Creator Confessions: What To Look For When Selecting An Artist

by Frank Martin

As a writer of both novels and comics, Comicon contributor Frank Martin has a lot to say about the process of making fiction a reality. In Creator Confessions, he offers some of the discoveries he’s made in bring a story from initial idea to a complete, published reality.

As a comic book creator — especially a writer — one of the most important decisions to make for a book is selecting an artist. When a writer is first starting out it’s a common question: “where do I find an artist?” Which seems kind of silly after you find one because you never realize just how easy it is. Artists are everywhere. And furthermore, they’re extremely hungry for work. One post looking for an artist in a comic book Facebook group will result in a hundred responses, many of which are the complete opposite of the kind of artist the poster is looking for. So the bigger question should not be “where do I find the artist?” but “how do I select the right one?”

There really isn’t a simple answer. Like everything else when creating comics, there’s a whole host of factors that should go into your selection. Speed, cost, and quality are the top three categories artists are usually rated on. The speed at which they finish their work. How much they cost to do that work. And how good the work actually looks.

Usually, first time creators get drawn in to that third category. They’re not typically under deadlines and since this is their first project, they might be willing to invest a little bit more in order to have a good looking product. But quality of the art is just the start of the conversation. A more important factor which isn’t discussed enough is the tone of the art and whether or not it fits the type of project you’re creating.

There are phenomenal top-tier artists working for mainstream comic book publishers. Their attention to detail is incredible and they receive an exorbitant amount of money for commissions. But just because they are “good” doesn’t mean they will be good for your book.

You can quantify this in many different ways. You can see if the artist style is liked by the demographic you are writing for. You can see if the artist’s work mentality vibes with your own. At the end of the day, it comes down to feeling. Doesn’t matter if it’s artsy, gory, realistic, or manga — you want to make sure that the tone of art reflects the story you are creating. Otherwise, employing the cheapest, fastest, or most well-known artist in history won’t save your project from having a disconnect between how it looks and how it’s being told.

%d bloggers like this: