Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Problem Illustration Client Advice

Illustration is like any other service-based profession that requires working directly with clients, and so illustrators are presented with several forms of challenging client relation situations. Some illustrators might go as far as to say that the one drawback the profession has is dealing with clients. Client relationships involve an additional skill that is in a largely not a part of an illustrators educational background – they demand business skills.
© 2013 Don Arday.
For illustrators who either lack business skills, or have no desire to use them, the solution is to get an illustration rep. However, getting a rep may not be so easy, because there is a catch-22 involved. Most reps not only want an extremely talented, professional artist, they also want an artist that has strong business and communication skills. And lets face it, there are far more illustrators out there than there are reps to take them on. And many illustrators prefer to forgo the cost of a rep, preferring instead to manage their own business affairs, even if they are fairly unprepared to do so and must fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak.

Dealing with a problematic client can actually take more time than producing an illustration for them. This kind of time is referred to as “time off the board” or non-billable time. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how much non-billable time a new client will require. Success as a professional illustrator requires excessive client time to be kept to a minimum.

Generally speaking, one of the best ways of dealing with a client who poses problems is to identify which kind, or kinds of problem client they are. Another is to try to head them off at the pass by communicating with them clearly and frequently while a job is in progress. Email exchanges are a great way to minimize misunderstandings and document when the exchange of information occurs.

The Time Waster

As the name states, this type of client wastes time, your time, and valuable time, time that you need to produce a professional quality illustration while still meeting the project deadline. To effectively deal with a time wasting client it is important to know which type of time waster they are. And there are two types: Type 1) Na├»ve time wasters who are absolutely clueless as to what the process is for producing an illustration and how long it takes to do. The time and skills needed by an illustrator to produce an illustration are a mystery to a time waster; and Type 2) Malicious time wasters who know what all is involved, but just don’t give a damn. They have little respect for you as an illustrator; you are merely a supplier to them.

For a Type 1 time waster creating a tightly set schedule with dates and times when decisions must be made is essential, especially at the start of a project, constant education will also be very beneficial. Demystifying the process of how you work can often elicit respect and support for your creative needs. It can alleviate unnecessary red tape.

A Type 2 time waster is much more difficult to manage, because they have little sympathy for your personal time or your creative process. However, there is a way to deal with this type of client. For a Type 2 time waster, it’s all about money, their money. So alerting them that the additional time they are adding to the project will result in an additional cost will not only get their attention, but will quickly get them to develop a respect for your time, especially if they are held responsible for keeping a project on budget by a superior.

The Needy Patron

Most of us are familiar with needy children, needy family members, needy friends, etc. Well there are also needy clients. These clients exhibit their needy behavior for several different reasons, and here are a few. First and foremost, inexperience, they need and desire you to guide them through, not only your process, but also the process of commissioning an illustration job in general. Or second, they are a process thinker and communicator which means that project information and input comes in small amounts, frequently, and over time. It is not unusual to receive tidbits of information from a process communicator three or four times in one day. Or third, the client must report to a superior or their own client with updates on the progress of the assignment. Advertising agency account executives usually exhibit this need form of behavior.

Educate the client about your process and provide them with a schedule of checkpoint dates and times that are convenient for you. This will also be productive for the client. This will limit distractions for you and at the same time establish expectations for the client, as well as give your client a timeframe they can pass on to their superiors.

The Micro Manager

Seemingly similar to a needy patron due to the number of times they will contact you, a micro manager is nonetheless quite different. Micro managing clients come in a couple of different flavors. The first is the micro manager that knows all there is to know about illustration. They are quite sure they know more than you do about what it is you do, and they have a strong opinion on how it should be done. This type of client ranks among the worst when it comes to adding difficulty to a commission because they not only want you to do a specific thing, but they want you to do it in a specific way, a way that might be totally impractical for you. The second type is the born micro manager. This is typically a client that is as attuned to micro managing as they are to breathing. Even so, this type of micro manager is easier to deal with than the first example. Successful entrepreneurs, company officers, and owners are the most common. After all they became successful by having things done their way. The thing to remember is, even though they micro manage they are also accustomed to taking advice from consultants, so they should take your advice, especially if they admire your work. Illustration commissions and art preparation are usually well out the client's area of expertise.

A know-it-all micro manager will require a strong personality to offset his or her supervising style of direction. It may take reminding them that you do indeed know what you are doing, and that the quality of the final illustration will be higher if you are allowed to exercise your own expertise. Remember, the client most likely chose you for the assignment based on your past successes, so letting them know your method of working will be best for you and also be best for them. For those micro managers that still persist you can resort to add-on fees for micro managed, time-based additions that the client will accrue in the course of the job. 

Now the best way to deal with a born micro manager is to show off your expertise. Let them in on some of the inner workings of how you will produce their illustration. They are usually thrilled to the point that they transition from telling you what to do, to asking you what should be done.

The Indecisive Procrastinator

Another challenging type of client is an indecisive procrastinating one. Extremely reluctant to make a commitment, this type of client can increase your workload and cause more time delays than any of the previously discussed problem clients if allowed to persist in not making a commitment. Their indecisiveness involves a number of aspects that affect an illustration job, but it most often takes place during the sketch phase and the final sign-off phase of a commission. Any procrastination is the result of their inability to make decisions.

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to deal with an indecisive procrastinating client. The first way should be built into the terms you agreed to at the start of the commission – a specified number of concept sketches and a revision limit. This provides a limited space for the indecisive procrastinator to preside over. The second way is to provide a schedule of events including dates/times that are your responsibility, such as a sketch due date; and a schedule of dates/times that are the client’s responsibility, such as a sketch approval time. It should be made clear to the client that any delays they are responsible for during the project will delay the delivery of the final illustration. Another very effective way of managing an indecisive client is to assume a role of authority regarding the nature of the illustration commission. Indecisive clients often desire assistance, respect expertise, and are open to suggestions and persuasion. They also need information for when they must report to their superiors.

