There is a huge amount of risk in hiring a freelancer to illustrate your graphic novel. First and foremost, drawing, coloring and lettering more than 100 pages is going to take someone a LONG time. As the producer, you're going to have to keep your team motivated (and fed) for the duration of the project. Then, there's the unofficial but common creative gene that seems to haunt all but the most professional of creative freelancers that says "Schedule? What Schedule? Never Heard Of It! Wait, Did I Sign That?" Being in the field I can totally understand why this happens but I can't respect it. With both parents being business owners, Machi and I understand and respect a deadline. Newsflash, Most People Do Not!
So how do we get around this? Let's start with hiring the right team. We need a
manager/producer, that's you. Don't worry, a lot of people don't possess the skills to run a team and still the project gets completed. You've got options. I'd recommend flexing your manager muscles often as they develop with experience and come in handy in many areas of life. Nobody starts out as a perfect manager. You're either too soft and your team will run amoke forever spending all your money, too hard and you'll lose the respect and enthusiasm of your team (of the highest importance in a creative project), a poor communicator, doomed to confuse and frustrate all around you or you might just be completely in outer space with no idea what you want, how to get it or how to let others help you get it.
1. Fake it. Be smart, move cautiously and think ahead. Put things on paper and get organized. Anticipate conversation points, potential problems and options and be decisive.
2. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member, someone who can give a second opinion behind the curtains.
3. Have a backbone. When you're face to face with a strong team member, it's too easy to cave to their requests and excuses. Jellyfish don't hit deadlines and they don't come in on budget.
4. Be respectful and passionate. Enthusiasm for your work is contageous. Just don't be a space alien. Stay grounded and realistic but get excited about your project.
5. Make decisions based on what's good for the project. The project is bigger than you and it's bigger than your or anyone elses problems. This is the flag that the team can rally around and if you consistently put the project first, it shows that you're able to sacrifice for it and this will make it easier for other's to to be more flexible to the specific needs, timelines and pinch points of the work. Start your relationship with these things in mind and stay consistent. First impressions often last for better or worse.
Where To Find Artists? The internet puts you in touch with the whole world. You have planet earth's talent at your fingertips. Find a comic book forum (ie Penciljack) and post your job. If you're paying, you'll attract many applicants. You'll also get recommendations from moderators and community members who can't point you in the right direction for your specific needs. Look for more than talent. Talent without professionalism = headache. You're a beginner so you likely don't have the bandwidth or the pocketbook to deal with repeated project resets due to the breaks that will inevitably come with hiring the wrong talent. This can be crippling. What To Post? Keep it simple and straightforward but give enough to fish hook good talent. Provide a one sheet on your project, an example of past work if you have any, some reference images (this is important because artists are specific to their own styles) and the pay rate even if it's ballpark. You can expect a negotiation so know the inustry standard rates for your country. Ask for links to applicant portfolios and references. How To Select? Have fun here and take your time to make a good decision. Reach out to your top 4 picks and get a feel for their personality. Find our their schedule. Can they work fulltime, part time, weekends? How easy are they to get a hold of? It might be a good idea to pay for a few samples or character designs to see how closely the artist can get to your vision.
How To Terminate The Relationship? I've went through a number of workers on this project alone. Local and foreign. I've beat my head against a wall in frustration, I've lost money and I've even paid a "kill fee" when the issue was in my camp. Most of the problems stem from a lack of professionalism and an ability to meet deadlines or stay in communication. The bottom line here is to pull the plug when you're sure the project isn't moving forward to an acceptable completion. It'll suck. The money, effort and time are all lost but hopefully you can dust yourself off and start again on better footing. Further Thoughts. Life is short and work should be fun and fruitful. In an ideal situation, you'll want to respect and even befriend your freelancers. The completion of your project shouldn't be the light at the end of a very dark and lonely tunnel. Hopefully, you'll work together many times. You'll meet future clients together, network at conventions and become successful together. This guy's out there ready for work but make sure he gets out of the chair once in awhile.
Thanks for reading. Shake The Lake is the story of a group of friends, chasing the endless summer who find themselves in a new laketown attempting to save a bullied marina from snobby yacht club encroachment by staging a mammoth end-of-summer wakeboarding festival.
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