What Your Illustrator Wishes You Knew

I’ve worked as an illustrator for several years now and I’ve learned a lot about the relationships we build between author and illustrator. I’ve recently realized how incredibly important it is for an author and illustrator to feel comfortable with and confident in one another, and to be able to communicate with each other effectively. There are a lot of ways in which communication and confidence could fail during the publishing process. To try and bridge the gap between authors and illustrators, I would like to explain a few things the average illustrator wishes his/her author knew.


Illustration is my passion
A common misconception is that artists have to find a side job to support their real work. That they compromise their talent to work in advertising or illustration. While this might be true for some, it definitely doesn’t apply to everyone.

For a lot of us, illustration is our dream job! Illustration is a great way to combine a love for literature and art. When I get a new cover art project for a science fiction novel, I go nuts researching my author and their story. I rejoice when I see my artwork on the shelf at my favorite bookstore! For many of us, it’s more satisfying to see our work inside of a book than on the wall of a gallery.

No need to worry about a lack of passion when hiring an illustrator to work on a project with you- because that’s exactly what your illustrator loves to do.


Illustration is my job
Illustration takes time, training, and critical thinking. Illustrators hold a lot of responsibility in our hands. It’s important that our work supports yours- whether by providing more information, making the story more accessible to younger readers, or simply by making your book look beautiful on the shelf.

This is what we do all day every day. We spend our work day sketching out ideas, researching your work, composing images we think you’ll enjoy, and making the changes you request. While jobs in the visual art field may seem like play from an outside perspective, they’re difficult and they’re not always financially rewarding.

I want you to know: illustration is my job, I deserve the fees I charge, and I’ll work tirelessly to make sure you’re happy with what I create.

I’m a professional I can handle criticism, and I want you to be happy with your final product! Oftentimes I’ve found that authors are hesitant to tell their illustrator what they really want. They’re afraid of offending the artist, of implying that they don’t like their work or that they’re not worth the money they’re being paid. It’s more important, to me, to make my author happy than it is to protect my ego- so fire away!

While there is no reason to be rude or tactless, it’s extremely important that you’re honest with your illustrator. If you’d rather see the same scene from a different viewpoint, if you noticed a few mistakes, or if you simply aren’t happy with something they’ve sent in- tell them! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with something you’d rather not have.

Remember that your illustrator is a professional that you’ve hired, and that they are supporting your work. They can handle the criticism, and your work will only benefit from this honesty. Good communication is the key to success with working with your illustrator.

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