For the birds: how do you hire artists?
Was asked in an email about the process of how we find and hire artists for our comic books. So, how do we do that?
1) You match the subject and style of the script to an artist style (manga, realism, cartoon, abstract, etc…)
2) If we worked with someone before who matches the proposed script style, we query them. We already have a relationship and know how they work (rate per page, turn around, willingness to adhere to notes). But if no one fits from our artist file, we move on to number three.
3) Put out an add in penciljack or digitalwebbing. We describe the parameters of the story and style. We state it is a work-for-hire gig or a collaboration. We mostly do work-for-hire. Then we wait for portfolios and resumes to emailed to us.
4) Go through the portfolios. Normally, we get an onslaught for a few days. Then, the slow methodical examination proceeds until we find two or three likely candidates.
5) Detective mode commences. We Google the artists and look for the work they did not send and for professional issues that might tweak our working relationship. Basically, a background check for potential conflict. If we find that the artists has been involved in certain behaviors like denigrating other artists or being chronically late missing deadlines, we tend to pass. But, just like Dr. House, if they are beyond amazing at what they do, a bit of assholery can be tolerated. A little. Not much.
6) Contact others who have worked with them before (editors, artists, writers) and get a report if possible.
7) We discuss the artists in committee. And choose.
8) A work-for-hire contract is offered, most of the time; however, certain usage of images and properties can be negotiated for the artist’s use, if we like them. Deadlines are set during this interaction as well as page acceptance (sort of like final cut in film industry terms).
9) Set up a payment system and give them access to our file sharing service where they can add pages when done and we can review them.
It is not really any different than most hiring processes. We don’t do super-extensive background checks into criminal activity or credit like most companies. We really look for someone who is reliable, and if there are deadline issues, then they will contact us and not hide. We have had submissions from some artists who were quite skilled but had a bad reputation for not working well with others. The comic book industry is very small and word gets around. So, if you want to be an artist in comic books, be nice and be professional above all. We love people with passion for their art, but not hotheads. We above all want to communicate and understand. We don’t penalize for unforeseen circumstances.
Note: we do get portfolios all the time through our contact page, and if we like them, we do keep them on file and try to find work for them in the upcoming pipeline of projects.