Finding the Right Artist, Part 3: Where do I find the right artist?

This is the third installment in my "Finding and Hiring the Right Artist" series where I cover Finding the Right Artist. If you missed the introduction (or other posts in the series), please start here.

  • You ARE NOT a well known writer
  • You want to produce a comic book, manga, or graphic novel (there are different rules for books outside of those types, e.g., children's books, etc.)
  • You want high quality artwork
  • You don't have a high quality artist friend who is rich and will work for free

Where do I find the right artist?

I spent a lot of time Googling and digging through other writers' posts before I tried to hire an artist. I found two approaches:
  1. Reach out directly to an artist
  2. Post a want ad in one or more online art communities 

I tried both, one worked and one did not. :)

Contact Artists Directly

Jim Zub, author over at Image, blogged about this in "How Do I Find An Artist?". He gives some great advice and even a template email to help.

Jason Brubaker, a well known self published artist, also wrote a good blog post on how to find and contact artists.

The problem? 

If you aren't published, most artists aren't going to give you the time of day.

Zub actually does note that if you can pay (and from my last post I hope you have saved up for your first issue) then it will be much easier. However, I found that didn't seem to help either.

What exactly did I do?

I researched and found several semi-professional and professional artists (none famous) that fit the art style I wanted for my comic. I found them via Tumblr and Deviant Art.

I then wrote a nice, customized letter based on the template email Zub included in his post (near bottom). (By the way, Zub has lots of great posts, you should read and/or support him if you can.)

After I spent a lot of time crafting the right email and offering to pay their current rate, these were my results for the first five attempts:
  • 3 never responded
    • Actually, that isn't completely true, one responded over a month later that she might be interested, but I already had hired someone else via a want ad.
  • 2 declined

Bottom line: If you don't have published work to show them, you're out of luck.

I found posting an online ad to be much more productive.

Post a Want Ad

Brandon Easton, author of several great comics, wrote a blog post about this experience in 2012.

He doesn't post much these days, but the post is full of great information. (He also did an interesting podcast on covering the same subject with other writers.)

Here is what I found important (relating to this particular post):
  • Post to the right sites
  • Set a page rate/budget
    • I found plenty of great artists at the indie rates I outlined in my previous post.
  • Script MUST be finished
    • You don't want an artist drawing as you are writing. Trust me, it messes up lots of things.
  • One or more artists?
    • You can hire separate artists for each stage (penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer). I requested that my artist cover both the pencils and inks. I went the black/white route (no color) to save money like many popular manga and popular graphic novels.
  • Separate email account
    • Very important! You will get hundreds of emails and you don't want them clogging up your personal account. Create a new gmail account if you don't want to pay for a business account.
  • Hire globally
    • This actually contradicts Brandon's advice to only hire local if possible, but I found as long as the artist can read/write in your language well (and speak a little bit of it), you will be just fine.
    • What changed my mind? I talked with Gilby Lawson after I posted my want ad, and he said he hired artists for various projects overseas without any issues. Luckily, quite a few artists ignored my USA only request, and the final two were actually from outside the USA.
  • Give samples/links of the style you want
    • This will inform potential artists if they match your style.
  • Use a Work-for-Hire Agreement
  • Say you can't respond to all candidates in the ad
    • You won't have time and this calls it out so they won't feel bad.

Example 'Want Ad'

I posted the same ad on Digital Webbing and Deviant Art (below). I have highlighted the portions you should remove and/or replace with your information.

--- Start Ad ---
I am looking for a penciller/inker with storyboard experience who can work in a similar style to Tsutomu Nihei(Biomega) in the USA. I want to match his dark mood and background structures.

I will provide a script and produce the first ~22 pages. The series is a dark fantasy based in a city similar to London in the early 1800s. We will submit as a team, so I am looking for someone who will finish the ~120 page project should we be chosen.

I am paying $100/page for pencils and inks with a work-for-hire contract.

Payment will be made via PayPal within 7 days of each page being approved and submitted to me.
Completed pages will be agreed upon in writing and a high quality TIFF for PSD file will be delivered via email/file share of completed pencils/inks.

I have been writing scripts for several years (eight under belt), but this is my first submission. By day, I write code for a software company.

If interested, please email sample art to with the title of “[YOUR COMIC TITLE]”.

Please also include references and expect a voice chat if you are a final candidate.

Finally, I won’t be able to respond to everyone, so I will post here again when the job is closed.

Thank you, artists!
--- End Ad ---

I hope that helps!

Feel free to use this as your own template for a want ad. I got hundreds of responses. :-)

Hiring the Right Artist

Now that you have found plenty of good artists, who do you hire? Check out Part 4: Hiring the Right Artist!


P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!


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