Live Illustration 101 - How to Hire an Event Illustrator and Make the Most of Their Work and Creativity. Innovative thinking for you and your organisation.

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The core information in this blog post is taken from my free guide ‘Live Illustration 101’. If you’d like the full printable ebook to download and use, then sign up here.

Happy reading! Do get in touch if you have any questions.

-Katie

How do you hire a live illustrator?

First, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why we’d want to hire a live illustrator in the first place. Is there any point in having somebody draw pictures at our event? Do we really NEED a graphic recorder to note down all the topics being discussed at my workshop?

Behold.

5 Reasons Why Live Illustration is Amazing 

  1. Communicate with your target audience quickly. Smash through language barriers, connect with people, and create a lasting, memorable impression. There’s never been a better time for talking in pictures! Humans are sociable, creative creatures at heart.

  2. Be environmentally conscious. Live illustration and graphic recording can be an eco-friendly way to create quality content. All a live illustrator needs is their pens/ paints/brushes and themselves. No costly props or plastic. The stuff sustainable PR dreams are made of. All good stuff.

  3. Create memorable events. Have you ever been stopped in your tracks in the street by a performer? Live illustration is no different. Capture a new audience, boost brand awareness, and create memories for your customers. It’s almost impossible to ignore an artist creating something while you watch. You want to take photos, share online... easy peasy PR.

  4. Build up a solid know-like-trust factor for your brand or workshop. This is incredibly important if you want to engage loyal customers/attendees/fans. A live illustration event can give your clients the feeling of being special, thoroughly well looked after, and valued. VIP product customisation has a premium feel and is an excellent way to give back to those dedicated customers. The word of mouth from social media shares after the event is just a bonus.

  5. Lasting impact. Make your live illustration work harder and get more bang for your buck. Live Illustration creation is wonderful in the moment, and that can continue! A time lapse film of the creation of your live illustrated window painting or wall mural, for instance, can double up as wonderful social media content. Graphic facilitation ideos and photos are easily repurposed for advertising.

    *Make sure illustration usage is agreed in your contract/licence before the work starts, and you’re good to go.

I love this stuff, and of course I’m totally biased however it has been proven that communicating visually improves learning by 400%.

“When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence ... visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth'—the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesise large amounts of new information.”

- Robert E Horn

Yes Robert Horn, You Absolute Legend.

Now that it’s super clear that visual communication and live illustration are the best things ever for you, your business and your customers, let’s move on to the big ol’ job of hiring a live event illustrator.

I’ll take you step-by-step through the process. If you’d like a printer-friendly version of all this, click the image below to download a copy.

The checklist might leave you with a few questions, so here’s a more in-depth look at each step. 

Hiring a Live Illustrator

RESEARCH PHASE: 

Figure out what you want, and find the perfect illustrator for the job 

Decide on your illustration objectives 

Getting clear on your desired outcomes will help you enormously in your search for the perfect live illustrator. Going shopping without a list is a disaster and you know you’ll come home with loads of crisps and chocolate and no useful food to cook into meals. Let’s get clear on what you’d like to achieve. 

What do you want to get out of your event?

What would you like your customers or attendees to go home and rave about to their friends?

What would be the dream outcome of your live-illustrated event?

Here are some objective ideas to get you started: 

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Communicate company values

Murals, graphic recording and window painting are perfect for this.

Get your visual learners interested

Graphic recording works brilliantly for helping people to learn and absorb information more easily. A scribe is the perfect addition to a workshop or conference. Visual notes that graphic scribes create can boost learning in a serious way. There have been multiple studies on this. (See Robert Horn quote earlier. Would Robert Horn lie to us? No. No he would not.)

Creating a wall mural to celebrate the company history of KBR. This was live-broadcast to global partners while I worked.

Creating a wall mural to celebrate the company history of KBR. This was live-broadcast to global partners while I worked.

Send customers home with a personalised, totally unique gift or product

Personalised chalices for Stella Artois.

Personalised chalices for Stella Artois.

Painting at Ascot Races.

Painting at Ascot Races.

Personalised travel mugs for Nespresso.

Personalised travel mugs for Nespresso.

Product personalisation is limited only by your imagination. Mugs, bags, cups, t shirts. If you can draw or paint on it, a live illustrator can personalise it. Customers LOVE having an artist make their own mark on your product, and it’s easily posted and shared on social media.

Record valuable ideas

Graphic facilitation and graphic recording at a workshop or meeting can be the difference between a boring, forgettable and unpleasant event and an exciting, memorable creative experience.

Graphic facilitation for a social workers’ workshop discussing academic research in Edinburgh.

Graphic facilitation for a social workers’ workshop discussing academic research in Edinburgh.

Generate some exciting, shareable, creative content

In the past my live illustration work has been repurposed in leaflets and brochures, used as graphics/buttons on a website and turned into video ad content on social media. Make sure you have a licensing agreement from your illustrator before you use their illustrations for anything extra, to keep everyone happy and avoid legal issues. If you have the go-ahead, there are SO MANY THINGS you can use those illustrations for.

Digital or Traditional Illustration?

Graphic recording using paint, markers, pencils and anything else I could find for Edinburgh University’s sustainability department.

Graphic recording using paint, markers, pencils and anything else I could find for Edinburgh University’s sustainability department.

Your illustrator will have their own preference, but think about what materials you’d like them to use. For instance, graphic recording can be done digitally (using an iPad or other tablet) or traditionally, using giant flip charts or sheets/rolls of paper and thick pens. Portraits can be watercolour, graphic markers, or ink. Each has its own list of pros and cons.


