“What advice would you give yourself fresh out of college?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: If the young you, fresh out of a BFA program, strolled into your office today and asked you for advice on managing his coming illustration, animation, and writing career, what advice would you give him? What has been the biggest problem on your path you wish you could have avoided? Has there been an opportunity you now wish you had taken?

How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleAdams: I’d give him the best advice I’ve ever received from a stranger. I met her on a flight returning from Los Angeles. She recommended I read these three books: The Greatest Salesman in the World, because we all want to give up. Love is Letting Go of Fear, we all have a personal obstacles to overcome. How to Win Friends and Influence People, because you’re not a people person until you learn to listen.

When the student returns after reading these, I’d recommend, The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. And I’d recommend he select two fields of illustration. The first being his focus; the second an alternate income stream. Next I’d recommend seeking out the ugly books in the world and being a better illustrator than the publisher’s existing illustrator.

My greatest problems were not understanding my value and not having a mentor/support system. My first illustration clients took advantage of my inexperience by underpaying and not sharing profits through royalties. I also invested thousands of dollars displaying my portfolio along with hundreds of other illustrators. I also joined organizations that charged to critique my portfolio.

IMG_2307Through trial and error, I learned good clients want to share their success; hanging with publishers is more profitable than hanging with illustrators; and non-paid critiques from professionals are genuine. The opportunities I would have taken sooner, are joining a publishing organization like IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association); cultivating a professional mentor relationship with an illustrator—not as a crutch; and starting my business fresh after graduation.

If I started again from college graduation, I would purchase a building with two storefronts in a small town for the price of a house. One unit’s rent would cover the mortgage. The second unit would serve as my business/studio. The upstairs would be converted to my loft/home. My clients would be found at large conferences where publishers and authors congregate. Technology makes small businesses into global business.

Who says being 20-something is a requirement to start a business. I might retire at 50 and start something new!

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

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“How did you become Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards Judge?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You also served as a Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards judge. How did you win this job? Did somebody else nominate you or did you nominate yourself? You won several awards from this group, so did they automatically nominate you to judge when you hit a certain number of award wins? Beyond what appears on the official rules for contests, what practically makes a difference between illustrations that win an award and those that don’t? Is there an obvious difference between the winners and losers? And if so, what are the most common mistakes made by the losers?

IMG_0638Adams: I met the Readers’ Favorite founder, Debra Gaynor, several times in Miami, Atlanta, Nashville and Frankfort. She solicited me like every author who had a quality book that would grow the now international Reader’s Favorite Awards and Review program. Jilli, That’s Silly! written by Christa Carpenter, received a gold medal and I planned to attend the ceremony in Miami. Debra also invited me to present on the Value of Illustration during the Readers’ Favorite two night annual awards ceremony. While at breakfast, I sketched in my current Best Sketchbook. James Ventrillo, current CEO of Readers’ Favorite, introduced himself and began an impromptu interview for the Reader’s Favorite Illustration Awards judge position.

IMG_0523The awards won through their organization did not automatically make me judge. Professional experience earned the position. Several hundred books in various genres are submitted each year. Judging occurs throughout the year based on: character development, storytelling, cover design, layout, etc. Once a book is scored, the score is final. Until the scoring is complete, who the winner is remains a surprise for them and me.

We’ve all seen books that are obvious winners and losers. I judge on the criteria specifically. Common mistakes made are strong illustrations and a weak graphic design. Cover design is 10 points. If the cover design scores low, great illustrations may not win. Another common mistake is inexperience. The art must relay the story to a non-reader.

My biggest reward in participating as the Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards Judge is hearing a winner say, “I didn’t think I was that good,” or “There are more talented artists than me.” Receiving feedback from your peers is important!

 

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

“How did you get illustration projects?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: How did you convince the first person that hired you as an animator/ illustrator that you deserved the job? Would you/ have you showed your portfolio from those days to the general public? Why or why not? (Can you share any of your early illustrations/ drawings as part of this interview?) What was the highest amount you’ve made for one of your illustrations? Was it from a flat payment for freelance work, or a percentage in royalties based on sales of the book? How did you get that project? Did you work with an agent? While in theory people told you that you can grow rich from illustration, has this really been the case in your experience. This is probably of top interest to new illustrators who are considering if this path is worth the sacrifice of more artsy pursuits.

