I was about to read this entire thread, but I got sidetracked for the moment when I saw this post from NarCranow and was compelled to reply. It is some VERY good advice for you writers out there who are looking for illustrators. I make a living as an illustrator, and this is the type of mentality I like to hear from a client.
NarCranor wrote:Good advice. I am currently working with four separate artists on various Star Wars related web comic projects. I find that getting an artist to collaborate with is really about having a geniune infectious excitement for the project you are creating. If you aren't excited about it, you artist isn't going to get excited about it, and that is the key. The second you get that artist excited about your story idea, that's when you have them. This is really important since a writer's workload on a webcomic is so much less than the artist's.
- This is probably the only part of the entire post that I don't agree with 100%. Yes, it's very important to be excited about the project, but my personal experience has been that the more excited a writer is - the less prepared they actually are. It's like they get this idea in their head and just start looking for an illustrator before they are actually ready to do so and have the proper material put together. Plus, going on and on about how great the story idea is can get annoying sometimes. So, for ME, excitement is good, but within reason. That's just my personal feelings about that.
NarCranor wrote:Another thing that I find breeds success in an artist hunt is to be personal. A random post asking for ANY artist will get you NO artists. Go to deviant art, or look at portfolio pages. Email artists specifically commenting on what you like about their work specifically, and why you think THEY would be the perfect artist to collaborate with. If your artist feels like they just got picked out of thousands of other artists, its gonna make them a lot more interested in what you have to say. It is kind of like going to a club and trying to pick up a girl. If you walk in and just scream hey, will any girl dance with me, you aren't going to get any ladies. You have to go up to each one personally and ask them specifically. Then it becomes a numbers game.
- This is a fantastic bit of advice! I think back to the times when I was contacted out of the blue by a writer and it usually worked out very well. It showed me that they were SERIOUS about doing their fair share of work and finding the right illustrator. They were willing to take the time to look, rather than just posting some b.s. ad on Craigslist and wait for illustrators to contact THEM. And it's a huge compliment to the illustrator if you contact them on your own.
NarCranor wrote:Another side of things is how to keep your artist happy once you get one. I usually talk to my guys (and girl) 4-5 times a week online, sometimes not about the comic at all. By creating that mutual friendship, and not just having a strictly business relationship, your artist might be more into the comic. Also, if all you talk about is the comic, your artist can begin to feel like you are hounding him for pages. A little small talk goes a long way.
- This is great too. I like knowing that my writer hasn't fallen off the face of the Earth. Maintaining good communication is key, so long as there is an understanding of how busy the illustrator may be. As in - the illustrator might not have time to reply to emails on a daily basis. Illustrating eats up enough time as it is.
NarCranor wrote:The quickest way to lose an artist is to stifle their creative freedom. You can't be a nazi dictator of the story. You have to be open to changes in the script and page layouts. If the artist wants to do something differently, and you strongly disagree, don't just lay the hammer down. Explain why you need it the way it is. A good artist should be focused on serving the story anyway, so if there is a plot reason, they ought to agree. Otherwise, I would suggest trying to rearrange some things. It is just very important to stay flexible.
- Very good. Unless you outline EXACTLY what you want to see in each and every panel, down to the most minor and insignificant detail, you need to be open to the artists interpretation and creativity. That doesn't mean the artist should deviate from what they have been asked to do, but be open to how they see things. Otherwise, learn to draw on your own lol. And understand that drawing a page takes WAAAAAAAAY longer than it does to write it.
NarCranor wrote:Talk with your artist before you get too far into writing. One of the first things I like to do when starting a new project is to ask my artist if there is anything specific they want to draw. Even on projects that are already written but trying to find an artist for, when I do find an artist, I still have that conversation, and see if there are places to fit things in for them. A certain character, environment, creature, etc. Find out what they want to be drawing. Then keep that in your head when you are developing your plot and script, and see if you can't work at least a few of those things in. This not only gives your artist something to look forward to when drawing, but it makes them really feel like they are a part of the development process.
- I like this becuase it shows that you are actually willing to work WITH the artist, rather than just have the artist work for you. Be sure to have a good amount already written before you start looking for an illustrator, but yeah - be willing to find out what the artist likes to work on. That doesn't mean you HAVE to fit all their preferences into the story, but the gesture alone means a lot.
NarCranor wrote:Finally, and this might seem contradictory, but push your artist. Try and get them in the mindset of taking their work to a higher level. Let them know you are interested in helping them hone their craft, and that when the project ends, they will be a better artist for it. Write scenes that are going to push them. If their experience tends to be a lot of pin ups or action splash pages, challenge them with a few emotional scenes that require a mastery of expressions. Don't overdo it, or you will push the artist away by overwhelming them. But you have to challenge them enough to keep them interested. If they are a traditional comic artist, try having them paint a cover for the book. Giving an artist new challenges is really important to their satisfaction.
- I wish more of my clients did this. I feel like I'd be further along in my skills if earlier on I had worked with people who actually knew good art from bad art. I look back at work I was doing when I first started freelancing and I think "How did __writer__ actually think this was good?! Can't the see it looks like crap?!" Heck, I feel that way about some of my work even today. Sometimes artists can't see the flaws in their own work until it's pointed out. And it's GOOD to point it out so that the artist can grow. I still have a long way to go before I am at a point in my skill level that I am actually happy with, and any help I get along with way is always appreciated.
NarCranor wrote:Anyway, just a few more tips for you fellow writers out there. Artists, would be curious to see your responses to these tips. Anyway, happy webcomicing!
- One final note I'd like to make for any writer looking for an artist is this - if you put up an ad or contact artists yourself, be sure to get back to EVERYONE that replies. Even if you don't like their work or think they're a terrible fit, just send them an email saying "Thank you, but I don't think you're work is the right fit." Doing so shows respect and professionalism. It's the most insulting thing in the world to not do this. Also, PLEASE don't ask all of the artist to do a submission sketch unless you are willing to compensate them for it. All you should need to get started with is their portfolio. After you have narrowed it down to a select few it's ok to ask for a sketch, but offer something in return. Even if it's just a day of free ad space on your site (if it's a webcomic that is). Or like $10 or something. And don't expect the sketch to be exactly what you are looking for even still. You have to be prepared to provide direction. I no longer do free submission sketches unless I get something in return. If I get hired, I usually apply that sketch compensation as a credit towards the first page of art.
- Oh, and another great resource for this type of information is Dave Sim's Cerebus Guide to Self Publishing. The first chapter or two of the book talks about the difficulties of being an illustrator, and it's a great read if you can find a copy.
Oh man...long post. Sorry.....