It happened again. I saw a Reddit post on here (r/ComicBookCollabs) by a writer looking for an artist. Like so often happens, the writer in need was not in a position to pay. It was a “for exposure” opportunity. I just couldn’t not say something. The advice I gave this person, made me think a post of my own would be of merit. Here’s my advice to all writers who want to hire an artist.
The Way It Goes
I know how this goes because this is how I got here. This is a true story.
You have a script, maybe just the first issue, maybe something longer, and you pick up a pencil and do some sketches. After about 2 minutes you throw the pencil down and say, “**** it, I should just hire an artist. I mean, my script rocks so hard they’d probably do it just for the exposure.”
Then you hop on here (r/ComicBookCollabs) and you post a call for collaborations. The words: for exposure and 50/50 royalties are included. Nobody responds.
“What gives?” you ask.
And you wait and wait, and about a week later someone responds to your post. You see the notification and you rush to read the comment. You’re disappointed, it’s not the artist of your dreams prostrating themselves (digitally) so to work on your script. No.
Instead, its a miffed artist telling you that, “…look, buddy, if you want professional level art you need to pay for it. Doesn’t matter how great your script is, artists spend hundreds of hours perfecting their craft. You don’t cash in on that without paying.”
“But I’ll pay 50% of any royalties we make,” you tell this ***hole who is obviously just full of themselves.
And this ***hole responds, “You’re probably not going to make any royalties and it’s unfair to artists to use their talents without ensuring payment.”
And you think, What does that Redditor know?
So you look through this subreddit (r/ComicBookCollabs) and see some of the (for hire) artists. They all charge so much. Why should you pay them when you’re not making any money.
And then it dawns on you. Dang, if I’m going to get an artist I really like, I’m going to have to pay.
So you make another call for submissions. This time, you write the magic words into it: Will Pay.
Within hours you get a flurry of activity. Artists linking you their portfolios in the form of Google Drive Folders, DeviantArt pages, Tumblr blogs, and more.
You begin sifting through all this amazing art. You find some artists that you like. You find some that you REALLY like.
You message your favorite of the lot and ask them what the going rates for their services are. The dreaded number returns. $200 per page for inks, colors, and letters.
You think about this.
You ask yourself: do I believe in my script?
You answer: yes.
You ask yourself: do I believe this is the right artist for my story?
You answer: yes.
You asked yourself: if I believe in my script, shouldn’t I do everything in my power to make my comic as awesome as I think it is?
Ask yourself: does this mean paying the artist of your dreams the professional industry rate.
And this is where I found myself. I told myself: YES!
This is my script, my story, and I love it, and I think other people might love it also, but in order to give this script, this story, the best chance, it means top dollar. It means paying an artist what they deserve. It means keeping an artist excited to illustrate my story, your story because it doesn’t feel like a burden to them. Instead, they know I’m going, you’re going to great lengths to pay them what they’re worth, and this makes them want to deliver a top product. And when you get those sketches, those proofs, that finished page, I know and you will too, that the money was worth it. Because DAMN! this comic is going to be awesome.
Take this as you wish, authors, grain of salt or not. This is my experience of hiring an artist. I will always pay top dollar when I believe in my script. It’s the best way to give my story a chance in an industry crowded with amazing writes, artists, and stories.
I hope this was helpful