The Opinion Committee

Some illustration commissions involve so many layers of administrators and individuals that it is difficult to know who is running the show, in other words, who has the final say on an illustration commission. Input and direction come from several people, which in and of its self is difficult enough to deal with. It can be even more maddening when those several people don’t seem to be aware of the conflicting direction you are being given and you have to act as a clearinghouse for their information. This kind of client situation happens by way of two circumstances. The first, which is the simple one, involves a committee of people within one company that have been put in charge of overseeing the project. The second is that there are several companies involved with the project with each company having one or more persons responsible for their aspect of the commission. This second situation is a bit more difficult to deal with than the first, but then again it can be managed.

For situation one, find out who has the highest rank among the committee that is overseeing your illustration project. It may be a VP of marketing, a manager of customer communications, etc. It is likely this person will have the most authority among the other members of the company’s committee. If you are able to make a direct connection with that person, you can get them to be the primary contact and circumvent a committee process for input, criticism, and direction.

For situation two, you will have to get the various people from different sources to recognize who has actually commissioned you to produce the illustration. Once you make it clear that you can only answer to the person who commissioned you, all the other players will have to use that person or agency as the clearinghouse for input, information, and decisions to be communicated -- and not you.

The Invisible Partner

A rather rare client situation is that of the invisible partner, or the unseen client. Represented by a partner or agent who provides all the project input and swears that a client does indeed exist, this client set up can cause the commissioned illustrator to second guess his or her own decisions. The invisible decision maker is either a superior of the person who is handling the illustration assignment or is the person who outsourced the project to the agent or agency that commissioned the illustration.

In this situation, even though there is an unseen “higher authority” who has dominion over the project, and the agency in charge of the project must answer to that higher authority, you are only obligated to the agent/agency that commissioned you. Therefore it will be the responsibility of your project contact to act as the clearinghouse, not you. Alternatively, you can ask if you can communicate directly with the unseen client. You must maintain control of your part of the project by establishing terms with the agent. Make the agent aware that unnecessary delays and changes to the illustration will result in additional fees for the job and a deadline extension.

The Slow Payer

Getting paid for an illustration commission within 30 days used to be the norm and still is with some clients, but more and more studios and agencies are taking 60 and even 90 days to pay an illustrator, and some clients take even longer. Even an additional phone call or two may not result in a timely payment. There is also another tactic that unfortunately has become common these days, which is for clients to ignore the original bill and only pay up when it has been followed by two additional reminders. This is a deliberate tactic to prolong the payment period.

Always present an estimate that contains all anticipated charges. The estimate should also state the method of payment. The payment period should be made plain, and the client should sign off on it before you accept the illustration commission. Also find out who the client’s contact person is for accounts payable. You should feel free to contact that person if you have any questions or if there is a delay in payment. Furthermore, to initiate the payment process promptly, an invoice for services should be delivered at the same time the final illustration is. Therefore the time period for payment begins immediately. Another helpful tip is to state “DUE UPON RECEIPT” on your invoice. This will sometimes achieve a faster response, especially from the people in a company that are in charge of accounts payable.

In the event that you have applied all of the above strategies, and have still not received payment, you still have a couple of non-legal options. The first is to remind the client and/or the accounts payable person that they cannot use your illustration for any purpose until you have been paid for it. In essence they have not obtained the rights to use it without paying for publication or ownership. Now most illustrators allow a client to publish a commissioned image in anticipation of a timely payment, but the official right to use your illustration is granted when payment is received. The second is to call the President of the company, or the parent company that commissioned your work and tell them you have not been paid. In most cases he or she will give you the name of a person to contact, or they may recommend you contact accounts payable. Either way, when you contact the person or department the President suggested you should say, “I spoke with President so and so and he/she directed me to call you”. You will be taken seriously now. And if not, you can call the President back and tell him you did as he recommended, but have still not gotten any action from the person you spoke with. You will get action.

The No Payer

The two most common types of non-paying clients are: 1) clients that never intended to pay in the first place; and 2) those that fell upon hard financial times during the course of your engagement.

Although the advice stated for a slow payer applies here, more drastic measures may be needed, i.e., legal ones if it appears the client will not pay. Unfortunately, legal solutions require time and money. There are those legal recourses that are low impact and those that are not.

For the client who fell on hard times, but had every intention of paying, it may be possible for you to work out a payment schedule they can handle. This may be preferable to having to force payment, or not getting paid at all. For other the type of client, who will most likely refuse to pay, there are other solutions.

The first low impact solution is a simple letter of intention to sue from a lawyer. A letter on a lawyer’s letterhead can sometimes convince a non-paying client that it is probably in his or her best interest to resolve the matter by way of payment. Lawyers can usually draft one of these letters for you in about one hour, for which their fee is approximately $200 based on an hourly rate.

Small Claims Court is another low impact possibility. For filing a small claim, hiring a lawyer is optional, you can represent yourself in a suit against your client, but Small Claims Court is for smaller amounts of money, which may still be more than adequate for your purposes. The average small claims limit among states in the US is $5,000, some states can go as high as $12,000. Township jurisdictions are usually less than the state limits. And Small Claims Court isn't free. There are some municipal fees involved with filing. Each state has it’s own instructions for filing a claim. Contact the appropriate state township for information. A couple of excellent web resources are listed below.

