Looking for a Cover Illustration

Today.s the day! After sitting on it for way too long (over a month) I hit the street to find an artist to paint a cover illustration for the book. In preparation for the big moment, I revised the Call for Art last night and printed some copies. Believe it or not, my laser printer.s going on thirteen years and has travelled in moves across North America and back again. It smudges and each page has to be loaded separately. I thought about getting professional copies done up at the printer.s–maybe a splash of colour in the heading as well–but then, would that really be necessary? If an artist is into it, the information.s the same both ways. Here.s what the revised Call for Art looks like:

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Also started drafting a sample contract so that the artist.s can have an idea on how to quote the project. There.s quite a few sample contracts online. I took one that I liked and modified it so that the patron has right to use the painting as a cover illustration. That.s one thing that I learned from reading: typically, even if you physically own a work of art, the artist retains the right to reproduce the work or art, not the owner. Still working on the form of the contract, but here.s how the draft looks:


The Agreement is made the __________ day of __________ (month) __________ (year) between:

Name (Patron):


Phone:                                                                        Email:


Name (Artist):


Phone:                                                                        Email:

The parties agree as follows:

  1. The Work: the Patron is commissioning a painting ‘The Dead Man’s Hand’ from the Artist as specified in the Call for Art (attached) at the purchase price of $_______ (x dollars). The purchase price includes all direct and indirect costs in creating the painting and delivering it to the Patron, including but not limited to purchase of the canvas, oils consumables, shop expenses, labour, shipping, and taxes.
  2. Right of Refusal: should the Patron be unable to purchase the Work from the Artist when the Work is completed, the Artist will retain the Work and the payments made prior to completion. In that case, the Artist will retain the Work free from any claims or interests of the Patron and the Patron will be free of any further payments.
  3. Copyright: the Artist grants the Patron (or any agent retained by the Patron) the right to reproduce the Work for the purposes of promoting or distributing a book that the Patron is writing. Notwithstanding the right granted the Patron, the Artist retains reproduction and copyright rights.
  4. Project Schedule: delivery of the painting will take place within six months from the date the contract is signed. Should the Artist be unable to complete the work within this period…
  5. Payment Schedule: payments will take place according to the following schedule:
    1. one-quarter when the preliminary sketch is approved
    2. one-quarter when the preliminary sketch is transferred onto canvas
    3. remainder upon delivery

I have to think about the payment schedule some more and how many sketches should be incorporated into the process. The thing about this work is the look of surprise in each of the figures. Should I approve each of the looks of surprise in each of the subjects in the painting? Looking in my Durer art book, I see that often he would draw up sketches–and sometimes surprisingly detailed sketches–of figures, gestures, faces, and so on before incorporating them into his masterpieces.

At the art supply stores in Victoria, there.s a very handy corkboard. So the Call for Art was posted at Island Blue, Opus Art Supply, and Artworld Art Supplies. Also went by some of the galleries downtown (of which there are quite a few!). I was happy with the positive responses. Actually meeting some assiduous artists tonight to discuss the concept over a beer. People are generally quite inquisitive when you say you.re writing a book. And there.s a genuine desire for them to match you up with a good artist. So got quite a few leads. I get the impression that the art world is tightly knit. It.s a face to face community. I also learned there.s Community Arts Councils. One for Victoria, one for Saanich Peninsula, and so on. They might be able to send out Calls for Art to their members. So I.ll check this out soon as well. It was also fun just going into the galleries to see all the fantastic works of art! The one thing I noticed is that there.s a lot more landscape and still life artists than artists who do portraits and human figures.

Everything was positive except for this one gallery. But ugh did the lady there ever take the wind out of my sails. She was unpacking some pieces of art when I got in, so I though to take a look around the gallery to catch an opportune moment to introduce myself. After a few minutes, I tried to start off the conversation with a, ‘It must be exciting to be getting some new piece!’. She didn.t look up. So I thought it.s now or never and introduced myself, saying I was looking for help finding an artist to do a cover illustration. She simply said no. To which I asked her if I could leave her a flyer in case she knew any artists who would be interested. At this point, she looked up and said it was impossible: her gallery only works directly with artists. When she looked up. I noticed her glasses right away. They were these purple shaded glasses made of what appeared to be some high end ceramic material. Very very very fancy, I thought they must have cost a fortune (I had been glasses shopping a little while ago). And in that second, I also noticed her whole attire and bearing. In a way, she was dressed like the fancy gallery shop owner. She was playing the role of the ‘power player’ in the art world. And I was to her–I imagined–a nothing, something beneath nothing. And I had dared to disturb her. And such beady cold eyes, like looking into a shark, not even human. I said thanks and walked out. How could someone be so close to art and so unhappy?

But onwards and upwards! Can.t let a little negativity slow me down. But the whole episode does fill me with a sense of wonder at how some people are. Have you had run ins like that on your journey? How do you react?

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