One of the most exciting parts of our new business operation has been commissioning art for our books. We’ve always been lovers of high quality illustrations in roleplaying books (and in books in general – I’ve been collecting beautifully illustrated children’s books since long before we had children), and when we started Blue Moon Aurora, we assured ourselves that we would get the best art we could afford for our books. Worst case scenario, we don’t sell many books but we end up with a collection of beautiful art to go with our writing!
Finding artists was the first challenge, not because there are so few artists,but because there are so many. Several people referred us to deviantart, but the scope of the site makes it almost unusable for our purposes. There are artists of every imaginable style and quality and no easily discernible way to find out which ones are based in the United States and interested in commissions.
After a bit of online searching, I discovered ArtOrder,which describes itself as “a community of Fantasy and Science Fiction illustrators committed to mentoring, artistic improvement, and career enhancement”. Most importantly for our purposes, the site has a members database with locations clearly listed. It was a laborious process to go through 54 pages of names (1,143 members last I checked), pulling out every one in the United States, and then narrowing further to those who had websites displaying their art. Each online art gallery had to be checked to see if it was a style of art that we liked (either traditional high fantasy or realistic-looking superhero art; anything too horror, too erotica, or too manga was out). I made a master list of artist names, website links, and contact information, along with notes about which of our books a particular person might be best suited to illustrate.
The final list consisted of 62 artists whose work I considered to have real possibilities. Of those, I selected 20 who most fit the projects we would be commissioning illustrations for first and sent query emails to check rates and availability; I received 15 responses. Almost everyone I’ve dealt with has been friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic.
Blue Moon Aurora, LLC, has currently entered into independent contractor agreements with six artists to provide freelance illustrations and one to produce the Blue Moon Aurora logo. Two of the artists are working on cover art pieces and four others are doing interior illustrations, all in accordance with written art specifications. We’ve received the preliminary sketches from several artists and the finished work from one; it’s incredibly exciting to see our written descriptions come to life on the page.
As with everything else with Blue Moon Aurora, the art side of things is a learning process. I’m fortunate to have a childhood friend who does book layout professionally and who has been advising us on matters involving dpi, fileformats, trim sizes, and other mysteries. As art is delivered and contracts are fulfilled, we will be asking each artist to answer some “outtake”questions about how we can do things better. We’re eager to learn and improve,although I can already see that the biggest problem that we’re going to have with art is sticking to our art budget.
Thanks for reading,