Excuse me—which way is the art at?

And speaking of directing art, tell me your trade secrets!

  • Where do you go to find free or nonspendy photographs?
  • How do you get ideas for photographs to illustrate stories that are, let’s say, totally and completely nonvisual? Are there tricks you use when you’re wholly uninspired?
  • How do you find that photo that you know exists but that’s just refusing to come up, no matter what keywords you use to search for it?
  • Where do you go to find illustrators?
  • How much guidance do you give to illustrators—to what extent do you just let them do their arty thing?
  • Do you generally deal with agencies or go directly to the artists?

We’ve mostly been using Creative Commons–licensed Flickr images, Associated Press photos, Photofest, Mary Evans Picture Library (which doesn’t seem to work with Firefox on the Mac—grrr), cheap stock places like iStockPhoto, behemoths such as Corbis and Getty, and specialty archives such as USHMM. I’ve recently started trawling through the listings at PhotoServe, but I haven’t yet used anything from any of the agencies I found there. I’d also somehow never heard of the mega-agency Jupiter until last week.

We haven’t hired any illustrators yet, but we’d love to. Some illustration agencies I’ve been looking at are CIA and Riley. Also, the DrawMo! del.icio.us dump. Any advice or recommendations are welcome (the only illustrations I’ve ever commissioned in the past are maps for fantasy books; I’m not sure that’s the look we want).

Heeeeelp meeeeeee!

10 thoughts on “Excuse me—which way is the art at?

  1. My friend OD, a former co-worker, is a freelance illustrator. His portfolio and contact info are here.

  2. you know, i’m an illustrator. a lapsed illustrator. sigh. because the magazines i used to work for all decided that it was cheaper and quicker to buy stock photographs.

    rrr. and this is where i go for free stock photographs. :) it takes a lot of sifting through and keyword tweaking, but most of the time i find something.

  3. Hallo, Bowb! Yes, I know you’re an illustrator, though I didn’t know you considered yourself a lapsed one. There seem to be a surprising number of lapsed illustrators out there—people who went to school for it and everything. A lot of them seem to become designers.

    The thing is, it is cheaper and quicker to use stock photos. I’m trying to get a good head start on our forthcoming stories, and there are some that I have a lot of lead time on, which would therefore be suitable for illustration, but there will always be many more for which I have only a day or three to find art. I understand there are some illustrators who can turn jobs around that quickly, but I wouldn’t know how to direct such an endeavor. Perhaps after I’ve practiced with a few slow projects, I’ll be prepared to try a fast one.

    As an illustrator, do you have any tips for those who hire illustrators? What makes a job easy and fun? What makes a job a nightmare that’s not worth your time?

  4. Yup, sorry it doesn’t work. He’s Octavio Diaz from Melbourne Beach, octavio311@hotmail.com.

    I’ll ask him, in a not-trying-to-get-him-hired way, what the general procedure is for freelance artists. . .

  5. Oh ho! See, goofing off really is work: after spending, like, ten minutes Googling around trying to find pictures of the Puerto Rico Schwinn Club (whose name I did not know to begin with) for this comment, I realized, “Wait—that site I was just on? That was an illustrator‘s.” And then, when I went looking for her portfolio, I found illoz. Ha! So, being, as it so happens, an art director, I just applied for an AD account.

  6. Subscription stock photo services are r e a l l y helpful when you’re in a bind.

    And yep, would recommend sxc.hu

    At work we also use photos.com shutterstock.com Stockxpert.com There seems to be a lot of photos on shutterstock that are also on stockxpert…

    Hiring illustrators, that’s a whole other discussion :) There’s a few good portfolio sites such as http://www.illoz.com/ oh yeah – you’ve just noted illoz, and a great blog http://drawn.ca

  7. Thanks, Matt. There are some very interesting documents on that site.

    I took my first stab at commissioning an illustration on Friday, and it seems that we need to have some discussions about budget at my workplace. We’re used to paying $0–$300 for each story’s art, with the mode unquestionably being $0 (thank you, Creative Commons users!) and the mean being probably somewhere around $15. Adding commissioned artwork to the mix will cause those numbers to spike alarmingly.

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