How to Choose Your Illustrator | Part Two: Finding Your Illustrator

Illustrations are literature in their own right and, whether used by themselves or integrated with written texts, they sharpen the perception of children, stimulate their imagination and increase their sense of observation.
— Mabel Segun, poet, writer, and author

Whether you’re writing a children’s book or a technical manual, the addition of visual material does a great deal to add appeal, accessibility, and fun to your book. Illustrations can add life to a book’s front cover or inside pages, no matter what the age of your reader. Cartoons or diagrams will provide delight in a picture book or 'light relief' in a textbook, breaking it up into manageable sections with fun, helpful, and varied content for your reader to enjoy. Commissioning an illustrator to design your cover allows you creative involvement and a unique marketing tool with which to reach your audience.

In Part One of How to Choose Your Illustrator, we posed a number of questions every author should have answers to before striking out in search of an illustrator. Now that you’ve got those questions answered, it’s time to start your search! We’ve broken the process down into five easy steps: 

  1. FriesenPress or Freelance?

    As a FriesenPress author, both of these options are open to you. The outside world holds infinite numbers of freelance artists of all levels of talent, many of which will be interested in working with you.

    A significant part of hiring a freelance illustrator involves overseeing the project—enforcing deadlines, ensuring quality, requesting revisions, preventing unforeseen costs and keeping within budget. At FriesenPress, we have a team of vetted, dedicated and expert illustrators available to you and your project, so these project management duties—and all the other twists and turns—are included in the cost of your FriesenPress illustrations and taken care of by your AAM. Your illustrations will arrive accurate, on time, and within budget.

  2. Simple or Intricate Detail?

    The level of detail you want your illustrations to contain, much like full colour versus black and white, is an important stylistic decision that will have a big impact on the final product.

    In Part One, we asked about the genre of your book; your answer will now help you to decide on your level of detail. Are you publishing a trivia book that requires simple line drawings, much like a cartoon strip in the newspaper? Are you looking for a strikingly beautiful landscape painted to your specifications? Perhaps you’re seeking a futuristic scene with a moody backdrop for your scifi novel’s cover?

    If you’ve decided to have your illustrations created by FriesenPress, they can be created to one of three levels of detail to suit your vision and budget. And since you don’t need to micromanage and send emails about trim sizes, bleed margins, and CMYK vs RGB, you can tend to the other things on your agenda, like your appointment with coffee and a good book (research, obviously). 

  3. Who Does It Best?

    You’ve decided upon your colour palette and level of detail. But who will your illustrator be? You may wish to talk to two or three illustrators, bringing all the information that you’ve collected to them so that they can provide you with quotes that are as accurate as possible from the get-go. Illustrators may be able to provide you with a sample sketch or illustration upon request.

    If you’ve decided to employ a FriesenPress illustrator, then you’ve spoken to your Author Account Manager (AAM) and completed the forms that will direct your illustrator in their initial sketches. With the information you’ve provided the Illustrations Coordinator will select the three most fitting illustrators whose work compliments your requirements. Your AAM will then send you their portfolios to consider in your own time. This is an excellent time to speak to friends and family and gather their thoughts and opinions before moving ahead. A sample sketch or sample illustration is available upon request. 

  4. How Do They Make Me Feel?

    While you’re considering the artists’ portfolios, ask yourself, How do I feel when I look at this illustration? Are you moved? Amused? Fascinated? Repulsed? What response do you wish for your reader to have when they look at it? If you want your readers to feel warm and fuzzy when they read your book, and you feel warm and fuzzy looking at an illustrator’s work, chances are you’ve found your illustrator.
  5. Make Your Move!
    Once you’ve decided on your illustrator, make it official! Once you do, your initial pencil sketches will be commissioned and the world you’ve created will be well on its way to becoming a visual reality! 

Written & Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial & Illustration Coordinator