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Old 03-23-2012, 04:14 PM   #1
Grigoris
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My experience finding an artist

I’m currently in the midst of producing my first digital comic book series (7 issues) about the metal band Satanic Hell venturing unknowingly into a religious dystopia, a story I wrote and will self-publish.

I spent several years working the script and once it was ready, I researched how to get started, including reading great advice from wonderful folks on this site- elea and comicbookwriter, to name a few. Elea's posts on In Maps and Legends are extremely useful. Once armed with knowledge, I was ready to start the mercurial quest for an artist.

After looking through the various artist sites (ConceptArt, DeviantArt, DigitalWebbing...) I decided on ConceptArt, which seemed to have a more professional field. I was paying as well. With about 30 replies, much of the art submitted was good, but standard superhero stuff. I was looking for a different style. I found one who stood out- an amazing creative design artist who had one 7 page sequential comic.

We began immediately but after a month, progress slowed. He cited family obligations. I was patient, wanting to see this through with the perfect artist. Months more went by. I waited to see if his time situation would improve, but art only trickled in. Then he let me know he couldn’t finish. He was honest the entire time and I bear no ill will, but 7 months had passed and I had to start again. I probably should have called it earlier, but I was too attached to the art. I know many of you are probably familiar with this scenario. (comicbookwriter talks about this in one of his podcasts).

The second time around I posted on ConceptArt and DeviantArt. DeviantArt has amateurs, but they also have solid professionals. I like both and will definitely use multiple sites in future searches. I quickly had 70 replies combined. As before, I found a couple concept artists with really creative styles but no history of sequential art. I ruled them out this time. One experienced sequential artist kept emailing me about the project. He wanted the job. He sent in samples, unsolicited. He had solid experience finishing issues and was sending me creative styles. He believed in the project. So we joined forces and production is in full swing. If all goes well, we'll have a summer 2012 release.

So after this, here’s my thoughts- the artist you want is one who does a quality job, will complete the work, finishes on time, and is excited about your project. Beyond paying, you need an artist who can prove they have endurance - a portfolio of completed comics. No matter how cool their art is, if they don’t have it, the risk of your project not taking off increases. With unpublished artists, just make sure they have completed entire issues, even for their own sake. Otherwise, its a big roll of the dice. I would look for markers they can finish on time, such as past work. Making sure they are dedicated further increases chances for success and that the work will be timely. This can be hard to measure, but I found most artists replied saying something really generic like “Please consider me”. Only a few referenced my search: “This is a great project and I want to be part of it” and went into details.

Any other thoughts about finding the right artist?
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:30 PM   #2
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That's a really interesting experience. Tell me, if you can -- what kind of schedule were you asking your artists to meet? Twelve pages a month, more, less?
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:42 AM   #3
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I'm interested in seeing how this ends up working for you. I've got an idea I've been working on that I think would fit well in the comic realm, so seeing how you go about hiring an artists is good knowledge. Wish I could help with your question, but I'm just a noob.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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For pages, I was asking 22-24 pages in 4-6 weeks. I posted this in the ad and artists were fine with that in their replies.

An untended consequence of my scenario led to this: the initial art I had from the first artist helped attract more high-quality artists to the project the second time around and attract fans. The artists liked what they saw: a Facebook page with cool visuals, good story, and fans. So one strategy could be hiring a knock-out concept artist that does a style you like for the initial images. This way you can create hype and attract a proven sequential artist to complete your project and he will know the style you’re after and be interested. The Facebook page has really helped with promotion. Surely something to do from the beginning once you get some art.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:32 PM   #5
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Ironically, I think you've arrived at the true purpose of concept art all on your own: to motivate interest in a project and establish creative direction. That is what concept artists train to do, and that is what they are best at.

