Being an Artist and an Illustrator - also Fine Art for Book Covers?

  • Hey there,
    Is anybody else in the situation of being an artist and an illustrator?

    Before rekindling my interest in illustration a year ago I was only making fine art. Now I sometimes feel like I have to choose between one or the other. Or at least that people expect me to choose. Which I won´t, because I need the change in topic & medium and simply put I am both.

    @Lee-White have you maybe got any special tips on how to be both and make the best out of it? Last night for example I took some of my fine art pieces and designed book covers with them. I am quite pleased with results, but that only brought up new questions: Can I apply to one agent with both? Am I asking too much, when I want publishers to know me for my children´s book illustrations as well as my fine art pieces? My illustrations and my fine art are quite contrasting. When looking at my fine art pieces as potential book covers, I think of novels, crime thrillers and poetry. Where as with my illustrations I am clearly more interested in the age group of 0-10.

    I`ll add some examples here and in the comment section.

    Fine Art Book Covers

    (I am resisting the urge to upload all the book covers. I am really quite fond of them 😅 )

  • Children`s Book Illustration:


  • Pro

    @Aisleen These are absolutely gorgeous, and they really work! I don't think you have to choose only one avenue if you are so attached to both. However since they are totally different looks, markets, clients so it might work best to think of them as 2 different, separate careers. Separate portfolios, separate social media, maybe even separate agents. I don't know if it is common for fine artists to have agents - maybe you could have an agents for children's books and market your own fine art work?

    When you ask "Am I asking too much, when I want publishers to know me for my children´s book illustrations as well as my fine art pieces?" I think yes, that might be asking too much. Simply because different publishers will want your illustrations and your fine art. To the children book publisher, your fine art work is probably irrelevant. If they see it in your portfolio, it may even make them fear you're not really 100% committed to your children work and might bounce any moment. Which is why different portfolios I think might work best. While you can do both, showing a bunch of irrelevant work to possible clients would probably not help you.

  • @NessIllustration Funny that you replied to my post, since I was just thinking about what/how to reply to yours 😅

    I have been thinking about separate social media accounts, but feared I might not have enough to consistently post on both. I separate my website into the two categories right on the first page (no money for a second website). I am working on separate portfolio PDFs to hand out via e-mail though. So I wouldn´t send out the same portfolio to different clientele.

    Fine artist don´t normally have agents, they do sometimes have agent-like relationships with galleries. My normal day to day fine art biz would stay in my hands, but I was wondering, like you mentioned, if I would need two separate agents for the publishing business. Or if it is just a Question of finding the right agent who can find work for both avenues. Since a lot of agents want to work exclusively.

    Thank you for your reply @NessIllustration now I`ll head back to you post to give you my thoughts on your changes on your website 😇

  • Pro

    @Aisleen Do you use Photoshop or any of the softwares of Creative Cloud? If you do, you're entitled to free Adobe portfolios! You can make multiple sites and it's very easy to use. It's free for a site, but you can also buy a domain for about $10 a year. It's the cheapest option I've ever found for a portfolio! I used to have a Wordpress site but it was costing too much money for what it was, especially when like you I had the need to make more sites.

    The social media might be an issue indeed... The problem with running multiple careers is that your attention is split, so that's an additional level of difficulty. There is power in focus, when your pour all your time, creativity, energy and resources into one thing it can really soar. I myself have multiple businesses and streams of income and I sometimes struggle. I have 3 instagram accounts to run and it gets dicey!

  • @NessIllustration I use Affinity instead of Adobe, so sadly that`s not an option. But thanks for the tip!

    I know the struggle with split attention, next to building a successful illustration and an fine art career, I am also trying to finish my masters degree and looking for a new job to pay the bills, because even though I sell my art it is not nearly enough to cover my costs. Which is one of the reasons why I was looking at how to get more out of my fine art pieces.

    But I think I might actually give the separate Instagram accounts a try. I did realise a while back, that I lose followers when I start posting one thing more than the other. Which is frustrating.

    Thanks for your time and nice words! 😇

  • Pro

    @Aisleen You have the exact same instincts I have on the subject, and I feel compelled to warn you because these instincts have not served me well. When I'm in need of money I think "what else can I do?" and start trying a bunch of different things. But dividing my attention always makes me accomplish things slower, or not as well. The one time in my life I have hit pause on everything and focused 100% of my attention on my ONE new venture, it has done well faster and better than anything else I've ever attempted in my life. You may be thinking "well I need money and I already have all this fine art right here" but getting into a whole new career/industry requires research and a ton of investment of time and money.

  • SVS OG

    @Aisleen The trouble is finding an agent who can find you work for both styles. I don’t think an agent can find you work in fine art galleries if that’s what you’re after. If you want to use your fine art style for publishing, i haven’t seen these kind of books recently but you should definitely look into it more. My suggestion for now is maybe approach agents with your children’s style and separately approach galleries for your fine art.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Thank you for your reply. I wasn´t really concerned with finding an agent who will find galleries for my fine art work, because I have been doing that one my one for quite a while now.😅 More with finding other ways to use my fine art, such as book covers or editorial work. And in that case wondered, if the same agent who would get me children´s book work could also get me work for novel book covers and editorial work with my fine art style or would I need a second agent for that?

  • Pro

    @Aisleen I really doubt an agent can do both... Most of them are specialized depending on their client list. For instance if they do children illustration their clients will be children's publishers. They wouldn't have a publisher of poetry on their client list. They become know as the agency to go to when you're looking for a children's book illustrator. They will have a variety of styles in that niche to fit different tastes, but nothing for the adult market really. Because their client do not buy that sort of art. The ones who do will not be looking at that agency.

  • SVS OG

    @Aisleen hi! I agree with @NessIllustration Most agency tend to stick to one market, some agencies stick with editorial and advertising while some stick with the children’s market. You really need yo choose with market you want more. But have you ever considered Licensing? Most children’s book agencies also do Licensing (well, at least the ones I know do). Those flowers you painted would look amazing on a card or as a print.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz and @NessIllustration thank you for your advice! I`ll take another look into licensing and what agencies offer what. 🙂

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