How to Work with Editorial Illustration Clients | Illustrating for Newspapers and Magazines

How to Work with Editorial Illustration Clients | Illustrating for Newspapers and Magazines


Hello and welcome back to my channel. Today we are starting on a new series of videos about working with clients and what the actual process in real life in the illustration industry, what the process of working with clients is like from beginning to end. So I’m going to do several of these videos focusing on different industries. This first one is going to focus on editorial, so work for magazines and newspapers different sorts of publications. So we’re going to dive right into the first phase which I am calling the groundwork phase. And for me the beginning of the groundwork
phase is usually when the client reaches out to
me by email, it’s almost always by email, occasionally
it might be on some sort of social media platform. I’m going to show you guys an example of an
actual intro email that I had from a recent editorial
client. All the details have been scrubbed, so there’s not going to be any name that the name of
the client the name of our director that will
all be removed from the email but you’ll get to see
the content of the email and as well as my response
to it. So here it is and you can see that they opened
up by saying, Hi Kendall hope this email finds you well
I love the work you did for our recent issue, your work is
really beautiful. I was wondering if you’d be able to take on
three spots and a portrait for our upcoming issue. I’d need sketches by Monday April 29th and
finals by Monday May 6th. We usually pay two hundred dollars a spot. Let me know if this is doable for you and
I’ll send over the info A.S.A.P. Thanks so much. So I would say this is a pretty standard to
maybe even a little bit above average better than average
intro email. The opening line just sort of saying hey how
they found you, what they like about your work, that’s pretty
standard. What makes this email really nice is that
they are already saying right up front what they’re looking
for, they want three spots and a portrait and they say the
budget that they have, and the timeline. So those are like three big important things
that if they hadn’t been included in this you know
I would have had to go back and figure out what those were
before I could think seriously about taking the project
on. So here’s my reply. Hello Art Director. Thanks so much for reaching out and for your kind words about my work. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to
work with the magazine on the last issue and I’d love
to work with you on this assignment. I could have sketches by end of day Monday
provided I receive all the references and the brief by
this evening. That said my project schedule is already quite
full next week. Do you have any flexibility on the due date
for finals? As for budget, I generally start at $250 for
spots and $400 for portraits. Would you be able to make that work? Looking forward to hearing more. Thanks very much, Kendyll. So some important elements here, I mention
that I can have the sketches by end of day Monday as they’ve
requested as long as I receive all the references and the brief
by that evening. So if I were to have just said sure thing
I can I can have all that done by end of day Monday but not said
when I need all of the references then they might have not gotten
me the references until like Monday morning or something and
that wouldn’t have given me enough time to work on it. So I agree to their timeline but I stipulate
when I need the materials by in order to get started and have it finished
by that deadline. And then I went ahead and asked if there was
any other flexibility in the project schedule since my plate was already
pretty full in the coming week. And then I also raised the issue of budget
since their budget was $200 per each of these four illustrations
of one of them was a portrait which is always more work more complex just
they take more time. So I went ahead and asked whether there was
more money in the budget whether we could increase the budget and you
can see if you look at the time I replied to this email within a
couple of hours so especially or editorial clients having that really snappy
timely communication in the beginning is always really appreciated. They agreed right away to my budget terms
which was great. Then in terms of the schedule that turned
out to actually be kind of the sticking point in this project
where they really wanted it by a certain date and that
date was really just pretty challenging not very doable for
me. But basically we came to an agreement and
within 24 hours everything was all squared away and they were
sending me the references and I was getting ready to go ahead
and jump in on the project so I would say that is pretty
typical turnaround time in terms of the communication, the initial
communication with the client for an editorial project,
somewhere between four to six or seven emails altogether. The terms will get decided within that chain
of communication. So the first is the scope of the project and
that can really vary widely from client to client, it could
be anywhere from one little tiny spot illustration to ten spot
illustrations. And usually in my experience and working with
editorial they they don’t need the work to be quite
as large, they’re usually just presenting it in a magazine
or in a newspaper so the size that it’s going to
be printed out isn’t massive. So they are typically ok with things being a bit smaller in size maybe even a little
bit less detailed than say a client for packaging or
advertising might be. The type of direction, so the type of art
direction that you will receive from the art director, how specific
they’re going to be in in what they tell you in how they