Conceptart.org has grown so large you can find nearly any sort of illustrator there, but concept art (which is consumed heavily by the video game industry) was the original focus of their site, and it continues to shape the 'house style' over there. Comic specific boards like digital webbing probably have a higher proportion of artists who understand the demands of sequential art.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
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The second time around I posted on ConceptArt and DeviantArt.
where did you post on DeviantArt? or, more to the point, where can you post on DeviantArt to say "I have a project and need artists", etc.?

and did you offer payment on either of these places? (guessing you did.)
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:24 AM   #7
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There is a forum on DA for offering work (actually, one for paid and one for unpaid)
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:12 AM   #8
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Ria13, regarding Deviant Art,

Paid job offers: http://forum.deviantart.com/jobs/offers/
Unpaid: http://forum.deviantart.com/community/projects/

Keep in mind, some sites consider back end or royalty only offers as unpaid jobs. I can't remember if dA is one of them, but the following go in the Projects Forum:
  • Contests, regardless of winnings
  • If you plan on offering Points or a Subscription as payment
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fritzthefox View Post
Ironically, I think you've arrived at the true purpose of concept art all on your own: to motivate interest in a project and establish creative direction. That is what concept artists train to do, and that is what they are best at.
Great point. When I started out, I assumed concept art was just for the project creators - that is, just for the inside folks to nail down the concept they were thinking of. I wasn't even thinking of an outside audience. Next time around, I would definitely post on Digital Webbing as well.

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and did you offer payment on either of these places? (guessing you did.)
Yes, I did put put my payment on both posts. It helps let the artist know if its a job they're willing to take and can also attract artists if the payment is right. I offered an advance plus 50/50 split on royalties.
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:27 PM   #10
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There is a forum on DA for offering work (actually, one for paid and one for unpaid)
erm, I had wanted a leeetle bit more information than that. (I do have some familiarity with DeviantArt. I hadn't known that they had forums.)
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:08 PM   #11
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As an update, I am happy to report that the pencils are done for the first issue and inking is underway. Here's a poster done by the artist for the series, Kevin Enhart, with colors by Jimmy Kerast:



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Old 04-23-2012, 05:59 PM   #12
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I was considering a comic for one of my pieces (I'm NEVER going to get the piece off the ground and would be better suited as a comic than a novel). However, I'm put off by the price. How much of an advance did you offer, if you don't mind me asking?

The work looks amazing but I found ConceptArt to be a bit too "arty" with folk spending months on each frame, making wonderful computer bits of art but generally not willing to lower themselves to the level of mere writers...

Your stuff looks amazing and I'm interested already...
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:26 AM   #13
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I was considering a comic for one of my pieces (I'm NEVER going to get the piece off the ground and would be better suited as a comic than a novel). However, I'm put off by the price. How much of an advance did you offer, if you don't mind me asking?
What I can say about the advance for the artist is what I found many sources saying - that $500 to $1,500 is a good place to start per issue. Obviously the more you pay, the higher quality and experience you get. $1,500 to $5,000 per issue seems to be the next level up, and then there’s the Image and Marvel/DC rates beyond that. (Artist Sean Murphy gets $10,000 to ink a 22 page issue, although he’s unsure of how long inkers will last with the new tech). Royalty rates vary as well.

Its still expensive to produce a comic book series for sure, but the costs of entry have plummeted. I remembered being thrilled in high school upon discovering Kinkos and the ability to publish underground comics with some friends. We didn’t need the massive entry costs for publishing a standard comic. Our largest print run was 250 issues, which sold out but there were still obvious limitations. Now, you can publish to the whole world with a comparable product to the major companies with significantly less costs. Its incredible. With POD and digital technology, the cost of production and distribution has nosedived.

Easier entry means an ocean of offerings now and the quality of the new comics will vary. However, more daring and fresh comic stories and art will continue to emerge and replace some or even a lot of the space the bigger companies occupy now. The challenge is getting interest in your comic amidst all the new entrants. I would say the big factor in deciding to go with a comic/graphic novel is your passion for the project.

