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Tips for Commissioning Artists for Writers

The relationship between an artist and a writer can be a beautiful thing.

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Writers write, and artists come up with amazing fan art, or can be commissioned for stunning book covers. We work hand in hand with one another more than we realize, and in return, many of us can get well known through the others’ work. In fact I didn’t start reading Sarah J. Maas’ work until I saw the beautiful character art put out by Coralie Jubénot.

But sometimes, like all relationships, things can get a little hairy.

Maybe this shouldn’t be directed just at writers, but since I’ve noticed quite a few writers doing this type of stuff, I’m singling us out. If you’re not a writer, and you want to commission an artist, you should probably remember these things too.

What not to do when commissioning an artist

  • Ask for free work.
    • And I mean ANY free work, including the “pay you later” type of work. If you can’t pay them when they ask for payment, you’re asking them for free art. None of this “Oh well, I can pay you after I make it big” or “I’ll give you money when my crowd funding campaign is over”. They’re still working for free. Some artists might say they don’t have a problem with this, but don’t just assume that an artist is going to be fine with waiting over a week for payment.
  • Ask to pay them in publicity.
    • This is still free. Can you pay your bills if someone asks you to write for them for free, but don’t worry they’ll tell a friend about you? No.
  • Tell them the last artist you hired did it for cheaper.
    • Artists charge different amounts based off many things. Skill level, time taken to produce the artwork, and personal value of their work all come into play. Someone who’s only been producing art for a couple years might charge less than someone who takes commissions on a regular basis for the past seven years. If you want cheap artwork, hire the other person, don’t try and haggle to get them to lower their prices to someone else’s standards.
  • Tell them you shouldn’t have to pay extra for digital art because there are less materials used.
    • This is one that I’ve heard a few digital artists over the years talk about. Keep in mind here, some digital artists have amazing technology to help produce their work, and sometimes that tech breaks down. Tablets break, tablet pen nubs need to be replaced, computers crash, and sometimes some software requires yearly updates that cost money, as well. Just because they’re not using a physical canvas doesn’t mean their work is worth less.
  • Think that because writing a book takes longer than drawing a picture, their work isn’t worth as much. 
    • This is something I’ve only heard from one writer, but it still completely confused me. Writing and art are two completely different mediums, that require different mind sets. One isn’t better than the other, they’re just different. By saying you took longer therefore your work is worth more, you’re taking away the years of practice it took for that artist to get where they are today. Sure it only took an artist a week to complete their commission, but they’ve been perfecting that craft since grade school.

What do you do when you find that artist you want to commission?

  • First off, check and see if they’re open for commissions.
    • Most artists will have a disclaimer somewhere if they’re open or closed, or at the very least, a way to contact them to ask them. By not assuming they’re just going to jump into working for you, you’re already establishing respect with your artist.
  • Find out what they’re comfortable drawing.
    • As someone who has some NSFW situations in my novels and short stories, I always check the artist’s “will/will not draw” page. Many artists have no problem drawing violence, artistic nudity, or sexual situations, however there are a few prefer not to do this sort of thing. Some might be willing, but would prefer not to due to their skill level with the subject. If the artist doesn’t have a list of things they’re okay and not okay with drawing, and you know what you’re looking for is questionable, don’t be afraid to ask them how they feel about certain subject matter.
  • If you KNOW you’re a picky person, give details.
    • I’m a little different when it comes to my commissions, in that I like to give the artist a little bit of creative control. I’ll tell them what the scene is, or what the characters look like, but after that, I tell them to interpret the information however they see fit. This doesn’t work for everyone. If you have very specific ways you want a picture to be done, tell them up front. Don’t be THAT difficult to work with, but still fill them in you have a specific vision for the project, so they’re not blindsided later when you’re angry with how it turned out.
  • Establish what you want the art for in the beginning. 
    • So you found the artist, they finished the commission, and you’re ecstatic to have some beautiful art to accompany your novel. You start using it as a book cover, posting it everywhere on websites and social media, and then suddenly you get an email from the artist asking for more money, or saying you went against their copyright. Some artists don’t allow for commercial use of their commissions, if it wasn’t established when the commission was first placed. Others might not want their work posted up online without giving credit to them as the original artist. If you know you’re going to use the artwork for bigger things, disclose this from the get go, and it’ll save both parties some pain and heartache.

This may seem like a lot, but if all else fails, remember one thing.

Hiring an artist is a business transaction.

If you think of it as two people exchanging goods, instead of two creative people coming together, you’ll leave the experience a lot happier. Of course, there will still be a creative exchange, just due to the nature of this situation, but don’t expect there to be no business talk. Treat each other with respect, and respect will be given.

I’ve hired artists, from base line beginners, to well established in online communities, and I have to say I’ve always had a great experience. If you want to get involved with artists, but don’t know where to start, please let me know! I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

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Author Interview #10 – K Kibbee

If there’s one author on Twitter that’s stood out above others, it’s K (Kristine) Kibbee. When I first got involved with the #amwriting crowd, her work in progress bits caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to interview her for my blog.

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After reading one of her books, I finally was able to reach out to her! Enjoy.

Q. To start out, tell us a little bit about what project you’re currently working on. What part of the writing process are you in?

  • Goodness gracious, it’d be easier to tell you what I’m NOT working on! I’m presently launching book three in the Forests of the Fae series (Lang’s Labyrinth), prepping book #2 in my Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore series (The Tale of Robin Hound) AND working on a new, hush-hush project that I hope will be the biggest yet!