dictate the process basically like how much they’re going to micromanage
you or not. With editorial clients the direction in my
experience is usually pretty minimal maybe one to three sentences
per subject so if you’re if you’re doing one subject one illustration
it might just be a couple of sentences that describe what
they want that illustration to be. Maybe they’ll attach a couple of photos to
the email. Alright timeline for editorial clients is
usually pretty quick. So this example communication that you saw
with this actual client of mine that was it was quick for me
and I was trying to push it out mainly because I already had
a fully booked slate of client work but overall that was actually
a great timeline for editorial. With editorial you can have timelines that
are as quick as like 24 or 48 hours depending on the client. I would say they are in my experience never
much longer than 10 days and that would be a very generous timeline
for an editorial project. So in this industry and editorial you do have
to be able to work quickly and be ok with working under pressure. The budget, that varies a lot depending on
the publication, the complexity of the illustration, the experience
of the illustrator, the timeline, there are all of those factors
that play into it. I would say generally speaking for spot illustrations
on the low end you would find maybe like a $175, $150,
$175 which would be pretty low I would not take on any work at
that rate but it does it does get offered and there are clients that
have that set as a budget. And that would range all the way up to like
$500 which would definitely be on the higher end for spot illustrations
so there’s a huge range. I typically will ask for something in the
$250 to $300 dollar range $250 would be the lower end for me, $300 or
$350 would be the higher end and then if it’s something like a portrait
it would be closer to to $400 or even $450 depending on how much
of the figure they want included. And a full page illustration could be anywhere
from $800 to $2500 depending again on those factors that I mentioned
the complexity of the illustration, the size of the client,
the market for this particular publication, all of those factors
will influence the pricing. I am going to recommend a resource that I
talk about all the time and that is the ‘Graphic Artist Guild Handbook
for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.’ And that is what I base pretty much all of
my pricing on as well as my own experience but it’s been a
huge help and a contributor for me in being able to come up
with with what are fair, industry standard market rates. So I will have a link to that book in the
description. Continuing on with groundwork here references whether they’re supplied or self sourced. For the most part editorial clients do have
some sort of reference that they come to you with,
some sort of image that they show you to indicate what
they’re looking for. Alright two more points in the groundwork
section, first is payment schedule. So generally with editorial clients they pay
in full at the end of the project. So or rather you submit an invoice for full payment at the end of the project. If you have watched my channel and you’ve watched my illustration business videos before you know that I really
strongly recommend getting deposits whenever possible. But in this instance in this field it’s good
to know that it’s pretty standard to not get a deposit. So that ties into the next point which is
the contract and if you’re not getting a deposit it’s even
more important to have a really solid contract that stipulates
that they only have the rights to use your work if they
have paid you. So generally with larger clients they will
have a contract as well as some other forms other paperwork that
you’ll have to fill out but you can still sometimes they
will still be willing to sign your contract or if it’s a smaller
publication they may want you to go ahead and just send them your
own contract. Regardless of which route you take, if a client
supplies you the contract make sure you read it really carefully
and and check to ensure that it has those important elements
those important things that you want to have in every illustration
contract. We’re not going to go over those in this video
but I have already made a video about that which will be up on
the screen and will be linked in the video as well. So all those important terms that you want to be sure to include in a client contract. All right moving on to phase two the sketches or sort of initial
development phase. This phase includes you coming up with the
ideas, you presenting the sketches and incorporating the, receiving
client feedback and incorporating client feedback on those
ideas. Alright so first step number of sketches. This can vary a lot depending on the style
of illustration you do. And typically if it’s an editorial client
I will do one sketch if it’s a spot illustration. And if it’s a larger illustration has multiple components that could be presented
in a few different ways I’ll do you know depending
on the situation I’ll do anywhere from one to three different sketches. For size and level of detail that varies again. It really depends on how the illustration
is going to be used. If it’s a spot illustration I create it smaller, if it’s gonna be a big illustration somewhere
big on the page or big on the website I create it larger. In terms of how much detail they have sketches
don’t usually have a ton of detail at least for
me. They’re typically just very simple pencil
sketches. Their entire purpose in life is to get the
to communicate what the composition is to the client. So I don’t really need them to be really fancy
or really detailed they just need to show where the
different components are going to be how the composition
is going to look so that the client can drop it into
