Illustration Process YHTR Blog Emma Mactaggart

9. Illustrate

I know I could illustrate a book if I chose to! Confidence for this comes from understanding that everyone can draw. Everyone. It is a universal skill and it is learnt. Those who are amazing illustrators do one thing I don’t – practice, practice, practice. For this reason alone, I now outsource and choose to commission an illustrator to prepare illustrations, which I then purchase. With a contractual agreement in place, I own the rights to use the images though the copyright remains that of the illustrator. I offset the cost of the illustrations through book sales, exhibitions and sale of the original illustrations once the book has been printed and speaking about this entire process in workshops and presentations! For me – it is worth it because I am not prepared to put in the time!

I am often asked where do you ‘find’ an illustrator? There is a magical source (which I have banned myself from because it is so distractingly beautiful!) called ‘The Style File’ where illustrators show their digital folios. I also suggest people go to their local university / tafe (if they offer graphic design or visual arts courses) and make sure you attend the end-of-year exhibition. Sing up for fabulous subscription eZines like Pass It On (profiles an illustrator each week). Of course, and a perfectly wonderful thing to do, is to go the National Gallery of Victoria and check out the Bunyips and Dragons exhibition…

You can approach any living illustrator and commission them to do illustrations for your book! Be brave, ask, and see how you go.

One fabulous hot tip if you are accepting the help from your lovely next door neighbour… Ask them for one sample and scan it. Make sure the image is a quality that can be reproduced. Often, a water colour, or a pencil image looks brilliant to the eye, but once scanned, seems to disappear!


Have fun!


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