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Thursday, 27 February 2014

So, you want me to hire you as a comic book artist?

A few weeks ago I placed an advert on the Digital Webbing forum asking to be contacted by comic book artists who would like to work on a paid collaboration. I received over 100 applicants - a huge mix of talents, skills, styles and experience just bursting my inbox. It was all so very exciting that I had to sit down for a bit. After carful consideration, I was able to whittle down the candidates to a top ten, ultimately selecting the winner after much brain-racking and tea drinking.

I thought it might be worthwhile sharing my experience of the process in the hope that artists will be better prepared should they wish to apply for similar opportunities. So here’s my list of DO’s and DON’T’s for those comic artist looking to be snapped up for comic gigs.

DO be professional. Think about it! I’m  looking to pay an artist to create a professional submission package. Your reply to the advert is the first opportunity to show you can be taken seriously. If you reply with a “Yo dude, check out my shit” you’re going to be ignored. I’m  offering you a business opportunity. Act like you mean business!

DON’T waffle. I don’t want to hear your life story. I don’t need to read several paragraphs on your pet’s bowel movements. Introduce yourself. Tell me what you’re working on at the moment. Let me know your what experience you’ve had as an artist. Show me where I can find examples of your work. Keep it relevant, keep it snappy.

DO read the brief. If you’re applying for a drawing job, one that requires attention to detail, make sure you fully read and understand what your potential employer is after. If you can’t, you’re out.

DO have an online portfolio of your work. This gives your application the edge. If I can see a catalogue of your work, clearly labelled, so I know what you’ve done, then I will be more inclined to hire you. There are plenty of FREE sites on the interwebz (DeviantArt, Tumblr, CGhub, Blogger, Behance, Dribbble, to name a few…) that are easy to set up and customise, giving you a smart looking portfolio in under an hour. You are crazy if you don’t take advantage of at least one of these.

DON’T attach a fuck load of high res-pictures to your email. This is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, many email programs don’t have the capacity to deal with emails containing over 10MB of attachments. Your image laden email will not be sent correctly. Secondly, some email programs have a limited amount of space set aside for the account owner. If everyone sent me high res images, my inbox would fill up and any emails sent after that would probably just get lost in the ether. I deleted any emails sent with massive amounts of data attached. Don’t do it. If I’m applying for a writing post I wouldn’t go round someone’s house and jam reams of A4 paper through their letterbox. Nobody likes spam.

DO shrink down any attached images. If you really have no alternative than to send images as part of your portfolio, make sure they are small. Loads of artists use Adobe Illustrator, which by default outputs hi-res images. A writer isn’t planning to print your submissions at press quality. Why would they need hi-res images? 72dpi does the trick. It will vastly reduce the file size and vastly reduce the chance that your submission won’t be instantly deleted.

DON’T expect a reply. If you’ve sent your email and you don’t hear anything back, don’t be disappointed. It takes balls to apply but there are plenty of great artist out there doing exactly the same. If you don’t hear back, stop crying, dust yourself off, and see if there is anything you can do to improve your application for the next time an opportunity comes along.

DO supply me with links to projects you have worked on in the past as well as any portfolio links, blogs and sites that include your work or can help me get a better understanding of who you are. If I’m going to strike up a partnership with you I’d like to know who you are.

I found my artist, and you know what, his was the best, clearest, and most comprehensive email of them all.


Dear Mr Awesome

My name is [name] and I am contacting you in response to your advert on [website/forum]

I am a [current job] of [how many years] and I can fulfil the [skills required] that you are looking for.

I have previous experience of [previous experience], I’m currently working on [current project] and you can see examples of my work here [portfolio site]. You may also be interested in [old project] which I made for [company website].

You can find further examples of my work here [second portfolio site] and this is my blog [blog].

I hope we can work together, [charming remark]. [last chance to impress with a small flourish to show you’re a pro or a sound human being]

Yours hopefully,

[your name]

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Not Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

First post of the year! I believe that's called 'slacking'. So, to make up for my laziness, allow me to post another story from the archives of West.

Not Everyone Deserves a Second Chance is a 3 page sci-fi twister which first appeared in the 2012 issue of The Psychadelic Journal of Time Travel. Arted by the knee-tremblingly talented Dave Thomson, it looks bloody amazing. Hope you enjoy the story.

I have another 4 page strip included in the 2014 issue of PJOTT which is launched on March 15th 2014. You'll be able to buy this, along with previous issues, via their Comicsy shop.