Cartoons & Humorous Illustration by
Bradford Veley Bradford Veley 

How to Order Humorous Illustrations
(for Beginners)

OK, so you’re thinking of publishing something—a book, a brochure, a pamphlet, or maybe an operations manual—that you’d like to illustrate with humorous cartoons or drawings. There’s just one hitch: you don’t know how to select or hire a professional graphic artist. Relax! It’s not hard. Most of us are pretty easy folks to work with, and we’re genuinely interested in helping you achieve your goals. Still, there are some things you should know, and I hope that the following information helps.

What exactly does a humorous illustrator sell?
What is the client buying?

Most humorous graphic artists sell only specifically-described publication rights to their illustrations and cartoons; rarely, if ever, do artists sell all rights to their work. When you purchase specific rights to an illustration, you’re free to use the art as you wish—within the terms of the client-artist agreement. When my client is a book author, for example, what I sell are publication rights to my drawings, limited to:

  • A specific number of copies of the book (an option popular among self-publishing authors), or:
  • A specific edition of the book (for example, first edition rights);

During the negotiation phase of an artist-client agreement, it’s common (and a good idea) to determine the fees for using the same art in future, or subsequent editions of the book or books (50% – 75% of the first edition fee is a typical arrangement). There is usually a time frame specified in each artist-client agreement, as well.

There are two types of art I typically supply clients with:

  1. Custom-drawn, exclusive illustrations or cartoons. This is original art I draw just for your project and your project alone. With exclusive, original art, I also promise not sell to sell publication rights to that art to any other clients for a specific period of time—anywhere from six months to several years (if the price is right). I charge around $400 for a full-color drawing. How it is used by the client affects the price, too (see below). However, flexibility is my middle name, and there are many ways I can help you keep your art costs down.
  2. Archival, existing comic art. These are cartoons (mostly black and white) in my vast underground storage vault that I have drawn in the past and which have appeared in other publications. My rates for these cartoons generally start at $125. Color can be added and changes can be made to any of these drawings for an extra fee.

Some Things to Think about
Before Ordering an Illustration

  • Category of Use (how are you planning on using the art?)
    • Advertising
    • Product packaging
    • Corporate communications (internal or external)
    • Promotional items (T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars)
    • Editorial or published material (books, newsletters, magazines)
    • Presentations
  • Medium of Use
    • Printed material (such as letterhead, brochures, post cards, etc.)
    • Signs (highway billboard, storefront, interior display signage, etc.)
    • Television
    • Magazines, newspapers
    • Electronic (CD, DVD, intranet use, and the World Wide Web)
    • Books
    • Presentation
  • Geographic Area of Use
    • City
    • Regional
    • National
    • Worldwide
  • Time Period

My Production Process, Step by Step:

  1. We negotiate the price and terms of the project (including a time-line).
  2. We sign a client-artist agreement form.
  3. I generate rough sketches and submit them for your approval and/or edits. In our digital era, it’s easier than ever to make changes to artwork. Generally, one or two revision cycles are included in a typical project. Revisions do take time, however, and can become costly for the artist as well as create delays in the project’s production schedule. If an illustration assignment goes beyond the terms of our agreement in the revisions stage, we’ll discuss the matter and decide how to divide the related additional expenses.
  4. Production and delivery of final art.

Some Final Tips for First-time Clients:

  1. Provide me with as much specific information about the illustration project as possible. That way, I can provide you with a realistic cost estimate and accurately predict how long the project will take. To help you with that, I’ve prepared the following pre-illustration checklist.
  2. Minimize additional expenses arising from multiple revision sessions. I charge extra when a project goes beyond two revision cycles, but I do all I can to keep the client informed concerning where we stand, budget-wise, during the project. Again, the more information that you can provide about your project early on, the better chance we’ll have to avoid additional expenses.
  3. Get Knowledgable Feedback. Throughout the illustration process, clients are urged to seek suggestions and criticism from a few key people whose opinions and guidance they value. Allow each person adequate time on their own to review the art. Make sure they understand the entire scope of what you’re trying to accomplish. And remember to trust yourself.
  4. Ask me how you can get the most bang for your humorous illustration bucks. I love brainstorming with clients about how to use humorous art to increase profits and boost sales. I’m a business person myself and enjoy helping others achieve their business and personal goals in life. I look forward to talking with you!