Saturday, August 4, 2018

Workshop: The Business of Illustration—From First-timer to Full-timer: Eliza Wheeler/Jen Rofe

Oh, my, gosh, that session rocked—appropriate for aspiring children's book illustrators, as well as more established. I left so pumped!

Eliza Wheeler is the author-illustrator of several children's books, including Miss Maple’s Seeds, which debuted on the New York Times best seller list. She is the illustrator of Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced The World That Fairies Are Real (Marc Tyler Nobleman), The Pomegranate Witch (Denise Doyen), and many others.

Wheeler's agent, Jennifer Rofé, is a senior agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Here are some questions/concerns covered in their session:

Question: Is it possible to make a living illustrating children's books?
Answer: Yes, but there are  things to consider. You're not going to get rich. Consider whatyou need for your lifestyle and body of work. Many illustrators starting out work full-time jobs, with children's illustration as a second career . . . or vise versa.

A breakdown of Jennifer Rofé's clients: 

44% illustrate children's books full time. 

25% are also animators

19% are graphic designers

12% are teachers


Reasons why some illustrators find difficulty moving career forward

  • Lack of self promotion. Send those post cards. Promote yourself on social networks.

  • Lack of commitment. Some illustrators simply don't have desire or drive to do the hard work necessary to launch a career. Most successful illustrators burn the candle at both ends.
  • Lacking commitment to the study of the craft of illustration. Successful illustrator study picture books. They always strive to improve their art.
  • Style isn’t marketable.


Misguided advice:
Illustrators should write. Illustrators often get this advice as a way to expand their careers, but not all illustrators can or should write. Writers take years to develop their craft. Your time might be better spent on self promotion.


So much more was covered in this session—money and advances, royalties, contracts. So many things I'd not considered as a longtime, agented illustrator. Just goes to show how important it is to continue to study your changing career.

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