Help! I need to find a children’s book illustrator!
Here’s some helpful information on finding the right illustrator for your children’s book, website links and tips to consider when reaching out to an artist.
So you have done the diligent work of writing a children’s book and are considering self-publishing. Where do you begin to search for the right artist to illustrate your book? Whether you are self-publishing and need to hire an illustrator directly or a small press finds one for you, it’s good to have a solid idea of the “feel” of artwork you would like for your book.
Searching through children’s book illustrator’s websites can be a great way to find a style that will work for your story. You can highlight the art that resonates best, narrowing down the search. Create a “my favorites” list by wandering and reviewing the many directories like Children’s illustrators, Picture Book, Directory of Illustration, or Best Childrens Books to browse lots of artist’s illustration websites. Some artists include contact info on their website or directory page, and accept queries by self-publishing authors.
Note- there are illustrators that work only through an agent and some only work for traditional publishing houses and do not accept self-publishing queries.
Amazon, is also a rich resource to check out book covers and all types of book genres that may be similar to your book type. Create a picture file of the images/illustrations that you like. Once you query an artist, you can share images from the file with them to give them a good idea of the type of illustrations you are looking for. Remember, the rule is what you see on a website, is what you will get. It is taboo to ask one illustrator to illustrate like another artist.
Be brave! Email artists directly for information and request a quote.
Here’s a list of 11 things to consider before contacting a children’s book illustrator.
Have a budget idea for your project even while you are asking for a quote.
2. Hire a Professional
Hire a professional or someone who has some experience in book illustration. If you are new to book publishing, it’s best to work with an experienced illustrator- ultimately, it can be less stressful and with the right match you will find it is worth every penny!
3. Reach Out
Contact authors the artist has worked with, if you can – this is a great way to see if it has been a good experience for them and will be for you.
A contract is important. Always request a contract; it protects and clarifies both the author’s and artist’s obligations to the project.
5. Be Flexible
Be flexible and willing to negotiate. Most book artists are fair folks and are willing to work with you if the price is reasonable, if not there are many other fish in the sea!
6. Main Character Sketch
Ask if the artist would be willing to sketch a main character. See if they are a match – Many artists that are interested in your project will be willing to do this for you – for free or for a small fee.
7. Be Patient
Keep an open mind regarding creativity. The artist needs some “room” to illuminate your words; be patient, wonderful things can happen!
8. Strike a Balance
Share your ideas, but leave room for artistic license. There is a balance between the word and image and it’s now time to leave your “baby” in the book artist’s capable hands.
9. It’s a Team Effort
Try to avoid calling the artist “my illustrator.” Remember the book’s completion is a team effort and to make your book the best it can be – there needs to be mutual respect.
10. Don’t Rush
Take your time when searching. Do not let passion for your book project cause you to make hasty and “costly” decisions.