Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
About Digital Art / Professional Kelley MFemale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 4 Years
Needs Premium Membership
Statistics 108 Deviations 1,471 Comments 63,770 Pageviews

Newest Deviations

Random Favourites




Giselle by kelleybean86
A few weeks ago I saw Giselle performed by the Australian ballet. The second act, in the moonlit forest, was really magical. When the prince brought flowers to Giselle's grave, she appeared behind the gravestone, wearing a bridal veil and lit from below, which gave her a very ghostly appearance. I immediately thought to myself "I need to draw that!"

You can read more about the process behind this illustration at my blog:…

Prints available at my INPRNT shop:…
Hey guys, I'm new to Tumblr, still figuring it out. If you have any tips, please let me know!
Hysteria by kelleybean86
Created for Light Grey Art Lab's "GUTS" show. Prints available here:…

Hysteria was a medical condition that was believed to be caused by the woman's uterus moving around inside her body. Ancient Greek physician Aretaeus claimed that the uterus was a sentient being, "an animal within an animal." Symptoms of hysteria included anything and everything - one Victorian doctor listed 75 pages of symptoms. These included legitimate physical conditions, but also included just any behavior considered inappropriate for a lady - such as "emotional outbursts," "erotic fantasies" or "a tendency to cause trouble." The concept died out around the end of the 19th century, but the idea of women's guts making them crazy persists today.

You can see WIPs of this illustration at my blog:…

When you're a self-published author, you have to wear a lot of hats - editor, designer, marketer - sometimes 
all the hats! That includes being your own art director and communicating with illustrators. As an illustrator, sometimes emails from self-published authors can be, at best clueless, at worst downright insulting. If you want to work with a professional illustrator, sending a solid inquiry email is essential. Here's how to increase your chances of making a good first impression.

  1. Don't begin by talking about how tight your budget is. Imagine if someone burst into your office and the first words out of their mouth were, "I can't pay you very much!" Would your response be "tell me more!"? Illustrators receive a lot of requests for cheap or even free artwork. We don't expect everyone to be made of money, especially self-publishers, but nothing will elicit an eyeroll more than bringing up a lack of funds right off the bat.
  2. Don't try to downplay the amount of artwork. Illustrators understand the phrase "just a few quick sketches" to be code language for "I can't pay you very much and I want you to feel ok about that."
  3. Don't gush about how your project is exciting, special, a guaranteed bestseller, an instant classic, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don't have to "pitch" the illustrator your concept like you would with an editor. The artist's first concerns are the type of artwork involved, the deadline and the budget. You don't have to convince them that your project is the next big thing, and you only risk coming off as pretentious and possibly delusional.
  4. Don't ask the illustrator to imitate another artist's style. What the illustrator hears is "I want to hire this other illustrator but I couldn't afford them, so I'm using you as a cheap knockoff." What you see in the illustrator's portfolio is what you're going to get - so if that's not what you want, don't hire them.
  5. Don't mention "exposure." People bring this up so often, illustrators like to joke that "you can die of exposure." To us it's another coded message meaning "I'm trying to make up for the fact that I can't pay you very much." An illustrator can judge from the type of project you're proposing how much exposure they're likely to receive. You don't need to bring it up.
  1. Start the email with a compliment, a mention of how you found the artist, and which of their images made you think they would be a good fit for your project. A little flattery never hurts, and being specific distinguishes your email from a generic spam message sent to hundreds of other artists. Also, use their name.
  2. Describe your project succinctly and simply. For example, "I'm writing a collection of poems about California wildlife," or "I'm working on a middle-grade novel about a boy who goes on a mission trip to Mexico." You're a writer, you can do this. I believe in you.
  3. Describe exactly the amount and type of artwork you will need: the number and size of the pieces, color or black-and-white, what it will be used for. For example, "I need 12 black-and-white spot illustrations of California plants and animals, for use as chapter headers," or "I need a color cover featuring the main character standing outside a small church in Mexico." If you don't know how to describe what you need, try asking other authors for some basic illustration terminology.
  4. Mention the deadline. Asking the artist if they are "available" means nothing without some sort of time frame. If you're flexible on the deadline, ask the artist how much time they think they would need. The more time you can give them, the better. Remember that many illustrators work on multiple projects; if you need your art in a hurry then they may have to turn down other paying work in order to get it done on time. But if you have a long deadline, they can work on your project around other paying work.
  5. If you have a pre-determined budget, say it without apologies or excuses. If not, ask the illustrator how much they would charge for this project, or if they need more information in order to make that determination.

Here's an example of a fictional, well-written inquiry to an illustrator:
Hello Kelley,
I found your portfolio on Deviantart and really enjoy your use of color and sense of humor, especially the piece "Dragonflower." I am looking for an illustrator to create a cover and fifteen b&w interior spot illustrations for my self-published middle-grade novel about a lobster who becomes a famous K-POP star. I would need this cover by mid-August. As far as budget goes, I'm not sure what the going rate is for something like this, so I am open to suggestions for a fair price for a project of this size. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your time!
It's short, polite, and hits all the major points: type of artwork, budget, deadline. There's no excessive flattery or groveling, or promises of "exposure" and future riches from this "guaranteed bestseller." (By the way, feel free to steal my lobster idea, and please send me a copy of the book once you've written it.)

Many illustrators are happy to hear from self-published authors who can communicate clearly and respectfully. Now that you have this information, go and approach illustrators with confidence!
Second Guard by kelleybean86
Second Guard
This is the cover for Second Guard, written by J.D. Vaughn and published by Disney-Hyperion! Available April 14! This young-adult book is about a girl training to be an elite warrior in a fantasy-Spanish-Incan kingdom. It's a very cool story, and I'm very happy with how the cover turned out.

You can learn about the process behind this illustration (including the symbolism behind the carvings, and photos of myself posing with a bedsheet cape and sword) at my blog:…
Hey guys, I'm new to Tumblr, still figuring it out. If you have any tips, please let me know!


Kelley M
Artist | Professional | Digital Art
United States
I am a freelance illustrator from California. I graduated from Academy of Art University. When not drawing, I enjoy gnawing on sticks.

Twitter: @kelleymcmorris
Print shop:…
Etsy shop, where I sell pencil portraits:

My husband and I are working on a video game together - I'm doing the art for it, of course! You can check it out here:

AdCast - Ads from the Community


Add a Comment:
Leo-Aba Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Really great art!
kelleybean86 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you!
N-W-O Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday! I hope your day is as fantastic as your art, and full of love and sunshine and cake. :)
kelleybean86 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Aw, thank you!
Venom-V13 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015
Happy Birthday!! Fun cake 
Louha-chan Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday !! =D =D
valwyrie Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist
Happy Birthday!! :party:
Bokukokhmer Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Happy Birthday!Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D
kelleybean86 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for the spinning cake!
Bokukokhmer Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
No problem!
Add a Comment: