Tess Fowler, Artist

Hmm. Interesting.

For those who have been following the unfortunate tale of my wasting a thousand bucks on artist Tess Fowler and getting absolutely nothing but grief in return, there is some new information. This may be of particular interest to anyone who may consider hiring Tess for similar work.

I have been very open about my experience with Tess, how Ms. Fowler and I had a falling out and I lost a lot of cash. But I’d assumed that I was at least partially at fault, that even with her reactions to my criticisms and her hostility and refusal to negotiate and get back to work (or refund any of the money), that if I had somehow found the right words, perhaps we would have reconciled, and perhaps Tess Fowler would have then finished the job like a professional.

However, since posting my fully documented account of that experience, I have heard from not one, not two, but several others who have all started their messages with essentially the same statement:

It’s not you, it’s her.

Apparently, Tess Fowler is starting to be known for this sort of thing. While she promotes herself as a professional artist who is too cool for school to work for big companies, she is apparently leaving a chain of broken promises and unearned payments in her wake. It’s not my place to make public the specifics of what I’ve been told by the folks who’ve contacted me (though I wish they’d go public as I have, for the benefit of all the folks who may yet suffer as we have), but apparently Tess has a tendency to make big promises then react very, very badly at the first sign of disagreement or tough critique. She disavows even the tiniest bit of responsibility and turns very nasty very quickly, accusing her former collaborators of being horrible people of some sort (in my case, I was mentally unbalanced and potentially dangerous), and refusing to deal with them at all thereafter.

(Tess also publicly accused me of “stalking” her when I posted my full account of our disastrous collaboration. Apparently, if you hire someone, pay them a lot of money, then send them a few messages and try to call them to see if they’re going to do the job they hired on to do, that’s stalking.)

As I said, I have heard this from several independent sources over the past few weeks, and I’ve even been privy to the exact communications that passed between some of these folks and Tess. I am naturally interested in hearing from any others; I’ll keep your secrets, though I do encourage you to post a public, objective account of what happened. And my blog is available as a forum for all of you: feel free to comment below any of my posts on the matter, and if you need a place to post your full account, you can do it here with my blessing.

For the record: I am only passing on what I have been told here, and in some cases what I have seen in shared documentation. But that documentation was very convincing, and having been through what I went through hiring Tess Fowler as an artist, I’m convinced that it’s true.

UPDATE: Another victim has come forward and agreed to share his story. You can read about it here.

UPDATE: Tess victimizes the creator of the comic Rat Queens and his wife. Read it here.


  1. nydiacarioca says:

    The more we know about this woman the better, so other people won’t have to go through the same awful experience you did,

  2. So sorry you had to go through this. Thank you for making your situation public so others that may consider hiring her can make their decision accordingly. People like Tess give us honest to goodness artists and craftspeople a bad name.

    Thank you for your honesty :)

    Brightest Blessings,
    Marcia Stewart
    aka The Simplified Witch

  3. Adrian says:

    As always, there are two sides to every story.

  4. Hi Tim — if you’re in limbo right now regarding your cover and illustrations, I can help.

    I’m the art director / co-founder at an indie author services company (www.indiebooklauncher.com). I can connect you with one of our artists who can produce the pulp style you’ve described in your blog posts. These are pros who complete jobs efficiently, on time, and without drama.

    One of them can get you that cover in 3-4 weeks for less than half of your remaining budget.

    If you think we might be able to help you, drop me a line at saul.bottcher@indiebooklauncher.com.

    As for your previous artist, I don’t want to throw mud, but I will say that her comments about your mental health disgusted me, both as a professional and as a human being.

    As others have already told you, “it’s not you”. Don’t let this experience drag you down. Good luck with your books.

    • Tim Byrd says:

      Thank you, Saul, I’ll definitely keep your offer in mind when I get back on the horse…

      • Another one to check out is http://www.damonza.com — his portfolio is impressive and he also offers a satisfaction guarantee. (I don’t have personal experience or affiliation with him, just passing on his website that I’ve seen in the past.)

        In my opinion, it’s reasonable for you to expect all of the following from whomever you hire: a fixed price, a money-back guarantee and/or unlimited revisions, choice from multiple concepts, delivery in a few weeks, and a legal document stating your license terms or ownership of copyright.

        There’s no reason for an established artist or designer to refuse any of those terms, all of which are valuable to you as an independent author, and not difficult or costly for them to provide.

  5. mrdubyadee says:

    Wow,she really is a piece of work isn’t she? More and more people are catching on to this dodgy lady. Check out ThatUmbrellaGuy YouTube channel,I think you will find his videos interesting to say the least
    Kind regards

    • Tim Byrd says:

      The more people who find out about her, the fewer she can victimize.

      Unfortunately, there will always be more potential victims who never hear about this stuff. And people in the industry who don’t know or don’t care and will give her work.

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