I’m currently in the midst of producing my first digital comic book series (7 issues) about the metal band Satanic Hell venturing unknowingly into a religious dystopia, a story I wrote and will self-publish.
I spent several years working the script and once it was ready, I researched how to get started, including reading great advice from wonderful folks on this site- elea and comicbookwriter, to name a few. Elea's posts on In Maps and Legends are extremely useful. Once armed with knowledge, I was ready to start the mercurial quest for an artist.
After looking through the various artist sites (ConceptArt, DeviantArt, DigitalWebbing...) I decided on ConceptArt, which seemed to have a more professional field. I was paying as well. With about 30 replies, much of the art submitted was good, but standard superhero stuff. I was looking for a different style. I found one who stood out- an amazing creative design artist who had one 7 page sequential comic.
We began immediately but after a month, progress slowed. He cited family obligations. I was patient, wanting to see this through with the perfect artist. Months more went by. I waited to see if his time situation would improve, but art only trickled in. Then he let me know he couldn’t finish. He was honest the entire time and I bear no ill will, but 7 months had passed and I had to start again. I probably should have called it earlier, but I was too attached to the art. I know many of you are probably familiar with this scenario. (comicbookwriter talks about this in one of his podcasts).
The second time around I posted on ConceptArt and DeviantArt. DeviantArt has amateurs, but they also have solid professionals. I like both and will definitely use multiple sites in future searches. I quickly had 70 replies combined. As before, I found a couple concept artists with really creative styles but no history of sequential art. I ruled them out this time. One experienced sequential artist kept emailing me about the project. He wanted the job. He sent in samples, unsolicited. He had solid experience finishing issues and was sending me creative styles. He believed in the project. So we joined forces and production is in full swing. If all goes well, we'll have a summer 2012 release.
So after this, here’s my thoughts- the artist you want is one who does a quality job, will complete the work, finishes on time, and is excited about your project. Beyond paying, you need an artist who can prove they have endurance - a portfolio of completed comics. No matter how cool their art is, if they don’t have it, the risk of your project not taking off increases. With unpublished artists, just make sure they have completed entire issues, even for their own sake. Otherwise, its a big roll of the dice. I would look for markers they can finish on time, such as past work. Making sure they are dedicated further increases chances for success and that the work will be timely. This can be hard to measure, but I found most artists replied saying something really generic like “Please consider me”. Only a few referenced my search: “This is a great project and I want to be part of it” and went into details.
Any other thoughts about finding the right artist?