Friday, May 20, 2011

Art Contest

All right, here's the deal. I'm offering a contest for starving artists. The idea is to produce for me an image of alien female who will be one of the main characters in an in-progress science fiction space opera novel upon which I am working. 

I am going to put up some roadblocks, and I'll warn you of them to as we go ...

I laid out the basics in a previous post, but I will repeat and amplify them here. If you want to play, read this carefully. Pay attention, because anything that doesn't meet the requirements gets tossed. 

I am asking for a specific thing, and I don't want to see anything other than that. Drawings of winged tigers, fairies, or unicorn-porn get deleted immediately. Not to say they might not be wonderful, but these aren't the droids for whom I am looking ...

I'm going to describe a character. From that description, I'd like to see a drawing, painting, sculpture, some kind of representation that presents the character. The artist who comes closest to the vision I have is the winner. 

I am not looking for a cover design yet, just the character, posed however you like.

I'm the sole judge. I might show stuff around and ask for opinions, but it has to work for me.

There is no entry fee, but artists are limited to one submission each. 

The idea for the novel (and others in a possible series) is being pitched, but the first book won't be done for a while. Unless I get a hurry-up for some reason, I'm thinking the deadline for this contest will be August 31st, 2011, at the latest. 

Speed is thus not of the essence; however, if it takes you six months to do a drawing, that is a handicap if I need it sooner.

I ordinarily wouldn't ask artists to work for free, save that a contest is that by nature; and my thoughts are that the one who comes closest will get one of two prizes–such that they are, depending on the scenario that comes to pass.

One winner, no second or third places, no ribbons, no trophies. If your art was close, I'll say so, and time permitting, I'll speak to submissions, but no guarantees.  I reserve the right to post entries here if I think they come close to what I have in mind. If there is an honorable mention, that's it.


First scenario: If the book gets picked up by a traditional publisher, I will submit the artwork with the ms and suggest that they hire the artist for the cover illo. 

To be upfront here, they don't pay a lot of attention to me in New York City about cover art, so this could be no more than wishful thinking, and you need to know that–it's a long, long shot at best. I'll make best effort.

If you buy a lottery ticket and are seriously upset when you don't win? Probably you don't even want to start down this road.

If an artist somehow gets the job from the publisher, this will have been his or her audition piece, and the commission is the prize. You do the work, you get paid, I'm not part of any such deal. My victory is that I get to offer what I think the character should look like.

Failing a direct commission, which I have to repeat, is likely, I'll ask that the publisher at least use the winner's artwork as a basis for the character–if they put her on the cover, and 
that's if they do, the artist will have bragging rights, and a small payment out of my pocket. 

If they don't use it, you don't get the bragging rights, but I'll still kick in a small honorarium.

How small is small? I dunno, that will depend on how big an advance I get, but for an artist trying to break in, it could be a show piece: Steve Perry thinks this illo is the best version of his alien in his new book series and you can ask him for a reference ...

You won't get rich off any such prize, but you might be able to buy a new pair of good shoes, if you aren't planning to go to Italy to buy them ... 

Further, if the artist is into graphic novels and has any desire to play with this series in that medium, I'll offer him or her the right of first refusal for those rights.

Second scenario: If the book winds up as a e-novel instead of a traditional paperback, and I publish it and thus have to provide my own cover, I'll offer the winner the chance to illustrate it. 

Again, we aren't talking about big bucks, a small advance against a small royalty. If I could afford to hire a top working pro illustrator to do my e-covers, I would do so. (You aren't supposed to give away any part of your royalty, but if the cover art helps sell a lot of copies, in this special case, I'm willing to share that with an artist in lieu of a big advance.) 

That's the deal, and if you don't think it's fair, that's cool, I understand. Lot of "ifs" here. But if you enter, that is your choice. I'm not leading anybody down the garden path. I'm not The Huffington Post ...

You won't get rich off such a royalty, either, but if your cover is there on and iBooks to be seen, maybe that gets you more work. Maybe.

