, Lisa Wagner and Jason Holley (who were in charge of the amazing and ever evolving stage design) spoke about working together, and Souther Salazar showed the crowd how work is play. After that, Justin Hall educated the attendees on the history of queer comics. His talk was quite interesting, as I am not very familiar with this sub-genre of independent comics. Equally interesting was Robynne Raye’s story about suing Disney for copyright infringement. Don’t Bring a Mouse to a Dogfight and don’t steal people’s shit!

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The day concluded with a keynote by Damian Kulash of the band Ok Go, who spoke about making music videos, being creative by accident and playing around. What really impressed me was that it seemed like the band had a lot of fun making the videos. That’s always something that’s really important to me… I want to be having fun and making something that I’m proud of, whether it’s illustration, graphic design or making/playing music with my bands. After that, Mark Heflin (ICON Executive Director) and Ellen Weinstein came up on stage to close the conference. They brought up a bunch of the behind-the-scenes folks that made this amazing event happen and it was all over.

Except it wasn’t over. We still had the closing night party! The theme of this conference wasn’t “Work and Play” for no reason. The attendees made their way back to their hotels and then to the Crystal Ballroom. We were treated to an open bar, a buffet full of food and a DJ while we mingled around. Later on in the night the headlining act, Portugal The Man, played a special set just for us ICON attendees (and I’m sure a few people who managed to sneak in). It was a great way to end this amazing week.

ICON 8 was an awesome conference and as attendees we were treated very well. I still don’t know how I was able to cram so much action into one week. Workshops, presentations, lectures, double-decker buses, happy hours, art shows, food, drinks, music and more! Needless to say, the trip to the airport was a bittersweet one. I was worn out after that week of work and play but I’ll miss Portland, OR and all of the new friends that I made while I was there. I’ll see you guys at ICON9!

Image & text by Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

Congratulations to the winners of SC100!

Showcase 100 - An Illustration Project, Exhibition & Book

The Little Chimp Society announced the final 100 illustrators who had been selected for the Showcase 100 project (which we’re the official partners of) a little while ago now. We just wanted to congratulate the winning illustrators on making it into the exhibition and book as they were up against some very tough competition with there being over 1,400 entries of high quality work submitted for only one hundred places.

At the moment, The LCS is busy creating a detailed publication to accompany the project and framing all the work for the show. As a project partner we would like to extend an invitation to the exhibition to all of our readers. If you’d like to join us in London (UK) next April you can find the details at sc100.co.uk or sign up to let us know you’re coming on the Facebook event page.

ICON8 – Part 2: Business Cards & Art Shows

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Following on from Pat Higgins first blog post about his trip to ICON8 this is part 2. – Darren Di Lieto

To read part 1 visit: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/874/icon8/


Friday morning I woke up at 7:55. Somehow I managed to make it to the continental breakfast at the Portland Art museum by 8:00. After a cup of coffee and a bagel I was able to pull myself together and start interacting and socializing with my conference peers. On a side note, trading stories, business cards and promo materials with like-minded creators from around the world was one of my favorite parts of ICON. I can’t imagine any other profession where business cards are fun to get and are literally a work of art. During these moments of the conference, I couldn’t help but thinking of it as a total inverse of the business card scene in American Psycho.

After breakfast the herd headed upstairs to the Main Stage where we were greeted by the conference emcees, Vanessa Davis and Mimi Pond. These two were great. They told us about the sold out workshops, “Complaining About Having an Illustration Assignment” and “Complaining About Not Having an Illustration Assignment” as well as the elusive “Lunch on Your Own” presentation, which they never did find. Vanessa and Mimi continued to entertain as they introduced the presentations throughout the day. “What the Fuck Are Infographics?” (presented by New York Times graphics editors, Jennifer Daniel and Alicia DeSantis) taught us that “infographics are a style and a marketing ploy” to get people to click on a link and that it’s really better described as visual journalism due to the research involved. The Clayton Brothers talked about their collaborative efforts and Jan Pinkava showed us all some of the ways that illustration is moving forward with technology with Google Spotlight Stories such as “Windy Day” and “Buggy Night”. Sam Arthur told us the impressive story of Nobrow, a publishing company from the UK. They are printing some of the most interesting and amazing things and working with some of the most talented illustrators out there (plus their books smell great). One of the most informative speakers of the day was Linda Joy Kattwinkel, who had two different presentations about legal issues, “Protecting Your Work in the Age of the Internet” and “Work Made for Hire and Copyright Termination Rights”. The day concluded with Craig Bartlett’s, “An Animator’s Charmed Past Life”. He told us about working on “Rugrats” as well as the creation of his animated series, “Hey Arnold” and how it was inspired by his childhood in Seattle and Portland.

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Immediately following the lectures was a happy hour in the downstairs area of the art museum. Both the crowd and the line for the bar were insane, but it was nice to get a couple drinks after such a full day. Once happy hour was over, there was a double decker bus waiting to take us to the Land Gallery, where the ICON 8 Work and Play group art show was held. This was an amazing show featuring art from 70 ICON attendees (including myself). The only downside to this event was the heat. Not sure if it was the weather or just the amount of people in and out of the gallery, but it was almost unbearable. If you want to check out the work from the show go to buyolympia.com. Those time limited prints are available from that site from July 22, 2014 until August 24, 2014.

