Episode 4 Homework

Meeting new clients can happen anytime. As discussed in Illustrator Life Episode 4  illustrators, Mark shares how an illustrator “elevator spiel” can become a memorable client meet cute.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook

#1. Craft an elevator spiel for clients using the example:

Keep it simple if asked, “Do you illustrate books?” or “How much do you charge?” Reply with this simple elevator spiel.

“Yes, I‘m a (type of illustrator) professional children’s book illustrator. Many of my clients choose (type of contract) cost effective royalty contracts for full use of the illustrations from books to licensed products. I can explain more in an email. Do you have a card Prospective Client?”

Spiels quickly qualify clients. Mention professionalism and a contract to deter non-paying clients and attract serious clients. A concise spiel is a must at book events, conferences, even on elevators.

 

#2. Craft a follow up email response for clients using the example:

Create a draft email for contacts that can be sent within two days of your meeting. The email should include the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Use this example:

“Hello Prospective Client,

We meet (where?) at Book Expo America (when?) two days ago. I was (who?) the somewhat funny illustrator. Your (what?) book about Australia sounds exciting. (why?) I believe we can create a profitable book 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

http://www.my-website.com”

 

#3. Create an “illustrator pickup line” mission statement using the examples:
  • “I’m the cure for ugly books!”
  • “I’m make words a thousand times better!”
  • “I draw readers when words don’t.”
  • ”When I’m not drawing flies, I draw illustrated picture books.”

Adding humor to client interactions will make an illustrator memorable. A client’s response reflects their personality.

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Cam Pirrip interview with Mark Wayne Adams

Cam Pirrip’s interview about the new Illustrator Life vlog asked new questions I’ve never shared with followers.

Cam Pirrip: You are currently in the process of creating a illustration channel on Youtube. What made you want to do illustration?

M. W. Adams: While at the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards ceremony in Miami, FL, Rj Tolsen, CEO and Novelist, and James Ventrillo, President of Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards, suggested I share my illustrator life with aspiring illustrators and readers. I chose illustration as a career based on my speed and income possibilities in the industry.

Cam Pirrip: How long have you been an illustrator?

M. W. Adams: My professional illustration business, Mark Wayne Adams, Inc., started full-time 2008, only a decade ago.

Cam Pirrip: What are you looking to accomplish with your new channel?

M. W. Adams: When I started my illustration company in 2008, I had no professional illustration mentors. So I learned through trial and error about publishing industry requirements. By drawing from my professional experience as an art director, manager of a printing company, and experience with Walt Disney World Company and SeaWorld Orlando, I approached illustrating as a business. I started by creating a business plan as a guide rather than working contract-to-contract. I hope my YouTube Illustrator Life episodes will help illustrators worldwide succeed through applying one or more techniques I’ve used.

Cam Pirrip: When can we expect for it to come out?

M. W. Adams: The first episodes release in January covering topics like: creating a business plan, pricing illustrations, and contacting clients. Authors may find these techniques useful too!

Cam Pirrip: As well as your illustration business you have a whole category of children novels, what lead you there?

M. W. Adams: My fans stopped reading my picture books in the third grade and graduated to chapter books. I decided to grow with them by writing in their next genre.

Cam Pirrip: Which one of those books was the most fun to illustrate for?

M. W. Adams:  Jilli, That’s Silly! A Story About Being A GirlI illustrated that book while on vacation in Costa Rica. Each morning I woke early to work until 11 a.m. from the rooftop deck of my villa that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. That book won eight children’s book awards and is the most awarded book I’ve illustrated to date.

Cam Pirrip: You also have a series of novels called the Family Tree Novel series. Do you mind telling us a little about that series?

M. W. Adams: Driew, the protagonist, relocates to his grandfather’s farm. His siblings, which he affectionally calls bothers and sinisters, begin to torment him. He meets the Australian girl-next-door and decides to uproot his family tree with her assistance. From family customs, Driew discovers his family is of aboriginal decent. Each book in the eight book series resolves a family relationship to discover his true family—his friends.

Cam Pirrip: What was it like actually writing a novel versus illustrating?

M. W. Adams: Writing has become a fun balance to illustrating. A picture is worth a thousand words, but weaving words together is equally as inspiring.

Cam Pirrip: What was your source of inspiration for this series?

M. W. Adams: As a kid, I spent summers participating in the local library’s summer reading program and playing out back on my parents farm. I pretended my Outback was a Never Never Land, which was far more adventurous than Peter Pan’s Neverland. About three years ago my cousin suggested I write a story about all those adventures and sibling torments our parents didn’t know about. Like the time a cousin pinned me to the ground, licked her thumbs, and smeared them across my glasses.

Cam Pirrip: Do you have any advice for young illustrators out there?

M. W. Adams: Subscribe to my YouTube channel and blog. Also follow me on social media. I do my best to post quality content to help others succeed. The best way to learn is by being better than your mentor. I know many talented illustrators will achieve far greater success than I have by learning from my professional experiences.