the page layout and just get a sense for it and make sure
it’s gonna work. So color or no color, sketches usually do
not have color as I mentioned they’re usually just pencil line
sketches for editorial clients. Alright and number and scope of revisions
so typically for editorial clients I do two revisions total one revision
will be at this phase at the sketch phase and at the sketch phase I
allow for pretty much anything that the client wants to change. Anything that involves changing the composition or the layout or the elements
themselves in the sketch at the sketch stage revision I will accommodate
for that. The only things I won’t do are any major additions
of new subjects. So if they came to me and they said all right
we want an illustration of a bagel and we agreed on a price I would
change lots about the bagel itself maybe even turning it into a different
kind of bagel, but if they were to come back at the revision
phase of the sketches and say oh can you also include you know a
hand and have it bringing the bagel up to the to a mouth and a person
taking a bite, at that point I would say that we would need to potentially
revisit the pricing for that illustration because the pricing
was based on just being a bagel with cream cheese and including some significant
new elements would increase the complexity and therefore the
price. And you also need to make that clear to the
client upfront rather than just billing them for extra at the end
that’s beyond what you beyond what you agreed upon in terms of the
budget. So once they send me that feedback once I get the feedback I
will incorporate it, I will change the sketch according to whatever
the client has asked for. If we have a good timeline or if the client
has asked for it I will then show them the sketch just to be 100 percent
sure that that works that they’re on board with the way that it’s been set up. But if the timeline is really tight or if
they haven’t requested it sometimes I’ll just incorporate the feedback and then
move right on to the finals. So that’s something you kind of have to figure
out on a project by project basis as well. So the length of this phase the length of
the sketch phase this is usually aside from the initial groundwork. This is usually the shortest phase of the process could be anywhere from just 12
hours to maybe up to 72 hours. In my experience this is usually where there’s
the least amount of communication. I typically will just send an email when I’m
getting started and then I’ll send another email when I’m done with
the sketches and have presented the sketches and then there will be another
email or two from the client when they receive the sketches and give the
feedback. OK so moving on to Phase 3 which is the creation
of the final artwork. So the size the level of detail all of that
will just be for me it’s just exactly the same as what it was
in the sketches. So if I was working at a four by six I’ll
be working at a four by six for the final. As for the number and scope of revisions I
mentioned that I do two total for editorial clients
usually. So the first revision would have already been
taken care of in the sketch phase. The second revision that I include is at the
final phase. So after I have created the final work fully
rendered it it’s all in color it’s all done I scanned it in
I send it to the client and then they have one last opportunity to
request small changes. These would typically be limited only to things
like tweaking the color maybe saturation things that could be
done digitally or potentially a little bit of surface texture
like adding more highlights or adding more shadows or smoothing
a certain area out. Those would all be things that be included
in this revision in this phase of revisions. So that is a personal decision, there’s nothing that’s like across the board
expected but I would say it’s fairly standard to have at
least two opportunities for revision one at the sketch
and one after you’ve presented the final for any small tweaks. Alright the length of this phase, generally
you get two to five days from the time you get the feedback from the
client and the sketches revised. You have a few days, two to five days to complete
the final illustrations. Right communication during this phase again
somewhere around three to four emails total probably, I’ll send one once
and confirming that I’ve gotten the revisions, made the revisions and will
start on color. Then I send another one letting them know
that the color is done and presenting the final illustrations. So yeah they’ll either reply and say it looks
great, please send a link to the high res versions and your invoice,
or they might say looks good but can we change this or that in which case
I would have to reply back and say yes and then go ahead and make the change
and send over the new version. So fairly minimal communication once again
at this point just really what is necessary to go back and forth and get things
taken care of. All right phase 4, approval and delivery. So at this phase you’ve already completed
the work, the client has already approved it, the only thing left to do is
to perhaps the final files for delivery. So another common question I get is whether
clients get the actual illustrations or just the digital files and that depends
on your work, that depends on the industry, but in my experience with the editorial industry
and the editorial market clients really only ever are requiring the
digital files. So to prep that file the standard things that
I do are to completely remove the background so not just to tone down the
noise or amp up the white but I actually clear cut the background so the illustration
is just isolated on a clear background by itself. I’ll do some sort of small color tweaks to