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Your stuff looks amazing and I'm interested already...
Thanks! Glad you enjoy. The new inks are looking awesome. Just posted a page to the site.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:05 AM   #14
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That's the price I saw, although some of the chaps on conceptArt were talking about $80 frames and 6-18 months to complete a project! I suppose it's a case of shopping around. Love comics and would love to produce one as a momento if nothing else, but 18 months is a BIG commitment to sign up to! I think you have done the right thing as surely it's expensive regardless, may as well be really expensive and really good, rather than expensive and ok...
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:19 PM   #15
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...6-18 months to complete a project!
Not unusual in some circles, and there are professionals who have that kind of schedule for a 22 page comic (look at some of the dates listed for early 90s comics, and the gaps which got bigger and bigger as the months went by). I've always looked for people through personal recommendations or knowing what work they have done before, which is especially important if you have other things going on at the same time - don't get so caught up in one comic that you aren't looking at other outlets for your writing at the same time. Been there, did that.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:30 AM   #16
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Thanks so much for this post, Grigoris. This isn't anything I plan to do but I loved hearing about your process.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:12 PM   #17
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Thanks so much for this post, Grigoris. This isn't anything I plan to do but I loved hearing about your process.
Thanks! Glad to hear its informative.

As another update, Jimmy Kerast - the illustrator and colorist who did the colors on the poster above - has joined work on the comic. When I started, I originally envisioned the comic as b&w - perfect style for a series about a metal band. But Kevin suggested that he try adding some textured colors, which better fit his style of art. We liked it. Then for the poster, he suggested a fellow artist try the colors. When we saw Jimmy's work, we both agreed it was phenomenal and I asked him to join. Its worth the extra investment. Not only will it make the art even better, it will be easier to complete the comics on schedule. Also, I didn't mention before that my brother is the editor, and has been since I started writing the story. Editors are something that AWers recommend of course, but not all comic creators use them it seems. As with any writing, its essential. So now we have a full team. The first issue is inked and the coloring has started.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:48 AM   #18
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To throw my comment and question out there: I'm completely sketched out by the idea of having someone do concept art. I've been on deviantArt for years as a lurker, compiling favorites and taking notes on who does commissions. I feel as though having an image of my character would help me mentally move forward, get more of a grasp of a character that's going to be visualized throughout. What I'm worried about is the specifics and potential ramifications of having someone draw a character for me if that person is not going to be drawing the character for the comic itself.

Is there some hard and fast rule of thumb in regards to concept art and the commissioning thereof? Is it necessary to get some form paper documentation stating that I own the rights to said character as my own intellectual property, that the commissioned image is also my property to do with as a please once the image is completed, that the artist has no claim to moneys made from the likeness of the character they drew but I created? Is this even fair to the concept artist, who (on deviantArt) is likely to receive between $25-50? Is it necessary to outline every detail of the character so as to come to the understanding that anyone could've drew it, I just paid one person to do so? If I have a few people draw a couple characters of my creation up, is it possible that down the road I'll have all those same people knocking on my door for money if any ever comes my way?

Basically, there's a lot of questions about it that bother me. I would like concept art to have something to work with mentally, but I don't know where exactly those moral and legal lines are drawn.
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Old 05-06-2012, 01:16 PM   #19
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You need a work for hire contract, explicitly stating that you own all rights to the likeness. Such a contract is outside my area of expertise (which is why publishing comics is so damn expensive when you aren't drawing it and want all rights retained), so you should consult someone with legal experience in that area.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
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...What I'm worried about is the specifics and potential ramifications of having someone draw a character for me if that person is not going to be drawing the character for the comic itself.

...Basically, there's a lot of questions about it that bother me. I would like concept art to have something to work with mentally, but I don't know where exactly those moral and legal lines are drawn.
As BigWords said - you need a work-for-hire agreement. Some of the artists on DeviantArt state their policies for commissions and I've seen some saying that they draw the concept you give them and you own the copyright. They should have the rights to use the image for their portfolio and receive credit when the art is used. Artist rights can be a sensitive issue, so being upfront and willing to negotiate terms is important. Beyond legal advice, some internet research will give you background. Here's a sample contract I just found with a quick search: Work-for-hire agreement. You probably don't need something that elaborate, but it gives you an idea. There's more examples and info out there.
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