IMG_1991Adams: The first person who hired me as an illustrator chose me because I had a sketchbook full of drawings with me. I had the person describe in words a character: appearance, emotion, and action. As they spoke, I drew. When they asked for my card, I told them I didn’t have one, but wrote their name inside my journal. They left hoping I’d call or email, because I had the drawing of their character in my sketchbook.

That’s how you get the job. Don’t carry a cumbersome portfolio of messy charcoal figure drawings. Don’t send them to your weak website, because they won’t bother viewing your portfolio page. Don’t wait!

Drawing in public was my best portfolio. Developing the spiel took some time, but worth every failure. It goes kinda like this:

Contact: “Hey, you’re talented. Are you a professional illustrator?”

Me: “Yes, I’m an award-winning children’s book illustrator.”

Contact: “Wow, I know a friend who has written a children’s book and needs an illustrator.”

Me: “That’s wonderful, I don’t have a card, but I’ll write down your email and you can forward it on to your friend. They can contact me when they’re ready.”

Contact: “Wonderful. Where can I get one of your books?”

Me: “I’ve illustrated over 50. If you go to the Barnes and Noble in the mall and buy a book, I’ll sign it now before I leave.”

Contact: “I’ll be right back!”

See how working on the spiel can land contracts and sell books. It took time though.

The most I’ve ever received for a single painting was $2,500 freelance for Marc Michaels Interior Design in Orlando, Florida. Nancy Short, Principal at Ansana Interior Design, Inc., commissioned my services after seeing art and furniture I had created for my own home.

My children’s book illustrations pay a deposit up front (average $8,000.00) and a royalty for the life of the book including merchandising (average 10-20%). I tend to be my own agent, actively interviewing prospective clients. The more hands in the cookie jar, the fewer cookies for everyone.

FullSizeRenderGetting “rich” as an illustrator is one of those words with double meaning. Is rich money? Is rich knowledge? Is rich cultivating strong relationships? As an illustrator, I invested $100 in supplies and generated $8,000 and a 10% royalty for life. That’s rich when you finish 6-8 books a year. As a publisher, holiday book sales make you rich! Until January, when you reorder 20,000 books to replenish inventory.

The knowledge and relationships cultivated through this journey are priceless. My animation dream was the stepping stone to my full potential. Authors and Illustrators create new realities for themselves and others.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

“Which illustration guide has helped you the most professionally?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Which software do you use to illustrate children’s books, to design books and for other components of illustration and design? Do you prefer some over others, and if so why? Which guide to illustration has helped you the most to illustrate professionally and to make your covers appealing to the mainstream market?

Adams: I use Adobe’s Creative Suite: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Every traditional watercolor illustration is scanned and manipulated using Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes illustrations are created with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, upon the publisher’s request. Vector logos are created using Adobe Illustrator to eliminate the need of recreation for vector routers. All programs have unique benefits. I recommend learning the basics. Go to the program’s help menu or YouTube to learn something in a pinch.

UnknownThe Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is for any professional or aspiring artist. Illustration is a broad term covering line art to oil paintings. I’ve used this book for over eight years as a business resource. Pricing projects and creating contracts has been profitable using industry standards found within the handbook.

Every graphic artist is unique. No two illustration projects are the same. Use the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines to set pricing guidelines for your business. Authors, Art Directors, and Publishers can use this book to budget projects. If you need a used copy, email me. I’ll sell you mine and get the latest.

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

“Do you currently have a great studio?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: In the OUTBACK, one of your characters, Marq, seems to reflect some of your thoughts when he tells Driew, “‘I think I-4’s been under construction since they started. It’s like a house or this studio – a perpetual work in progress. Seventeen years of seeking a studio when what I wanted was out back all along.’” Then Driew proposes visiting a Kentucky State Park, and Marq agrees, and then he says he admires Marq’s drawings, and asks if they are for a new book, but Marq explains: “‘Actually, they’re not for new books. They’re from thoughts – past and present. I figured getting them on paper would free me to focus on the money makers…’” (148). Have you had any difficulties building an art studio in terms of constructing it, gathering funds for it and the like? Do you currently have a great studio? Is it open to the public? Do you think a modern artist needs a studio, and if so why?

AdamsI-4 (Interstate 4) is the highway that extends from the East Coast to West Coast of Central Florida. Informational text is included throughout OUTBACK and the series to educate both U.S. and international readers who may visit the places in the books. The continuous construction of I-4 and of a home is to show how environment shapes family life. The Family Tree Novel Series will have two editions: a novel and an illustrated novel version.