Lastly the high impact solution, which is to hire a lawyer to handle your civil suit for you. This can cost a considerable amount of money, as in thousands of dollars. Also do not expect your court costs and lawyers fees to be paid by the defendant, the client, even if you win the lawsuit. Thinking you will be able to sue to reclaim these fees is a common misconception. You will have to pay your own fees. So unless there is a great amount of money at stake, it is most likely not advisable to engage in a major suit against a non-paying client.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Portfolios On Demand: The Mobile Advantage

The iPad offers a new option for illustrators and artists who want to create a hard copy portfolio book. New apps have been developed that afford the opportunity to build and publish a portfolio of work on the fly, and more are on the way.
© 2013 Don Arday.
 Although they don't offer the level of breadth and flexibility of some of the desktop on-demand internet interfaces, they are surprisingly good and extremely convenient. Having to import digital files from a PC or another source to the iPad for placement in the mobile portfolio apps is perhaps the biggest drawback for illustrators. However, this can be easily achieved though the use of a cloud or utility apps such as Tonido, Dropbox, Box, PhotoSync, and other file management, and image transfer apps. And, for those illustrators who use the iPad to display their portfolio, the images are already there, so they can be easily dropped into the mobile bookmaking apps provided the image resolution is adequate for print reproduction. These apps offer whole new possibilities from a self-marketing standpoint. And in the case of some apps, the costs per copy are so reasonable that the printed product can be used as a leave behind or as a give away.


By far the easiest bookmaking app is Mosaic. It’s a fast and spontaneous way to create a book of images through the ipad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Mosaic is not a web site, but an app that can create an image book. Each “Mosaic” is your unique collection of images presented beautifully and with great care -- from cover to cover. Mosaic has very limited single format product without any customization options, but there are ways to get around the page layout limitations such as creating layouts with text and images in Adobe, InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop. And the book is nicely designed with a mosaic of 13 portions of images from inside of the book on the cover. Mosiac has made bookmaking as easy as possible from the interface to placing an order. Delivery is very fast, and there is a single fixed price, $20 + shipping.


Viovio is dedicated to providing a quality product and extraordinary service. Producing on-demand products of exceptional quality with record speed is always in the forefront of decisions. By combining the quality of their portfolio books with a no-touch manufacturing process Viovio is able to offer customers the superior portfolio books they demand. Additionally, Viovio has a large selection of book sizes, formats and material choices for the creation of your portfolio book. The PDF, and font handling instructions that are provided to assist you in preparing your book for printing are highly detailed and elaborate for those who want to know all specifications in detail. In addition to syncing files through iTunes, their online book creation software allows you to work on and save your project 100% free of charge. You only pay when you're ready to buy your book. The Viovio bookmaking service is available on line and through a downloadable iPad app.


Although Helloalbums refers to the books it creates as albums, it's an app for creating portfolio books that's fast. The books you create are delivery straight to your door by USPS. Helloalbums lets you build, share, and print albums using your iPad as the resource. Choose from style options, then fill the portfolio with images from your iPad camera roll or your Facebook or Instagram accounts. Just drag and drop the images where you want them, adding descriptive text as you go. You can resize, rotate, and change the brightness of images within the app itself. The app is very simple and intuitive to use, and once you're done with the album, you can purchase a bound copy to be mailed to you.


Printzel is a free portfolio book platform that provides users and developers a seamless, in-app solution for the creation of professionally printed products. Printzel books are sized to dimensions that match the 4:3 ratio of your iPad screen, so your creations match look and fell of your iPad. All book interior pages are printed on 115# gloss text paper. The paper used is conservation-grade archival paper, which is an acid-free, buffered paper made from wood-based pulp. The papermaking process is both acid-free and elementally chlorine-free (ECF) with no ground wood within the production. Orders are processed immediately, printed within 3-5 business days, and shipped out with tracking status. Production features include the ability to enlarge & rotate photos, add caption text.  You can choose either a black or white page theme for the books appearance, and there is also the option to share a book online after you order.

Photo Books by Simple Prints

Another free portfolio book app, Photo Books by Simple Prints offers books using 3 easy steps; 1) select your photos, 2) layout your book, and 3) purchase. You can build your book in parts. Spend 5 minutes here and there, and you can save your work. Available in 8” x 8” inch hard cover and soft cover books created in minutes from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, books are printed within 48 hours. You can also use your images from Facebook, Instagram, or Dropbox and add captions to any image.


Groovebook, perhaps better used for leave behind samples, is a subscription service that provides you with a free app that lets you choose up to 100 photos from your camera roll to create a 4.5" x 6.5" photo book within the cost of the service. The book is mailed to you monthly, so if you wish you can create the book and simply receive monthly copies of it, adding images to it or deleting ones as you see fit. Your photos are printed on glossy photo paper and perforated for easy removal. That means you can separate the images to share, mail, etc. with a payment of $2.99 each month for shipping and processing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Portfolios On Demand: The Desktop Advantage

It is now possible to look highly professional for a relatively modest investment by creating a portfolio using an on-demand book publishing site. High quality customizable fixed portfolios are available through a number of sources.
© 2013 Don Arday
Even though these services were developed primarily to support photographic professionals, they serve illustrators equally as well, after all a JPG or PDF file is still an image file, whether it was captured with a camera or created by an illustrator. It is important to note that in nearly every case, portfolios printed as books are unalterable, so if after ordering your portfolio book you want to add your latest illustration, it will require ordering a completely new updated book. Still these options of producing a professional portfolio should be thoughtfully considered. The list of resources provided below is by no means complete, and each vendor will best suit the needs of an illustrator in kind. Although there are many publishers out there, the ones below will allow you to print a single portfolio. Also these vendors were selected based on their affinity for professional portfolio publishing.

Disclaimer: This list is provided to serve as a resource for portfolio book providers. Each should be researched to match the user interface, price point, and elements you desire in an on-demand printed portfolio.


