I am always writing about how some months are leaving me exhausted. I am forgetting to say how much my job is demanding. If you just discovered my cover art, I guess you think it’s a dreamjob and I would be the first to admit that my conditions are some of the bests I could have hope back when I started.
I am actually making a living with illustration and only illustration, that’s already a victory, but even now, it’s still a real fight.
Here’s how I started the year.
At the beginning of 2013, my collaboration with MARVEL seemed to have reached a deadend. Both of the series I’ve been working on regulary stopped and it quickly appeared that my main client didn’t know what to do with me anymore, regardless of the great opinions of the readers regarding my work.
I had always thought that one of the worst mistake you could make as an illustrator would be to push all your options on the hands of a single editor and that was exactly what I did in 2012. The work with MARVEL had been incredibly exciting, the lesson was hard.
At the moment I just had moved in Berlin, where I quickly felt isolated, stuck in a neverending winter, not knowing anybody.
One of my FB friends offered me to join his illustration studio as a guest but it didn’t last, the oppening hours didn’t fit my way of working.
I still met great people there.
I thought I would work on personnal project to not lose myself in self loathing and also mailed some of the professionnals contacts I have been keping for later. I knocked on a few doors, sent portfolios and had a few lucky opportunities.
2 years ago, I had met a DYNAMITE editor at NYCC, He remembered me and hired me for the cover of Damsels. last year, at the same NYCC, I had met an editor from BOOM, she offered me a few covers for Suicide Risk. I’m still working on it :)
I was hired to paint and design illustrations and characters for a video game. That was really fun but the company went bankrupt and I was never totally paid for my work. It still was a good experience.
I did a test for some figurines character design but it didn’t work out, my style didn’t fit.
In february, I painted a cover for Fearless Defenders. The editor likes my work, she knows I am looking for interior art. She offers me to paint the whole 7th issue of the serie. I finish it in May, reviews are incredibles. It fills me with hope.
In the end of february, I am offered to work on the comic book of Once Upon A Time. Unfortunalty, the deadlines of this book and Fearless Defenders are too close and the editorial comity of MARVEL fears that I won’t be able to do it. I have to let go Once Upon A Time with a very heavy heart.
In March I paint covers for french Young Adult books for Hachette and Flammarion.
In April I take out the representation contract I have been keeping since january without signing it. I am very hesitating. After all, I always did ok by myself, but the truth is I hate to promote myself. I sign for an exclusive worldwide representation for illustration, minus the comic books field and the french territory. I keep my former clients and am free to accept some minor contracts. I think that in worst case scenario, I would call it quit and I wait.
I have been lucky, until now my agent had jobs for me every month.
In may I do not go out of my flat anymore. The fearless defenders pages are literally eating away all my time. It’s exhausting and exciting in the same time. At the end of the month I fall asleep while walking in a museum. It’s really time to rest. A friend makes a stop in Berlin, leaves, I barely saw her.
Finishing a comic book is always an ordeal. You have to recover from intense weeks of work while trying to deal with the free time you’re not used to have anymore. It’s as if a treadmill would suddenly stop while you’re running on it wildly.
May, the weather is warm. I finally come to enjoy Berlin and got my first contract with a big north americain literature publisher. Penguin Press pays me 4 times my usuall rate for a cover. I’m still speechless.
They will ask me for a lot of retakes but will offer me a big compensation for my time.
I also paint a cover for a movie in preproduction.
July, I work on some BOOM covers and I illustrate the cover of a magazine.
August, I am offered a new 20 pages comic book.. I feel lucky.
While waiting for the script, supposed to come around the 10th of september, I finish a few cover works. The next NYCC is in only 2 months and I start to accept commissions.
French comic book publisher DELCOURT contacts me for the covers of the soon to come Superworld new serie. I am very happy to be welcome once again in the french comic book market from which I grew appart these last couple of years.
All year long I’ve been sending my portfolio to my former publishers or contacts. I keep them informed with my progresses or my wishes. After all, I’ve known for a long time that, in this job, you have first of all to stay visible. Each year there are new and very talented new illustrators. I have no illusions about my work. I kow my qualities and I work on the rest. Editors know that the quality of my illustrations is even, That I never, never miss a deadline and that I am always willing to listen to every suggestions or retakes. And if sometimes it annoys me, I never show it because I know that we are all working as a team to promote a book with our very best . The book comes before my ego. Editors appreciate that.
