Monday, March 1, 2010

Illustrations and Illustrators; Part 1

I'm having illustrations done for my second book, Phra Jan.
Vetting an illustrator is one very critical step in self publishing one's book. I've been very fortunate in finding two illustrators for my books. Why two? Because my two books are different enough from each other that they require two different styles of art.
The first book is a tongue-in-cheek story about elephants walking backwards. It's in the genre of a fable.  The animals talk and are anthropomorphized which I determined would require life like animal drawings but with human like expressions. The drawings of the trees, mountains, and flora are all genuine to Kanchanaburi, Thailand; which is the location of the story.
There are many ways of finding an illustrator; google came up with 2.6 million results in 0.23 seconds. One can go to a local college, university or art school and find a student interested in extra cash. They'll also have a portfolio so you can see their actual work. In my case, I occasionally teach private English lessons and I discovered one of my clients (business English) loved art. I asked her if she was interested in illustrating my book. She said yes. Now, here I'm going to go on a tangent (not a rant); I feel it's very important for my illustrator to read my book. My feeling is, that in order to get the best of the artists abilities, they must know and understand the story. I want the relationship to be more of a collaboration; I want input. The next step is to settle on a fee. This can be googled also and the fees vary widely depending on many variables; experience, reputation, and availability to name a few. In my case we settled on a set price per illustration with no royalties on subsequent printings.
My first illustrator's English was good enough to do this (read the book) and after reading my book, she did a rough pencil sketch of a scene in chapter one. After some minor changes I gave her the go ahead for the first color plate. Athicha did a total of 8 illustrations and the cover. We followed the same formula; pencil sketch, approval/revise, and finished plate. It worked very well and we are both happy with the results.
My second book requires a very different style. I'll follow up with that on my next thread.

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