The difference with Lulu is you can, not only create a book, but you can also sell it. Lulu’s model in publishing is open publishing, which empowers creators to publish and sell content to readers. Through their open publishing platform, they help creators make works available in multiple formats and markets so audiences and buyers can more easily find relevant content. At Lulu, it’s free to publish, so authors can create everything from hard cover books to eBooks, portfolio books, etc. Artists and authors keep all the rights to their works and retain 80% of the profit when their books sell. Lulu can provide worldwide distribution so that books can reach an audience just about anywhere, including on Amazon.com and the iBookstore™. And Lulu can help with cover design, editing, formatting, marketing or the publishing process in general. You can even get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), a controlled, 10 or 13 digit identification number that allows publishers, libraries, and book dealers to locate books. Lulu provides a cost calculator to provide an actual quote with the specific printing options you select.


Viovio is dedicated to providing a quality product and extraordinary service. Producing on-demand products of exceptional quality with record speed has always been in the forefront. By combining the quality of their portfolio books with a no-touch manufacturing process, Viovio is able to offer customers the superior portfolio books they demand. Additionally, Viovio has a large selection of book sizes, formats and material choices for the creation of your portfolio book. The PDF, and font handling instructions that are provided to assist you in preparing your book for printing are highly detailed and elaborate for those who want to know all specifications in detail. Their online book creation software allows you to work, on and save, your project 100% free of charge. You only pay when you're ready to buy your book. The Viovio bookmaking service is available on line and through a downloadable iPad app.


Mixbook is a user-friendly way to make  customizable portfolio books, cards, and other print items on the web. With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to static pre-designed templates. Powerfully designed software gives you the freedom to customize your own layout and design. Mixbook is dedicated to bringing you the best experience in creating image products. With Mixbook’s trademark slogan is Make It Yours™. Although they offer a number of predesigned, adorned picture book choices, their “Blank Canvas” or simple portfolio options are preferable for customization. The four format options each offer a limited range of a sizes and materials. You can preview each book style and size to get ideas about how to layout the pages.


Shutterfy’s single-minded focus on helping you enhance, organize and store your digital images allows them to provide the highest quality. They have been trusted choice of professional photographers and artist, and the proud recipient of many industry awards. Advantages include free online photo storage -- Shutterfly has never deleted an image. Free online photo sharing -- reviewers and friends can view images you want to share without having to log in or sign up. They just click on a link in your email and instantly view a slideshow of your work.  Shutterfly’s Express Uploader is a free, easy-to-use software application that quickly uploads your images straight from your desktop. You can also view and edit your pictures before uploading them. Several other book-on-demand vendors either outsource to Shutterfly or use Shutterfly’s engine for the service they offer. Pricing is up front, accessible, and competitive.


MyCanvas is an online photo book tool that provides a variety of backgrounds, font styles and layouts. Completely customize your portfolio book or choose easy to use templates..Book sizes include 8” x 8", 11” x 8.5", or 14” x 11". MyCanvas uses print-on-demand (POD) printing for the book you want. POD printing is just what it sounds like. Your book is not printed until you order it, which allows for changes while customizing a book. Add photos, layouts, and embellishments, edit text and change backgrounds. Choose your cover -- a photo of your choice printed in matte finish, nuba, leather, padded leather, silk spine, full silk, two-tone velvet, or nubuck leather. Choose from a variety of cover styles and premium options, like slip cases. Plus, add pages and ship as fast as you like. Some of the cover options include a slipcase to protect and preserve your book (leather, silk and silk spine). Create up to 250 pages printed in gloss on heavyweight, acid-free, archival paper. Their Premium photo books are individually handcrafted and made-to-order. Matching end sheets are included. Pricing is up front, accessible, and competitive.


Starting with the outside, Picaboo offers the freedom of placing any photo on the front cover, back cover, and spine of a Classic Custom book. Specialty books are available in 6” x 8” and 8.5” x 11” with glossy laminate hard cover or soft cover with premium glossy paper or in 11” x 14” with glossy laminate hard cover and premium glossy paper. Classic books available in multiple sizes and colors feature a linen hard cover or a textured soft cover, a center die-cut window and premium glossy paper. Choose from a variety of professionally designed themes to get started. You can completely customize a selected theme or you can choose to start your book with no theme. With Picaboo, you can redesign an existing layout, or create your own page design from scratch by dragging and dropping your photos and captions anywhere on the page. Picaboo provides the broadest range of high-quality portfolio book styles. Choose from the versatile Classic Die-Cut and Custom Cover collection to meticulously handcrafted leather flush mount book. Prices are listed up front along with styles.


Snapfish offers customized photo books showcasing your illustration talents, with nearly unlimited design options in 15 different book styles. Professionally designed templates allow you reproduce your work in a portfolio book. Snapfish provides you with a variety of sizes to choose from. A simple flip book, a 2” x 3” mini book, or an 8” x 11” photo books is a snap to create with over 55 photo and text layouts, or opt for a deluxe 12” x 12” book with large-scale images. You are in full control with the ability to use captions, titles, and page layouts throughout your portfolio book. Choose a soft cover or hard cover book style with leather, velvet, linen, dust jacket, and custom cover options. All photo books are professionally bound and printed on archival-quality, acid-free paper. Most importantly, every photo book is one-of-a-kind made exactly to your specifications. Pricing is up front and accessible.


From the paper to the printing, quality is at the heart of every AdoramaPix portfolio book. Premium books are hand crafted and inspected by experienced staff to ensure that your portfolio book will look stunning and last a lifetime. A unique binding system allows every page spread to lie flat without any gutter or unsightly seam to separate your pages. This system combines beautiful presentation with incredible durability. The AdoramaPix custom-built design tool makes it drag-and-drop easy for anyone to build beautiful, professional quality books. AdoramaPix 8” x 10” books are hard cover, and are printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive Album photo paper, so they are not press printed, this makes them very different from all other press books. Pricing is upfront and accessible. Due to the use of photo paper and premium binding materials, pricing is a bit higher than other portfolio on demand publishers.


