Sunday, 14 June 2015

#PicturesMeanBusiness and illustrators must too!

Sarah McIntryre has written an excellent blog post highlighting the fact that sometimes, illustrators don't get the credit for the copious amount of illustrations that adorn children's picture books and fiction titles, and the effects thereof .  Read Sarahs blog HERE

As Sarah states, it is truly wonderful that Chris Riddell is now the Children's Laureate as though Chris IS a writer, it is his stunning illustrations and beautifully crafted characters and worlds that first grab your attention and make you wish you could use a fine brush and ink like he does.  Having met Chris on a few occasions I can safely say that he is also an incredibly nice person who always has time for a chat and a welcoming smiley face - he's all-round brilliant.

With Chris supporting the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign I'm sure that within the next two years, any discrepancy regarding the accreditation of illustrators by all involved; meta data, websites, publishers, authors, even the illustrators themselves, will be whipped into shape.

Which leads me to my main point of this post.  While there is undoubtedly a bigger picture here and a system that needs some fine-tuning/big kick up the bottom, I sometimes think that illustrators aren't aware that they too have the ability to help themselves in these matters...

Publishers don't set out to intentionally upset illustrators.  From my experience each and every member of the book creating team is INCREDIBLY busy and so from time to time things can slip through the net.

However, during the creation of each book there is a schedule.  Now as in any industry, schedules can often be highly ambitious but there are key points at which we as illustrators can check with the editor/sales and marketing team/art director or whoever your key 'liason officer' is.

We all know it can take a very long time to make a book - from concept to final artwork it can take years.  This means there is plenty of time to just check in every now and then, either yourself or via your agent if you have one, just how and where you will be credited if you aren't sure.

The best stage in the process to do this at, apart from your initial meeting is at proof stage.  Alongside the important visual checks like colour, bleed, composition, resolution, detail and my favourite (as Steph at Nosy Crow knows all too well about!)  ARE THE ENDPAPERS OK?!?!?!!!!  What you must also look at is the fine detail and positioning of your name, as this is a good starting point to letting your publisher know that you are 'on it.'

I have made picture books with Nosy Crow, Little Tiger and Orchard and illustrated fiction books with Quercus and Pan Macmillan and can safely say that there were never any qualms about where my name was going to be positioned on the covers and insides of the books, but if I had noticed when the PDF proofs had come in that something was awry, I would have been straight on the blower to my agent to say "er Sallyanne, I fear my name is missing from the book that I've just spent my social life creating" (or words to that effect.)

Also while the current system gets an overhaul with continued meetings and campaigning by Sarah and others, we as illustrators are also able to set up our own author page (yes and that should be illustrator page too but that will come!) on Amazon.  Add all the books that you have had any involvement with (writing or illustrating, not just reading!) and if you spot any descrepancies there you can contact them directly telling them of the error and usually within 24 hours they will add your name to the offending item.

I have been very fortunate to have been paired with very supportive authors; Tracey Corderoy and Frank Cottrell Boyce are wonderful champions of my illustrations and working with them is a delight, but I am aware that this isn't always the case.

As illustrators we have to start treating what we do as a business, after all that's exactly what it is. We get caught up in the fun and frivolity of doing what we adore for a living but that shouldn't mean we sacrifice our right to be credited for all the fun, sorry, work we have done.

I think sometimes we feel that we just have to go along with things and 'oh it's ok' but Sarah and the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign have certainly got me thinking.

Nowadays we can't really just do the doodles, we need to market ourselves, dress up, sing songs, design posters, postcards, tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, write blog posts, and at the moment must keep tabs on where we are and are not credited.

Take control of your own business as much as possible and support #PicturesMeanBusiness and soon all will be well I'm sure :)


  1. I do agree - and I think authors need to be on the lookout too that we make sure anyone who illustrates our books gets properly credited.

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