Please enjoy this interview with illustrator Gabriela Kochanowski. Gabriela is a member of the All Writers Facebook group I launched in June of this year. You can find illustrators like Gabriela, editors, authors, and more in the group. The main focus of the group is to help writers connect, learn, and grow. If you'd like to join this closed group, please send me a message and I'll happily add you!
I’m Gabriela Kochanowski, a freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles, California! I have a degree in Illustration with an emphasis in Entertainment from Laguna College of Art and Design.
A favorite hobby of mine would have to be going to music concerts or festivals. Music has been and always will be a big part of my life. Favorite movie star will always be Leonardo DiCaprio. One crazy thing about me... well I was born in
Poland! I came to California when I was 2.5 years old, so I don’t remember much, but I’m still proud to say I’m Polish!
Why did you decide to start your illustrating career?
Starting my illustrating career wasn’t really a choice I kind of just fell into it. I always loved drawing and creating things from a very young age. When I grew older I fell in love with cartoons and animated films, so my goal has always been to get into the animation industry to help create characters. Right now I’m finding myself illustrating for children’s books and loving it, but I do want to end up at an animation studio at some point. (My dream is actually Walt Disney Animation Studio)
Have you worked with authors before?
Yes, I have illustrated for one other author last year and released a book with her. I am currently still working with the same author to create more non-fiction children’s stories based on her real life experiences.
How many of your illustrations have been published?
I have illustrated for one book that has officially been published. It is called “The Baby Has Down Syndrome.” I’ve also had two sticker designs released on a website called “The Feminist Sticker Club” and its sister website “The Cat Sticker Club.”
Are you working on anything new?
I am always working on new projects! Being stuck on one thing is not fun. I love to immerse myself in multiple projects, ideas, or personal sketches.
Tell us about your services, in as much detail as possible.
a. What do you expect from the author when you start a project with them?
I expect the author to know exactly what they’re looking for in the illustrations. Having them explain what they envision for each page is very helpful for me as the illustrator. Makes my job a lot easier! As much explanation and detail from the author as possible will allow me to work quicker and come up with better ideas. Also, having a signed contract detailing the project/book does help. I’ve had authors email me and message me on Facebook interested in my services only to end up being ghosted or having them change their mind and go with another illustrator. This is very unprofessional to me.
b. What should the author expect from you during the project?
The author should expect me to communicate well and ask questions when I’m unsure about something. I always try to update weekly or biweekly if possible. The process includes sending sketches first, color samples, final line-work, and final illustration. I always let the author have the final decision on which illustration they prefer for their book.
c. How long does it usually take to finish a project?
Completion of projects depends on author timeline and/or illustrator timeline. I’ve completed a book within a month and I’m currently working on books that have taken longer than a year! I think I actually do prefer taking my time on books and making sure they come out perfect. Rushing a book is not fun, it’s stressful and I get so uninspired by it.
d. Can you explain how the illustration project will work once started?
The illustration project works however the author and illustrator set it up. Like I mentioned earlier in section B- The process includes sending rough sketches first for the author to choose from. Next is usually color samples for the author to choose as well. Once the important details are chosen I create the line-work and color in the final illustration. I always let the author have the final decision on which illustration they prefer for their book. I’m sure this process is different for other illustrators, but I found that this works best for the authors I work with.
e. Can you give us pricing?
For me, pricing can range anywhere from $50-$175 per page and totaling from $1,500-$5,000 for the entire book. It depends on how detailed the pages are and if it includes a background or not. To be completely honest, authors are getting a great bargain at this price. I have seen other long time professional illustrators and big time publishers quoting anywhere from $4,000-$10,000 per book for illustrations. The average children’s book has about 32 pages.
f. Do you work across the US?
Yes! I live in California and work with clients all over the US. I communicate through email and it works very well for me.
g. Would you like to share anything else about the illustration process?
What has been your favorite project so far?
Not to be an author’s pet or anything, but truly my favorite project has been Laura’s Halloween book. I absolutely LOVE Halloween season. It has to be my favorite “holiday.” The colors, the candy, the costumes. I LOVE IT ALL!!! This has really been a dream book for me to work on. Definitely some of my best illustrations work is in this book. It’s going to be a beautiful and colorful book once published. I really can’t wait for it to be done, but I will also be sad that it’s over because it’s been so fun to illustrate these pages.
What advice would you give upcoming authors?
Upcoming authors, if you are very serious about becoming published and getting your book noticed, please save up some money for your illustrator! It’s definitely not cheap and I know money doesn’t grow on trees, but this is a serious career. Illustrators probably need to pay their own bills, student loans, buy food, pay rent, buy materials, etc. Illustrating is how we make a living and it’s a serious job. I’m sure there are some illustrators that will do the job for cheap, but I guarantee you your illustrations will not turn out how you may have imagined. I always put in 110% for my authors and I try to go above and beyond to create great relationships with them. Illustrating is everything to me, but I do find myself struggling to make ends meet. I will be completely honest, it is HARD to make a living off of freelance illustrating. So treat us well please!
Personally, I have come to realize that I’d rather illustrate fiction than non-fiction! I love drawing fantasy and creatures that are out of this world. Drawing realistic stories can sometimes come to be uninspiring. (This is just a personal preference, but I will always illustrate for both!)
You can find my portfolio at www.gkillustration.carbonmade.com
On Twitter and Instagram I am @gkillustration
Thank you! If anyone is interested in working with me you may email me at email@example.com