There is a multitude of talented illustrators out there. You just need to know where to look. Besides knowing exactly where to find these amazing people, there are other considerations you need to take into account before diving right in. The first question you need to answer is...do you even need to find one?
Read on to discover the answer as well as many different places you can go to find an illustrator.
Do You Need to Find an Illustrator?
The very first consideration to make is if you are the one who needs to find the illustrator. If you plan on submitting your story to a publisher, large or small, they will be the ones choosing the illustrator. If you will be indie / self publishing, you will be able to select your artistic partner in your endeavor.
A frequent question that pops up when I mention this is: will I get to have a say in the art if I have a publisher? The truthful answer is most likely not. Presses have an art director whose job is to make sure the art and the words flow together. Some smaller presses may let you have some input, but it will vary from press to press. So if you want to choose your illustrator, you will need to indie publish.
Make Sure You Find Illustrators, Not Artists
There is a difference between someone who is an artist and someone who is an illustrator. An artist is anyone who makes art. An illustrator, however, has studied art for children as well as the process of creating a story utilizing page turns in a book. It is a specific skill set, much like a handyman can work on general things in your house, but an electrician has a specific knowledge and skill set. The handyman may be able to rewire your entire house, but they would likely not be able to do nearly as good of a job as an electrician. So be sure you are searching for illustrators and not artists.
Consider the Tone of Your Story
Before you begin your search, you need to examine your manuscript and consider what type of art will best match your story. Once you start looking at illustrators' portfolios, you may get swept away in the fun and choose art you like and forget about your story.
When I was looking for an illustrator for Grumbler, I knew I wanted art that was humorous but also conveyed a sense of love. When I found Marina Veselinovic's profile, I knew it was a match. So reflect on your story. What is the tone? If you have a serious topic, you'll want a more somber style of art. A fun, upbeat tone would likely match something more whimsical. Be sure your art matches your story so the book will be a cohesive whole.
Where to Find Illustrators on Websites
The internet is an awesome resource for finding illustrators. You could get lost for hours looking at art. (I certainly do!) Here are the top websites to find illustrators online as well as some notes about each:
Where to Find Illustrators on Social Media
Illustrators are on all varieties of social media, but the best place to find them is on Instagram since it is a picture-based platform. I like to follow accounts that share illustrations from lots of different artists so I can click on profiles and see more art. Here are the top accounts that feature lots of artists:
Where to Find Illustrators In-Person
Let's not overlook good old fashioned networking. Meeting in person gives you the chance to feel out if the two of you will have a good working relationship. (Check out this post by Sharon Lane Holm called What Illustrators Want Picture Book Authors to Know for a glimpse from their side.)
Local writing groups are a great place to find illustrators, particularly if they are for children's writing. Search Meetup or Facebook for events near you. I've met illustrators in person that weren't right for my current project, but I saved their information for future ones.
Finding an illustrator is one of the most fun parts of making a picture book. Enjoy the search and visualizing your words turned into pictures. You will be one step closer to having your story come to life!