This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Transcript: 7/29/10

The best way to distill the information shared this week is to let the chat participants speak for themselves. Little has been done except to eliminate RTs and organize a bit. Enjoy!

TOPIC: What are your best tips for single-image story-telling?

Make the world within the image look like it extends beyond the frame of the picture. Like you could walk into it. @KatGirl_Studio

Have two characters interacting, if possible--looking at each other. @BonnieAdamson

Action and dramatic lighting are always a big help. @KatGirl_Studio

Setting needs to have all the paraphernalia for a good story: props. @BonnieAdamson

Make the image narrative a potential-what-if cliffhanger--to segue into the next. @eimhinart

Dynamic poses vs. static make for a far more interesting image. @ElisabethJBell

Think of the setting as a supporting character. @WendyMartinArt

Show diversity, lots of different people. @andibutler

Colours, whether vibrant or a minimal palette, can move an image forward. @ElisabethJBell

There has to be implied action--either something has just happened, or is about to. @BonnieAdamson

Think in comic book terms--dynamic pose, interesting perspective, etc. @vvjonez

Interesting characters are a must! @NVCrittenden

Thinking how a child thinks and putting that into the illustration can make a more appealing and communicative image. @ElisabethJBell

Add detail, but with a focus--not just for its own sake. @BonnieAdamson

Include simultaneous actions in the background, as well. @andibutler

Too much detail can be almost as bad as not enough--you have to direct the eye. @vvjonez

The image should be in the middle of a story, so the viewer can imagine what happens and what will happen. @WendyMartinArt

Dramatic perspective, colors and characters. Plus lots of action or humorous tension. @CERodriguez

As a reader, I want to feel myself drawn in, as if I were the main character. I want info, some details, lots of color. I want to be led to the next scene while wondering what has happened thus far.@peg366

Pick a scene with some emotion to draw the viewer in--happy, sad, etc. @johnlechner

Adding movement in character poses makes an image more interesting. Drives the imagination forward. @ElisabethJBell

TOPIC MORPH: How to choose a single image for promotional mailings.

The best piece is the one you love to create. @andibutler

An image that shows you at your best will make your postcard shine! @NVCrittenden

Storytelling is key for kidlit. Too involved an image doesn't work for greetings. @andibutler

Try postcards as teasers to drive the viewer to the web site "where the real magic is." @andibutler

Thoughts from one AD (Victoria Jamieson)on what makes a compelling promo postcard:
http://victoriajamieson-illustration.blogspot.com/2010/06/get-er-done.html @TracyBishopArt

Make sure your image fits you as a creative, represents who you are. It will show. @ElisabethJBell

What you show is what you'll get hired to do. @andibutler

[If you have multiple styles] I've seen it recommended that a different persona be created for each style (site, name, etc.)--at minimum, multiple portfolios. @DiandraMae

Research the publications of those you're submitting to. @joystewy

Eternal debate: ADs say have one recognizable style. Illustrators always say ignore that! @RedStepchild

Make sure multiple styles fit the same publishers. @DiandraMae

Choose a style that you like that you think would be a good fit for the AD. Check out their sites. See what they like. @ElisabethJBell

Work in the style [you're] good at and happy with--not what [you] think an AD wants. Otherwise [you're] an unhappy creative! @andibutler

You don't want to confuse ADs with too many styles. Pick one as your lead, to get them interested. @johnlechner

That's the struggle: doing what feels true to you vs. what you think ADs want to see. @DiandraMae

Your style, that is you, can be a good fit somewhere. You need to find it. Not be a sqaure peg in a round hole. @andibutler

Ironically, often your strongest work comes when you're not worrying about selling yourself. @johnlechner

You can't worry about the opinion of others . . . @reneekurilla

It's less about confusion, more about [ADs] knowing what to expect in finished art once they hire you. @donnadoesdoodle

