Friday, September 30, 2016

Illustration Friday - Weapon

One of the best weapons I can think of to get through this merry-go-round we call life is to be Fear Less; to do things, accomplish goals, follow dreams, live, laugh, and learn without letting fear stop us. Be fearless. Go out and conquer the world.

children's illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
Fear Less by Traci Van Wagoner
Illustration Friday: Weapon

Sunday, September 25, 2016

One Small Voice

One Small Voice
Traci Van Wagoner
Election Season 2016

What can I do to make this world a better place?
To stem the dark tide?
What can I do?
I’m just little insignificant me, a voiceless peon standing against wealth and power and hypocrisy.
A small voice.
But not alone.
No, I am not alone in the struggle against vanity, hatred, villainy.
I cannot hide in my cave, quiet, hidden. . . .
Not. Safe.
Not while the world is coming undone at the seams.
When walls rise between us.
When truth, the way of peace, happiness is wavering,
Lost in a sea of chaos, storms, rantings, ravings.
One mad man.
Come out of hiding.
Each small voice can join with others.
Come out from hiding.
Learn from our bloody past.
Stand up. Stop the tide.
Small voices together grow louder.
Stand our ground. Black. White. Red. Yellow. Green. Purple. Or Blue!
Speak the truth. Speak our hearts. Join together around the world.
A multitude of small voices. ROAR!
Look to the future. Join hands and stand against ignorance. Listen. Care.
The future will be.
We can make it shine with hope.
Hope binds us.
Together as humans.
We CAN make this world a better place.
We can.

©Van Wagoner, 2016 All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Illustration Friday: Rain

Illustration jobs have kept me busy for a while (yay!), so I haven't had a chance to create anything new for Illustration Friday for a while. It was fun to snatch a few minutes here and there to finish off this one for the topic, Rain.

I'm having a bunch of fun playing with my special made textures in a simplified style. I'd love to hear what you think of it. Love? Hate? Eh?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to Cody!

Today is the official release day for Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition written by Gary Metivier, illustrated by me and published by Pelican Publishing Company. Yay! Click on my Books link for links to purchase the book on Amazon, B&, and Pelican.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hiring an Illustrator

Artist at work
Over the last year I have had a large increase in the number of people asking me to illustrate their children's books. To help save me some time in responding to so many requests (most of which  I never hear another peep about), I'm posting some basic things to think about and what to expect from an illustrator.

I hope this will be helpful to both the authors seeking to hire an illustrator and illustrators working with self-published authors. It is a finely tuned dance between the two and in order to create the best book possible it requires a lot of work on both sides. Hiring an illustrator is a BIG step and there are many things you need to consider and have in mind before approaching an illustrator.

Things to consider when looking for an outstanding illustrator

Questions, Queries, Posers:
Before an illustrator can quote a price and gauge their interest in your project, there are several questions I have found most needed and helpful to get the project started:

• How did you find me or my company, Imagine That! Design? (This can help me to know what work you have seen and what style of art with which you might be most interested.)

• Is this your first children’s book?

• Do you have a complete manuscript? Or are you still writing?

• Has your manuscript been professionally edited?

• How many pages will your book be? (Please include the cover, back cover, copyright page and title page in that number).

• What age range is your book intended for?

• Do you have a budget in mind for this artwork? Keep in mind that it takes several months to a year to complete the illustrations for a full book, and illustrators need to be reasonably compensated for that time.

• What rights are you interested in purchasing from me?

• Are you publishing traditional print or ebooks? Or are you going to try to sell your books to a publisher? (If you are looking for a publisher, you do not need to hire an illustrator. If your manuscript is acquired by a traditional publisher, they will choose the illustrator.)

• Do you have an estimated date that you would want the artwork completed by?
• Do you have a printer?

• What outlets will you be using to sell the book?

• How do you plan on publishing and marketing the book?

• Will you be hiring a designer as well, or will it be necessary for me to perform those duties? My partner is a designer and has designed several books. This would be a separate fee from the illustrations.

Remember, publishing is a business

Before we can agree to take on any project, we would need to review the manuscript of your story to gauge our interest in working on the book. You can send an NDA if you feel you need to. After years of working with clients in the publishing industry, these are the things we found most important to mention:

What we need to begin:
The final size, a template from your printer, how it will be printed, what kind of cover it has, and what text will be on each page or spread. All these things determine the price and the design of the text and art for an optimum reading experience.

Timing :
It will will take from four to eight months to complete the illustrations for a full book depending on the total amount of illustrations needed, the number of pages, the complexity and number of characters for each spread as well as our current work load.

Payments :
We break the payments into thirds: one third up front to get started with character development, one third upon delivery of final sketches, and the final third at delivery of the final art.
Kill fee: We also have a kill fee of 25%  in case the project is cancelled after we have invested much or our time.