make sure it looks like it does in real life. I do not do the RGB to CMYK conversion. Plenty of illustrators do, the reason I don’t is because a lot of especially
larger publications actually have someone either on staff or someone
that they contract with who specifically specializes in RGB to
CMYK conversion. All right and as for the file type and delivery
method, we’ve already said it’s going to be a digital
file usually for editorial clients my editorial clients usually just
want a jpeg they want a high quality jpeg, occasionally if they want the clear background
I’ll export a tiff but either it’s a high quality jpeg or a tiff. I always make sure format the illustrations
specifically for their size requirements. And then also on that note if I’ve made something
at 4 by 6 but they’re only going to be printing it like
at roughly 2 by 3, I don’t want to give them a 4 by 6 because
they didn’t pay for a 4 by 6 so I want to make sure that they are limited
to the scope and the size of the illustration that they actually
paid for. As for delivery method if it is only a couple
of small spot illustrations I will usually just attach those to the body
of an email they’re not typically too large. If it’s several spot illustrations or a spot
illustration and a large illustration, I’ll put together a folder in Dropbox with
the finals and just send the client a link to the Dropbox folder. You can use a free Dropbox account for that
I have I have a paid Dropbox account because I need it but if you’re
just getting started or you haven’t done a ton of this yet a free
Dropbox account will be more than enough space to do that. All right so the final phase, Phase 5 this
is the last sort of wrap up communication with the client and actually
getting paid. So once you have delivered your files you
can send the invoice and some people will send the invoice in the same
file in the same email that they that they send the hi res finals
in, I prefer to have it in a separate email that actually has the
word invoice and the invoice number in the subject line of the email it
just makes it really clear it makes it harder for that to get kind of
lost in the shuffle among the other stuff. So pretty much as soon as I as soon as I send
or when I’m sending the the final delivery email I’ll include a line
at the end that says my invoice will be along shortly and then within
a couple of minutes or maybe if I’m not doing any admin that day
maybe the next day I will send along the invoice but I always let the
client know when the invoice is going to be coming and then just
having the word invoice and your invoice number in the title
just makes it easier for everybody to keep track of. Again depending on the publication the size
of the publication you might be sending your invoice directly to
the art director that you worked with or you might be sending it to
someone in accounting or some other sort of assistant person some kind of
liaison go between person. Really it can depend on the publication so
my advice there is just to pay attention to what their protocol is and if
you don’t know that’s another thing you can mention when you send the final
email you can just ask our director please let me know who I should direct
my invoice to or whether there’s any specific protocol I should follow
in terms of titling the invoice. Sometimes they want you to put your name on
the invoice for example so paying attention to the procedure and trying to do
it the way that the organization the company wants it done that would just
speed things along in terms of receiving your payment quicker. All right last point, how long does it take to receive payment? So in my experience it can be anywhere from
a week to I think the longest terms I’ve had were 90 days
and actually those weren’t even the terms I think the terms were 45 days
that the client was late. And that is a reality and fortunately it’s
across many different industries, in my experience it tends to happen quite
a lot with editorial just especially if you’re working with a larger client. So you do tend to have to wait a little bit longer which is unfortunate but, I have
never been completely stiffed by a magazine. They’ve always paid in the end. I can actually do a dedicated video about
that if you guys want like a video about chasing down invoices
and some tactics I use to make sure that I get paid. If you want to hear more about that or you
want to have a dedicated conversation about that let me know in the comments and we can make
it happen. Ok, so that is it for this video on working with editorial clients from beginning to end. I hope it was helpful, I hope you like the
video. As I said I’m planning on doing a series of
these so there is another one in the works already that’s gonna be on packaging. And yeah if you’d like this kind of video
if you’d like to see more of them about different industries there are
certainly some other industries I could do as well and I’m even open to potentially reaching
out to other illustrators who work in different industries to see if they would
be willing to do one of these. So yeah let me know your thoughts on that
as well as any follow up questions that you have. I probably will do just a general Q and A
on working with clients once once these first couple of videos have come out so you put those in the comments
as well and yes thank you to you for watching this video. If your subscribed thank you for subscribing,
if you haven’t subscribed please do. And thank you to Meg for the amazing editing
thank you to my patrons especially for supporting this channel and making it possible for me to put
weekly videos like this out into the world for free for you guys. I love doing it. It’s a huge privilege and yeah I just can’t
thank my patrons enough for making that possible so thank you thank you. Hope everybody has a great week and I will
see you guys in the next video, Bye!

