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How to find an illustrator for a children's book

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I am a children's book illustrator and creating a children's book is a thrilling and rewarding endeavor, but one of the most critical decisions you'll make in this journey is selecting the right illustrator. The illustrations in a children's book play a pivotal role in capturing the imagination of young readers and bringing the story to life. Finding the perfect illustrator involves a careful and thoughtful process. In this post, we'll explore the key steps and considerations to help you find an illustrator who can turn your vision into a visually enchanting reality.

It's me! The soon-to-be illustrator of your book.

Understanding Your Vision

Before you start the search for an illustrator, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your book's vision. What emotions do you want the illustrations to evoke? What style are you envisioning? Understanding the tone, style, and themes of your book will provide a solid foundation for the illustrator to work from.

1. Research and Explore Styles

Begin by researching various illustration styles to determine what resonates with your vision for the children's book. Styles can range from traditional watercolor and pencil drawings to digital illustrations and mixed media. Explore different children's books to see which illustrations appeal to you and align with the tone of your story. My style is crayon-like, colorful, and whimsical. You can have a look at my portfolio to check out my art style.

2. Create a Detailed Brief

Once you've narrowed down the style, create a detailed illustration brief that outlines your expectations. Include information about the characters, settings, mood, and any specific details that are essential to the story. A well-constructed brief serves as a roadmap for the illustrator, ensuring that they understand your vision and can bring it to life effectively.

Searching for an Illustrator

Now that you have a clear vision and a detailed brief, it's time to embark on the journey of finding the perfect illustrator.

1. Online Portfolios and Platforms

Start by exploring online platforms and portfolios where illustrators showcase their work. Websites like Behance, and Instagram are excellent places to discover talented artists. Look for illustrators whose style aligns with your vision and has a portfolio that demonstrates versatility and creativity. You can also google 'illustrators for hire' to find someone. And don't forget, YOU CAN ALWAYS WORK WITH ME!

2. Children's Book Illustration Communities

Engage with communities and forums dedicated to children's book illustration. Websites like the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) often have directories of illustrators. Networking with professionals in the industry can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

3. Professional Illustration Agencies

Consider reaching out to professional illustration agencies that specialize in children's book illustrations. These agencies often have a roster of talented illustrators with diverse styles. While this option may be more costly, it can offer a streamlined process and access to a pool of experienced artists.

Assessing Illustrator Portfolios

As you discover potential illustrators, carefully assess their portfolios to ensure their style and skills align with your project.

1. Consistency and Versatility

Look for consistency in an illustrator's portfolio, but also assess their versatility. A capable illustrator can adapt their style to suit different narratives and genres. This flexibility is crucial, especially if you plan to work on multiple projects together. Make sure that the portfolio has pieces made in ONE ART STYLE. It is not a god sign if a portfolio has multiple art styles because it makes you question if all your work delivered will have consistency.

2. Previous Children's Book Experience

While not mandatory, an illustrator with previous experience in children's book projects may bring a deeper understanding of the unique requirements of the genre. Check for examples of their work in similar projects and assess how well they capture the essence of a story. For example, I have worked over 15 internationally available picture books and worked with some brands and small businesses.

3. Client Testimonials and References

Seek out testimonials and references from previous clients. This provides insights into an illustrator's professionalism, communication skills, and ability to meet deadlines. A positive track record with past clients is a good indicator of a reliable and collaborative artist. I have include some of the reviews I received on my homepage.

Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful collaboration between an author and an illustrator.

1. Open Dialogue and Collaboration

Establish open and transparent communication from the beginning. Share your vision, expectations, and any specific preferences you have for the illustrations. Be open to the illustrator's creative input, as collaboration often leads to a richer and more nuanced final product.

2. Contractual Agreements

Clearly outline the terms of your collaboration in a detailed contract. Include important details such as project timelines, payment terms, and the scope of work. A well-drafted contract protects both parties and ensures a smooth working relationship.

3. Milestones and Feedback

Break down the project into milestones and regularly review the progress with the illustrator. Provide constructive feedback and encourage an iterative process to refine the illustrations. This approach allows for adjustments along the way, reducing the likelihood of major revisions later in the project.

Financial Considerations

Understanding the financial aspects of hiring an illustrator is crucial to ensuring a fair and mutually beneficial collaboration.

1. Establish a Budget

Before approaching an illustrator, determine a realistic budget for the project. The complexity of illustrations, the illustrator's experience, and the intended use of the artwork (e.g., exclusive rights or limited use) can all influence the cost. Be transparent about your budget to find an illustrator who aligns with your financial constraints.

If you discuss your book with an illustrator and you feel that they are charging more than what your budget is, please don't ghost them. You can politely let them know that you have a different price range in mind. For anyone feeling awkward about it, here is a text that you can send to an illustrator for when you won't be able to work with due to budget issues.

"Hi! I absolutely loved your work. Unfortunately, my budget for this book cannot cover your illustration fee, therefore, I am looking at other illustrators. Hopefully, we can work on another project together in the future. Thank you for your time."

2. Negotiate Fairly

When discussing financial terms, be prepared to negotiate within reasonable bounds. Keep in mind that experienced illustrators may charge higher fees, but their expertise can significantly enhance the quality of your project. Negotiate in a fair and respectful manner to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement.

3. Royalties and Licensing

Consider whether you want to offer royalties or licensing agreements for the illustrations. Royalties provide the illustrator with a percentage of the book's sales, while licensing allows you to use the illustrations for a specific purpose or time frame. Both options have their advantages, and the choice depends on your preferences and the illustrator's terms. I, as a children's book illustrator don't take royalties from self-publishing authors. I take a flat fee.


Finding the perfect illustrator for your children's book is a journey that requires careful consideration, research, and effective communication. By understanding your vision, exploring various styles, and assessing illustrators based on their portfolios and experience, you can identify the ideal collaborator to bring your story to life. Remember to establish clear communication, navigate the financial aspects thoughtfully, and foster a collaborative environment to ensure a successful partnership. With the right illustrator by your side, your children's book can become a captivating visual adventure for young readers.

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