In september, Dynamite gets in touch with me through my contact form for a cover for Red Sonja. I already worked with DYNAMITE in january but apparently the editor didn’t know about it. Comics books publishing studios are huge, it’s understandable. Still it’s funny.
I finish this cover, another for BOOM, and a last one for a magazine and I wait for the soon to come comic book script.
September is quickly gone and I still don’t have the script. I start to panick since I am supposed to spend 15 days in NYC for the convention and I know I will need 2 more days to compensate for the jetlag. My MARVEL editor offers me a spidey cover meanwhile. I refuse in order to stay fully available for the script. I am still regretting it.
The script doesn’t come and I fly to NYC. During the con, I will explain to the readers that I am supposed to work on a new comic book and that my deadline is in less than a month but I am not panicking. Panicking was 2 weeks ago, just behind freakin’ out. Now I m just floating over all this while chanting to myself the “whatever will be, will be” mantra. The publishers I meet keep cheering me up with some “you’ll be fine, you’re gonna do well”, I suspect they had instructions :)
At the con, I also meet one of my first marvel publishers, he now works for valiant and wants to work with me soon. We exchange emails and I sign a contract the next month.
I work on 2 covers for my agent, finish them and finally get the 2nd alf of the script. At the moment, I only have 12 days left to paint the 20 pages of the book, colors included. The deadline can’t move anymore.
I send a mail to my editor to explain that expecting the book done in due time seems a bit utopical. They extract me from the project. I guess I won’t be paid for the sketching I did.
Luckily, at the same moment Marvel trusts me with the “superior spiderman : inhumanity” one shot. I have more or less a month to sketch and paint it.
I am very excited and a bit afraid. It’s a lot of pressure to work on such an iconic character. I know very well that usually MARVEL usually hires me on projects with a more feminin readership. My style is not “girly” but I still wonder how the spidey fans are going to see it. Some of them are really engaged in the book and already have a hard time dealing with the last freaky friday plot of the house of ideas.
I use what’s left of my NYCC earnings to buy me a cintiq to save some time.
I do not really like Cintiqs; each time I’ve tested it, I’ve felt uncomfortable but I make the bet I will get used to it . The lines of NYC and the spidey costume convinced me I needed to invest.
Today I realise it was well spent money and that I can use the screen in portrait mode. That’s a huge plus, almost a revolution.
November is gone in a moment. I paint a cover for BOOM, another for a young adult book, always for my agent but what really occupies my time are the pages. Print day is the 13th of december and I absolutly have to be done on the 10th since I also accepted 6 covers for the same month.
Among them, a cover for the new Tomb Raider comic book for Dark Horse. I already worked for Dark Horse a couple of years ago and I am very glad to have their trust once again, since I was a big fan of the video game when it first was published. Was it in 1994 ?
December 8th, I am done with the black and white of the comic book, I grant myself 2 days for the colors and retakes.I realise at that moment that I work 13 hours a day and haven’t gone out of my appartment for a week. My boyfriend is worried, the food deliveries services love me.
My absolute obligation is to finish a page a day. I do not go to bed before finishing the page because it would mean walking up to an unfinished work. I cannot afford to fail. nevermind if sometimes my work is uneven, it has to be printed on due time.
However, I have to note that it’s far from being the most exhausting final rush I ever did and I think that soon I will be able to finish a book without going to bed at 5am each days of the final week or even just being exhausted.
I finish the last covers of the year, two of them had an extended deadline and finally, here am I , today, at the dawn of a new year.
This year was not exceptionnaly difficult. It’s just the regular way of life of an illustrator. I guess it’s easier for the really famous ones. I am not really even sure about that.
Honestly it was even a good year. I had a lot of very good opportunities and diversified my field of activities. I am rather proud I of what I achieved and of the contacts I had with most of my publishers.
The most difficult moment of the year was certainly when I opened the script of the spiderman script and realised I would have to paint a broken NYC. Because a floating alien city had fallen on it. I think I cried. A little :D
Being an illustrator is a tough job. Each year is different and you can never know what is gonna happen the year after. You have to stick to your plans, never give up and never leave the commands of your life to destiny, chance or other people.
I know now I have a new book for Marvel for June; till then I guess I will go on knocking on doors and trying to secure my place in the market.
I do not know what is gonna happen to me in 2014 but I will work hard to make it a fantastic year.
See you in 2015 for the review.