Now that you have come to the conclusion that you need the talent and skills of an illustrator to make your creative project come to life. Here are some simple steps to help you hire a professional illustrator:
Review Illustration Portfolios.
Nearly all professional illustrators who are seeking clients and job opportunities will have examples of their work displayed on their website. Unless you already have a particular artist-illustrator in mind, I would recommend that you start looking locally by Googling your city’s name followed by “illustrator” or “illustration”….for example, “Portland OR Illustrator”. Then begin by checking out the different styles that various illustrators display in their portfolios. If you happen to have your heart set on a specific style…let’s say whimsical, colorful cartoon style…. then type that into your search perimeters as well. That should narrow down the number of illustrators whose work matches the vision you have for your project.
An illustrator’s portfolio should be a good representation of that illustrator’s artistic style. If they offer multiple types of styles and mediums, those samples should be there for you to view as well. If you like their style but let’s say you would like to see the style expressed in a different medium, it is perfectly acceptable to ask. For example, if an artist has a portfolio representing caricature sketches but you are curious to know if they also offer caricature paintings, feel free to ask. A quick email inquiry will suffice. Keep in mind though, that most artists do their best work when given artistic freedom to work in their own style in their favorite medium.
BEFORE MAKING CONTACT:
Generally the next step it to contact the illustrator directly to see if they are available, interested in your project, and can give you an estimate. Here is the type of information you will need to have available before you make contact:
Know your project.
It will be necessary to describe your project clearly and specifically to the artist-illustrator when you first make contact via email. That should be simple. If you are publishing a children’s book, you’ll state what you already know about your project, for instance, the size of the book…not just the outer dimensions, but most importantly how many pages or page spreads are contained in your book. Include if you desire illustrations on each page or perhaps one per page spread. Do you need an illustration for the cover or back of book? The more specific you can be the more accurate the quote.
Know your deadline.
While some customers are in no rush at all, others may need the work completed by the following week. It is essential to inform the illustrator upfront so they may check their schedule availability.
Know your budget.
Now I realize that unless someone has hired an illustrator before they probably have no idea what fees to expect and a budget decision may not have been made yet. However, I do believe that most people who seeks a professional service for a specific project have a price range in mind. It will serve you and the illustrator best if you are upfront with your budget. That way you can be presented with various priced options for your project. For instance, if your max budget will not allow for the 4 color poster you wanted, then the illustrator may suggest a 2 color process and simplified design that would fit your budget without sacrificing the impact of your poster.
Once you are prepared with the basic information that an illustrator will need to give you a quote on your project, read Part 2 of How to Hire an Illustrator for specific tips on how to word your email inquiry.