Friday, March 07, 2014

Preparing images for publication #2 (Image Contributors)

Next up in my tips of what to do in preparing images for publication relates to what I'm doing right now. I'm writing a book about drawing and sketching and asking people to contribute images relevant to the content.

Identifying images for the book

I did a callout for people who were interested in contributing pictures at the beginning and that was very helpful - but it didn't provide all the people I needed help from for the book

The big problem for me was that I didn't want to bother people for images until I knew what I wanted and I didn't know what I wanted until I'd drafted most of the book.

However when people are online friends and/or artists you have communicated with in the past, it's a lot easier to invite them to contribute at relatively short notice!


Being part of and maintaining a good network of artists that you regularly communicate with is hugely helpful to developing artwork for a book.

Finding images

I've learned a thing or two about finding images while developing this book.  I now look at artists' websites in a whole new light!

It also made me think a lot about about how others (eg galleries; agents licensing artwork) must view the artwork which artists choose to put online - and the conclusions they might draw from what they saw.

Here are my conclusions. I hasten to add these are overall impressions from looking at a huge number of websites in the last few weeks.  It's emphatically not a comment on any particular artist!
  • Lots of artists don't make it easy to find good images of their artwork.  This really surprised me. I encountered more than a few websites where there's 
    • not much art 
    • and/or it lacked categorisation (e.g. no drawings category) 
    • and/or the images are too small 
    • and/or the site included "everything I've ever drawn" and left the sorting and sifting to me.
  • Illustrators understand how to display their artwork. People who work at least part of the time as illustrators really understand how to display their artwork to best effect to people choosing artwork for a book.  
  • Flickr is wonderful!
    • People who have their artwork on Flickr, carefully sorted and categorised into SETS are an absolute godsend!
    • Relevant Groups on Flickr with communal image pools are also very helpful in highlighting people producing the type of material relevant to a book - but only if that artist also provides a link to their website and/or a way of contacting them
  • Archives tell a story. Artists who maintain archives of sold images on their website are really wonderful people!

Problem with contacting artists - Of more concern is the fact that it is still very difficult to contact some artists because they put their work online without a proper contact name and/or a contact address. The conclusion I drew is that these people never ever want to be contacted under any circumstances. So I didn't.

Finding the right images works a lot faster if you can review a lot of images at once - either on a website or an image database.

If you want to get your artwork in a book make sure the author can see it easily and contact you!

If you want your images found and/or selected for an art gallery and/or by a licensing agent, now might be a good time to review the presentation of your images and information about how easy it is to contact you.

Providing information to potential contributors

As I found out very fast you really don't want to have to write the same email over and over again!

What's needed is a covering email - personalised to the individual - and an information sheet which details the specifics of what type of image is required and the context in which it will be used.

This is what mine says with respect to (The info. sheet also provides more information which I'm not publishing here).  The majority of people are contributing between 1 and 3 images.

Information for Image Contributors

  • The book will contain c.350 images. 
  • Some are mine – including ones I’m producing specifically for the book 
  • Some are photographs e.g. of art materials 
  • And the remainder are ones contributed by other people who draw and sketch. 

What’s in it for you?

  • There is no fee 
  • Your name will be credited on a page at the back of the book. This should also list a website or blog associated with you.
  • The book is likely to get a fair amount of press coverage.
  • I’m happy to share information about the process of writing a book with you - for those who are interested. 

What’s needed

IMAGES should be
  • Print publication quality digital images
  • 300 dpi
  • As large as possible to allow layout flexibility. Files should also be no smaller than 100mm x 100mm. 
  • Files should be sent as JPEG, TIFF, EPS, or PSD, and can be RGB or CMYK. 
  • PDFs will also be accepted, but only if they are of reproduction-quality.
No images can be published unless:
  • Your work is original and you own the copyright
  • A copyright form has been signed and submitted. 
A copy of the copyright form will be sent to you for review prior to discussion of images so we can deal with any queries upfront.

Lessons learned

Always have print production quality images available for any images which you would like to share in a book / licensed by an agent

When you create  an image for archive purposes make sure it is high resolution.
  • When you scan, always scan at 300 dpi minimum and file away this high resolution scan for future reference in a way which makes it accessible if your hard drive fails.
  • I know this is the same message as yesterday - but it bears repeating!
Alternatively, this is the quality of image which you should be using if you are producing your own book of images via any of the online print houses (see my website Print Art on Demand - Resources for Artists for resources for printing your own art)

What I'm finding is that my past practices in relation to the dpi I have scanned at and the file types I've maintained on my computer has been variable. It's not been helped by the fact I went through three computers in 4 years before getting my iMac and hence I've got a problem with lack of back-ups and the loss of original scans for some of my work.  (Guess who now backups on the hour every hour!)

and finally......

If you'd like your drawings or sketches to be considered for the book it's not too late to contact me. Leave a comment below and a link to a website where it's easy for me to review your work


  1. Hello Katherine,
    I will look forward to seeing your new book when it is completed!

    I have a website with three drawings under the "Works" heading, if you would like to take a peak.

    My website is:

    All the best,

  2. I travel and sketch globally and have a gallery on my website

    You have so much energy and contribute and share so much with the art world. Congrats on all you have been doing.

    Best wishes

  3. Hi Katherine,
    Thanks for all the good tips. I've contributed artwork to several books and am familiar with the process but having all the tips in one place is very helpful! I'd be happy to help with supplying sketches to your book if I have something in a category you need. All my blog post images are tagged and categorized so it's very easy to search for images. My sketches are in the original Urban Sketchers book and the new one by Thomas Thorspecken. Usually contributors are provided a complimentary copy of the book when its published. If that's the case with yours you might want to note that in your inquiry letter, in addition to being listed.

  4. I asked the publishers about the complimentary copies and I'm afraid with the number of people involved that's not possible.

  5. Thanks Anita - I don't think I need any more portraits or drawings of heads

  6. ... and another great post, like the previous one.
    I Look forward to the book.

  7. Hi Katherine,

    I have been one of those guilty of not providing contact details on my blog, initially I was unnerved by the idea of unwelcome contacts, but time to get past that now.

    I draw - a lot, rural - woodland and lanes developed into etchings. Please take a look if you have time:

    Looking forward to seeing your book.

  8. Hi Katherine I would just like say thanks. I find you blog inspirational and I admire your energy. I often go to exhibitions that you have reviewed and the information on your blog is very helpful.Good luck with the book. Regards, Peter


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