As an Illustrator I create, plan and render quality artwork, usually in cooperation with children’s book Authors and publishers. We collaborate to create wonderful literary and visual experiences for kids. As you might expect, cooperation in any joint effort is important to the success of that effort. This fact is especially true in establishing the match between writer and illustrator. Professionalism, style, slant, experience and methodology not withstanding, each of the principals must be able to rely on the other’s dedication to the project. This essential proponent paves the way to that irreplaceable thing they call… Honest Back and Forth. HBF can be established almost instantly through referrals, a researchable and positive track record and or an agent.
This kind of trust and clarity is central these days when collaborations are coast to coast, largely electronic, and often between unfamiliar partners.
I recently accepted an job to illustrate a wonderful biography for a small press with a number of successful books to it’s credit. The project was appropriately designed, organized and directed by the Art Director, who is knowledgeable, creative and articulate. He clearly detailed his step by step plan and expectations. We walked through the process, from initial roughs through to the finished camera-ready art and discussed execution. Once I read the manuscript a few times and got a good sense of how I would proceed within the parameters laid out by the AD, we agreed to the terms of a contract. After gathering a small library of reference photos I got right to work.
Things went along according to plan as we worked through the initial roughs, with regular input from the AD and occasional comments from the Publisher/Author. The process was quite enjoyable and for a time went along ahead of schedule, although we did eventually encounter the need for a mess of revisions following a small concept change. Despite the fact that I love the work and have an almost unlimited appetite for drawing and creating art around an idea, some of the revisions struck me as repetitious and even nit picky. Once the initial drawings were completed, I was informed stage two would include a complete series of grayscales, a stage not referenced in our contract. Recompense has come in the form of valuable learning experience.
My publisher was looking for a particular style and skill set when they found me on the SCBWI website. They contacted me on the strength of my website display. A leap of faith, when you consider the fact that most new relationships of this type are initiated and cultivated through agents, not to mention the usual difficulties present in establishing new associations.
Our book is now in it’s final rendering stage and is on track to meet all objectives. I’ll keep y’all posted.