Never present something you wouldn't actually want to do. @joystewy

It basically comes down to, would you buy what you are selling? @andibutler

At a recent conference, an AD said she wanted to see: 1) that you can draw: hands, feet, children, interesting perspective; 2) put together a consistent package. Your logo, contact information should be consistent from mailing to mailing. @vvjonez

. . . and that you can show emotion and storytelling. @joystewy

Since the internet, it's harder for a single-image postcard to make an impact. @johnlechner

I've heard arguments for both. Sometimes there is just too much email, so postcards might make a faster impact. @TracyBishopArt

The internet has helped with exposure, but there can be too much of a good thing. It's easier to be fresh in an AD's mind with a postcard hanging on the wall vs. an email in an inbox. @DiandraMae

Many ADs will hold cards they love for years till they can find the "right" project for an artist. @donnadoesdoodle

. . . one more reason to be proactive and go for work in multiple venues. @DiandraMae

Postcards can be a nice change, but ADs are inundated with images online, so it's more competitive. @johnlechner

Postcards are just one more tool, along with websites, blogs, email marketing, etc. The trick is to know when to use your various marketing tools and tailoring it to your recipient. @TracyBishopArt

Heard at every conference: ADs love postcards. @donnadoesdoodle

It pays to do research. Takes time but it pays off. @TracyBishopArt

Reinventing [yourself] is important, too. What worked five years ago doesn't compete today. @andibutler

The internet can have both good and bad effects on developing personal style. You have access to so many brilliant artists 24/7, it can make you feel a little insignificant. @reneekurilla

It is great to see what other artists do, but hard not to compare. @NVCrittenden

It's not always about brilliance--books and licensing are businesses. [There are] fabulous artists that can't meet a deadline. @andibutler

Being professional and pleasant to work with makes all the difference. It's scary for an art director when they first work with a new illustrator, too. Gotta remember that. @TracyBishopArt

Tweet of the night:
@andibutler: "We can do what we set our minds to. Be confident. Try different strategies--go back to an old-school one. The only boundaries are what we set."

Full transcript below:

#kidlitart 7-29-10

Friday, July 23, 2010

Transcript: 7/22/10

TOPIC: What professional associations OTHER than kidlit groups
do you find useful?

Art/design associations mentioned:

Graphic Artists Guild
Society of Illustrators
Puppeteers of America
local artist societies such as St. Louis Watercolor Society; Chicago Artist's Coalition
peer support groups

Not-necessarily-kidlit groups on Flikr and LinkedIn
Industry information sites, such as Publishers Marketplace
Illustration Friday
Adult writers' groups

*Though emphatically a kidlit organization, SCBWI got a shout-out for event discounts, volunteer opportunities, networking and support.

Chatters engage in a variety of activities in addition to illustration:
costume/set design
historical reenactment
parenting (!!!)
occasionally reading books not written for children :-)

Tweet of the night
From @johnlechner, puppeteer: "I think it's good to venture beyond your art form/genre for inspiration."

Full transcript below--enjoy!

#kidlitart 7-22-10

Friday, July 16, 2010

7/15/10: Guest chat with Tara Reed

TOPIC: Licensing your art with @ArtistTaraReed.

Q&A with licensing artist Tara Reed:

What is licensing for? Is it like copyrighting?
Art Licensing is a way of licensing the rights to manufacturers to use your art on products. Sports teams license the rights to manufacturers of products to use the team name/logo, etc. Artists can do the same.

Are you constantly updating your portfolio to follow trends?
Art licensing requires new art all the time. So yes, I add to my portfolio on a regular basis.

Once a week, once a month? How often do you add/change art?
I try to create 1-3 collections a month. Some take longer if they have more to them--the more used a theme, the more I create. So my coffee collection has a lot more than a Halloween cocktail collection--it has more potential in licensing, so gets more time.

How many collections should an artist have before they start promoting?
A good rule of thumb is to have 12+ collections before promoting, to show that you "get" it and are committed to the industry.