37 thoughts on “How to Work with Editorial Illustration Clients | Illustrating for Newspapers and Magazines

  1. Really helpful video! Would love to see the video on how you chase payments as I'm currently at that stage with a client|!

  2. Love your work and videos! I’ve been an art director for magazines and agencies for the past 8 years but I’m building my illustration portfolio to hopefully freelance full time. It’s something I’ve always dreamed about but never gave myself time to work on. You’re an inspiration 🙂

  3. Very very helpful video for me. You are my role model . Lots of Love and good wishes for you . I have a question about packaging design could you please let me know about that. The question is #after doing the illustrations of packaging design do you apply them on the package or what ? i am really confused about that .

  4. This is so helpful. Just one thing, after you agree to project and timeline etc, is that when you send an email to say here's my contract or can I have your contract? It seems to be skipped a lot when I work with clients and I just want to make sure I am doing things right. Love your videos, so helpful x

  5. Bonjour Kendyll, merci pour la programmation de ces vidéos pendant votre congé de maternité. En espérant que tout se passe bien et que vous allez bien. 🎈

  6. I think it is a great idea for a new video Kendyll 🙂 thank you for this one as well 🙂

  7. Thank you for such a detailed video. I’d like to hear or see how detailed the sketch phase is? I always think there is the sketches I use for me, that works for me but I don’t always know if someone else could entirely see where I’m going just because I can with not very clean sketches

  8. Yes I would be interested to know how to get paid. And give advice how to survive when your waiting for your check. Do you think you can survive financially if you were by yourself. The reason I ask is I am by myself so how would I survive paying rent and bills. But any information would be helpful. I also like packaging projects too. I enjoy your illustration is very beautiful.🌷🌸

  9. Hi Kendyll, I've been watching your videos for a while and I find lots of things that I helpful to me. I'm not a traditional illustrator like you but instead I create architectural illustrations completely on a computer using 3D software. I find many of the same things apply to my freelance business as well! Thanks for taking the time create videos like this. I'm looking forward to future videos. I also really like the overall look and style of your illustrations!

  10. Amazing video, thank you! I love this series, please make more videos different types of clients & what to do if a client is slow to pay. Can you also show us an examples of what the sketches look like at each stage? I’ve always had a question about how neat & detailed an initial sketch should be and what size/resolution it should be.

  11. Great video with very valuable information! Thank you Kendyll! And definitely yes to video about invoice chasing !

  12. Do you still use Pixelmator? I was just wondering because a friend had me do a logo, my 1st because I usually do children's illustrations. I sent her a PNG, and a person from FIVERR asked her if I had illustrator. I don't have illustrator. I only have photoshop, and my iPad with Procreate. Can't a logo be done in Procreate? Oh, so you only work with the e-mail, no contract is needed with the emails and no 50% upfront before working on the project? Thank you 😊 Oh there were no links down below?

  13. This is an extremely helpful and informative video! Great content! Thank you for sharing this information and helping aspiring professional illustrators!

  14. Glad to hear that you're getting lots of work from newspaper and magazine clients! 🙂 interesting to know how these sorts of emails back and forth go

  15. Hi Kendyll Thank you so much for this great video and info! When you want to show them how the end result looks – what do you give them? You said that you only give them the actual files in Phase 4 after they approved it and is satisfied or do I confuse things here? Thank you for making this video's !

  16. Hey Kendyll, I just wanted to say that I was approached by a magazine last week for the first time ever and I felt much more confident in the client communication because I've just recently listened to your video. Even though things didn't go "by the book" (as they never do), it was a great experience, they seemed to be happy with the work I've done and I was pleased with how things went as well. So I just wanted to THANK YOU for doing this, for having this channel and for sharing the information about how things go within this realm.
    Looking forward to what comes next.
    All the best to you! <3

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