Blurb offers self-published portfolio books at bookstore quality to artists, designers and photographers. Select from easy-to-use cover layouts in Bookify or BookSmart, or make your own with the Adobe® InDesign® plugin. Choose from a wide selection of papers including an 80# Standard Paper smooth semi-matte finish, or premium heavier papers in matte and lustre finishes. ProLine professional-grade papers made by Mohawk are also an option. Blurb prints on industry-leading HP Indigo digital offset presses for superb image reproduction and color fidelity. For highly refined color control Blurb offers an extensive color management resource center and a GRACoL 2009 ICC color profile for precise printing. Blurb layouts offer creative flexibility to add photos and text. Create stunning two-page full-bleed spreads. Choose from a wide selection of layouts or customize your own hard cover books that feature library binding, while soft cover books have perfect binding that is bound to last. Pricing is clear, upfront, and competitive.

MyPublisher (Shutterfly)

MyPublisher was the inventor and first marketer of high quality, single-copy, custom portfolio books at an affordable price. MyPublisher has evolved as a leading internet retailer of personalized photo applications to enable consumers to creatively customize, share, print, and preserve digital images. Now joined with Shutterfly, MyPublisher offers a range of custom products and free proprietary design applications, including Photo Books, Photo Calendars, Cards and Canvas Prints. MyPublisher prints, manufactures and ships every product it sells with no out-sourcing. MyPublisher is among the largest digital photo printers in the world. Every year it prints and ships over 120 million photos for its customers. MyPublisher believes that controlling its printing and manufacturing enables it to deliver consistently superior quality and service. MyPublisher also offers digital tools to assist users in creating their book projects. MyPublisher books are all landscape format, with several cover material options in four different sizes. Pricing is up front and accessible.


Pikto, uses the latest digital press technology and finest materials to give your portfolio book a professional feel at a fraction of the price. Pitko books come in nine sizes and feature various book cover materials to give you the look of a traditionally printed coffee table art book. According to Pitko, you can create books with exquisite detail and quality of a book of “fine art” at a fraction of the price. Free software is available for download to easily and intuitively put together books from 6x8” in size to 12” x 18”. One-on-one design consultations and video tutorials are also available to help make your Pikto experience as simple possible. The website is easy to navigate and provides an easy interface for pricing and selection of materials. Pricing is up front and accessible.

White House Custom Color (WHCC)

WHCC albums and books offer more unique and affordable options compared to other industry high-end books. For albums each full-page spread is printed on your choice of paper type and then mounted to thick cardstock to lay flat. Customize a creative look that’s unique to each client with various cover options and album sizes. Customized books are a choice for portfolio style presentations. WHCC books are press printed to achieve extreme print quality, craftsmanship. Turnaround time has most books shipping next day. You can customize your portfolio books in nearly endless ways with the choice from four different page papers, over 48 cover materials, and eight book sizes. Fine details may be added to enhance your book with a photographic dust jacket or cover foil stamping. A pricing chart is up front and accessible.


Kolo makes printed portfolio books, boxes, and classic albums. Kolo also makes presentation boxes that coordinate with the photo books and albums. Kolo has a uniquely designed binding for your custom portfolio book. Books come in 5.5” x 8”, 8.5” x 11”, and 11” x 14”, while boxes and albums are offered in other sizes.  With books, the binding is expandable so additional pages con be added. Sophisticated and elegant, books are expandable and can grow with your image collection. Just upload your digital files to myKOLO, select your format and get started. Kolo offers a variety of classic styled portfolio albums. Kolo's EasyLoad is a way to quickly, and elegantly organize your images for presentation. Lolo can also provide you with portfolio boxes using archival board, European book cloth and archival acid-free book binding paper. The boxes have Kolo's trademark window to display an image or label. Pricing is up front and accessible.

Bay Photo

Bay Photo offers hard cover and soft cover portfolio books printed on Indigo printers for the high quality digital press printing that is well suited for high-end proof portfolios books. You can choose from a wide selection of sizes in square, horizontal, and vertical formats. Optional full-wrap, laminated dust jackets are also available. Bay Photo also offers premium 6-color printing for increased depth of color and the smoothest gradients. You have the option of hundreds of customizable page layout templates in Bay ROES, or create your own using any image editing application available in 48 mix-and-match cover materials for customization of your portfolio. Choose from unique lay-flat hinged pages with optional texture or UV coating (hard covers only), or perfect bound standard pages (hard covers and soft covers). The full price list is clear and accessible.

PhotoBook Press

Illustrators, artists and photographers can preserve their best work in fine limited edition portfolio books from PhotoBook Press. Quality printing, paper and binding make these books particularly suited to portfolio presentations. The basic sewn binding book has rich black bonded leather binding with black, white or ecru end leaves. Also offered are luxurious full grain or goat leathers, Japanese silks or image wrap bindings for the exterior of the book. Exquisite Nepalese cloud papers or custom printed papers can be used as end papers. Custom printing is available on soft covers, smooth heavy weight pages, and state-of-the-art press printed images, text and captions. Books are printed on 120# text weight archival papers. Heavy weight but flexible and supple, these pages have an substantial feel. More permanent than photographs, the crisp clear images in these custom portfolio books resist scratching. Slipcases can be ordered to match your portfolio book as well. With all the unique premium custom options available, pricing is a bit higher than some competitors. A pricing calculator is provided up front to help when selecting sizes, materials, and printing options.

