Learn more about working together

I believe that commissioning an illustration should be a fun, transparent process for everyone. Here you'll find information on what it's like to work with me so you can feel confident in the process every step of the way.

You can also learn more about me and my past clients here, or contact me directly for more information.


Guiding principles

Illustration is an incredible art form with a rich history and a vibrant contemporary community. As a professional illustrator, I feel it's my duty to uphold the high standards of beauty, creative expression and social change set forth by my peers in the industry. Practically speaking, this boils down to the following principles, which I always strive to employ in my work:

  • Be clear
  • Be original
  • Be brave
  • Never compromise integrity
  • Never add complexity for complexity's sake
  • Never miss a deadline


Perhaps predictably, I draw inspiration from a myriad of illustrators and designers. In particular, I love midcentury children's books and poster designs from Italy and America during the 60s, 70s and 80s. And don't even get me started on vintage Eastern European matchbook covers.

I also try to balance my influences by looking at other forms in space, and thinking about big philosophical questions as they apply to art. To this end, there are traces of everything from Scandinavian vase design to wabi sabi concepts in my work. Keeping a broad range of interests (Buddhism! Ecology! Shaker furniture-making!) ensures I'm constantly inspired and ready to tackle a variety of challenging briefs from every angle. 


How I work

I have many clients who are seasoned art directors and some clients who are new to working with professional illustrators. And, while the general workflow for most artists can be similar, no two are alike. Here's an overview of the process that goes into each of my illustrations, alongside some general guidelines on deliverables. Of course, individual assignments may vary depending on what is needed. 

  1. I always start by ensuring I understand the client brief–deliverables, deadlines and overall message. This requires clear, concise communication via email, phone or in person, depending on location and timeline.
  2. Once I understand the brief, I'll usually do further research on the subject by poking around the internet or going to the library. This helps me make connections between the topic of the illustration and other ideas that might help in communicating it visually. If I am working with a new client, I also research their brand identity and work so that my art aligns with the products, images and messages they use.
  3. Next I brainstorm, letting all my ideas out at once. I spend some time drawing thumbnails (quick, small pencil drawings) using every image I can think of. Usually, after I've come up with a dozen or so thumbnails, a few stick out as the strongest concepts. If I'm really stuck, I might try brainstorming by making written mind maps or doing a series of free association drawings.
  4. From here, I make more detailed sketches, or roughs based on different concepts, which I then submit to the client. I make sure that my sketches closely reflect what the final art will look like, so there is no confusion in communication.
  5. The next step is up to the client, who chooses the concept that works best for them. They may or may not also have feedback regarding elements within the image, colour, or composition.
  6. Again, I make sure I understand exactly what the client needs and make sure to incorporate all of their feedback into the final illustration. Final art is delivered as a JPG or TIFF file via email/Dropbox unless otherwise requested. All print work is completed in CMYK and all online work is completed in RGB.


From start to finish, Melanie was a pleasure to work with. She brought our concept to life with her own creative solutions and talent, all while respecting deadlines. I would love to work with Melanie again!
— Danielle Sayer, Assistant Art Director, Reader's Digest Canada
Working with Melanie was great! I was impressed with her sketches and the whole process was super smooth.
— Laia Garcia, Art Director, Lenny Letter
Working with Melanie was a pleasure! We approached her with a specific concept in mind, but were interested in exploring her interpretation of the idea. She delivered three beautiful sketches, and we were enchanted by one of her concepts and went forward with it. Melanie was open to discussion and welcomed our feedback, internalized our comments and then returned with a revision that married our hopes and aspirations.
— Selina Vesely, Graphic Designer, Alternatives Journal


Pricing commissioned illustrations is a tricky business. However, after several years working as a freelance illustrator, I feel confident that my system is fair, provides a living wage for myself, and upholds industry standards so that I am not undervaluing my services or the services of my peers. 

I charge different fees for different types of jobs and work with clients to understand each individual assignment and come up with a fair number. In an effort to make this process less opaque, here are all the factors that come into consideration when I set my pricing.

  • Time needed to create the illustration, including time spent communicating, brainstorming, researching, etc.
  • Resources needed to create the illustration, including studio space, software, hardware, etc.
  • Industry standards for similar illustrations
  • The level of professional experience and insight I bring to the job
  • Length of use
  • Usage rights and length of use
  • Distribution and number of copies produced
  • Type of publication (e.g. newspaper, blog, magazine)
  • Image size

If you would like to work together and want to learn more about any or all of these elements, please get in touch and I'd be happy to discuss!