Revision Limit:
We will provide one or two rounds of revisions on sketches and light revisions on finals. Any further revisions needed, we will an additional charge.

It is unlikely that you will need or ever use all rights to the art we create for your book. We will grant you the appropriate usage and terms needed to use the illustrations for 1st North American Print rights for an agreed upon timeframe. If you still wish to buy all copyrights, be prepared to pay an appropriate amount for them. This can add up.

Contracts...Yes :
There will be one. We use a simple contract outlining rights. We can use one of our own or you can provide one, but keep in mind that what we have outlined above must be clear.

Thank you for your interest.

If after reading this, you are still a go for bringing your story to life, please contact me with as much information as possible and we'll get the process started. I have not given any pricing here since there is so many variables. I will be happy to provide an estimate once we have as many as possible of the above questions answered and have established an interest in taking on the project.

I hope you have found this helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions, or share your experiences as an author or an illustrator in the comments below.


Live. Laugh. Learn.

Some helpful links from a few other illustrators who have posted on this subject:

Self-Published Authors: 10 Tips on How to Email an Illustrator 

by Kelley McMorris


10 Things to Know When Working With an Illustrator

Marlo Garnsworthy, Wordy Bird Studio


Illustrating Self-Published Books 

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba 

(As seen in the Nov./Dec. 2009 SCBWI Bulletin) 


For the self-publisher

by Wendy Martin


Exposure vs. Exploitation

Muddy Colors, A Fantasy Art Collective

 -By Greg Ruth


The Kindness of Strangers


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Special Guest: Gary Metivier

In honor of Grandparents Day, I thought it appropriate to do a guest blog post Q&A featuring the author of the picture book I illustrated, Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition, Gary Metivier.

Cody's Grandpa shares his memories of his experience on Christmas Eve in Vietnam when a bright star appeared through the clouds, giving the soldiers hope. All of the men promised to look for the star every year and remember each other and those who didn’t come home. Cody makes a new tradition with whole family joining Grandpa to look for the star. 

This is a touching inter-generational story we hope will become a Christmas tradition in homes all over the world. And now to the Q&A.

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: I was speaking at a wonderful veteran's day school event three years ago in small community. The school had asked the children all to invite a veteran in their life. At the end of the program, a Vietnam veteran came up to meet me to thank me for writing my last book Until Daddy Comes Home and Saluting Grandpa to highlight children's relationships with their grandparents. He wanted to tell me about the Christmas that he spent away from home and how they all thought "at least if we looked at the stars--we could be closer to our families who were under the same stars that night." His story stuck with me and inspired Cody's story.

Q:  Did you serve in the military or have a family member who did?

A: I am from a family of twelve children. My father served during Korea--although he was stateside. One brother and one sister served. I like to say I am at least serving to some extent by sharing our veterans story on the page and through my work in local news.

Q: What are your family Christmas Traditions? Veteran Day traditions?

A: The meat pie in this story was a big time tradition in my house growing up--as was the family gathering at Christmas eve. We would go to midnight mass--then come to eat meat pie and open presents. I obviously covered my meat pie in ketchup!

 Q:  Do you have a special memory with one of your grandparents you'd like to share?

A: Unfortunately I was raised far away from my grandparents and when I did see them there were so many people around. A month before my pepere died (French for Grandpa) I did get to spend some incredible one on one time. I was a bit burned out by work and school--and spent a month with him in Massachusetts. We started our own mini traditions watching the tonight show and the news every night before bed.

Q: This is a Christmas tradition brought back from Vietnam. We now have soldiers coming back from current conflicts, what sort of traditions do you see coming from that?

A: Many of my family's traditions pre-date the current generation. In fact, the meat pie goes back several generations. I think maintaining some of the long-standing traditions comforts both the old and young in ways we can never understand. I think, regardless of the conflict, today's service members will try to keep that going--and like I am doing with my family (and Cody with his) adding a few twists and new traditions along the way.

Gary Metivier is an award-winning author and journalist. A television-news anchor, he enjoys covering a variety of subjects. The author of Saluting Grandpa: Celebrating Veterans and Honor Flight, Metivier lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and one pot-bellied pig. 
Connect with Gary Metivier
Thank you so much, Gary, for taking the time to answer a few questions and sharing a little behind he scenes of the creation of this wonderful story celebrating Christmas traditions as well as helping us to remember our veterans.

And thank you, readers, for joining me here. I hope you've enjoyed today's post, and I hope you will buy our book which will be available online at Amazon, B&, Pelican's website and hopefully in a store near you September 15th. Buy the book to see the meat pie Gary talks about. Cody and Charlie are not huge fans of that tradition.

Please feel free to share any of your family traditions with us in the comments, and don't forget to hug a grandparent today and let them know how much they mean to you. Happy Grandparent's Day!