Artifact Uprising

In addition to the hard cover portfolio books that are he signature line in Artifact Uprising’s product suite, they also offer two unique products, an Instagram book, and a custom printed wooden portfolio box. These books feature your choice of a full-sized or partial dust jacket over a fabric cover. They are available in three sizes starting at 50, 100 or 150 pages printed on Mohawk Options 100% post consumer recycled in square 8.5” x 8.5”, landscape 11” x 8.25”, or portrait 8.25” x 11” formats. If you share your art through Instagram, Artifact Uprising offers a special product, a textured eggshell matte soft cover book featuring layouts that are designed to accommodate Instagram images. Upload your favorite images and design in just minutes with layouts suited for small square images. The interior pages are printed on Mohawk Options 100% post consumer recycled with the cover stock: Mohawk Superfine Eggshell, White 120#. The custom printed wooden boxes are handcrafted in Colorado using solid deadfall beetle-kill pine reclaimed from forests. Box product specs are 12.5” x 9.5” outer dimensions to fit all Artifact Uprising hard cover and soft cover books with the top of box being customizable. The website interface is extremely user friendly. Pricing is up front accessible and extremely competitive.

Photobook America

Pro Series portfolio books are individually handcrafted using fine materials. These modern premium books use thick, heavyweight premium paper. Below the Pro Series is the more affordable Debossed series. Either way you can customize your book with features from free Photobook Designer software. A wide array of designing options allow images to be wrapped on custom matte-laminated photo covers or choose from a variety of cover materials that come in Leather, Buckram and Cambric in a host of colors. All books are individually handmade. Choose from an exclusive range of papers from a high quality heavier 170 gsm premium silk for a smooth and professional sheen with sharp contrast and great color to an upgrade to a premium papers like the 216 gsm premium silk. The 170 gsm matte textured paper imparts a canvas-like finish for a smudge resistant finish. All images are printed using the latest industry-leading HP Indigo 7600 press. Hard cover and soft cover books comes in a durable PUR perfect binding, giving books a library-quality and feel, with additional reinforced spine. A debossed window option on the cover offers creative flexibility to showcase featured picture and/or caption. Blind debossed text stamping is also available. Pricing is up front and accessible.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Illustrator’s Confidential Dictionary: The Letter A

© 2013 Don Arday.
To celebration its first anniversary, The Informed Illustrator presents the letter ‘A’ of The Illustrator’s Confidential Dictionary. The dictionary was conceived to answer a desperate need for the language of illustration to be defined. The intention is for additional installments to appear at irregular intervals over an interminably long period of time.


1. describing any illustration completed between 1965 and 1971;
2. an explaination for an illustration done in the style of the old masters.

Client: “Yeah man, abstract, far out, I get it, I really get it...I think...?” Illustrator: “I knew you’d catch my drift.” Client: “It’s one hell of a portrait, I think it’s one of your best.” Illustrator: “Aw man...it’s a sailboat on a lake.”
Usage: “How did you manage to illustrate that movie poster with so many heads and only one body? It looks like an abstract version of the Hindu God Brahma.


1. a non-biodegradable paint that dries faster than you want it to, and doesn't dry when you need it to;
2. a molasses like substance that softens when applied fast, and hardens when applied slow.

Usage: “Sure I’ll have that illustration finished in ten minutes…I’m using acrylic.”
Usage: “It’s done in acrylic. Rest assured, that illustration will last as long as the paint on your house.”


1. the way an illustration ends up looking like it does;
2. the way most illustrators ended up with a graphic design career.

Usage: "All painting is an accident. But it's also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve." - Francis Bacon (1909-1992), English painter.


1. an antiquated material that cannot be touched by the human hand;
2. a clear protective film with static properties that attracts finger prints, dust, and grime, to wit, it no longer appears to be clear.

Usage: “I’ll cover it with acetate, that way if the art director spills coffee on it again, I’ll be able to wipe it off this time.”


1. the way an illustrator that hasn’t had a commission for a while works;
2. the way someone works who allows Adobe Illustrator to select colors for them.

Usage: “I hope I get that phone call soon, I’m down to my last tube of paint. I have to work achromatic.”
Usage: “Can somebody tell me how I can add some colors to this achromatic Illustrator file?”


1. something that no longer comes standard with every illustration assignment;
2. usually seen in the gutter of a magazine printed in 3 point type;
3. an award presented to an art director for an illustrator's work.

Usage: Well its your own fault, if you hadn't used that dark blue in the corner of your illustration that black type would have shown up.


1. when someone in a remote part of the world suddenly takes an interest in your work and you’ve never heard of them;
2. when someone on the street is wearing a t-shirt with your illustration on it and you don’t recall being paid for that job;
3. a freebie.

Usage: “Have you seen my latest acquisition? My illustrator was influenced by Parrish, Wyeth, Leydendecker, and Disney.”


1. the substance that adheres a UPC code on the one side, and a price tag on the other side of an expensive piece of watercolor paper;
2. the uncanny state that happens to the lid of a matte medium jar that has been closed for more than four hours.

Usage: “I remember when, not only did paste work as an adhesive, but you could eat it too.”


1. the developer of an unspecified number of software products, all looking somewhat similar, but turning out to be drastically different;
2. a suite of software requiring a user to learn a different set of keystrokes in each program to do the same thing;
3. the Walmart of software companies.

Usage: “If you’re confused just go to Adobe Help, but be sure you tell them which software program you’re using so they don’t get confused.”


1. a term not typically associated with illustration or illustrators;
2. what an illustrator sees when his or her eyes are closed;
3. something usually experienced once or twice a day when one is in a seated position.