Hiring a Live Illustrator

OK! Now it gets exciting

Finding the perfect live illustrator for you 

Let’s head to Google and start searching. If you’ve decided that a giant window painting is the best option for you, try searching “window painting live illustrator [insert your city]’ and see what comes up. You could also search hashtags on Instagram/Twitter such as #liveillustration #windowpainting #graphicrecording 

Things to look for: 

  • Examples of their previous work 

  • Proven track record 

  • A visual style that suits your campaign/audience/workshop/event 

  • Contact information 

Confirm your illustrator’s availability and fee 

Email or call your illustrator and make sure they’re available on the day and time that you need them. Live Illustrators are in high demand and are often booked months in advance. 

Clearly communicate what, where and when you’d like them to live illustrate. 

Live Illustration is a specialist skill and you can expect to pay at least £125-£400 per hour, or more. Usually artists have a minimum booking of 2-3 hours. You get what you pay for! Your illustrator may have a day rate and charge a certain amount regardless of how many hours you’ll need them for. It differs from artist to artist, and job to job so send that email and find out.

Painting a window mural for Dove, all about their goal for 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Painting a window mural for Dove, all about their goal for 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Hiring a live illustrator doesn’t have to be overwhelming. 

Hiring a Live Illustrator

BUSINESS TIME: 

Admin, contracts and agreements and ideas 

Sign a contract 

Your company might have its own contracts, otherwise all illustrators should have an acceptance of commission form, or some other kind of agreement. Once this is signed, you are all confirmed and ready to work together. Absolutely make sure you have a contract in place and that everything is written down. If everybody knows what is expected of them, there’s a much better chance of a happy working relationship for everybody involved.

For illustrators: The AOI have wonderful contract templates.

Pay booking fee 

To confirm all bookings, I require a 50% booking fee. This is not the case for all illustrators, but it’s good industry practice and it builds mutual trust and respect. 

Advertise your event

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The earlier you start advertising, the better. Of course this doesn’t apply to private events or workshops, but if you’d like more attendees, consider advertising online and locally. 

Hiring an ads specialist is highly recommended if you want to achieve maximum reach. 

If you’d like your illustrator to create some artwork to help advertise in the run-up to the event, you will usually be charged extra for this.

Agree rough designs 

For window paintings, wall murals and sometimes portraits, it can be reassuring to confirm designs before the event. You know what you’re getting, and the artist knows what they are doing.

Win win. 

These jobs often have a fast turnaround but a rough design plan can be created in a day or two, depending on the illustrator’s schedule.


Hiring a Live Illustrator

ON THE DAY: It’s show time 

Does your illustrator have everything they need? 

Do they need a chair? (Hint: the answer is probably yes.) 

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It’s always helpful to have a table, a glass of water, some paper towels if they are working in paint/pens, and a member of staff on hand nearby for any questions or help. In most cases, your live illustrator will be self sufficient, but do look after them!

For live portraits, it can get hectic, and it’s really useful to have a member of staff helping out with the queue, bringing water, and generally assisting. 

Regular breaks 

It’s so easy to forget, but little things like breaks can make the difference between a great live illustration event, and an exhausted, dehydrated, sad illustrator. 

Bring water/tea/coffee 

Self-explanatory. A hydrated illustrator is a happy illustrator. 

Happy illustrators make great art, happy illustrators make happy customers for you!

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Take photos 

Don’t forget to take a few snaps of the artist at work. Better still, employ a professional photographer for the day or a content creation specialist. Whenever I work for bigger clients, they always have their own photographer and/or film crew set up and ready to capture the work.

These photographs and videos can serve as perfect Facebook/ Instagram adverts, as well as newsletter content, Twitter-worthy news and images for your website or publications.

Show the world that you are an innovative thinker! Celebrate your creativity and innovation!

A quick note on photography

Be sure that your photographer and/or film crew get a signed 'model release' from the artist and put up notices that photography and filming is taking place in the venue for members of the public.

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Create a queuing system for busy events 

This mainly applies to in-store live illustration and product personalisation.

It can get so busy during portrait painting or product customisations. Sometimes it’s best to create a queuing system to save your audience from waiting around. Something as simple as names and the design they’d like scribbled on a piece of paper can be the tiny detail that makes a live illustration event that bit more enjoyable. There’s no need to stand around queuing. 

Let your customers mill around, enjoy the event, and come back to a portrait or a product with their name on it.


Hiring a Live Illustrator

It’s party time

AFTER THE EVENT: 

Yaaaaas, you did it! However, let’s take a quick break from basking in those social media interactions, raving fans and boosted sales - your work isn’t over yet.

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Give feedback & say thanks! 

It’s so easy to forget the little things in the aftermath of a huge event. Take time to thank your illustrator, and let them give you any feedback. It’s also a great time to let the artist know what worked well, why you liked working with them, and any other information that could be useful for future jobs. 

Exchange photos

I always take as many photos as I can (to post on social media) and most illustrators will do the same. You may have hired a professional photographer, in which case your illustrator and photographer can exchange details. 

Pay remaining fee

Easily overlooked. Pay your illustrators on time!

Every time you pay an illustrator in a timely fashion, a fairy grows its wings.

I’m keeping this paragraph short but sweet, however, do not underestimate the importance of paying promptly. It makes everybody feel that much better.

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Challenge Accepted

Now that you know all there is to know about the ins and outs of hiring a live illustrator, it’s time to take action!

Send the first email today.

I dare you.


I’m a Live Illustrator

If you’d like to see my latest work and get some behind the scenes stuff, come and say hi on Instagram.

I’m @katiedraws on Instagram. Come and say hi.

I’m @katiedraws on Instagram. Come and say hi.

My books are currently open for taking live illustration and graphic facilitation and graphic recording and I’d love to know if this guide helped you. If you have any questions or anything, you can email me here.

Check out more of my live illustration work here, and my graphic recording here.

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Speak soon,

-Katie