Episode 3 Homework

Illustration pricing varies among professionals and projects. The simple formula discussed in Illustrator Life Episode 3 helps illustrators customize pricing quickly for picture book author and publisher clients. Mark developed his “Simple Formula” by referencing industry standards in the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook

#1.  Determine a base illustration fee using the example:

An average picture book* is 32 pages. 30 illustrations are a fair requirement for any picture book quote. Determine a minimum hourly rate for each licensed*** illustration.

($15 hourly rate x 8 hours production time = $120.00 price per illustration)

Multiply the number of illustrations needed by the price per illustration to equal the base illustration fee.

(30 illustrations needed x $120.00 price per illustration = $3,600.00 minimum illustration fee)

 

#2.  Determine a base royalty illustration fee using the example:

This formula is based on the full purchase price of a physical illustration with unlimited usage rights. Determine a fair purchase price based on: time, materials, and experience level.

($500 illustration purchase price x 30 illustrations needed = $15,000.00 project illustration price for ownership and unlimited usage rights)

Encountering a client who purchases illustrations outright is unlikely. Negotiating a deposit and a licensing*** royalty is popular for client budgets. In the beginning I required a 25% non-refundable deposit of the full price illustrations for my licensing royalty contracts. In this example, the amount equals $3,750.00.

(25% x $15,000.00 price of illustrations = $3,750.00 non-refundable deposit**)

In addition to the deposit, I require a 10%–20% licensing royalty on the book and all licensed products. If a book has a Net Sale of $10.00, the illustrator is paid $1.00 as a royalty.

(10% royalty percentage x $10.00 net sale = $1.00 royalty)

An illustrator may choose to decrease the deposit and increase the royalty. If the illustration budget is $3,000.00, ask for a 20% licensing** royalty on the book and all licensed products. This is $600 below the illustrator’s base illustration fee. If a book has a Net Sale of $10.00, the illustrator is paid $2.00 as a royalty.

(20% royalty percentage x $10.00 net sale = $2.00 royalty) The client would need to sell a minimum of 300 books before the illustrator would receive the $600 difference.

 

#3.  Where to meet prospective clients?

Inside your sketchbook list three book festivals within your area along with: event date, website address, number of author/publisher attendees, and the event coordinator’s contact information.

Meet any desired illustration request and save time quoting projects by customizing the “Simple Formula.”

*Note: Average pricing for a color, single page, picture book illustration

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

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

Episode 2 Homework

In Illustrator Life Episode 2, Mark discusses building a business that works within your day job, that will be useful in transitioning to a full-time illustration career. Develop an annual plan with realistic goals for: contracts, diversified income streams, time management, and more.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook

#1.  Create a general business plan using these examples:

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 by creating an annual business plan.

Example 1: 
4 illustration contracts:  120 days earn $24,000 annual deposit income (4 contracts x $6,000 deposit and 10% royalty = $24,000)
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Vacation:  10 days to earn $0

Estimated Annual Income:  $69,000 (8-hour work days plus 120 2-hour nights) Note: This income is pretax, and based on timely completion of projects, hence professional.

Example 2:
4 illustration contracts:  120 days earn $24,000 annual deposit income (4 contracts x $6,000 deposit and 10% royalty = $24,000)
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Public Speaking:  5 days to earn $2,500 (5 events x $500 = $2,500)
Royalties:  1500 books sold in 365 days to earn $1,500 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 (8-hour work days, 120 2-hour nights, royalties, and 5 days vacation allocated to public speaking) Note: This income is pretax, and based on timely completion of projects, hence professional.

Example 3:
4 illustration contracts:  150 days earn $30,000 annual deposit income (5 contracts x $6,000 deposit and 10% royalty = $30,000)
Public Speaking:  45 days to earn $22,500 (45 events x $500 = $22,500)
Royalties:  5,000 books sold within 365 days to earn $5000 in royalties. (Royalty based on 10% of a $10 Net Sale or $1.00 per book sold.)
Vacation:  170 days to earn additional income

Estimated Income:  $57,500 (1 illustration a day for 150 days, 45 public speaking events, and royalties). Note: This income is pretax, and based on timely completion of projects, hence professional.

#2.  Don’t quit your day job.

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.

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!

#3.  Who is your perfect client?

Inside your sketchbook list three “perfect” illustration clients you would seek. For my transition roadmap, I concentrated my time in one area of illustration—educational picture books. My reason was, do something fun that I enjoyed 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.

 

Episode 1 Homework

In Illustrator Life Episode 1, Mark asks questions an aspiring illustrator should answer before choosing a professional illustration career path.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook…

  • List 5 illustrator related resources you bring to prospective clients. (Examples: caricature artist, art degree, typesetting church newsletters, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you haven’t become a professional illustrator. (Examples: no family support, time limitations, lack of clients, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you want to become an illustrator. (Examples: money, have a published book, fun, etc.)
  • A sketchbook or the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook can be purchased at your favorite book retailer. The handbook may be available at local libraries. Both books are used in future episodes.

The most important part of being a professional is time management. If completion of these four simple tasks isn’t possible, this channel may not be for you at this time.

 

“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

“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