As an illustrator no one asks me, “Which character are you?” As an author, that’s the first question readers ask. My answer: I’m every character, action, and moment. In OUTBACK, Marq, Driew Qweepie’s father, is a freelance illustrator who never became a professional. I won’t cause a spoiler, but Marq’s back story is reveled throughout the series. His character is a compilation of numerous illustrator friends and the challenges we all face. Marq voices his concerns, like a parent, to help Driew and readers understand an illustrator’s career. Rarely do illustrators have a studio bigger than a table in a remote corner of their house. And when we get a studio, it’s years in the making.

Mark Wayne Adams and Elaine Goldberg.

I do think some artists need a studio, not a hideout. Every book I illustrate is created remotely: kitchen table, poolside, gymnastics practice, airport, or a Costa Rican rooftop deck. I’m an illustrator dad. While my children finish homework at the kitchen table, I work. During gymnastics practice, I work. Even while the family sleeps in on vacation, I work. Author/Illustrator is a family friendly career. Managing and committing to a work schedule is the greatest challenge.

I have three main “studios”: an outdoor patio table by my screened pool, the Kentucky book warehouse, and a Panera Bread. My best work is created in public. While illustrating Parts of Speech Parade: New York City, written by Irina Dolinskiy, I painted in various Orlando, Florida Panera Bread locations. Patrons compelled to comment would say, “I’ve been to New York City before!” Instant feedback and a new fan eager to purchase a prerelease copy of the book!

Ciao Rolling Carry On BagHonestly my art studio is a rolling bag, stocked with several pads of watercolor paper, Prismacolor pens, five favorite brush sizes, and a Grumbacher watercolor set (24 colors). One $40.00 watercolor set creates illustrations for approximately fifteen children’s books. The watercolor paper investment in each 32 page book is about 3 pads of 12 sheets (roughly $30.00). Gathering funds to start an illustration business is easy. For under $100, anyone can start an illustration business!

IMG_3796My business model is unique in that I license the digital illustrations to the publisher. All physical artwork remains property of MWA, Inc. The words “digital illustrations” in my contracts helped my business make choices. MWA, Inc. owns illustrations from over 40 children’s books (approximately 1,200 original illustrations). My CPA says the art is valued at the cost of the paper, $1,200.00. When sold as art, the value ranges from $500–$1,000 each. Most fine artists don’t consider illustration as art, but I beg to differ. This children’s book illustration collection could cover a football field; fill multiple art galleries at once; and continues to generate an annual income through reproductions. The reproductions generate more money than the original is worth. I’ve only sold a few originals to serious collectors.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

3 Secrets to Transitioning into Professional Illustration

I’ve shared numerous “trade secrets” with fellow artists. I thank Joe Duncan, phenomenal illustrator and printmaker, for asking this question:

“Mark,

Now’s the part where I ask you for something. I’ve always looked to you as a mentor, and your advice has never steered me in anything, but the right direction. Our past conversations have always challenged and rewarded me on a professional level and personally as a growing artist. I was hoping pick your brain about making the transition into more full-time freelancing career. I would like to chat about the things I should be thinking of and taking into consideration, as well as checkpoints, I should be looking for to guide my decision to make this planned transition meaningful and effective.

—Joe”

#1.  Understand your value before becoming a freelancer. Remove freelance artist from your vocabulary! Professional Illustrators, Graphic Designers, even Sandwich-makers have added value. Clients respect the word “pro” far more than the word “free.” Professionals in any career require a basic income to exist: bread, water, cell phone, etc. Some professionals desire a more comfortable existence: reliable car, home, etc., while others choose a lifestyle: brand names, travel, etc. No matter your professional classification, define the value of your time with a desired monetary outcome.

#2.  Develop multiple income streams. Yes, don’t quit the day job yet. For aspiring illustrators, the day job and illustration contracts are multiple income streams. If balancing these two isn’t possible, a full-time illustration career may not be for you.

Transitioning from Art Director, a 40-60 hour week at base salary, to “freelance” illustrator was double the work. Believe me, I was that guy. Now as a professional illustrator, most people assume I have one job—not true. I’m an illustrator, author, publisher, graphic designer, and public speaker. My annual income fluctuates between several income streams.

