Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sneakery Peekery… art from two works-in-progress.

What’s your favourite way to illustrate a story you’ll be self-publishing?  Do you wait for it to be completely finished, for the text to be polished and ready to go to print, or do you find an illustrator at the first glimmer of a complete story? 

Me, I fall into the latter category – give me pictures as soon as possible, please!

Right now, I’m kind of wondering why I always feel most creative at the times in my life when I am otherwise busiest?  Probably has something to do with procrastination, and not doing the things that are expected of me in other areas! 

But it’s good news for my writing.  And since I love to see pictures of my stories, here are sneak peeks of illustrations two very different works-in-progress that are approaching the finish line.

Two works in progress

The first is a rhyming kids’ book about Chanukah (yeah, yeah, a bit late for that, I know – but there’s always next year!).  The illustrator is creating a very “paint-like” effect that I’m enjoying watching take shape.  Since it’s for younger kids, this book will include one illustration per page.

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The second is a longer book, made up of ten short chapters, a story of a poor boy somewhere in Eastern Europe about a hundred years ago who comes across some mischievous monkeys…

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As a longer book, there are only 1-2 illustrations per chapter, and I decided that, except for the cover, black-and-white is all I really need or want.  I really like how the artist has captured an “old-world” feel in the illustrations I’ve seen so far.  The kid reminds me, just a little, of the wonderful characters drawn by Mercer Mayer for John Dennis Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain series, stories I really loved as a child.

Neither of these stories are anywhere near ready for publication.  Perhaps they’re so close to conception that you’d even call them “embryonic” rather than “fetal.”

Why get the pictures organized so early in the process?

Personally, I find it inspiring to start preparing the illustrations as soon as the story itself has taken on its more-or-less final shape.  When I’m happy with the art, I think it makes even me take the story itself more seriously and do my utmost to whip it into shape so it will be a total package worthy of all this time, attention, and yeah, money.

Both of these illustrators are on fiverr.  I haven’t yet found an artist through any other channel who will work for the peanuts I can afford to pay.  In some cases, they’re double gigs, costing more than $5; others really are a single $5 gig, which – as a novice writer – is a formerly-unimaginable luxury.

I will warn you, though… what you get for $5 on fiverr, especially if you’re in a hurry, is NOT what you get if a) you’re willing to spend more, and/or b) you’re willing to wait longer.  There are still some good cheap artists on there, but for most, there’s a backlog and you should be prepared to be patient.

Which is yet another reason I like to order early – it can take what seems like an eternity.

Whoops – and a third.

Oh – here’s another story I forgot to mention.  This is just something I wrote for fun the other day, and if the other two could be considered embryonic, it’s more of a zygote, and the art is appropriately sketchy to match at this stage.


As a lousy artist (I really am!), I’m grateful for the modern luxury of being able to visualize my stories exactly as I’ve pictured them and watching them come to life.  It would be nice to be picked up by a “real” publisher, and then to not have to buy the illustrations myself, but I doubt I’d ever have as much creative control over the final images.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not 100% sure.  Sometimes I think it’s too much responsibility for someone with zero visual talent.  But on other days, I think I read enough and see enough kids’ books to know what kind of pictures I like.  And then I think I have all the expertise I could possibly need.

What do you think? 

In an ideal world, would you have total control of the illustrations, or would you rather turn your text over to an illustrator, sit back, relax, and see what he or she can make of it?  (or something in between) 

Tell me about your ideal creative experience!


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