Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Brief an Illustrator

So you have decided to hire an illustrator to create the artwork for your children's book. It is important you supply the illustrator with the right information so they can create the artwork to best suit your needs.

If the artist/illustrator has more than one style make sure you specify the one you would like them to use. This may seem obvious but it is quite often forgotten and can leave you with a surprise when you receive the final artwork in the completely wrong style. If you have a specific colour pallet in mind this is also important to mention.

It is important to know the format you require your illustrations in before approaching an illustrator. They cannot create artwork without a size specification. If you are thinking about distributing your book through multiple distribution channels like print, eBook, iPad etc make sure you state all of these sizes when briefing the illustrator. The artwork will need to be formatted to suit the size and display of all of these channels. Stating this before the creation of the artwork can save you a lot of work and money in the long run rather than having to try and reformat them afterward. Print specifications vary from printer to printer so make sure you speak with your printer and find out how they like their files supplied. Most printers require 3-5mm bleed however it is very time consuming to add more on later so make sure you know the exact bleed your printer requires.

State the file format you would like the final illustrations supplied to you in. Most of the time .jpeg is the most suitable. You can also ask for the original files the illustrator builds the images in. This could be helpful later down the track if you need to alter or use images for marketing purposes.

Illustrator notes
You can supply the illustrator with notes of what you want happening in each image/page. This is not necessary as illustrators are very creative and can come up with amazing ideas. Most of the time it depends on how descriptive the story is and how much control you are willing to give the illustrator. If you write notes keep it simple e.g. two kids playing with a ball on the beach. Don’t go into descriptions of composition and clothing, this is the illustrators job and they know more about these aspects than you so trust them. By writing too many notes you can cut off all their creativity and end up with very boring images.

Together with the illustrator work out a timeline for the entire project. Make sure you both understand the requirements for each deadline and who is in charge of actioning it. As well as setting a deadline for the final artwork to be complete set dates for the drafts and changes to be supplied. Always allow more time than you think something will take. You are better to overestimate and receive the work early than underestimate and miss other production deadlines.

Make sure both you and the illustrator have a clear understanding of the budget. Most illustrators will supply you with a quote before they start any work on the project. It is unusual for an illustrator to work for an hourly rate with no estimated hours or quote supplied. The only time this is necessary is when the size or length of a project is unknown. Most illustrators will quote you per illustration. This is the clearest and easiest way for both you and the illustrator to work. The price per illustration can range from $30-$1000 depending on the expertise, style and experience of the illustrator. Most of the time you get what you pay for the cheaper they are the less the quality of the artwork.

I am an illustrator and am always looking for exciting new stories to work on. Check out my website and feel free to contact me http://www.amyburrell.com/

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