For my transition roadmap, I concentrated my time in one area of illustration—picture books. My reason was, do something fun that you’ll enjoy after working all day. I committed to watercoloring one page a day for two hours. This commitment allowed me to illustrate a picture book every 30 days, if I wanted. Below is how I mapped out the income for the transition.

First Year:
4 illustration contracts:  120 days to earn $24,000–$30,000
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Vacation:  10 days to earn $0

Estimated Annual Income:  $69,000–$75,000 for 355, 8-hour work days, which included 120, 2-hour nights.

Second Year:
4 illustration contracts:  120 days to earn $24,000–$30,000
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Public Speaking:  5 days to earn $2,500
Royalties:  1500-5000 books sold in 365 days to earn $1,500–$5,000 in royalties. (Royalty based on 10% of a $10 Net Sale or $1.00 per book sold.)
Vacation:  5 days to earn $0

Estimated Income:  $73,000–$87,500 for 355, 8-hour work days, which included 120, 2-hour nights. Plus, 5 days vacation were allocated to public speaking.

By the end of the second year, the day job salary of $45,000 (355, 8 hour work days) was matched with my Professional Illustrator income of $30,500–$40,000 (120, 2-hour nights and 5, 6-hour days speaking). Note: My Professional Illustrator’s income was created through multiple income streams: contracts, royalties, and speaking.

Full-time Professional:
5 illustration contracts:  150 days to earn $30,000–$40,000
Public Speaking:  45-60 days to earn $22,500–$30,000
Royalties:  4500–9000 books sold within 365 days to earn $4,5000–$9,000 in royalties. (Royalty based on 10% of a $10 Net Sale or $1.00 per book sold.)
Vacation:  155 days while earning royalties from past contracts

Estimated Income:  $57,000–$79,000 (for 210 days of work). Note: This income was pretax, and based on my timely completion of projects, hence professional.

#3.  Don’t quit the day job until asked or all debt has be paid in full.  Two incomes are better than one—ask my wife. With the additional income from illustrating, pay off or down debt while saving six months salary. After quitting the day job, deadlines become less demanding and laziness takes over. Minimal debt and a financial buffer are necessities during any transition. Marriage wasn’t a reliable financial buffer—ask my divorced friends.

Once the transition was complete, I had 155 vacation days! I dedicated 100 days to new projects that generated income or enhanced my professional skills. This left me with 55 vacation days, enough to make previous co-workers and family envious.

I attribute my decade of success to understanding the value of my time, maintaining multiple income streams, and working through my potential laziness. The above formula remains my roadmap for transition and maintaining a professional illustration career.

Quoting Illustrations: A Simple Formula

Quoting illustration projects varies among professionals. The formula discussed in this post gives authors, indie publishers, and new illustrators a simple formula for quoting picture book illustrations.

This “Simple Formula” was created using the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook average $500 to $2,500 pricing for a color, single page, picture book illustration. Illustrators with a fine arts degree and little to no picture book experience $500 to $1,000 is a fair per page price.

$1,000 per page will be the example used. 

An average picture book is 32 pages. Whether the title and copyright pages are excluded, a front and back cover illustration is needed. 32 pages is a fair estimate for any picture book quote.

32 illustrations at $1,000.00 per page equals $32,000.00. Encountering an author or publisher who purchases illustrations outright is unlikely. Negotiating a percentage deposit and a licensing royalty* is standard for publishing budgets.

The formula works in this way. Ask for a 25% non-refundable deposit**, which equals $8,000.00 (.25 X $32,000.00 = $8,000.00), plus a 10% royalty on the book and all licensed products. If a book has a Net Sale of $10.00, the illustrator is paid $1.00 (.10 x $10.00 = $1.00) as a royalty.

Low budget desirable projects allow illustrators to decrease the deposit and increase the royalty. If the illustration budget is $4,000.00, ask for a 12.5% non refundable deposit, which equals $4,000.00 (.125 X $32,000.00 = $4,000.00), plus a 20% royalty on the book and all licensed products. If a book has a Net Sale of $10.00, the illustrator is paid $2.00 (.20 x $10.00 = $2.00) as a royalty.

Meet any desired illustration request, create income during non-illustration time, and save time quoting projects using this formula.

*Note: Understand the difference in licensing rights verses assigning rights. One limits the usage rights while the other transfers rights. 

**Note: Deposits are usually paid in increments throughout the illustration process. 50% deposit, 25% after layout, and 25% upon completion or vice versa.

