Thursday, February 28, 2008

How to find an illustrator - or 400 words to love

For those of you who write or read children's picture books - I think we can all agree that the word PICTURE is pivotal in that statement. Creating or finding good art can make or break a book. Good picture books have nice pictures and a good story. Great picture books have wonderful pictures and a good story. Phenomenal picture books form a synergistic whole from which you can't think of one without the other.

As a fledgling writer, I like to think I have written a good story. I have had it cleaned up by a copy editor. The concept, while not unique is fresh again and will hopefully be embraced by many parents. In the end, it is less than 400 words. That is 400 words that have my blood, sweat and tears in them. A good illustrator can take this and bring it to life.

So how does one go about finding an illustrator?

For me, I searched several on-line portfolios. There are many of these available. Some popular ones are Portfolios.com, Picture book, the I-spot and Children's Illustrator. I looked through these. I bookmarked my favorites, ones that I thought could do justice to the project. Many of them have personal blogs. I lurked looked at some of those to get a feel for the artists. Some of the ones that I liked had agents as their contacts. I figured that they were out of my league, as there was one more person to pay. I did contact one agent and the pricing range she gave me almost made me stop right there. But I persisted. I also queried another great lady with many, many, many books. She politely implied that her schedule was booked for the next 6-9 months and that she was sure I didn't want to wait that long. What a polite way to say no to my ridiculously low offer.

Then I found him. I found my artist at Portfolios, but he has his own website as well. He had a little experience (one book out that was done with his University). He had a background in graphic design, probably that would be helpful. He was fairly new, so maybe I could get a deal.

I contacted Mike via email with some sketchy details, a very low offer that made me comfortable. He responded with some interest. I showed him the project. He liked it. He countered. I countered. We signed a contract. He started work.

That is how I found my illustrator. Good luck if you are looking as well.

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