Here's how we found our illustrators!
We started our search for an illustrator shortly after we began writing Seymour & Hau: Morocco. We talked about what we wanted our characters to look like and Tom was able to sketch up some things that we thought would help send an illustrator in the right direction.
We sat down with our good friend, incredibly talented illustrator and all around AWESOME human, Mike Gelen who was able to help shape our characters, and some Moroccan scenes into real (and awesome) illustrations. At this time he also designed our compass-inspired logo, which we LOVED immediately and still use today. You can see more of Mike’s amazing work, and even buy it, at inkwellstudios.com.
With a clear picture of our main characters, and some professional illustrations in hand, it was time to conduct a search for the person or people who could take on bringing our whole book to life.
We decided to send out a call for illustrators worldwide. Since bringing people together from around the world is our theme, it seemed like the perfect way to go. We sent out a request for illustrators on Craigslist and began receiving tons of submissions from all over the place! We took a careful look at the websites and work samples that were sent to us. This world has so much talent! It was hard to choose but we narrowed it down to five illustrators. They wound up being from from California, Canada, Australia, London and Prague. Each had a very unique style, they seriously couldn’t have been more different from each other. After choosing our five, we commissioned each of them to design our two pals Seymour & Hau, and one scene, using our references but working in their own style. We felt it important to offer a fair price for their time designing, even though we would only be choosing and eventually contracting one illustrator.
It was a tough choice but after much deliberating we happily landed on our illustrators Jon Westwood and John Soleas. There was something about their organic style and truly distinctive feel that we really loved. These two marvelous gentlemen happened to be a team from Canada, and wound up not living all that far away from us. We got them started on our Morocco book soon after hiring them, and were even able to meet them once when we were visiting Toronto.
We found out pretty quickly that we had made an excellent choice, not only because of their supreme talent but also because of their professionalism, quick responses, smart suggestions, and their ability to really know exactly what we wanted practically every single time. Any changes we had were swiftly managed to perfection and they happen to be really great guys on top of it! They were also very patient with us, as this was our first time hiring illustrators and publishing a book. All of our exchanges and discussions have been through email, with maybe one or two phone calls a few years ago. It didn’t take long to get an easy flow of back and forth figured out. Once we approve all of the illustrations the guys give us the high res versions and off we go! You can see more of their work at johnsoleas.ca and jonwestwood.ca.
It’s pretty amazing that we were able to complete two books with guys we only met once. We are looking forward to getting them started on our next book very very soon! One of our dreams would be to be able to hire John and Jon to animate a Seymour & Hau feature film!
So, that’s how we found our illustrators! Thanks Jon and John!
Where will Seymour & Hau go next? We have another adventure already in progress, which we will reveal at our book launch for Seymour & Hau: IRELAND on December 3rd, from 12pm-2pm at Hallwall’s! (341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202) Details for the event are here.