People regularly ask for me to work for the pleasure of working them, which in itself is lovely. They like my work and want the work I do for their project, but I really have to draw (literally) the line somewhere and paying the rent is important.
This seems to be a universal problem for illustrators and I’ve noticed this happens for all people with any skill that any other individual lacks. We all want our friend who’s studied law to look over a contract, our mate whose a plumber to fix the hot water service and the kid who’s really good at the computer to show us how make a website.
It’s different though for a friend, it’s different for a project that everyone is into on an equal footing. Being asked work for nothing while other parties make profit or at least their costs back, is a bit of a smack in the face.
Anyway, IA have got on board The AOI’s #notahobby campaign, because we all need to make a living from the skills we have worked hard to learn and get good at. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t help out a charity and it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t help out a friend, but put as succinctly as I can…
You read a bit more about this on a previous post about self-publishing.
A friend finagled tickets for us to a taping of last weeks Mad as Hell. It was a long session of four hours and funny all the way through.
One of the skits was when a Labor supporter (played by Emily Taheny) was asked a question replied “Albosolutley”. Then this popped into my noggin. Apologies to all the creative people on the show.
This bit of wisdom comes from my in-laws and it always struck my heart.
Now I live quite near this bridge (life goals). In fact I cross it everyday and as I walk I recite this little poem and it continues to make me smile.
Volunteering with Illustrators Australia (IA) has been the most amazing experience. There I look after a couple of email addresses, but mostly the memberships.
The most interesting is the many applications from people who would like to be professional members.
I love seeing all the fabulous portfolios, although all I do is pass them onto the assessors without comment and they do the had work of looking at the application.
What I have noticed is the gap between what makes someone who can draw really, really amazing pictures and a professional illustrator.
Illustration is great. I love looking at the beautiful work on Instagram, Twitter, portfolio sites and the applications that come through. But doing great work and creating wonderful pictures does not on it’s own constitute any individual as an employment ready, professional illustrator.
Things that constantly crop up in discourse with illustrators:
Understanding CMYK & RGB colour profiles. *eyeroll*
Meet deadlines. If asked to get something done by a certain date, get it done by that date, professionals shouldn’t need chasing.
Have contact details on your website and social media profiles. How do people get work if commissioners/art directors/publishers/creative directors/agents don’t know how to get in touch? Again, professionals shouldn’t need chasing.
Be a registered business, in Australia that means having an ABN. Other countries have other rules. Look it up!
Understand your worth and don’t undersell yourself, it damages the whole industry if illustrators undercut each other
Be a member of IA! Get involved and meet YOUR people and learn about the industry along the way, it’s also a great way to support other illustrators.
If you’re not ready for Professional membership, there are other levels (they’re often cheaper) and you have access to a wealth of information to help you and your business thrive.
Don’t be rude or hard to talk to (i.e.: not being a dick)
or I've written a picture book and I need some pictures done…
You’ve put in the hard yards in and taken some words, massaged them into place and created a beautiful story. It’s a great thing to do and it’s something you’re very passionate about. You know you need some pictures for the story and so you’ve landed here. That’s great, and I’m looking forward to our adventure together.
Before we start, there are a few things I need you to understand and there is no judgement in this, but from many requests I and many of my illustrator colleagues get it is clear that there is a gap in the information available to writers as to how and what it takes to get a book published.
Let me be very clear, If you are going to submit your book to a publisher, they will want to chose their own illustrator. Employing me to draw anything will be a waste of your money, the drawings will be discarded. Publishers do not want illustrated submissions unless the author is an illustrator, illustrating their own writing.
Publishing houses exist is because it takes a lot of work to get a book published and involves a lot of people. Looking clearly at how the industry works will protect you emotionally and financially. It will help you clarify what you want out of me and what other things are involved in getting your book out into the market place.
Editor: Basically, the project manager, pulling all the parts of the book together. Managing expectations of the author, illustrator and book designer to get the best result
Art director: Like and editor, but for pictures
Book designer: A specialist graphic designer who lays in the text and places the illustrations getting the item ready for print
Author: Writes the words with editing guidance from the editor
Illustrator: Draws the pictures under direction from the editor (and/or art director)
Marketing: Assess the book for sales potential, deciding on print run and distribution
Printer: Prints and binds the book
Distribution: Delivers the book to the shops
If you are going to self-publish, you take on all of these functions or you pay someone to do them for you.
Illustrators and anyone you ask to do work on your book will expect to be paid. Your passion project is not their passion project. By all means you can ask for advice, almost everyone is happy to share their knowledge (if they have time) but it is not right to ask them to work for free or at a discount.
