Frequently Asked Questions

How many books have you illustrated?

More than 100 picture books and novels in English and French. Also many more educational texts, magazine articles, pamphlets and book covers. I did some drawings for an interactive dairy display in a museum, and icons for a gps-enabled Montreal tourist app. I also drew live for a Jigaloo lubricant tv commercial!

You work in watercolor, right?

Actually I work in layers of transparent acrylic ink. I use the brand "Rotring Artistcolor" which is now discontinued. I search it down on ebay. If you happen to have any Rotring Artistcolor inks you would be willing to give up, please contact me. I used to do my black and white drawings with a dip pen, india ink, and washes of india ink, but I have added in digital drawing as well.

Do you do your drawings on the computer?

Starting in 2010, I bought a Wacom Cintiq touch monitor with stylus, and I now do most of my sketching, as well as my final line work on the computer, using the Corel Painter application. I scanned in original artwork I had done in pencil, technical pen and dip pen, and made Painter "brushes" to replicate my traditional work's look.
When I finish sketches, I send jpeg files to my client, who can comment, and we work together to make changes until the client is satisfied. It is much easier to make changes digitally, working on different layers.
When the sketches are approved, I make the sketch somewhat transparent, add another layer over top in Painter, and "ink" digitally directly over the sketch, so it looks like pencil or ink lines. Once that is finished, I print the final "inklines" out on watercolor paper with an Epson R1900 printer. I then color the work with either india ink washes or the Rotring Artistcolor transparent acrylic inks.
When it is all colored in, I scan it into the computer again. Sometimes I add details on yet another layer with the Painter app, such as "colored pencil" lines over the watercolor. Then I send high resolution Photoshop files to my client for printing, via FTP.

Do you have an agent? Do you work for a company?

No, I am self-employed and do not work through an agent. I work directly with art directors and editors at publishing houses and graphic design studios.

Do you have any children?

Yes, I have a nine year old son, Benjamin Taotao, who was adopted from China. I also have two cats, Sadie and Alley. They are mother and daughter. Sometimes they also bring mice, shrews and voles into my studio from outside, and I have to catch and release them outside again!

I want to write a children's book. Will you illustrate it for me?

I'm sorry, but usually I work with editors and publishers, not directly with authors. If you have a manuscript for a book, it is best to approach publishers. Once a publisher has signed a contract with you to publish your book, it is time to look for an illustrator. At that point, you could certainly suggest me to your publisher. But the publisher has the last word, based on their knowledge of the book market and their professional intuition for what sort of drawings will best complement your text.
I have at times illustrated self-published books however. If you have such a project, please do email me.

Did you study illustration in college?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction from Concordia University in Montreal, but I did not study illustration. In fact I specialized in black and white lithography (printing from a stone) and ceramics, including enormous unfired clay sculptures. I did further independent study in ceramics at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts, where I did many multimedia installations and did handmade paper. Nothing related to illustration at all. Mostly I drew a lot ever since I was very small.

If you weren't an illustrator what would you like to be?

I would like to teach languages (I am learning Chinese!), maybe be a journalist, or work for Consumer Reports testing different items.

I would like to be an illustrator. Could you help me out?

You could phone me or send me an email and if I have time I will try to answer your questions. I was lucky enough to be mentored myself, and would like to help new illustrators. Of course not every artist will be a good match for me.

I am doing a project for school about an illustrator. Could you please answer these hundreds of questions I have written down?

I am very interested in answering questions about my job, but please keep them simple and to the point. I don't necessarily have time to answer many long open-ended questions.

If you have a hundred books in print, aren't you really rich?

Actually, illustrators often are paid a one-time fee for a book, which can vary widely. By the time the book comes out, the money was probably spent on my heating or vet bills. Other books are paid by royalty. This means I get a percentage of every book sold. This percentage is usually 2% to 5% of the cover price. That means I often get about 45cents per book. Before I pay taxes. Many of my books are also out of print by now. So it is not so easy to get rich as a children's illustrator.

Are you very busy?

As a self-employed illustrator, nothing is certain. Sometimes I am booked for 6 months in advance and am working on six projects at once. Other times I have absolutely no work for several months. It is very up and down. It is subject to change on a moments notice. If you want to hire me for a project the only way to know is to call.

If you have any questions you would like to see on this FAQ, please send me an email!

All images, words and whatnot on these pages
are Copyright 2020 by Leanne Franson.
Don't take anything without contacting me.