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What To Consider When Searching For an Illustrator/Designer

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

KWE Publishing Newsletter - 05/18/23

One of the more fun parts of the publishing process is looking for an illustrator and designer! An illustrator can help bring your book to life, and a designer can make sure your book flows cohesively. These elements of your book help to create a first impression for readers.

Naturally, illustrations and designs are often a huge part of children's books. Someone needs to be able to flip through your book and get a feel for the story even without reading the words based on the illustrations and design alone.

Even for authors outside of the children's book genre, however, the design, illustrations, and graphic elements still need to make sense!

Since your illustrations and design are so important, there can be a lot of pressure to find the right illustrator and designer.

If you're not sure where to start, here are a few things to think about as you start the search for your illustrator and/or designer:

What style are you looking for?

One of the best things about finding an illustrator and designer is that you have so many options! But that can also be one of the hardest parts, too.

Illustrations come in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, digital, acrylic, oil, pastels...the list goes on. If an illustrator were to create the same image in two different mediums, it's likely that there would be quite a few differences, and each piece might convey something a little different.

The majority of design elements also come in different styles. If you want to share a statistic visually, do you use a pie chart or a bar graph? Where should you use a pull-out quote? And how will your page numbers look? These are all decisions that a designer can help you make, but again, each designer has their own preferred style.

When you know what medium you want and have some ideas about what elements you might want your book design to include, the search for a designer and illustrator becomes easier. Looking at portfolios can be especially helpful as you look for the right members to join your team!

What does your audience expect and want to see?

Even though there are so many options for illustration and design styles, and there's no "right" way to illustrate or design a book in any genre, there are certain things that are likely to appeal to your audience...and things that probably won't.

Let's say you're writing a romance book, for example. A zany illustration with neon colors and cartoon characters will make many readers assume that your book isn't a romance book. Likewise, a children's book that's filled with several dozen citations on every page is going to be distracting to audiences, too.

You can, of course, go against conventions and work with your illustrator and designer to create something totally unique and unexpected! However, it's important to consider what readers will expect so as to avoid any confusion in the buying process. If you're not sure what's popular in your genre, take some time to look at similar books and see what common tropes or patterns you notice in their illustrations and designs.

What story do you want your illustrations and design(s) to tell?

It's important to consider what you want your illustrations and design to represent regardless of the genre of your book! Do you want your illustrations to create a dark atmosphere, to keep readers guessing, or to show a lively, bright wonderland?

Of course, if you're a children's book writer, your pictures are extra important because they're even more representative of your book. Your illustrations and design need to clearly convey the mood of your story; this will help parents, who are buying the book, decide if the book would be a good fit for their child(ren). It'll also help kids to know what to expect when reading your book.

When you know what you want your illustrations and designs to convey, you can then search for illustrators and designers who specialize in the styles that interest you.

Ultimately, picking an illustrator and designer is an exciting part of the publishing journey! Knowing what you and your audience want before you begin will make the process much more enjoyable and a lot easier for everyone involved!

What do you think authors should consider when choosing their illustrators and/or designers? Reach out and let us know!

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