Usage: “These days aesthetics has nothing to do with beauty.”
Usage: “To study aesthetics is to delve deeply into one’s innermost Ch’i, and listen intently to one’s outer most Mp3.” - Thomas Richard Harry (1935-2001) American curmudgeon.


1. a thought that sometimes occurs after an illustration job has been accepted, and definitely occurs after the job is finished;
2. the next illustration produced.

Client: “I had an afterthought, I mean a thought just came to me.” Illustrator: “That’s not an afterthought, it’s an original thought.” Client: “Nope, that’s impossible.”


1. an individual who mysteriously has the ability to obtain an illustration commission so they can get a commission;
2. someone who can make money simply by answering a phone;
3. an illustrator’s better half.

Usage: “I’m really lucky…I got a real bargain…my agent only takes 38% of my gross earnings.”
Usage: “When I call my agent she’s at lunch…I guess they serve lunch in New York City from 9:00am ‘till 6:30pm.”


1. a rather unpredictable apparatus with a mind of its own for simultaneously applying paint to an illustration and anything else in the immediate vicinity.
2. a computer mouse or track pad.

Usage: “I spent twenty hours on that piece and in less than a second that damn airbrush ruined it.”


1. a substance used externally to wipe equipment and surfaces clean, and taken internally to wipe memories clean;
2. a liquid responsible for reducing the net worth of an illustrator's income by 50%;
3. an art director’s only friend.

Illustrator A: “Can you believe the nerve of that guy. Telling me that my Mick Jag…ger looked like Steven Twy…Tsy…Tyler.”  Illustrator B: “Boy, that’s a lot of nerve. Any idiot can tell the difference from one from the other. Bartender, more alcohol.” Illustrator A: “Yeah, I told…uh…told that guy where to get off. Do you want to hear what I told him…huh…do you? Well do yooo? Illustrator B: “Uh…sure. I know what I would ‘ave told him. Do you want to hear what I would have told that guy.”  Illustrator A: “Uh…I don’t know. Illustrator B: Uh…well that’s OK. Tell me what you told him.” Illustrator A: “I told him…well here’s what I told him…I told him, I’ll do that illustration complete over again…and that really got him…it served him right.” Illustrator B: NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT…YOU REALLY GOT THAT BASTERD.”


1. a type of paint that even its manufacturers have no idea what it’s made of;
2. a term sometimes confused with “alkie” by those who are;
3. a type of paint always on clearance at art supply stores.

Usage: “I’m trying out these paints called alkyds. They are made from recycled war materials and they’re manufactured in the Balkan Islands, or perhaps it's the Falkland Islands.”


1. the most desirable form of conversation to use when addressing a client;
2. what every sketch proposal should impart;
3. a tool used by clients to describe the whereabouts of the check that was cut in payment for illustration services rendered.

Usage: “You know, after an hour long discussion, I’m not really sure at all what they thought about the illustration, the client was lost in ambiguity.”
Usage: “First they said ‘approved’, then they said ‘stop’, then they said ‘revise’, then they said ‘stop the revise’, then they said ‘go with the revise’, then they said ‘stop the revise’, and then they said ‘go with the original’. Oh, the ambiguity of it all.”


1. a state of mind inherent in a student who was forced by parents to study graphic design instead of illustration;
2. the impression an illustration leaves when it had to be approved by a committee;
3. a sentiment that develops during the third round of sketches.

Client: “I gave you hours and hours of  input for this assignment, and all I see in this illustration is ambivalence.” Illustrator: “Ditto.”
Usage: “I’ll have to channel my inner ambivalence to get through this assignment.”


1. how to describe your opinion versus the opinion of your client;
2. a descriptive term for two colors that don’t look good together;
3. the way you think things should be done as opposed to the way Adobe wants you to do them.

Usage: “My gangsta visuals are analogous with gangsta lyrics.”
Usage: “It may be analogous to what you are seeing in this illustration, but it’s definitely a hand.”


1. knowledge that every illustrator cannot be without, but many illustrators have yet to acquire;
2. the study of the separate parts of an organism to ascertain their meaning and function, for example a clients brain.

Usage: “I though anatomy was all about drawing things you can see like with naked models. I never realized it’s about drawing things you can’t see like with overweight naked models. I take my hat off to Peter Paul Rubens.”
Usage: “My talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size...has ever surpassed my courage.” – Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish baroque painter.


1. 120,000 illustrations of the same thing;
2. an illustrator with attention deficit disorder;
3. something that has nothing to do with a cartoon.

Usage: “So, you say you like animation and illustration. Have you decided whether you want to be an animator who animates, an animator who illustrates, an illustrator who animates, an illustrator who illustrates, or an animator who does nothing?”


1. Japanese animation originating in Japan, produced by Japanese artists, for a Japanese audience, about Japanese culture, in Japan;
2. not animation or illustration created for an American audience, by American artists, for American animation companies, or American publications in America;
3. an animated character with either very large eyes or very small eyes; and either very large mouths or very small mouths; and sometimes with no mouth at all.

Usage: “If that character isn’t a cat, then why does it have cat ears on top of its head…what’s that…you say it’s anime?”


1. the phenomenon whereby an illustration appears to resemble the illustrator who created it;
2. an attempt by a client to become something they are not, say, an illustrator.

Usage: “For this assignment, I need you to conjure up some of your magical anthropomorphism…I need you to make a hummingbird look like Cee Lo Green.”
Usage: “Why is it that every living thing in all your illustrations looks just like you?”


1. something every illustrator should never be without;
2. the inspirational part of an illustrator’s creative process;
3. a state one will soon be in when illustrating for PepsiCo.

Illustrator: “Well doctor, I have an anxiety attack every time I pick up a pencil.” Doctor: “Have you thought about using a computer, that way you wouldn’t have to draw?”
Usage: "I don't have big anxieties. I wish I did. I'd be much more interesting." - Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), American painter.


