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Budgeting for Illustration, Know thy Client

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Part of what I do at Hire an Illustrator is have clients send me their job briefs and then make appropriated recommendations about who they should hire for their projects in the form of a list of candidates. As the Little Chimp Society is a community of illustrators and people who love illustration, I though I’d share a bit about how it works when it comes to budgets and negotiations, from my point of view.

If I know a client doesn’t have a budget for an illustration job I tell them they need to find one. If they have a small budget and they’d like to work with a quality illustrator I tell them they need to find a bigger one. If they don’t tell me their budget, I don’t ask them unless I suspect they don’t have one. The thing is, negotiating fees is between the illustrator and client. I can make recommendations or offer advice, but there’s a huge variation in what clients can pay and what illustrators charge. People are normally surprised at how affordable custom illustration actually is, even though it’s a very unique thing and not cheap.

A client is buying a custom piece of work and while it can’t be compared to say a custom piece of furniture, it has a lot of the same attributes going for it as far as it being a unique creation is concerned, so there isn’t an off-the-shelf cost. Plus it’s actually quite complicated when it comes to quoting on a job: there’s the experience and reputation of the illustrator to consider; there’s copyright; there’s usage; and there’s the size of the client and the industry they belong to, along with the value an illustration will bring to their project. As I said, it’s complicated. Life would be so much easier if we were all carpenters, we’d measure the space and then price for materials and labor without ever needing to take projections or alternative uses into consideration.

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When a client approaches an illustrator, unless they’re an experienced art director, they should be prepared to have the illustrator ask them questions they may not have thought of. Plus the client should make as much information about the job available to the illustrator from the start. This will allow the illustrator to create an informed quote. It also really helps if the client can tell the illustrator what their budget is, as only the client knows what they can afford. Most of the time a particular illustrator is approached because the client wants to work with them and if the illustrator wants to work with the client, they’ll try to work to the client’s budget. If the client’s budget doesn’t cover the illustrator’s fees, they’ll kindly refuse the job, or try to come to some sort of licensing or other arrangement that’ll make the budget work. Alternatively, if there’s any flexibility in the budget it may go up, it may go down. What it comes down to is both parties needing to negotiate the terms to find something the client and illustrator are happy with. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process, but the more upfront the client is and the less fishing they do, the quicker it will be. Illustrators know what rates they need to charge, clients know what they can afford.

Supply and demand is normal in the commercial world, but should be an afterthought when it comes to illustration. Every piece commissioned is custom and for something specific from it’s inception. Not working to a supply and demand model may be a foreign concept to a business-orientated client who primarily works with numbers, but this is why an illustrator should be aware of this and should know how to handle a client with that mindset… if the client’s expectations aren’t already being managed by an art director or middle man. What clients tend to miss is the inherent value a good illustration can bring to a project, not mentioning the creativity and ideas an illustrator may have. This is why a license is always a good idea too, even a simple illustration has a lot of inherent value and if an illustrator was to hand over the copyright, lock stock and barrel, they’re also transferring all of the image’s value and future worth. Clients don’t normally (and vary rarely) need the copyright to an illustration and it’s worth a lot more to the illustrator than it is to the client. This is why if a client demands the copyright to an image it can add 50-100% (sometimes more) onto the cost of a job. But licenses can have varying terms that allow a client to use an image for their needs. With an illustrator retaining some of its value via the way of a license, budgets and costs can normally be drastically reduced.

Finishing up, what I would say is if you’re an illustrator, make sure you understand the value of your own work and be ready to explain that to your clients. You know what you should be or need to charge and your clients know what they can afford. Communication is the key, work it out.

Artist Credits…
Research World Magazine / Ben Aslett / http://illo.cc/12408
The Lonely Goldfish / Andy Smith / http://illo.cc/10139

Introducing Comic Artist Brendan Purchase

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The man, the myth… Nah only kidding! Brendan’s only been working professionally as an illustrator and comic artist for 3 years now. But what makes him worthy of a mention on the LCS is that we’re really digging his style and the offbeat look of his character work. It’s a refreshing change to the over-polished work dished out by the House of Mouse and DC these days. The organic feel and obviously hand drawn look in my opinion (when it comes to comic work) gives the reader more opportunity to use their imagination and really get into the story. Brendan’s style of work only tends to be seen in indy comics, which is a shame really. It’s not as if bodies and the human figure aren’t distorted beyond nature in the mainstream comics and graphic novels, so why can’t comic artists be a bit more loose with their artistic interpretation instead of perpetuating a distorted view of beauty? Anyway! That’s another topic for a whole other conversation. Brendan’s figure work looks bloody awesome and you know the work was done by someone with talent that cares about art.

