So recently, I decided to commission an artist to draw some digital illustrations of some of my characters from my new book ‘Lost Frequencies’. I had never done this before as I thought it would be far too expensive, and I didn’t really know where to look for a suitable artist.
Being a hobby artist, I have some understanding of the art process and the process of selling art. Selling art is very different from selling a physical product like a sofa or a t-shirt. When an artist makes a drawing or painting or any sort of image, they own that image and they can choose how and in what format they wish to sell that image. For example, most artists will sell prints of their artwork at a cheaper price, and they will sell their original artwork at a much higher price.
Licensing and copyrighting artwork is when selling art becomes more tricky. The artist who made the artwork can choose to sell licenses or the copyright of their artwork to another person. As you can probably imagine, this is when it tends to get more expensive. It may be obvious to you, but if you bought a print of an artist’s work and then copied that print and tried to sell your copies, then you would be penalised for copyright infringement. It is important that if you want to use an artist’s artwork for any commercial, profitable use, that you make sure the artist is aware and that you come to a financial agreement before you use their work. This may also involve signing a legal document explaining what you can and can’t do and who gets what in terms of profits. Some artists may expect royalties, as in a percentage of the profits from the commercial use of their artwork. If you want complete control and freedom over how you use another artist’s artwork, then you need to gain full license and copyright of that particular artwork, this can sometimes be done if the artist agrees to a single one-off payment.
With all this in mind, I discovered the website fiverr.com and an artist called Nera Bui. I messaged Nera to explain what I wanted and if she would be ok with me using the artwork as part of my non-profit book promotion. We agreed on a price and within a couple of days she sent me a fantastic character portrait. After that, I asked for two more portraits for promotional use only. Once again we agreed on a price and within a couple of days I had two more fantastic character portraits. Now I must point out that when I say promotional use only, this means I cannot and will not sell Nera Bui’s artwork on in any format. However, I am able to put the artwork on my website and blogs and print out several copies for non-profit promotional giveaways. I also made sure that Nera knew exactly how I intended to use her artwork before commissioning her for the final two portraits.
I am extremely impressed with Nera’s work, she produces high quality digital artwork. I only gave Nera descriptions of my characters to work with, and she was able to recreate them in her style perfectly. Since I’m using her work as promotional material, I did pay Nera more than what I would have paid had it been a personal piece for myself only. If you are going to work with an artist, I can’t stress enough how you must pay a fair price for that work. Artists will often work for dozens of hours on one piece and it’s often not reflected in their final price. If you want to use an artist’s work for non-profit promotional use, then you must discuss this with them in detail and reach an agreement.
There are many talented artists out there and they can be great to work with. Do you research on the legalities but most importantly, have respect for the artist and their work.
Find out more about Nera Bui’s art at neraxichy.deviantart.com