Something illustrators dread is getting that dream-job call and having a full schedule. Yes, it’s great to be busy, but having to turn something good away is like a dagger through the heart.
I’ve noticed on occasion that by the time I’m brought into a project, many weeks may have passed since illustration was decided upon as the direction. The client often times drag their feet and ADs move on to other more pressing deadlines in the interim. In a perfect world, it benefits everyone to ring up the illustrator(s) the minute you catch wind of a possible commission.
Here’s why. While your client hems and haws, the illustrator can rearrange their schedule to make themselves available if the starting gun gets fired. Also that valuable creative think time is extended. An illustrator has a greater chance of producing ideas well before pencil goes to paper if given the opportunity. It can be really difficult to absorb all the information of a project in a couple of hours that the AD has had days to mull over. If an illustrator is in a holding pattern for you and another assignment comes along, they can simply call to see whether your project is moving forward or not.
Now, you have the perfect situation. Everyone is staying busy, yet on standby if your project is a go. Of course, if materials are sensitive, send along that nondisclosure agreement so you can share information as soon as possible. With that said, make it clear that there are no guarantees or promises until there’s a client commitment.
If the perfect scenario described above isn’t in the cards, and you’re in panic mode, by all means make contact as early as possible. If I’m on a pressing deadline, and in the middle of moving around some wet media, I’m only checking emails a couple times a day. Many people avoid the phone, but it’s still the most immediate way to make contact. I highly recommend it, particularly if it’s your first time contacting your illustrator. It’s the quickest way to cement a relationship and get the ball rolling.
I remember the first time I did a project from start to finish without ever speaking with the AD on the phone. It blew my mind, and seemed the strangest thing to me. It’s common practice these days but still a little chilly for a first-time assignment. Voice prompts are so effective in communicating ideas. You may not be able to really weight the important aspects in the artwork without verbal emphasis, which could lead your illustrator down the wrong path. Yes, it’s good to follow up with an email that outlines the phone call, just so there’s a written record of what’s been shared. Emails are also perfect for keeping track of client edits and notes for details and support documents.
In part five, I’ll suggest another time to contact illustrators. It’s not when you have an assignment or when you’re on a deadline. You’ll see why it’s a good idea and question why you’ve never done it before. It’s a little “old-school” wisdom worth noting.
The next issue will highlight some helpful tips to getting the most out of an illustrator. What’s obvious to you may not be so much to the illustrator.