Sarah McIntyre (jabberworks) wrote,
Sarah McIntyre

#picturesmeanbusiness: crediting artists makes sense

Yesterday I saw a couple relevant #PicturesMeanBusiness comics pop up on Twitter. Here's one by Anthony Clark 'Nedroid', as posted on his Tumblr. It's a simple diagram of how people take artists' images from the Internet and then think they own them. You also see it with some writers, who proudly say 'Look at my new book cover artwork!'. Uh... Anyway, here's Anthony, on 'How the Internet works':

(You can follow Anthony on Twitter as @nedroid.) And here's a longer comic by John Cullen, originally posted here on his website. Follow him on Twitter as @nellucnhoj.

There's a similar hashtag to #PicturesMeanBusiness on Twitter, the #ArtCred tag, originally created by comics artist Declan Shalvey. You can read some of his blog posts about it here.

This is all good stuff! Basically, #ArtCred and #PicturesMeanBusiness are trying to do the same thing: get artists fairly credited for their work so we can keep doing the jobs we're best at. I think the way that #PicturesMeanBusiness differs a bit from similar campaigns is its emphasis on business interests. When I first started making a fuss, illustrators and comics people told me that illustrators had complained before, and occasionally there would be a blip of sympathy for the cause, but then people would move on and forget about it. Which is why I thought it might be wise to take a slightly different tack: not only is it right and fair to credit artists (doh!), but it's actually in the interests of business. Book industry, we're not just trying to win your sympathy, we actually make you money! And we can make you MORE money if you give us a chance to build our careers.

Whether we like it or not, publishing is a business, and people listen to money. Here are some reasons to consider why crediting illustrators may be financially worthwhile:

* To publishers and media: Readers love the idea of a collaborative partnership. Many people wish they could draw. They don't like to think of the illustrator as a forgotten hack. For the media, showing two different people working together (or even occasionally arguing!) creates an interesting real-life story in readers' heads. People will look out for books by that beloved team of creators. Even with celebrities, people love the idea of a celeb working with an artist in a different field; a publicist doesn't have to fake it that that singer/actor/whatever can draw. Publicists, big them up together in your press releases, even if you put the writer's name first.

* To writers: Be good to your illustrators and they might be good to you. Once you start a series, the artwork very much becomes the brand of that series. If a writer doesn't make an effort to make that job worthwhile for the illustrator, sharing the spotlight, the illustrator may find better work and leave the series in a lurch. If the editors and art directors are unsure about continuing the series, an illustrator dropping out may make the decision for them. If illustrators are paid enough and sense book series are helping their careers, they will be much more likely to stick with them. Don't be that negligent writer with the illustrator who's dying to leave you.

* To booksellers: Pictures sell books. Sometimes readers latch on to the name of a beloved picture book writer, but often they'll see a book across the room and recognise the look of it, and pick it up because it's the illustrations they love. (Perhaps they loved The Gruffalo and they see work by its illustrator, Axel Scheffler, paired up with another writer's work.) The pictures may sell the book! So it makes sense to stock books by popular illustrators as well as popular writers. But it's nearly impossible to track illustrator sales figures across their books; people don't usually request this information from Nielsen, the major data provider. If Nielsen gets more requests for this information, they may start making it more readily available. (Read more about metadata issues here.) Do you want this information? Let Nielsen know. If you run an online bookstore, be competitive by making books searchable by illustrator as well as by writer. People may want to look up a book by illustrator and if they can't find it on your website, they'll click over to one that will give them this information.

(Find out more about the campaign at

Other news:
I've been busily working away on a new picture book! I'm not allowed to post images yet, and it hasn't left me a lot of extra doodle time. But I grab it when I can! Here's a drawing posted yesterday by writer-illustrator Chris Priestley, 'Melancholy warrior'. I riffed on it with my 'Grumpy warrior':

Also, #PicturesMeanBusiness has been out and about: I went with my studio mate Elissa Elwick to a party hosted by The Bookseller, to launch their new FutureBook conference series. I'm going to be taking part in a panel and talking about #PicturesMeanBusiness at their Author Day in London on Mon, 30 Nov. (You can read some early details about it here.) I think we might find some good allies!

Reception parties don't always make for great photos. But I thought this one was particularly splendid:

Elissa and I scampered off to VooDoo Ray's for pizza afterward, much recommended for late-night grub.

Oh, and Talented Colleague klaxon! Patrick Ness" has already spotted a copy of Philip Reeve's new book, RAILHEAD! (Philip hasn't even seen the final book yet!) I've read this and I'm super-excited about it.

Patrick has led an amazing campaign of people donating to Save the Children, a charity helping with the current refugee crisis. Lots of well-known writers have chipped in huge sums to match public giving. Here's a current screengrab and you can visit the donation page here!

Lots of love from Elissa Elwick, Gary Northfield and me at the Fleece Station studio, signing off... xx

Tags: pictures_mean_business

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