Reported by Dana Arnim
Tim Gillner offered illustrators a specific look into his job as art director at Boyds Mills Press: what he looks for from an artist in terms of samples and websites, how and when an agent comes into the process, what types of contracts Boyds Mills offers, and where he looks for artists.
Tim came prepared with many “how-not-to” samples of samples. Don’t send glitter, ornaments, originals, view-masters, beribboned dummies, or other gimmicks. It doesn’t help sell your art. Do send postcards with one image, your name, website, and phone number. Send samples each quarter. If an image grabs him, he’ll go to your website—having a website or online portfolio is a must. Make it easy to navigate so viewers can find the art they’re looking for. Fewer great samples are better than many weak or undeveloped styles.
Tim works directly with illustrators as well as with art representatives and agents. They can be “the devil and the angel”. Whether it’s better to have one or not is up to the artist.
Boyds Mills Press offers two kinds of contracts: work-for-hire, and advance against royalty. Spot illustration, nonfiction and black-and-white work for poetry books is often acquired on a work-for-hire basis. Picture-book contracts are based upon payment of an advance plus royalty. Boyds Mills never remainders their books, so the royalty timeline is usually extensive.
As for artist searches, Tim relies heavily on the website http://www.picturebookartists.com. He also uses and keeps source books, such as PICTUREBOOK. Although somewhat expensive to advertise in, these source books do get into the hands of people who use them, and usually provide the artist with tear sheets, and an online presence as well.