What is your advice for children's illustrators?
Creating art for licensing is different than illustrating a book--you have to think about the art and create it a little differently. When doing a book you need to illustrate a story. In licensing you need art pieces to go on products. We think in "collections."

What makes a good collection? What are licensees looking for?
A collection = a minimum of four images--like something you could frame or put on a salad plate. Then adding borders and patterns is always good. Manufacturers can make dishes, wrap borders around gift bags and have the patterns below, create greeting cards, etc. Think about what you see all the time in stores: wine, flowers, baby, beach, holiday . . . they always need new art.

Are there any resources that list the contact and sub info for companies that take submissions for licensing?
If you get a feel for who licenses and see who they work with, you know the company licenses. Or call and ask "do you license art?"

How do you go about putting your name out there as someone interested in licensing art?
To get your name out there, you can exhibit at art licensing trade shows or contact manufacturers directly that license art. There are also agents in the art licensing industry who can help promote artists who don't want to do it themselves.

Is there a site to reach these agents on?
I'm not sure where there is a list of agents, but I will let you know if I find one.

Do you recommend an agent for a licensing newbie?
I recommend agents for artists who really don't want to do the marketing. But you give up control and 50% of the money not to do marketing. It is possible to license your art without an agent--I'm proof. In defense of the 50% take, I spend that much of my time on marketing, contracts, calls, etc., but I feel I'm best at promoting myself.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how you got started.
I've been licensing my art since 2004. Before that, I designed in the scrapbooking industry for a few years.

Do certain styles of art work better than others?
Yes, art that appeals to the masses is more suitable for licensing than abstract or really unusual art. Manufacturers have to make things by the 100s or 1000s, so they need to know that many consumers will spend money on it.

Does it mean that when they buy the art for licensing that they only have the rights to using the art?
Manufacturers "license" art; they don't "buy" it. So they get the rights for a period of time, and only for their products. You maintain copyrights and can license the same art to others for different products. That's how you make money in licensing.

Where do you get your color and trend info?
Pantone.com has trend info, and just watching things: TV, movies, clothing, etc., I just start to notice things. Color is tricky. You want to watch trends but not be defined by them--use what works for you and your art.

Would you share a link to your web site?
I have a site that gives tons of resorces to learn about licensing: http://www.artlicensinginfo.com/
If you want to see my art, it's at http://tarareeddesigns.com/

Do manufacturers typically prefer vector over raster artwork?
It depends on the manufacturer. All my art is hand-painted and in Photoshop, so no vectors. I'm doing ok! But I won't be able to work with companies who want the vector art look and it's not what I'm known for. Providing art in digital format is pretty much a must. Illustrator or Photoshop files are the norm. Layers get you loved!

Is it possible to get established without attending the big licensing shows? I hear they're very expensive.
You can get licensing deals without exhibiting at art shows--it just takes more legwork. They are spendy, but have been worth it for me.

Does selling at print-on-demand (POD) sites like CafePrss or Zazzle hurt or help your chances in licensing?
I don't think it hurts, but if you license the design, I'd pull it down.

Is it ok to show multiple styles or just one consistent type in a licensing portfolio?
There are pluses and minuses to having multiple styles. It's harder to create a recognizable brand if you start all over the map.

Do you think there's a market for kid-centric art? Is it hard for kid's art (that isn't well-known licensed characters) to get used much?
Kid art characters can be tricky because so many parents buy things with the characters the kids watch on TV. But there is opportunity. Greeting cards; fabric, maybe; craft, etc. Go shopping and look at the art on things and not just at what you need to buy. Shopping is a great way to see where you and your art might fit. I call it "shopping research." :-)

I noticed most images are flat color, not much shading. True?
Flat color--more vector art--seems to be trending right now. It will swing back to a more painterly look--and back again.

