View Full Version : Commissioning art for a book cover?

12-30-2011, 09:46 PM
I feel churlish even asking, because in a world where finance and true value were more closely entwined, there'd be no way I could afford what I want. But I'm living in this world, so as pushy as it feels, I wonder if it might be within my budget...

I'm thinking of self-publishing a YA sci-fi novel. I have a VERY clear image in my head of what the cover should look like (well, there are fuzzy parts, but the parts I see, I see clearly) and don't think it's going to be attainable through stock photography. I'm wondering about commissioning an artist to create what I want.

My question is - how do I find an artist who might be interested? It would have to be somebody who works with the style I'm looking for (near photo-realistic, but of fanciful people and items), and somebody who isn't too well-established (because I'm unable to pay what the artist would truly deserve). I've tried looking on DeviantArt, but I got overwhelmed by the number of images and couldn't figure out a way to sort them properly.

Is there a better way to find someone who might be interested in my project?

12-30-2011, 10:58 PM
You can post notices at local colleges, art dept. There are some exellent illustrators out there, looking to make a name and a bit of cash.

12-30-2011, 11:09 PM
Just remember when you commission the piece, that you need to purchase the reprint rights and not just the piece of art. ;)

12-31-2011, 12:44 AM
You could try looking for artists on sites like Etsy, Meylah, etc. I don't know what's going on with Etsy Alchemy (if it still exists or not), but I once found an artist through there to do some composite drawings for one of my fantasy books. I ended up with several bids for my request.

Many artists will be happy to have something to add to their portfolio, and some will be happy to have a few extra dollars to pay the bills. What you can do now is go to artist sites or sites like the ones I mentioned, find artists that do something similar to what you're looking for, and contact the artists directly to see if they take commission work.

That's just one suggestion. :)

12-31-2011, 01:46 AM
Great ideas, guys - thanks!

01-04-2012, 07:26 PM
If you try sites like DeviantArt, you might try looking specifically under the science fiction category, either under photomanipulation (Digital Arts category) or under the illustration side of it.

You might try googling for science fiction illustrators and artists, but you'll probably run into the problem of having higher fees than you can pay.

Just keep in mind, like Deleyan said, you're looking for the liscence to use it, and not just the art creation.

Like mentioned earlier, you might find eager takers at a local college, either in the art department, graphic design, or photography departments.

On a side note, I work with sci-fi and fantasy type photomanipulation, so if you're interested, send me a private message and I'll see if I can help you. :-)

01-23-2012, 09:44 PM
I'm an illustrator, so hopefully my perspective could be of some use.

If I'm approached to do cover art for a self-published book, I tend to anticipate that the book will have smaller distribution than something released by a major publisher, and am able to take that into account when putting together a quote. It can be a positive for the price (print rights to fewer copies can be negotiated without any detriment to the author's plans), but can also be a negative in that the exposure the book gains for the illustrator will likely be quite limited. When it comes down to it, though, the price will have to compensate the artist for the time it takes them to complete the piece and the materials used, and be sufficient to balance out any paid work they'll have to turn down while busy on your project.

Additionally, photo-realism (or near-photo realism) is a rather tricky craft, and can be done very, very badly. I don't know if you'll have much luck finding someone who has the skill level to do it well but the inexperience to do it for cheap. Since the price point is so important for your project, you might see better results if you compromised on the style you're looking for. Looking for something more stylized or painterly would open you up to student artists who might be willing to work for less, or artists who could complete the image quickly/for a lower price.

Unless you get really lucky, though, you'll probably get what you pay for! The cover of a book is so important (especially in the self-publishing world, where a bad cover will be lost amongst many others) that it might be worth investing in.

01-25-2012, 01:19 AM
Hi Captcha - I'll be honest, photo-realistic digital painting is a highly skilled art, so I think your chances of finding a good photorealistic fantasy artist for cheap are slim. You'll probably be able to find a photo manipulation artist for cheaper rates, if that will do.

I can think of an artist who would fit the style you're looking for though, Artsangel. You can view some examples of her work, including fantasy art and book covers, here (http://artsangel.deviantart.com/gallery/). Her commission prices (http://artsangel.deviantart.com/journal/Commission-Information-221498326) are here - those won't include the reprint rights, but since she's done book covers in the past I expect she'll be able to give you a quote for that cost.

She's not low-cost, but compared to industry standard rates her prices are very good. I've never had the pleasure of being able to afford to commission her, but I've been a fan of her work since I first read her webcomics.

Best of luck, and hope you manage to find someone who fits the bill. :)

01-25-2012, 02:19 AM
EMaree, Artsangel's work is amazing!!! I've bookmarked that page.