Get into book illustration: ten tips
Art directors and successful cover artists pass on their hard-earned industry advice.
Yes, they’ll tell you that fantasy and sci-fi illustration had its heyday in the 1970s, when the market for pulp paperbacks was still booming. And who hasn’t heard that print is dead and ebooks are apparently killing off those good-old bound editions? So, it’s a terrible time to get into book illustration, right?
The answer to that is a resounding “No!” Yes, there has been a swing to ebooks. But publishing industry figures tell us that, unlike in the music industry, the digital market has plateaued somewhere around 30 or 40 per cent. People still love to buy and collect fantasy and science fiction books. And they love it all the more when they can get their hands on copies with stunning jacket artwork. The industry needs skilled illustrators whose images are so amazing that fans can’t help but pick up the books when they browse the bookshelves. Equally, that artwork also has to get them clicking thumbnails when they’re surfing Amazon.
However, the availability of painting software and graphics tablets means there are more artists who are busy creating fantasy and sci-fi artwork than ever. They’re sharing it online and this means there are tens or even hundreds of thousands of potential book illustrators out there ready to satiate the needs of art directors at the big publishing houses. But not all of them have what you have.
No, they don’t all have copies of ImagineFX in their hands (fools!), and they’re not reading this very article on how to make it in book illustration. Read on, heed the advice of the experts we’ve spoken to, and give your career a boost…
COVER TO COVER
Fantasy and sci-fi book illustrator Dave Seeley’s own art book, featuring his greatest work, will be out in September.
Fantasy illustrator Todd Lockwood loves working on covers that feature a dragon – and it shows on this cover for a JF Lewis novel.