It can cost thousands of dollars to get a book published and the person doing the publishing will bear this cost.
Economies can be made with the scope of the project, but the illustrations alone can cost $5000 to $15000 (maybe even more), depending on the illustrator, the number and complexity of the illustrations and how soon you want them.
I am not trying to step on your dream or be nasty, this is an industry and there are, few (if any) short cuts.
There are successful self-published authors, it is a lot of hard work and an ongoing commitment to your project is needed.
Find a few and talk to them.
SO, when you’re ready and you’ve learned all you can about publishing and want to go ahead and get a quote for me there is one more step (sorry). Fill in this form and send it through when you request your quote.
It will help you clarify what you’re asking for and it will help me put together an accurate figure for you.
I want us to have a fun and rewarding working relationship, getting the best result and realising your vision. Having a comprehensive understanding of what’s involved and clear communication paths is the foundation of a really positive experience for everyone.
See below for some further information to read and listen to. Good luck and hopefully I haven’t done myself out of too much work.
Sarah McIntyre 'Can you illustrate my book?' Some tips for writers approaching illustrators, 25 April 2016 https://jabberworks.livejournal.com/744387.html
Tania McCartney, The Happy Book Children’s Book Podcast, 2 January 2019
Australian Society of Authors, Find and answer, Publishing https://www.asauthors.org/findananswer/publishing [5 March 2019]
Australian Publishers Association, Getting Published
https://www.publishers.asn.au/resources/getting-published [5 March 2019]
Australian Society of Authors (ASA) https://www.asauthors.org
Contract advice, workshops, industry information
Society of Childrens Writers and Book Illustrators (SCWBI) https://www.scbwi.org
Meet your people, network and learn.
Keep and eye out for…
CYA Conference https://www.cyaconference.com
It's been a while, but you still love me? right?
I've been working hard over the past eighteen months volunteering for Illustrators Australia (IA). We've been moving the organisation to a new administration software system and planning for the future. It certainly been a challenge and I've learnt so much, met some amazingly smart people and hopefully it will stand IA in good stead for the next decade. Fingers crossed.
Along with all that, IA are putting on an exhibition, SHOUT! opening 6pm this Friday, at Collingwood Gallery, 292 Smith Street, Collingwood and runs for two weeks. I have a piece in this! You can check out the details on the IA website here and if you can't make it but what to see (and possibly buy a piece), there is an online auction! (fancy, I know!)
There is amazing work on display, digitally printed on wood, collaged, drawn, painted, carved - the illustrators have pushed this theme to the max, worth seeing for sure!
Down in the meadow there's a little, biddy pool...
This article by Sarah McIntyre was written in April 2016 but it's great information for both writers and illustrators. It popped up on my twitter feed today.
'Can you illustrate my book?' Some tips for writers approaching illustrators
https://jabberworks.livejournal.com/744387.html [10 February 2016]
As well as being a illustrator, she has a lot of knowledge to share. Check her website out to see her portfolio and her live journal for more of her articles and goings on. Sarah is also active on the usual socials!
I’ve often thought that the images available to me as icons for Instagram, Twitter etc were a bit boring and the same as everyone else! So I finally got around to making my own.
This is the sort of thing illustrators can do for people, why be the same as everyone else? Have something that is made just for you, reflects your personality and helps you stand out of the crowd! And I've updated my about me page!
With submissions to agents and publishers opening in earnest in February I’ve begun to put together a new portfolio. This is why I’ve been a little distracted and not quite so active on the socials.
I’ve been developing a new style and exercising my thoughts attending intensive courses with Australian Writers Centre. So I have researched the literary agents I would love to work with. Very scientifically, basing it all entirely on the illustrators who I admire and are represented by them.
In this process I've also listed the Australian publishers who I see my work fitting neatly into their lists. Most of course don’t take unsolicited manuscripts but it is good to have goals.
Soon I’ll be updating my portfolio and bringing it all together as a package for attendance at KidLitVic again this year. The line up this year looks great, I'm hoping to meet a lot of people!
You can see the scale by the person I caught in the photo on the top left, this person was a about 180cm (nearly 6ft). These skulls are huge.
I would encourage anyone to make time to see this exhibition. Impossible, as it is, to see it all in one day try but at least see some of it if you can.
Welcome to the new year! Late, I know, but it is still January!
This year is certainly looking busier than last.
We spent New Years at Eden. It’s a beautiful place and everyone should stay away! With it having perfect weather and crystal clear waters I don't like my chances of having a private bit of paradise for very long. In fact the small town was completely booked out while we were there.
