The Dos and Don’ts When Hiring An Illustrator

After 20 plus years working as a freelance illustrator, I’m not surprised by much. However, in recent years the demand for illustration services from the general public has increased and many of these “non-industry folk” often do not understand what all is involved with professional design and illustration practices.

This list of DOs and DONTs is a very basic guide on how to prepare to hire a professional illustrator efficiently and effectively.

DO….know your project so you can describe it to the illustrator. Be specific. The illustrator cannot give you an estimate from a vague inquiry. Project description, deadline and budget are the essential bits in order to get an accurate quote from a professional illustrator.

DON’T….ever ask an illustrator to work for free. This is our profession and we all have bills to pay. Don’t insult an illustrator by asking them to work for free. Almost as insulting is asking an illustrator to work for less than minimum wage. Pretty obvious stuff here people!

DO…tell the illustrator how you heard about their services. This is helpful for many reasons. Mainly it helps inform the professional which types of marketing is working best for them. Another reason is, if you contacted them through a rep or a bidding service a finders fee or commission split may be required on the illustrator’s part. On the other hand, if they learn you heard about them via a promotional offer, you very well may have a discount coming your way.

DON’T….ask an artist/illustrator to create a piece that looks like someone else’s work. Artist’s love to be original. It is best to let them decide how best to approach the project…this is exactly what we are trained for. While some illustrators may disagree,  generally most artists prefer to be appreciated for their own developed style.

DO…expect to work with contracts. I always send my quotes out on Project Proposal forms. These are free, no-obligation estimates that once signed, become contract. Expect illustrators to also clearly define a Rights Agreement specific to your project.

DO…be prepared to place a Down Payment on the illustration job. This secures the illustrator’s time on their calendar to complete your project. A Down Payment also protects the illustrator should the client unexpectedly cancel the project after the illustrator has started the work.

DO remember that you are working with a professional and at the same time know that you are on a creative journey together. Respect one another and HAVE FUN!

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