life, write tips

Want to commission artists for character drawings? Here’s where to start

Describing our characters with words is fun and all, but sometimes we want a more visual representation of the characters we’ve come to love, with all of the unique characterizations that make them, them. If you don’t have the skill to draw your characters yourself, you may want to hire an artist to do it! And if you’re an indie author, getting an artist to draw your character is a great way to find out if you would like them to assist you with your cover as well!

So here are some great places to find affordable artists, and a little bit of insight on how it works.

Where to find them

There are multiple avenues to find artists, and a lot of them hang out on several sites. Just to name a few:


This site can be a little daunting to navigate on your own, just because there’s so much art everywhere and different levels of skills. However, there are forums that make it a little easier to find what you’re looking for, and if you want some art done, you can post to the jobs forum so that the artists come to you! The pricing will vary from artist to artist, so you’ll have to go through the options as they’re being presented and decide what you want.

But even if you don’t find your artist on here, many artists will use their profile on here as a portfolio, so you can see examples of what they can do. Be sure to do your research before you hire, and at least check if they have a profile here.


The artists on here will be of a more professional setting than DeviantArt. Deviant is used by a lot of hobbiests and professionals looking for practice, but ArtStation is more of an environment where professionals have their portfolios. So the price will be higher here, but you’re definitely paying for quality.


Nowadays, Instagram is just as much as a portfolio as anything else, and finding the kind of art you’d want for your book characters is easy when you search on popular hashtags like #digitalart #digitalpainting, or #characterdrawings.

The prices will vary a lot here, too, however, they’re likely to be quite affordable. Now, since it’s a little more informal than DeviantArt or ArtStation, I’ll include below how to make a safe transaction between you and your artist. But Instagram artists are great to follow, because they’re known to do giveaways, as well.


Yes, there are also artists on Twitter! They can be a little difficult to find, but like Instagram artists, they often have giveaways and special sales that you probably wouldn’t find on sites like DeviantArt and ArtStation.


I know Tumblr is kind of dead now, but there are still some artists hanging around on there, and they’re just like the ones on Twitter and Instagram. Always looking for opportunities to increase their portfolio, and at great prices.


Artists on here will usually have a very low-priced minimum option, so this site is very budget friendly. It’s also very safe since the website makes sure there’s no scamming on either end of the deal.

How to find the right artist

Regardless of where you find your artist, you want to make sure that the one you find is right for what you want. So a few things to check.

Find their portfolio

Some artists will have an online portfolio on their website. Others will have use sites like DeviantArt, ArtStation, or even Instagram to showcase their works. However way they demonstrate their works, be sure to check it to make sure their style is the kind you’re looking for in your character drawing.

Check their pricing or ask for a quote

Obviously, you’re going to want to make sure you have the budget for the artist you find. A lot of artists will have different pricing depending on the project. The price will usually change based upon how much of the character is shown in the picture, how many characters, and whether the drawing is a black and white sketch, flat color (no shading), or full color and shading. Some artists will also charge more if the background is very detailed. Things to keep in mind

Respect their rules

Some artists will only draw certain subjects, and some are only comfortable drawing certain material. If the idea you’re looking to have drawn is lude on nature, you’ll have to make sure the artist is okay with that, and respect if they tell you no. Artists will often advert to the things they’re not comfortable with drawing, so try to inform yourself first.

However, if that particular artist isn’t the right one for your project, ask them to recommend someone! Most artists are glad to support their friends, and will help you find someone of the quality you’re looking for.

When in doubt, ask

If you decide to commission an artist for your project, ask and make sure they think they’re the right fit for it. You can also ask for examples of similar projects they’ve already done to help you wrap your head around the concept! It’s better to have clear communication on both parties than to have an unfortunate misunderstanding, so be sure to ask whatever questions you need to to make sure that this person is right for you.

Making a safe transaction

After you’ve found your artist, you’re going to want to come to an understanding about payment. If you’re not going through a third-party website, most artists will want payment through PayPal, the Cash app, etc. However, there are a couple good practices you can do to make sure that both of you are proving yourselves to be honest.

Give half the payment upfront

A lot of artists will have this as a rule already, so don’t be surprised if they ask for it. This ensures that when they send you the finished product, you don’t walk away without paying something for it. At least if you were a crook that took the drawing without paying in the end, they’ve at least gotten half of their due.

And on your end, if the artist disappears after the payment, you haven’t lost the entire investment, just half.

Now, obviously this is only a precautionary measure for a worst case scenario, but still necessary for security’s sake.

Ask for preliminary sketches

If you’re still unsure about giving money up front, you could potentially come to an agreement where the artist sends you a preliminary sketch of the finished product before you pay them anything. That way you know they’ve at least started working on it, and you can feel better about the initial payment.

Some artists will even update you as they go along to make you feel even more comfortable about it.

Ask for an approximate timeline

If you don’t have a set deadline, at least ask the artist how much time it will take to be complete. This way, if they’re taking longer than expected, you can give them a little nudge and ask why they’ve gone beyond the timeline, if they haven’t already told you.

If all of these steps go well, and the person you’re working with is honest and open, the process is a lot of fun! Most times they’re also cool if you want a few modifications to the drawing, especially if you they’re showing you their process and you can get in the request before it’s all finished.

Be sure to credit the artist!

For some artists this step will be mandatory, but it’s also just nice to do. Giving information on the artist you got your drawing from allows them to get more business through the people that follow you! It’s always appreciated.

In speaking of…

My recommendations

A couple artists I know of you should check out if you’re interested (pssss, several are POC and do very diverse drawings!):

Rebecca Brown

Geneva B Art

Eva I.

Nicole Deal

Fifi Wong

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