For the second in this most likely 2-part series, this blog post is going to be covering how I think about artwork in regards to the Restart Again series. I admit that saying “My Philosophy” is a bit dramatic; this will most likely end up as a relatively short ramble about my commissioning process, but I thought it might be interesting information for some of you! Continue at your own peril: You’ve been warned.
I was disappointed to release Volume 2 without any additional interior artwork. When I was unable to work with the same artist that illustrated my first volume, I was a bit anxious at the prospect of finding someone else to commission. I have what I think are unreasonably high expectations for the artwork I intend to publish in my books; I know that, at least for me, artwork that doesn’t look professional is a turn off when skimming book covers, and I wanted to make sure that my art would catch the eye and look amazing. I waited waaaay too long to start the search for a new artist, but I was lucky enough to find my current artist (@Seiorai on Twitter, go check out her stuff!) on my first attempt!
Of course, with art commissions being what they are, and her being a very talented artist, the waitlist was particularly long. I was able to get the Volume 2 cover completed in time for what I thought was a reasonable release date, but if I wanted interior artwork as well, it would’ve taken until the beginning of 2021 to get everything I wanted done. In the interest of getting the story to readers ASAP, I chose to publish without extra artwork. It was disappointing, but it was also entirely my own fault for poor time management skills.
I’ve taken those lessons to heart, and am happy to announce that there will be three pieces of cover-quality artwork within the pages of Volume 3! One is already complete (and completely amazing, I might add), and two are soon to come. My dream scenario would be to get the artwork and editing notes sometime in mid-April, and be able to publish May 1st, but I’m not making any promises yet. Plans can always change last minute!
All of that being said, I haven’t really addressed the title of this post: My Philosophy on Artwork. I’ve seen many of the authors I follow on Twitter talk about their commissioning process, so I figured it might be fun to talk about mine! While I have a few minor points I’ll touch on, the main one is this: My artwork is commissioned to look as fantastic as possible, and not commissioned to be as accurate as possible.
What does this mean? Let’s use my most recent commission as an example! (No, you don’t get to see it early). The scene I wanted illustrated took place in a very simple room. Just wooden floors, wooden walls, and one window. Very sparse decoration. While it is narratively important that it takes place there, it would be a very boring background for a piece of art. I want my art to look amazing! So, given that information, after a discussion with my artist, we decided to make the background more exciting. It depicts some similar elements to the room that actually exists within the story, but it’s a much more fantastical scene behind the characters. It might not be entirely canonical, but it’s beautiful, and that’s what matters when it comes to art! Changes like that will never be so drastic as to be confusing, but if you notice something looks slightly different from what you’re reading, that’s why!
I’m also very dependent on my artist when it comes to small details of a scene. I like to think I write scenes that are clear in your head when you read them, but when it comes to freezing that image and crystallizing it into details for an art commission, I don’t really have the mind for it. If I’m paying a professional to illustrate for me, you better believe I’m going to take their opinion on what would look good for a given scene into account! I have no illusions that I can think up what pose would look better for my character than the person drawing them.
I am also entirely unskilled when it comes to drawing of any kind. I have drawn two reference images in my time commissioning art; both have been made in MS Paint, and they look awful, but they sometimes describe things I can’t put into words. After Volume 3 comes out, I’ll definitely post a side by side of my “sketch” and the finished product, for what I assume will be great comedic effect. I’ve seen that some authors go as far as to make 3D renderings of the exact positions of their characters for commissions; it’s an incredible skill that I certainly don’t have, but at the same time, I’m not sure I would want to limit the creativity of my artist by giving them such strict source notes to follow.
So, what’s the takeaway from all of this? 1). The artwork of Restart Again is meant to look good to the eye, and may have elements that aren’t entirely canon to the text. 2). Artwork commissions are a collaborative process, and I am extremely lucky to be working with an artist who is capable of visualizing what I write and bringing it to life. 3). I am very bad at drawing. 4). Volume 3 of Restart Again will have more artwork than either Volume 1 or 2, and I can’t wait for you all to see it.
I’ve apparently rambled far longer than expected; who could’ve seen that coming? Let’s get some quick updates and get out of here! Volume 4 is still coming along nicely; my writing speed has decreased from the frantic pace I held at the end of Volume 3, but I just passed the 25K mark, so I’m happy with that. Also, if you are interested in reading Volume 3 early, the final chapter just went live on my Royal Road account (link to that in the footer of this page)! It’s entirely free to read, and the whole rough draft is up there, and will stay there until the official release. If you read it early, please consider supporting the official release with either a purchase or a review when the time comes, but I’m happy to have people reading it whether I get paid for it or not. (Keep in mind: There’s no additional artwork if you read it on Royal Road!). Anything there is subject to change during editing, but assume that 95% of the story beats you read will eventually be published.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I like to ramble from time to time just to let people know I’m still working on the project, and I hope some of you enjoy it. Hopefully, my next post will be detailing the release date of Volume 3. A man can dream! Until then, thank you for your continued support, and as always, thanks for reading!