Once you’ve finished putting all your awesome ideas on paper and have yourself a story, one task still remains to be done: How to find an illustrator for your book?
There are a few options you can choose from: through a specialized agency, through freelancing websites, simply Google it or working with an illustration studio.
Most agencies offer a wide range of styles and an even wider range of illustrators (up to hundreds), like Lemonade Agency, Central Illustration or BuzzIllustration.com , all of them working internationally with centers on every continent, from Europe to Asia and America, although it is fair to mention that London seems to be the field leader. Working with a big agency has quite a few advantages, including great customer care so you won’t have to worry about delays or unexpected changes in your original agreement. However, you might also consider the downsides: because they act as an intermediary between you and the illustrator, the price will be higher than working with the illustrator directly; also, you will probably not get that personal touch many writers want, since big agencies have to handle hundreds of projects at the same time and, like it or not, you will just be one of them.
Another option is to use a freelancing website where you can contact the illustrators directly like freelancer.com or guru.com .This way you will get a cheaper price and most probably more attention to details that matter to you, because freelancer just take a few projects at a time. In this case, by eliminating the intermediary you will cut out a part of the cost, but it comes with a risk: being scammed. On a freelancing website, basically, anyone can offer a service, but not everyone is reliable. Illustrators might ditch you if they get a better offer, if they don’t like a certain condition of the job or simply out of lack of professionalism. If you do go for a freelancer, make sure you ask for references from previous employers and don’t pay all the money up front.
You can also take the common way of “Google it” for illustrators’ personal pages, which might or might not get you good and reliable ones. If you do trust your selection skills more than anyone else’s, you can choose this option, but be prepared for a time-consuming process. The great part about Google is that you can find anything; and the bad part about Google is that you can find anything; the key is in the selection.
A studio on the other hand might be the best of both worlds: they provide the reliability of a company, while offering lower prices than mainstream agencies.
Deveo Media Studio http://deveomedia.com/ and Hello Keepa are good examples of medium-sized experienced studios with in-house illustrators. They usually have a smaller number of illustrators than agencies, but they focus on having as many different styles as possible, therefore you will not find ten illustrators in a studio giving you the same version of a character. Being smaller in size than agencies, it will make it easier for you to personally discuss your project and to carefully tackle the personal details as every writer wants.
Any option is a good option as long as it gives you what you want. Set your priorities and start searching: for time-economy-go with a studio or agency, for money-economy-choose a studio or a freelancer, for quality before everything-remember to check his references.