Naturally, I don't expect to get established illustrators interested in this kind of venture, any more than somebody would get me to write a novel thusly; however, for somebody who is getting artistic chops but hasn't had a place to showcase them, this might not be such a bad deal. I used to write for a couple of penny-a-word magazines, and was happy to do it at the time. We all have to start somewhere.

Don't mail anything to my house. Submissions must be via email in a common electronic media format–JPEG, GIF, PDF, like that, and not so big they choke my server. How big is that? You should be able to keep them under a couple of megs for purposes of email. If I want to see larger images with a higher resolution, I'll ask you for them. If you send me a half-gig file, I won't open it. 

Submissions can be rendered in whatever medium you want, pencils, oils, clay, bronze, electronic, B&W or color, whatever, as long as the scan or picture is clear enough so that if I am looking at it on a 72 dpi computer screen, I can tell what it is. For my part, you retain ownership of your original to keep or sell as you choose, and that's usually the case when publishers buy the publication rights–you get your original back when they are done with it.
For an ebook, I don't need the original, only a clean scan, but that's down the road and maybe.

Winner will be chosen when and if I get enough submissions, and I reserve the right to vote "No Award" if nobody gets close to what I want.

If you are still here, the description:

KLUTHfem is of the Vastalimi race. She is about five feet tall, (152 cm) mesomorphic build, and there are three terran creatures to keep in mind when constructing her: Tiger, hominid (ape), and praying mantis. "Kay," looks mammalian, has short, orange fur–no stripes, but of a tiger-like density. Vastalini do not ordinarily wear clothes, though they will use belts for gear and will sport combat armor when appropriate.

Two arms, two legs, no tail, stands upright. She has retractable claws on each of her fingers and toes, talons that are about four-centimeters long when extended. Fingers and toes, not paws.

Kay has a head shaped somewhat like that of a praying mantis, however, it is less insectile than a mantis. The basic wedge-shape, but while her eyes are larger than that of a human, they are not a large as those of a mantis compared to her head's size, and keep in mind that nature is surely going to offer protection for the eyes of an evolved, intelligent creature unless the eyes can regenerate. 

Here's the main trick–her facial features need to be something that won't cause humans to turn away in horror. I do not want to see an orange version of the Predator, but a face that should be, in its own, albeit odd, way, attractive. She needn't be cute, but neither should she be repellent.

Submission conveys no other special rights in my direction, save that you are using one of my copyrighted characters as the basis, so she's literarily mine–that's how it works. 

Terms for the winner will be worked out. I'll want to use the image on my blog and in whatever online advertising I might do if I publish the e-novel. If it gets to that, we can dicker, and there will be contracts and all like that to protect both of us. 

If all this doesn't make you want to tell me to go fuck myself, here's where you send it:

By submitting work, you agree to the conditions listed above.

I'll keep you posted.


considerphlebas said...

Could maybe use a couple words about her personality? Or at least if combat armor IS appropriate.

Steve Perry said...

Since I've never done this before, I will offer some more bits, because I don't know what an artist considers important.

None of my cover artists have ever asked that question, they went by my ms descriptions.

Kay is part of a private, mixed-species military unit and will have occasion to wear gear, but she prefers not to if given a choice.

Probably wouldn't help your chances to put her in a BattleTech suit. It's not about the hardware for her.

Her weapons of choice at hand-to-hand distance are her claws. She has better sight, hearing, and is stronger than most men and faster, too.

That help?

Anonymous said...

Can there be more than one set of eyes or it it limited to just two eyes? Do the jaws have to look mantis-like or can they be hinged like those of apes and tigers?

Steve Perry said...

I have an idea of how I think she should look, but I'm not wedded to it -- somebody might produce something that would grab me in an unexpected way.

One of the reasons to have a contest is to see what creative people come up with.

I'm open to the Wow! Look at that! Ain't that cool?! factor. But I'm also enough of a scientist that I'm into form-follows-function, certainly enough to use that as a big part of my critical appraisal of an alien species.

if you produce something that looks like the xenomorph drone from the Aliens franchise, I'm going to shake my head. Nothing about those drones works very well, other than how scary they look. I could go on at length about why, but if you can't see why the design is so bad, probably it wouldn't do me any good to tell you.