Consistency Counts: Picture Books

Consistency counts in performing well in life and work. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a professional illustrator, practice enhances performance. Studying anatomy, objects, and perspective make even the simplest cartoons believable. Cartoons created without an understanding of these skills appear flat and unprofessional.

Don’t be intimidated by the unknown. Practice skills until they’re no longer a weakness. If your abs are the weakest point, lay off the foods that cover them up. If your draw a hand that looks like a pancake with five sausages, time to study.

Use these five books to correct errors in your illustrations:

  1. The Book of a Hundred Hands (Dover Anatomy for Artists), George B. Bridgeman
  2. Dynamic Figure Drawing, Bume Hogarth
  3. The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature (Dover Art Instruction), Ken Hultgren
  4. Cartoon Animation (Collector’s Series), Preston Blair
  5. Anatomy for the Artist, Jeno Barcsay

When illustrating a picture book be consistent—will appreciate your hard work.

Meet Eddie Price: “Widder’s Landing” and “Little Miss Grubby Toes Series”

Eddie Price is a lifelong native of Kentucky. A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College (BA) and Western Kentucky University (MA and Rank I). Eddie has taught history for 36 years (31 at Hancock County High School). He has also taught part-time classes for Owensboro Community & Technical College.

The winner of numerous teaching awards, Eddie has coached many award-winning academic teams and history contest winners. He is active in the Hancock County Historical Society and helped organize the Young Historians Club. Eddie is world traveler who enjoys bicycling, horseback riding and swimming. He now lives in Hancock County, Kentucky.

Eddie is also an award-winning author of Widder’s Landing, Life and Love on the Kentucky Frontier. The first book in his children’s book series is Little Miss Grubby Toes, Steps on a Bee. Eddie’s charismatic personality shines through in Little Miss Grubby Toes naughty but lovable character.

Let Eddie bring his award-winning teaching style to your classroom! Author Eddie Price is renowned for his energetic, educational school visits. He combines his talents with safety personnel in your community to present an entertaining lesson that could save lives.

Visit www.eddiepricekentuckyauthor.com to learn about Eddie’s books and presentations.

Eddie Price
175 Windsong Drive
Hawesville, KY 42348
Author Facebook Page www.facebook.com/eddieprice.1954

Contacting Clients: Illustrator Follow Up

Be selective with projects and be selective with clients. The pitch has been made though a previous meeting. The potential client’s contact information was received. Now what? Continue the momentum through prompt follow up!

  • Send an email to the contact within two days. The email should include the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Use this example:

“Hello Ms. Jones,

    We meet (where?) at Book Expo America (when?) two days ago. I was (who?) the somewhat funny illustrator. Your (what?) book about fairies sounds exciting. (why?) We can create a profitable story using both our talents. (how?) My contact information is listed below. 

Our meeting was brief.  Did you have any additional questions?

Kindly,

The Professional Illustrator

  • Follow up one week later with an email that reminds the contact of your first email and ends with, “please kindly respond upon receipt.” They will feel obligated to respond or end the discussion.
  • FAQ’s Section Reduce email time by creating daft emails with answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Give correct information. If the information isn’t readily available, don’t make something up. Kindly respond, “Great question! I will research this topic and get back with you shortly.” This builds credibility and doesn’t cause frustration.
  • Be a good listener. Observation is key. Ask personal questions using this simple F-O-R-MF: What is your Family like? O: What is your current Occupation? R: What do you do for Recreation? M: What do you do for Money.? Here are examples:
  1. Mr. Smith do you come from a large family? I bet the Smith children love to read your stories!
  2. I bet you use your talent in your occupation. What does your employer think of your writing?
  3. I run for fun. What would Mr. Smith do for recreation?  I noticed you like sports Mr. Smith, do you play?
  4. I bet working for your company is financially rewarding. If money were not an issue, what are 5 things you’d do for free Mr. Smith?
  • Determine a deadline on the third email. Determine when a client wants to release their book. If the project is six months from starting, kindly email the client once every other month. Keep the enthusiasm you’ve created in the first email. Offer your windows of illustration opportunities. If a project is not of interest, give clients a referral to a trusted illustrator.
  • Be in control of time. Don’t chase a contact! If there has been no communication, file the contact as tentative. There are hundreds of other authors willing to make illustrating easy.

Resources:

Blog Post: Contacting Clients: Illustrator Elevator Spiel

Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, Graphic Artist Guild