Are size and resolution of images something to consider carefully when creating collections?
Resolution should be a minumum of 300 dpi. As for size, create larger than you think you need, so you can scale down. There is no magic formula, though. If I know I'm painting for a quilt top, I create larger than if I know it's for a greeting card . . . does that make sense?

Is it advisable to develop characters or just do random pieces of art that look nice?
It depends on your goals. Developing characters is much more time-consuming to develop and sell the idea, in my opinion. [But] companies are looking for the next Julius or Bobby Jack.

What is the window from concept to in-store?
Often 12-18 months between the contract and giving your art to products, shipping and you getting paid in art licensing.

How late can you register to exhibit at Surtex and/or NSS and still get a decent booth?
I know people who registered for Surtex a few weeks ahead--but didn't get prime locations, usually. You just never know.

I think it can be hard to think with a "mass market" mind. It's much different than a more "personal" children's book look.
Yes, you need two art brains: a book brain and a licensing brain.

Aren't you having a telechat soon?
I do calls about art licensing every month--either me or I interview other experts in the industry. Details here: http://ht.ly/2cdpG

I've heard that artwork used to have a longer life in the licensing world and now gets "old" much faster.
Yes! Most contracts are for two years now--and often end and they want new. Customers always want new, so we must provide!

Thanks, Tara--the hour went by too fast!

Full transcript below:

#kidlitart 7-15-10

Friday, July 9, 2010

Transcript: 7/8/10; plus takeaways!

TOPIC: How big a chunk of your income do you put back into supplies, computer programs, shipping, etc.?

Reminder: @ArtistTaraReed joins #kidlitart on July 15 (9 pm Eastern) to answer questions about licensing your art!


Tips for holding down costs:
look for specials
buy in bulk
recycle materials for new projects

Good prices on art supplies:
Dick Blick
Utrecht Art
Cheap Joe's
Jerry's Artarama

uline for mailers
Costco for local printing

Other major expenses:
Computer/software upgrades
Paid portfolio sites:
Hire an Illustrator (HAI) (can pay weekly: $7/wk; or yearly: $320/yr)
ChildrensIllustrators.com (mixed reviews; pricey: $350/yr)
iSpot (good reviews; very pricey: $650/yr plus one-time set-up fee of $100; discount for SCBWI members? Yes: call 1-800-838-9199 for details)
Picture Book (poor reviews; $300/yr; offers 6-month rate of $150)
Tip: updating portfolio regularly is key to success on paid sites

Other sites for exposure:
LinkedIn (free; mixed reviews)
SCBWI gallery (free with paid membership; mixed reviews)

Some artists feel marketing directly (mailing samples/postcards to publishers and art directors)is more cost effective.

Printing services online:

For generating mailing lists:
SCBWI Market Guides (must be a member to access: first year's fee is $85; annual membership renewal is $70)
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (CWIM), published by Writer's Digest Books, updated yearly; purchase of book includes one year membership to online site)
Harold Underdown's updates of publishing personnel at The Purple Crayon
research: online, bookstores, word of mouth

Software for managing mailing lists:
Word, for printing labels

Quantity to send out: 30-150

Also mentioned:
Imagekind; Deviantart for selling art prints online

Tweet of the night:
@Emilys_Art: "SCBWI membership is worth it's weight in gold!"

Full transcript below:

#kidlitart 7-8-10

Friday, July 2, 2010

Transcript: 7/1/10; plus takeaways!

Big news!

Thanks to @lyonmartin, we are announcing our first special guest chat: on July 15, @ArtistTaraReed will answer questions about licensing your art. Spread the word!

Just a couple of other links to note:

@danidraws shared her experiment with creating pdf downloads adaptable to the computer, iPhone or iPad: http://store.danidraws.com/shop/digital-downloads/

@johnlechner posted a link to http://artistsketchbooks.com

@KatGirl_Studio re-posted the link to @dulemba's SCBWI Bulletin article on developing an iPhone app: http://dulemba.com/index_LulaApp.html

Full transcript below:

#kidlitart 7-1-10