1. created with the use of a pencil, pen, palette knife, brush, or an application;
2. a digital tool for use in place of a pencil, pen, palette knife, brush, or skills;
3. a form of entertainment.

Usage: “With this application I can create a set of brushes out of a head of lettuce…I’d like to see Winsor & Newton do that!”
Usage: “I promise you it will be done soon…I know it has been six weeks, but I’m waiting for the last application of varnish to dry.”

Applied Arts

1. a term used by old timers and educators to refer to illustration and design.
2. art that has a purpose;
2. an oxymoron according to some.

Usage: “You mean to tell me you’ve signed up for an applied arts degree…what the hell is that?”


1. an extreme form of admiration by one artist for another artist’s work;
2. an activity used to overcome a mental block;
3. fan art.

Art Director: “I used the idea for the approbation.” Illustrator: “Umm…I think you mean appropriation.”
Usage: “I beg to differ with you…I find your appropriation to be quite inappropriate.”


1. any illustration that is two years old;
2. the one illustration an illustrator wishes he or she never did.

Usage: “That was a long time ago…I don’t even recognize that piece...I was a different person back then. All I know is that it was archival up ‘till now.


1. a contract that is used in place of a legitimate agreement;
2. a bargain with and for the client;
3. something you understood as having one meaning while your client believes it means another;
4. an understanding that never resulted in a payment of any kind.

Usage: “The illustrator and I have an arrangement…she does the work…and I make her do it all over again...at no extra cost.”
Usage: “Will we get you a contract? No, we don’t use contracts around here. They’re a waste of resources, but we will make you an arrangement.”


1. that which is not produced by an illustrator;
2. the thing referred to that an illustrator produces, but cannot qualify as;
3. a popular game played at parties.
4. a descriptive form of a joke.

Usage: “If it ain't hangin’ in a museum than it ain't art.”
Usage:  “Being able to hit that spittoon like that is a real art”

Art Appreciation

1. a non-intuitive ability that must be taught to a non-artist.
2. without or lacking the term illustration;
3. art history lite:

Usage: “First off, a nitwit like you needs to learn some manners, and then you need to learn some art appreciation.”


1. a naked, white compressed paper rendering surface, that illustrators stare at, and it stares back;
2. an uninteresting art class.

Usage: “Will you cover up that artboard...it’s indecent…for God's sake!”

Art Criticism

1. the self professed right of every citizen on the planet;
2. a profession adopted by failed social critics, literary critics, food critics, movie critics, music critics, and undecided trolling critics.
3. an occupation that sees art as being only black or white, ignoring all the color in between.

Usage: “Strangely enough, there are no critiques of art criticism.”
Usage: “If you look back into the recent past of a person who writes art criticism, you will find a drawing of a stick figure.”

Art Director

1. a person who takes orders from one person and gives them to another person;
2. a person who occasionally tries to illustrate a project, but with disastrous results;
3. someone who has lost the ability to listen;
4. an administrator.

Usage: “Even though I’m just an acquaintance, the art director seems to think we are married.”
Usage: “He’s a well respected art director for allowing other people do his work for him.”


1. an eraser that makes nothing disappear except itself;
2. a sticky mass found underneath drawing tables in art classrooms that can be used as an eraser in a pinch.

Usage: “I'll get rid of that pencil line if it's the last thing I do--hand me that box of Artgums.”


1. someone who cannot illustrate;
2. an illustrator that has never had a paid commission.

Classified Advertisement: “Artist available for commissions, paid offers only, illustration assignments acceptable.”

Artistic Temperament

1. an attitude that results in a cynical redefinition of words that pertain to illustrators;
2. aesthetic high blood pressure;
3. a license to ignore the obvious.

Usage: “The artistic temperament is a disease which afflicts amateurs.” - G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English author.
Usage: “Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament.” - G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English author.

Art Supply

1. an overpriced common tool used by an illustrator; 
2. an object or set of objects that help an illustrator remain in debt.

Usage: “But honey, I have to have those art supplies. The baby will have to go without for just a little longer.”


1. a term used to describe a commission when there is no concern for quality;
2. referring to a deadline before the time the assignment was even given out;
3. (a)lways (s)ecure (a) (p)aycheck.

Usage: “ASAP is impossible.”
Usage: “You got lucky on this deadline, it’s only ASAP. It could have been an ASAPASAP, or even an ASAPASAPASAP.”


1. the relationship between an illustrator’s effort and the compensation provided for that effort;
2. a compositional arrangement whereby things an illustrator has trouble rendering can be made much smaller;
3. a difference regarding what a client says and an illustrator does.

Usage: “That illustration is so asymmetrical that if you hung on a wall it would lean to the right.”
Usage: “It’s making me dizzy…it’s so heavy on one side I have to look at it sideways…I’m going to have to take two asymmetrical pills to put it right.”


1. something illustrators are not allowed to have, and clients deny having;
2. the angle a client turns his or her head while viewing a sketch proposal;

Client: “Do I detect an attitude in that red you are using?” Illustrator: “It’s only a color.” Client: “Yes, but I don’t like what it is suggesting.” Illustrator: “What’s that?” Client: “It is clearly saying buy my competitor’s product.”


1. a fictitious group of invisible people;
2. a theoretical concept referred to over and over again by a client;
3. a group of people who insist on talking instead of paying attention to what they are looking at it.

Usage: “As an account executive, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in focus groups, and I can tell you, when it comes to sports, the audience won’t understand it. An illustration that has an athlete in it is absurd. It’s all about the ball.”

I’d like to acknowledge the following individuals who provided inspiration for this project. G.K.C., L.T., B.A., B.D., B.H., J.P., G.H., B.F., and T.L.