There is a little creek running through the block where we stayed and I think I scared a platypus! A very loud plop and splash in the water which can only have been made by a large animal in a stream with no fish, so I’m calling it (even if I have no photographic evidence).
I also saw number of different birds, Blue Fairy Wrens and European Goldfinch being the highlights for me. I tried so very hard to take photos and iPhones are good but not up to the task of capturing small birds darting in and out of dense shrubs. Or it might have been operator error.
Recently I developed and illustrated a new character, for a disability service. Introducing: Happy George!
This little guy ties in with some other promotional material and is soon to be launched on their website.
Happy George is being used on colouring in sheets and word searches which I also developed. These will be available for people to download from their website .
It was great to translate the linear to the rendered colour and build up a stock of imagery around it all to describe the world in which George lives.
He will also be in explanatory material on printed documents and certificates.
It was a great project. I had lots of fun testing out techniques I've not used for a while. And it was fantastic to see it so well received by the client.
Hopefully the participants of the service like him too, because I'd love to do more of this!
Cheers and chin-chin,
It's been amazing over the last couple of years to see the parade of unfairness and unkindness on all sides of politics in Australia. Less stealth like, which has been used in the past and more upfront meanness is really the hallmark of the last, I would say, four parliaments.
The downright misogyny directed at Julia Gillard. Her parliaments lack of action on same-sex marriage. Kevin Rudd and his off-shore detention hell holes. Tony Abbott dismantling of the carbon tax and eating onions, raw, with the skin on. And then we come to Malcolm Turnbull, beholden to the right wing conservative to keep his bum on the big chair. These are just a few of the craptacular highlights of the last seven years (yes, seven years - four Prime Ministers in seven - count 'em - seven years. You can see my eyes rolling from space.)
Malcolm has bowed to the pressure of his party room and they've dreamed up a non-binding, non-mandatory, non-plebicite postal survey about same sex marriage. Rather than do their jobs. It is going to cost over $120 million dollars.
As I write this the High Court of Australia are hearing a case against running the postal survey. So it may on may not even happen. But in the event that it does I'm nailing my colours to the mast.
YES : Love is love, let people marry.
So my birds for the weeks leading up to the non-binding, non-mandatory, non-plebicite postal survey (if it even happens) are all showing their support for changing the marriage act to be inclusive of all the people.
...and imagine, what the kindergartens of Australia would do with $120 million dollars instead.
Lately my sketchbook is all about people. Specifically the back of the head. Train travel and cafés provide lots of subjects, but staring at people can be a bit confronting, for both the stare-er and the stare-ee.
I've seen the panicked look on people's faces, the uncomfortable shift in their seat, hunch of the shoulders and the blush as it creeps across their skin when they realise they are being drawn.
The back of their head, though is way more non-confrontational and it gives me practice at size, shape, form, hair, fabric, bags, phones, ears and sometimes, even hands. Phones often give you cover, people don't notice anything when they're on their phones, so occasionally I get a face.
These are untouched photos straight from my sketchbook, no fiddling with lighting or brightness etc. I usually post this sort of thing on my @hilary_cresp instagram if you're interested.
Cheers and chin-chin!
Well in a blur of new year and summer holiday shenanigans February is well underway and the first half of the year is looking pretty busy. Late last year I was elected as Vice-President of Illustrators Australia (IA) and along with travel plans, Birdies, submissions to competitions, agencies and publishers, it’s given my brain a good work out.
Train People, sketchbook, 2017
The President this year is Richard Morden, he has published books and worked in the industry for a long time, you can see his work here: http://www.richardmordenillustration.com.au and our Treasurer is Sonia Kretschmar she too has worked in the industry for a long time and is a long standing member of IA, she has also been shortlisted for the Archibald Prize in 2011, you can see her work here: http://www.soniak.com - You can follow them both on Instagram too!
What I’ve found interesting how easy it is for me to do the promotional and advocacy work for the group, which I find almost debilitating to do for myself. In this ‘social media’ age, of which I am not a native, I can push IA and it’s agenda without a second thought. With my own on the other hand, I find myself crippled with anxiety with thoughts of: am I good enough; what will people think of me; who do I think I am; what am I doing wrong… In short, people will think I’m a dickhead… I guess I just have to embrace my inner dickhead and be the best dickhead I can be. Speaking of dickheads, I did this in support of the Women’s March in January.
In any event, I’m learning a lot about myself and my skill sets, both illustrative and business. Which is a good thing. Learning more and being open to new ideas and ways of doing things will lead to assorts of fun, new adventures.