Since I've recently commissioned art to supplement my books, I asked Dan Wright to talk about the process of finding an artist for a book project. If you've ever wondered how to go about it, I think you'll find this article REALLY helpful. Read on:
The Art of Finding Artists
Thanks for Mysti for once again having me back on her blog and for being part of the Final Ragnarok: She Returns blog tour. Always great to be asked back to her blog for a guest post, and today’s one is a post that she requested. And who am I to refuse? ;)
I’ve always loved having artwork to accompany my books, which dates back to when I used to read comics and manga. Art as a medium really interests me – but I myself can’t draw for toffee! But when I was creating my Draconica series, the one thing I wanted to include was interior art as well as front and back cover art. Two reasons for this – 1) I felt that helped bring the story to life and complemented the words and 2) I love seeing how other artists interpret my story and characters. Even though I try to keep my characters looking the same where possible, I do enjoy seeing how other artists put their own feel to them. Not only that, but a lot of the artists that I hire say how much they enjoy drawing them – that’s always a good sign!
Now I get asked quite a bit as to how I go about finding all these artists, but in actual fact there is no real secret or trick. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to do – as there are always tons of artists out there willing to help writers/filmmakers/musicians/etc. Art, like most professions, can be pretty cut throat and hard to break into – so there is no shortage of artists that are willing to help if you’re willing to pay them.
There are a ton of websites and forums out there advertising for artists. Myself I use Deviantart, which is pretty much what most people use. Yeah, I know people say that DA has its detractors, but there is also a ton of amazing artists just waiting to be discovered. You put an advert up for an artist then I guarantee you will get responses.
Here’s a little tip that I found out from putting up adverts – you will get WAY more responses if you use any of the following words: Disney, Manga, Anime, Pixar, Dragons or Fantasy. Believe me, when I first put up adverts for artists for my Draconica series novels (after losing my first artist) I got about 50 plus replies. And that was just in the first two minutes! After about an hour I had 200 plus replies! It wasn’t easy choosing them out of all the replies, but I have found some amazing artists – many of which I am now friends with J.
So how did I go about choosing an artist for my work? It wasn’t easy, but I went with these factors – How much did I think their art suited my project? How much do they charge? How fast can they work? The first one is pretty standard, but the other two were also important factors. Now bear in mind that I also work a job as well as writing and have bills and loans to pay off, I can’t really afford to spend too much on artists. I’ve even had to turn down artists based on price, even if I like their art. Also, the time frame for me is pretty important. Now, I’m not an asshole – I don’t expect artists to get work to me the next day or the day after, but the last thing I want is to sit around on my backside waiting for just one bit of art. I remember one time I commissioned an artist and they took about two months just to get me a sketch! I understand that artists have other commitments, but let’s face it, would you be prepared to wait that long?
That being said, you have to treat artists with respect, the same way you want to be treated. Nothing angers me more than people pissing and moaning about how artists are too expensive and that they shouldn’t pay high costs for something that isn’t even a real job. (News flash to anyone who thinks that – artists have their own bills to pay as well!). I think this picture pretty much sums up how some – not all – commissioners can be like. Thankfully I’ve been told I don’t fall under any of these categories from artists I have worked with.
For Final Ragnarok: She Returns, the artist I found was AtelierEdge (check out his profile at http://atelieredge.deviantart.com/) and I was very lucky to find him. Not only was his art brilliant, but his turnaround time was one of the best I’ve ever seen with an artist. In fact, one time he got a piece of work to me in less than a week and he even apologised for being late! Plus it helped that he really enjoyed the project and I was very pleased with what he did with the art and the front cover.
Deviantart is a great place to find artists, and you need to find an artist quickly I highly recommend that as a starting place. Of course, there are plenty of other websites you can search to find artists, but Deviantart has never let me down so I recommend it if you need to find a great artist quickly. It’s a real blast for me finding these amazing artists and seeing them draw my work. Nothing gives me a better feeling than seeing my work come to life – and I am happy to say that I’m pleased to have worked with all the artists I have. Even those that only did a small commission for me.
Thanks to Mysti for featuring me once again and I hope this helps you guys in your own search for artists J.
About Dan Wright:
Dan lives Canterbury, Kent, UK. A huge fan of both Fantasy and Manga, he has a style that combines both within his writing, which lets him tell stories that are both dramatic and tongue-in-cheek at the same time. He picked up a love of Fantasy stories after reading The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and numerous Roald Dahl novels.
Dan also runs his own website, blog and a wiki page dedicated to the world of Draconica. He has also been a reviewer for the website Read2Review and occassionally reviews books on his blog. He has also written a short comic book strip called Queller, which was published in an anthology for the comic Lighting Strike Presents... At the moment he is also currently working on a script for an independant video game - to be released in the future.
Authors who have inspired Dan are Douglas Adams, J.R.R Tolkien, Harlan Ellison, Alan Moore, Joss Whedon, H.P Lovecraft, George R.R Martin and Hiromu Arakawa.