 


Q. I’ve only read one of your books, Devlin’s Door: Forests of the Fae, and I love the use of the Pacific Northwest mixed with fairies. What was your biggest influences for your Forests of the Fae series?

  • Interesting you should ask, m’dear! I was inspired to write FotF after reading about an old, abandoned ghost town across the bay from Astoria. The city, named Frankfort, was left for dead back in the 60’s and has become an inhabitable, unreachable place overtaken by the wilds of the Northwest. It provided fodder a’plenty for this ole’ writer brain to get going, and my childhood fascination with Faeries took over from there! I’ve long been a fan of all things Faerie (think Brian Froud, Jim Henson, etc.), particularly the darker ilk. 😉

 

Q. If you could have dinner with any of your antagonists which one would it be?

  • Wow, that’s an excellent question! I think I’d love to have dinner with Aunt Claudia…just to see the glower on her face.

 

Who inspired you the most in your writing life?

  • I suppose that my Mom was my biggest inspiration. Ironically, she’s also been my loudest critic . . . but it’s ultimately made me a better writer.

 

Q. You’re extremely active online, and participate in numerous hashtag games. What advice would you give to people who are trying to build their online presence?

  • Another well-timed question on your part! I actually just participated in a podcast/Skype-style interview that is geared towards up-and-coming writers who are seeking to gain a foothold in the literary community. As my portion of the presentation, I offered a 30-minute “Tweetorial,” which will be available online next month! I don’t have a link at present, but Sage Adderly, with “Sage’s Blog Tours,” is the driving force and should be posting it in the coming weeks.

 

Q. What writer do you look up to? Do you find yourself emulating their writing style?

  • If I were to pick a recognizable face to look up to, it would probably be J.K. Rowling’s. I’m sure this is an answer often given by indie authors, but I suspect my reasoning is different. I fancy Rowling for her activism and for what she’s done to improve the writing world (and the world at large!) with her sizable royalty checks. I do, also, admittedly, admire her dedication to research and world building… although I don’t find myself emulating her work.

 

Q. I noticed you went to college at Washington State University. Were there any professors who influenced your writing or inspired you on your journey?

  • Honestly, my memory has the consistency of Swiss cheese. Unless you’d reminded me that I went to WSU, I’d have plum forgotten! So…that’s a hard no. I can’t even remember my professors’ names!

 

Q. When writing Devlin’s Door, was the main character, Anne, inspired by anyone in your life?

  • Anne was more inspired by everyone than anyone. I tried to make Anne your ordinary, everyday girl. She has no magical powers . . . no royal ancestry . . . she’s just a girl with pluck, cleverness, and an enduring spirit.

 

Q. What was the first writing project you worked on and what did you learn from it?

  • Again with the Swiss cheese memory! I could no sooner tell you how many bottles my Mom typically gave me in a day! I do recall piecing together little stories about dogs, using clippings from various magazines I had laying about. I was young enough . . . the most I learned from that experience was probably not to eat glue.

 

Q. What’s your favorite thing about writing for the Middle Grade age group?

  • I feel like MG readers still have enough youthful innocence that their imaginations are malleable, and willing to stretch a bit further than those of older readers.

 

Q. E.L. Doctorow once said, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” What have you learned from the past few books you’ve worked on?

  • I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts in the writing world. I think everyone wants to be this overnight sensation. They imagine the Hollywood version of a writer–where a book deal is lain your lap by some publisher heralding your praises. If you believe that, I’ve got some magic beans to sell you! This is W-O-R-K…a mountain of it. So much, in fact, that no sane person would ever seek it out.

 

Q. If there was one fairy tale you’d like to rewrite for a modern audience, which one would it be, and how would you write it?

  • I guess the idea of rewriting turns my stomach a bit. It makes me ill to see things copied over and over and over and over again. There are so many amazing, creative new ideas. Why do we keep rehashing the old ones? Naw, my mind wants to create something new. I have far too much imagination to mimic someone else.

 

Q. Everyone always goes on about what they love about writing. What do you dislike about writing, and how do you overcome this?

  • I’ve come across it a few different times and can’t tell you who the original author was/is….but the quote that comes to mind is, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That’s me, in a nutshell. It’s always difficult to get myself to just SIT DOWN AND WRITE. But when I do, I always walk away feeling immensely satisfied. There’s nothing like it. Well, short of cake. 😉

(edit – Thank you to alamlovespoetry via twitter, for letting us know that Dorothy Parker is the source to this quote)

 

Q. Are there other art forms you find yourself taking part in?

  • I do a bit of sculpting, but the kiln keeps blowing my stuff to bits. I feel like someone is trying to give me a hint.

 

Q. Writing is an exhausting process, and it’s always good to take a step back before attacking the page again. What helps you the most when it comes to taking a break from writing?

  • I do a lot of walking. A LOT. 10 miles a day. It’s very therapeutic and meditative.

 

Q. Which character of yours do you find yourself thinking of more than others?

  • Curiously, I think about the animal characters. It’s so difficult to interpret what animals are thinking, because they can’t tell you. I always worry that I’m not portraying them correctly.

 

Q. Lastly, where do you see your writing career taking you in five years?

  • I’d love to say that I see myself skyrocketing to the top of the NYT Best Seller list, but if my past 15 plus years are any indication . . . I’ll just be slogging along, as per usual . . . sharing my work and trying to bring a bit of magic into this oft-dull world.

 

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Want more of K Kibbee? Find her here! 

http://www.Goodreads.com/KKibbee
http://www.Facebook.com/KKibbeewrites
http://www.Amazon.com/author/KKibbee
http://www.Incorgnitobooks.com/authors/K-Kibbee
Twitter @K_Kibbee