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While at the gallery show, I met up with my brother and some other friends. Once again it was party time. We headed to a bar across the street from the Land Gallery for a few drinks. By the time we realized what time it was, the double decker shuttle bus had made it’s last trip back to the hotel. The six of us decided that the party must go on, so we walked outside to figure out where our next stop would be and how we would get there. We got a few steps away from the bar and my friend Kevin pointed behind me. Some woman was standing next to a motorcycle that had fallen on the ground. “That’s my roommate’s bike!”, she screamed at us. I explained to her that one of us would have noticed if we knocked over a motorcycle. As I was helping her pick up the bike, a big angry guy comes out of the bar and starts screaming, “What the FUCK?! That’s my roomate’s motorcycle! That’s a custom paintjob!”. As soon as he said that, one of our group says, “How many roommates does this guy have?”. As soon as I heard that I started laughing. The next guy to come out the door did not think it was very funny, as he started yelling at us along with the rest of his friends,”Whoa… who fucked up my bike? Do you know how much I paid for this paint job?”. No sooner did he say that than another smartass comment comes from our group, “This guy paid all of that money for a custom paint job but he skimped on the kickstand? HA!”. At this point I was multi-tasking: Trying my hardest not to laugh while at the same time working to convince these people that we didn’t knock over the bike. Before I knew it, the three room mates were arguing about what happened and whose fault it was. We took this as a cue to leave. We ended up hanging out at some punk rock bar, which reminded me of home. We were a little late for the show that was going on so we just hung out and had some beers. Eventually it was time to end the late night and head back to the hotel.

Image credits Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

ICON8 – Part 1: The Beginning

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This year we sent Pat Higgins to ICON8 and he was kind enough to write about his experience. Pat heralds from Bear on the east coast, so although it’s not as far a trip as coming from the UK would be, it’s still a hell of a trek going from east to west (Portland) in the USA. – Darren Di Lieto


It’s taken me a couple of weeks to recover from the incredible adventure that was ICON 8. It was an amazing few days (July 9-12) in Portland, OR, filled with informative and inspiring presentations and workshops, meeting like-minded creative professionals and of course, lots of partying. ICON board president Ellen Weinstein pretty much summed it up for me when she said, “It’s a helluva time to be an illustrator.” ICON was a helluva time.

ICON is an illustration conference that is held in a different city every two years. Wednesday and Thursday (July 9th and 10th) included workshops, educator paper presentations and an educator’s symposium which were held at the PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art). On Thursday, I attended the “Adobe Creative Cloud: New Tools for Illustrators” lecture, led by Rufus Deuchler. This was quite informative, as I am a few versions behind on my Adobe products and have yet to switch over to the Creative Cloud. After the lecture I was able to catch a few of the educator presentations for the remainder of the day. They were all great, but the ones that stuck out to me were Robert Meganck’s presentation, “Mapping Color” (for some reason I’m a huge nerd for color and color theory) and Wendy MacNaughton’s Illustrated Journalism presentation. Later on that day I headed back to the Portland Art Museum for the opening ceremony which is too crazy to explain… Here’s a link to a video (http://vimeo.com/100758202). After that, ICON President Ellen Weinstein took the stage and spoke about the illustration industry being a beast that is changing and adapting rather than dying off and going extinct. VIVA LA EVOLUTION! After Ellen’s open speech, the crowd was treated to the keynote speech by Paula Scher. She had a valuable presentation about her years in the industry and showed us what the surreal staircase of creativity looks like.

After the opening ceremonies, the hundreds of attending illustrators, students, art directors, and other assorted oddballs headed down to the first floor of the Portland Art Museum for the ICON 8 Roadshow. The roadshow was an event where attending artists and sponsors had tables set up to promote and sell the work that they do. Being around so much great work made it really hard not to spend all of my money scooping up everything that I saw. After much deliberation I ended up with some prints, comics, post cards, business cards and a stomach full of whiskey. Following the roadshow, I ended up starting a late night by grabbing some pizza and beer with my brother and a few Portland friends at a place called Sizzle Pie. It’s a pretty cool place… All of their pizzas have names like “Police and Thieves”, “D-Beat”, “It’s Always Sunny in Portland” and “Raising Arizona”. After dinner, we split into two groups: the ones that were worried about getting up early and the ones that didn’t want the party to end. Guess which group I was in.

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Later that night/morning as my brother and I were walking back to the hotel, we were greeted by a gentleman named Montez who was asking for money. My brother said that he would give the guy a couple bucks, but he wanted an interesting story about Portland in return. Montez explained, “So this guy was ridin’ on a skateboard real fast like. And ran into THIS stop sign right here… BOOMCRACK!”. Pretty lame story, but after that we wandered into a secret figure drawing workshop at a local establishment called Mary’s. It was different than any other figure drawing class I’ve ever attended… First off, it was 2am. Secondly, Khrystaal (the instructor) kept collecting the workshop fee in the form of one dollar bills throughout the night. Weird stuff. I did manage to learn how to draw shoes with clear heels and glitter though!

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be coming later this week.

Image credits Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

UPDATE: Part 2 – hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/882/icon8-part-2

It’s behind you! Oh, no it isn’t!

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Last week we put the final nail in the coffin of the White Label Portfolios version two and removed it from the site for new users. This is while we work on a new and improved version three. Hopefully the new version should be ready before the end of the year. While working on it we’ll also be updating and improving the functions of the hai portfolio pages; two birds, one stone. So keep an eye out for some exciting changes! A couple weeks ago we also introduced a new page on the site to show off some of the wonderful website backgrounds our illustrators have created for us over the years. They’re supposed to be seen and we shouldn’t be hiding them away for only our pleasure! Now you can check them all out, find out more information about them and see more work from the artists who created them. As we work on new backgrounds with new artists we’ll add them to the page.

It’s behind you… Oh, so it is.

Check out: http://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/backgrounds/

The website background image used at the top of this blog post is by the talented Wylie Beckert. Also if you didn’t know, the White Label Portfolios are our system for illustrators to have a personal portfolio website that pulls and automatically updates with the content from the hai portfolios without the hai branding.