The Basics

Owing to current deadlines, I regret that I am unable to answer your questions until further notice ~ Thank you


Q – What is illustration?


A - A dictionary definition says ‘Illustrating: example serving to elucidate; drawing or picture illustrating book, article in newspaper etc.’ In other words, there is a relationship between words that have already  been written and pictures that interpret those words, to help the viewer understand what’s being said in the writing. The interpretation of those words is what the illustrator’s art is about.



Q - Do illustrators just do pictures for story books?


A - No, there are lots of other situations where visual illustration is useful – educational teaching aids, packaging, advertising, greeting cards, magazine and newspaper articles, religious books, to name a few examples.



Q - How long have there been illustrators?


A - The art of illustration goes back for hundreds of years, as far as I know Mediaeval illuminated manuscripts were some of the first examples of illustration to exist. There may be earlier examples – were Egyptian wall paintings illustrations, where they appear with text? Maybe someone else out there can e-mail me to let me know.



Q - What sort of things inspire you as an illustrator and who are your favourite children’s authors and illustrators, and why?


A - I have got lots of creative influences. Many of them aren’t illustrators but painters like Henri Rousseau, Edward Burra, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Fernando Botero and lots of others. Some of the illustrators from the past that I particularly like include Mervyn Peake, R. A. Brandt, William Blake, Gustave Dore, John Tenniel, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielson and Arthur Rackham. Favourite contemporary illustrators include Maurice Sendack (I particularly his illustrations for the Grimm’s Fairy Tales) Albin Brunovsky, Angela Barrett, Louise Brierley, Lane Smith, Posy Simmonds and loads more. I am also really inspired by some styles of animation – to me it seems that this is the next step in bringing a fantasy world to life!


My favourite children’s authors include Mervyn Peake, C.S.Lewis, Alain Fournier and Adèle Geras.


It’s hard to say why I like the artists listed here, but a common theme among them is that their work describes the vividly imaginative fantasy worlds that attract me.



Q - I am currently doing a project of book illustration i have done illustrations before but i need some help so plz if there is anything you can send to me that will help me i’ll be very thankful to you


A - Your question is very general, so I suggest that you read through my FAQ pages   I’m sure you will find a lot there to give you some insights into the illustration process and the design industry. If you go to the left hand side of the main FAQs page, you’ll find a list of headings to click on.



Q - I am a member of a group who take care and maintain our park and woodland and have recently designed Interpretation Panels for this area as a volunteer and the work was unpaid.

After designing these panels the illustrations that I drew/painted has attracted a commission from a prestigious Trust that has commissioned me to illustrate 25 illustration for which they would like a  Quote to account for high quality digital images being provided in black and white (line drawings) and full colour and all copyright for the images ultimately residing with the Trust. So many say you should hold on to the copyright, I really could do with some advice.

I feel so pleased that the hard work has brought me this great opportunity but quite honestly I’m unsure what to charge in any of the requested areas.

Would you be so kind as to advise.


A - This opportunity does sound very exciting and it’s great that the Trust want you to do this work, having liked what they have seen of your voluntary pieces! You don’t say whether you have illustrated before, so I’m not sure how much you know about the commissioning process. I am not a lawyer, so don’t take my word for it, but you are right in thinking that it would be normal for you to retain your copyright, as the creator of these new images - that is usually the case. However clients do sometimes want to purchase the copyright themselves, but that should then be reflected in your fee.


Normally you would be paid for producing the work and granting the client a license to use the images for a specific purpose. They would then pay you a reuse fee if they wanted to come back and use the images in another way  that was not covered by the original license, so you could potentially make more money at a later date by retaining those rights. If the Trust were to own the copyright, they would then be able to use the images wherever and as many times as they want without paying you again. That is why the type of usage they want should be reflected in the amount of money you negotiate with them.


First of all you probably need to decide whether you’d be happy to part with the copyright, or not. If you are, then work out what you would like to be paid in addition to the commission fee. If they haven’t offered you a fee yet, maybe sound them out about their budget. In my experience clients can usually be negotiated up. It is all very much a matter of negotiation when pricing your time. There aren’t any set fees I can point you to I’m afraid, but you probably have an idea of how long these images will take you, so you need to know that your time will be valued and that you are comfortable with their offer before you agree.


There are some useful resources on the last page of my FAQs, books that go into these areas beyond what I can offer here Other sources of advice



Q - I saw your web page, and I have a few concerns/questions I’d like to ask you;


1) What are my legal rights to any illustrations I do, say, for a book?


2) Who owns my work – the person that hired me or do I own my illustrations that I originally came up with?


3) Do I have the right to advertise my original characters even if they are a part of someone else’s book?


4) Is there a form I need to file to get a copyright or registration for my characters so no one else can claim the ownership?


I appreciate your time towards answering my questions, and thank you in advance.



A - Please bear in mind that I live in the UK (although I do a lot of work for the US) so some legal issues may be different over there, so I would check elsewhere to make sure:


1) Yes, the copyright should be yours, as you are the creator, but you will be ‘licensing’ the images to the client and that means you will be tied into a contract which will buy your client certain rights, as outlined in the contract you will sign. The extent of what you are licensing will vary from contract to contract, so you need to get the client to clarify that for you. The extent of the rights should be reflected in the fee – more rights, higher fee!


2) If you are talking about the physical pieces of artwork, again this will be outlined in the contract. Most of the time the artist would get their artwork back, it should be your property, to do what you want with. I get my artwork back and I often sell it on via a gallery.


3) This needs to be negotiated with the client. You should certainly be able to market yourself using your own images, but it will be a matter of timing. They probably wouldn’t want you to show the images before they are ready to release the book/ product commercially. You need to find out the date when you can use the images for marketing purposes from the client and respect their timing on that.


4) Sounds like you are talking about a patent here. I haven’t come across that situation, as people use me for my style etc. I have to admit that am out of my depth on this question, I would suggest you explore this further elsewhere.