By zombietag 14 Comments
i've been writing comics for about two years and im still relatively new, but someone recently asked me how i find artists to draw my stories. i decided id write a blog about it to help anyone else out. im no expert, but since ive started writing ive learned a few things about how to approach artists and make sure youre both getting the most of out the creative experience.
i know a couple artists personally (i go to VCU, its a big art school) and most of them are REALLY talented. but i found surprisingly thats not necessarily the hard quality to find. whats hard to find is artists who are talented AND motivated, as in they actually get work done. i met hillmon (artist for space radio) right here on comicvine actually. i saw his stuff on the artist show off forums and starting shooting him messages. i told him i had some ideas for comics and i was a writer and asked if hed be interested. after a few weeks of talking we started creating space radio. i already had the first issue done, but after i started seeing his art, it influenced my writing in different directions for the other issues. hes really talented, and hes definitely motivated. he got to work fast and honestly hes amazingly lucky find.
i also have spent hours going through deviantart and other random sites to try and find great artists. theres a lot of them out there, but this can be a grueling process with little to no payoff, but eventually if you find someone interested, the benefits far outweigh the time spent clicking through different art sites and blogs. theres something extremely exciting and satisfying about someone bringing your words to life visually. anyways, when i find an artists i think would really work well with one of my stories, i send them a friendly email telling them who i am and what i like about their art. i try to have a couple stories ready for them to at least hear about and ask if theyre interested at all in drawing them.
also, i try to write short stories (3-9pgs) and have a few always ready for an artist to take on. this is for multiple reasons. one, its good to learn how to cut out everything extra and make a story really count in only a few pages. im still trying to work on doing that better. secondly, people online can read them and read them quickly to get an idea of what your work is like. and lastly, maybe one of the bigger reasons, artists are usually a lot less intimidated by the thought of drawing 5 or 6 pages instead of 5 or 6 issues made up of 24pgs each. thats a lot of work to commit to someone whos not promising anything and not paying anything. and youll learn a lot about your own scripts when you see them drawn out by someone else, even if the art looks terrible. and this can help your writing grow a lot.
also, i make sure i have things DONE ALREADY. its cool to talk about making comics, but it just seems far fetched when a writer with no credibility starts talking to an artist he doesnt know about a story thats not even done yet. you dont have to have the whole thing done, but i try to have enough so that i dont feel comfortable writing anymore until i see what the art is going to look like. this usually means a broad outline of the entire story and the first issue scripted out completely. this lets the artist know your serious about your story and you will write the story if they want to do the art.
and i try to be as fair and honest and polite as possible. i really do appreciate people drawing my stories, especially for free, and i let them know. i politely tell them i cant afford to pay up front or "hire" artists to draw my stories, but any and all money made off of anything we create together will be split right down the middle. the artist and the writer both create the story, even if its all "your" ideas. the art is what breathes life into the story, and without it a comic is not a comic. so the artist deserves as much credit as you and as much money, if not more.
lastly, make a website. even if it looks awful or its just a blogspot/wordpress, i think its really helpful for artists to have a resource where they can see the comics youve already made, maybe samples of scripts you write, and what types of comics you enjoy writing. and this is a great place to post shout outs for the artists who are working with you too. they deserve it. also, editors and publishers are known to scan the internet looking for talent and having a good website can help you get noticed, or at least let them know youre out there.
and also keep in mind copy rights and things like that. i havent been in a sticky situation yet (hopefully i wont) but dont email your whole story to someone if you feel like theyre not going to draw it or they arent interested. its just smart to make sure your work is protected. ive heard some nasty stories about people stealing other writers work. its no good. theres some websites about writer protection and things like that, but im a long way from an expert about it.
oh and something else to keep in mind. when youre talented and passionate about something, its easy to get busy. so if an artist tells you they LOVE your story and starting drawing it and send the first page, but nothing after that, dont get disappointed. this happens a lot. projects and comics can seem great, but dont be naive. comics take a lot of work and a lot of time. and its much easier for a writer to be lazy than an artist in my opinion. so if you get a few sketches and nothing else for months, dont sweat it. just keep plugging and hope someone else will pick it up. and quick tip, dont refer to artists as "your artist." i once said in an email "MY artist on xyz" and somebody got really offended. i dont know if this is a big thing or not, but it goes under the staying polite category.
cheers, and good luck writing.