Artist – to pay or not to pay, that is one of the questions

I didn’t mention it in my last post, but one important part of my process was choosing an artist.  Might seem easy on the surface, but there are a lot of decisions to make.  Pay someone and own all the rights (which can get expensive if there is a lot of art) or share ownership with a partner?  Where do you find the partner or freelancer?  How much to share or pay?  Timeframe?  How much art is needed?  Tons of research went into making this decision, so I thought I would share (kinda the point of the blog).

For some, the pay or partner question is easy to answer because giving up partial ownership of the book is a non-starter.  However, as Colleen (my artist) will tell you, I go back to The Spiderwick Chronicles often as a model for how I wanted to create The Storyworlds.  I loved the collaboration between Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (at least I assume it was joint effort since they are credited equally on the novels) and wanted to find a similar partnership with an artist.  Hey, I had an awesome book, some awesome artist is going to want to share, right?  No sweat!

Think again!  Turns out finding a partner ain’t easy.  I talked to friends, tried to get recommendations, searched a few websites for amateur artists who might be interested and even looked at local college art departments, but

a.  didn’t think most of the art was a good fit, or
b.  if I did, the artist wasn’t interested in taking a partial ownership in lieu of cash up front (shocking, I know!).

I assume there are other ways to find an artistic partner, but it wasn’t looking good and I didn’t want to wait any more, so I decided to change tactics and pony up some dough.

Having decided to bite the bullet and pay for a professional artist, I signed up on a number of freelance websites that included graphic design, illustration, etc.  After spending some time getting to know a few, I found I liked the best – excellent user interface, tons of artists with very detailed profiles, no charge to the employer and a convenient payment solution (helps cut down on disputes).  In addition, it has an email function so the entire project can be documented and even project management tools to set deadlines, etc.  I admit that I’m not using all the functions, but it has an impressive array of features.

More research (i.e., searching job postings for other projects like mine) and I was able to come up with a price range and timeframe that made sense for Wonderland and should seem reasonable to artists.

Within hours of posting my project, I started receiving bids.  Within two days, I had fifty bids from artists of all different styles (and rates) from all over the world.  Very cool!  Lots of great stuff.  I narrowed it down to a few who had the sensibility I was looking for, asked a few questions, looked at a ton of art and ultimately chose Colleen.

It’s early days yet, but I think I lucked out and got the best of both worlds.  Colleen is not only a fantastic artist, but also she is great to work with, has been very helpful in guiding this newbie in the process, offered some great thoughts on the art direction for Storyworlds/Wonderland, and, since I’m paying, I get to boss her around.  I’d put a winking emoticon here, but I’ll save those for texts with my children.

I’m already having fun seeing my concepts come to life which is energizing me for the rest of the process not to mention starting work on the next novel in the series.  Stay tuned for more artwork and incredibly valuable life lessons!

Share Button