Book illustrator Sarah McIntyre has put up a suitably graphic plea for something very simple: that publishers should give cover credits to the illustrators of illustrated books. “David Walliams’ and Tony Ross’s illustrated novel is at the top of the overall UK sales chart today,” she points out, “but many illustrators are getting cut out of almost all career-advancing publicity.” And note, we’re not talking about plain-print books with a handful of line drawings. Sarah McIntyre means children’s and other illustrated books where the pictures are almost the entire selling point of the book.
Think The Gruffalo, for instance. Fortunately, and properly, illustrator Alex Scheffler is credited as the artist on the covers of these books. But Julia Donaldson is the namebrand author associated with the series. Yet do kids and other readers identify the Gruffalo first with her words or Alex Scheffler’s images? No question.
And that’s only in the case of a very famous illustrated book series with absolutely indivisible pictorial associations. In many other series, the illustrator’s name is relegated to the back cover or inside the book.
Sarah McIntyre explains what happens to illustrators. “While they’re often credited on the back cover or inside the book, it’s the front cover that does the publicity rounds, and what readers and reviewers use to judge who created it. If the illustrator’s name isn’t on the front cover, they’re far less likely to get proper recognition in metadata, so their books won’t be searchable online. They may get left out of award lists. Their names may not be included at all in Advance Information sheets sent to reviewers.”
Her solution? A call to agents “to unite in your efforts to make sure that in contracts, illustrators get a guarantee that their names will be on the front covers of the books they illustrate.” And she’s launching her campaign under the #PicturesMeanBusiness hashtag with a campaign site here. It seems only fair and reasonable, as she says, to support the cause.