Check out a bit more of his work below and have a gander at his full portfolio at brendanpurchase.co.uk. He specialises in horror and dark imagery and is currently taking on new commissions.

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IH8WAR: Artists & Designers Against War

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Friend of the LCS, Charles Hively, recently had a chat with us about a very intriguing project he’s running via his Artisanal Media LLC company with colleague Sarah Munt. Charles is hoping the project will eventually turn into a movement and take on a life of it’s own. IH8WAR was born of a talk they gave at Vienna’s Joseph Binder Symposium in October 2014 on the responsibility of artists and designers to become involved in the state of the world.

You can listen to the talk here…

If you weren’t aware, since 2003 Charles Hively has been the design director for 3×3, and is also the founder and publisher of that awesome publication and website.

The poster at the top of the post was created by Monika Grubizna and below you can check out a few more of the submissions.

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Stop the War – Alberto Ruggieri (Italy)

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Stand – Giulio Bonasera (Italy)

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War = Death – Seymour Chwast (United States)

IH8WAR is accepting submissions; head over to their site for more information. http://ih8war.com/

The work of award winner artist John Hendrix

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For some reason I’d not come across John Hendrix‘s work before, even though he seems to have won dozens of awards and has worked for nearly every client under the sun. I accidentally stumbled across his work on Facebook a couple weeks ago and was really taken with it. So I thought it was only fair to share his awesome illustrations with the rest of you. I’ll have to see if he’s interested in doing an interview.

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There’s a very nice video interview with John if you want to find out more about him.

The art of Alé Mercado and his sketchbook

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A few weeks ago Alé Mercado uploaded a page from his sketch book that reminded me what a fantastic artist he was. Seeing a professional illustrator’s sketchbook is always a pleasure and the page featuring Alé’s Sea Creature/Evil Merman is no exception to this rule.

This isn’t the first time we’ve noticed Alé Mercado’s illustration, a couple of years ago he also took part in Mail Me Art with the piece below and we were very happy he did.

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As you can see, Alé’s work has a very nice quality to it and he isn’t afraid to tackle subjects and compositions that may send less established illustrators running for the hills. Below is a personal piece of his titled Happy St. Jordi. Great use of colour.

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If you’re interested in seeing more of Alé’s work, you can check out his portfolio website at alemercado.com or you can follow him on Facebook.

Sue Todd’s 3×3 Merit Award

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The Picture Book Show of the next 3×3 Directory of Illustration includes a merit award to Sue Todd Illustration for four illustrations from the play, Steam! Taming the River Monster. Steam!, published by Red Chair Press, is a work of historical fiction dramatising the first voyage of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, The Clermont.

External Link: Sue Todd’s 3×3 Merit Award

Showcase 100, available now!

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DSCF2112Showcase 100: Illustration is now available from the LCS shop. With only a week left to go until the exhibition we’re very proud to release the accompanying book of the project. It’s a fantastic publication and I’m sure it’d feel right at home in anyone’s art book collection. It features 100 illustrations from 100 fantastic illustrators, and not just that, it includes a number of sketches, descriptions and bios. Whether you love illustration, want to support the LCS or just want a copy for yourself… Order a copy of Showcase 100! Worldwide shipping available.

About the book…
Showcase 100: Illustration is a 160 page publication of high quality illustrations and sketches from some of the best professional illustrators working in the industry today. We have strived to showcase a wide variety of illustrations that represent the trends and quirks of this creative profession, and have encompassed artwork created for all markets, and countries, and by artists who may be 30 year veterans of the industry or just starting out in their careers. Only 100 illustrations were selected from over 1,400 entries in association with Hire an Illustrator.

DSCF2116Order Showcase 100: Illustration…
thelittlechimpsociety.com/product/showcase-100-illustration

Available exclusively from The Little Chimp Society
Exhibition: sc100.co.uk/exhibition
Join us on 9th April 6-8pm for a drink and chat, all are welcome.
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