wearing two caps

Being an indie means wearing many caps.

I know that of course. But it isn’t as easy as it seems. A concrete example. In my training as a picture book writer, I have been told over and over not to give art notes, to let the illustrator’s creativity freedom to express itself.

Except, that when as an indie you’re hiring someone. You basically become the editor, and an editor will work closely with the illustrator to reach what they think is best for the book.

It’s been quite a journey to be able to differentiate the two.

Here are a few tips to talk to an illustrator.

In the first encounter, you must explain the project:

  1. The title
  2. The pitch
  3. Number of pages
  4. The size of the book
  5. The size of the images: half spread, double spread, full blead, vignettes
  6. A price range. Here I would advise to offer a fair price, but not top your budget so you have room for negotiation.
  7. The various rights you want.

When you work with sites like Upwork. All the works are work for hire. That is once you have paid in full for the illustrations, they belong to you and you can do whatever you want with them. That means that theoretically you can pretend you have drawn the illustrations yourself, but that would be really bad practice. I believe you need to acknowledge the work of your illustrator every time you’re using her illustrations.

If an illustrator doesn’t want work for hire, respect that right. And decide whether you’re willing to negotiate, otherwise find someone who’ll be happy with that sort of contract.

About the type of colours and style, you should decide this before hiring your illustrator. No need to ask someone with a portfolio full of cartoony illustrations to do a black and white water colour realistic illustration. They may be able to do it, and most professional illustrator could, but it would be a stretch and you might face disappointment. So this is something I would avoid. Again, this is not a rule, just my opinion.