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A Custom ABC Book: A Learning Curve in Print

Ella's Alphabet Book, watercolor, children's illustration

Illustration is still a relatively new field for me, so I am always growing and learning from my past projects. I have ample experience dealing with artists, galleries, shows, etc. But working with a printer on a project greater than a pamphlet was a new undertaking required for my first commissioned book.

The experience was filled with its own challenges and successes, and I certainly still have a lot to learn about the whole process.

About Ella’s Alphabet Book

Ella's Alphabet Book is one of two ABC books commissioned this winter season (2017) by a lovely family friend for a little girl (Ella) and a newborn boy (Theo). Together we decided on the square composition, the full bleed, and on the letter list.

The client had a few specific requests - such as Pawoo for an elephant's call and musical instruments - while I filled in the rest. It was a great collaboration and first commissioned book.

*Many of the original images are now available for sale (soon viewable on the upcoming store page). Check out Ella’s Alphabet Book page for more photos.

Where the Learning Curve Came Into Play

This project was an amazing opportunity for my to create an organized series of illustrations for a client and a first chance for me to work with a print on demand (POD) printer. But the later element caught me up a bit at times.

After hours of research and phone calls, I choose to work with Book Baby Printers for their excellent customer service, POD options, and their specialty in illustrative children’s books.

Unfortunately, this process was not a smooth one. Once I figured out how to format my book to their requirements, I received an OK from the printer but a lack of further instruction to check in on the process. It is a large company with many projects, so I get this, but as a newbie to the process I wanted to know everything was going smoothly!

ABC Book, watercolor, children's illustration

My Issues with the Product?

My issues: the photo and spine quality. I ordered a hard covered, high-resolution image quality book. And quite honestly, I do not think the printer met my standards.

Is it a fine book? Yes, it is.

But the print quality is not as clear as the images I sent and the spine is a bit weak for my taste. This may only be to clear to an artist’s eye, but it does make a difference.

X is for Xun, watercolor, children's illustration

Moving Forward with Custom Books

Finding a good printer that suits your specific needs is always going to be a difficult process and I am still on the hunt. I love the book I created for the client, but next time I need to find a printer I LOVE. Then I can have a long-term relationship with them that is more that fine, which is GREAT!

C is for Cheese, watercolor, children's illustration

My Next Step: Field trips to local Brooklyn and NYC printers for quotes and samples.

About Me, Fia Sutton

Hi & welcome to my blog! I am a children's illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I create handmade collages, 

watercolors & books that celebrate color, acceptance, & discovery. I am a creator of messy mistakes & happy surprises.

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