#HFgather: Income Streams for Children’s Book Illustrators

Sep 21, 2022 | HFGather, Illustration, Podcasts

If you missed the live session, you can watch it here.
For closed captions, hover over the bottom of the video and choose the “CC” icon.

Listen to a podcast version of the #HFGather:

Illustrators Pat Cummings, Shadra Strickland, Xindi Yan and Rudy Gutierrez joined us to talk about this important topic! Pat moderated a lively conversation, asking the others to talk about the kinds of work they’ve done and to share some of their experience and wisdom:

  • Xindi has done book illustration; designed soft playgrounds; worked as an in-house illustrator for a casino game company; illustrated for children’s educational apps; done some animation work; live-drawing on streaming platform Twitch and created pet portraits for a nonprofit.
  • Rudy said his philosophy is “no borders, no labels, no categories, no boxes.” His art is an extension of who he is. He has done fine art; book illustration; murals, film posters; painted vans; drawn album covers; done magazines and newspaper work; designed merchandise and done live performances. He said that his mission is his goal, not money–but his missions lead to work.
  • Shadra teaches at MICA; does book illustration; earns income from some online classes and has an Etsy shop. She said that Etsy keeps her connected with people outside of children’s books. She recalled how hard she tried everything when she first graduated, and it was not until she stopped trying so hard and started playing that she became more successful–“there has to be a lot of play in what I do.”

Some online ways to earn or find income:

  • Twitch: you livestream your drawing, art lessons, or share your art journey, and if viewers subscribe, you will get a cut. Xindi said that you have to put the time in to build your subscriber base, so it can take a while.
  • Several listeners mentioned Patreon in the chat, where fans can subscribe and support artists in exchange for unique content.
  • Behance: Xindi says that this has been a good platform for her to find work.
  • Instagram: continues to be a good place to showcase artists. Rudy said that art directors are scanning Instagram constantly.
  • Pat likes Twitter for pitch contests, when publishers post jobs, and for connecting with the kidlit community.

How to come up with pricing?

Panelist websites:

Final words of wisdom from all:

  • Rudi: “Don’t be afraid to reach.”
  • Shadra: “You have to negotiate and ask for things.”
  • Pat: “Make sure you’re taking on stuff you really WANT to do.”
  • Xindi: “Focus on what you love and find the things that would expand from what you love.”
  • Shadra: “Don’t be ashamed of a day job. I have always had multiple streams of income.”
  • Rudy: “Understand your validity.”
  • Pat: “It’s not a question of who’s gonna let you do it – it’s a question of who’s gonna stop you?”

Watch the video below to hear more about:

  • Targeting your portfolio towards the kind of work you want to get
  • What does your agent/rep/legal team look like outside of kidlit?
  • Keeping the rights to your work
  • Negotiating joint permission with the client -to use your work
  • Publicizing your work outside of kidlit
  • And more!

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