Unless you’re already a well-known illustrator it can be tough to find work that allows you to earn a living, even with a solid portfolio and professional attitude – in this article I’m going to assume you already have those basics covered. Promoting ourselves is something we need to learn the same way we learn to draw: with a lot of trial and error attempts because no single way works for everyone. There is no clear path to become established. There are, however, a few basic approaches that everyone can rely on.
There are two ways to get illustration jobs: Those that find and contact you (passive) and those that you find and contact (active).
In this first part I’ll talk about how potential clients can discover you. Later, I’ll publish Part Two which will be about the reverse: how you can actively seek out and contact potential clients.
How to make potential clients find and contact you
Pave the way It goes without saying that your work should be present both online in your own professional looking website or blog, as well as printed in good quality for portfolio reviews at conventions or meetings with clients.
Since internet users have the shortest attention span of any species, it is especially important that they’re able to contact you instantly. Have your e-mail address, a link to your e-mail form, or a contact form on every page of your online portfolio. Make sure that visitors can get straight to viewing your work, ideally with less than one click, and that your online gallery is easy to leaf through, without any brain effort. Your website design should be simple, too. Look at it on different devices: old and new Windows and Mac systems, smartphones and tablets, to make sure it looks good on them all.
To make your website easier to find for the search engines, make sure it’s HTML-based (no Flash!) thus easy to read for search engine crawlers. If you’re new to this, look up SEO basics on how to optimize your site for Google and others. Ideally your template comes with a preinstalled SEO gadget that makes things even simpler.
If you’re using a predesigned theme or template, make sure the code is clean (some free WordPress templates have been discovered to have malicious code!)
Offline, get into the habit of carrying your business card with you at all times – you never know whom you’re going to meet. I keep them in my handbag in a small, lightweight business card case.
In my physical portfolio, a leatherbound A4 sized book with clear bags, I put A4 prints of my work that I order from an online photo service since they offer the best quality A4 prints at the lowest prices.
Having an online portfolio is a necessity these days to be an artist. An online presence is as important as the artwork you display on it. Artists must promote their work in as many places as possible to gain exposure and attract as many clients as possible. If you don’t have a portfolio up on the internet yet here are several free options to choose from so you can get your artwork up and getting viewers.
Launched in 2006, the Behance network is not only a portfolio site but also a social network where you can follow and connect with other creatives. It’s like LinkedIn with a portfolio element and strictly for creatives. The site is now owned by Adobe, so if you use any of their tools they are integrated into the Behance site. To me it seems like Adobe has put in a lot of work into the site because it is beautifully designed and easy to use. They have made It easy to keep up with other artists and the projects they’re working on. It’s as simple as finding an artist you like, clicking the follow button, and now you’re seeing other artists work. Likewise they can follow you. Continue reading
As artists, we are often hired to help make someone else’s dreams a reality while sometimes ignoring our own. This video is about the importance of following your own artistic dreams for the benefit of your art career and happiness.
Happy 2014, everyone! It’s that time of year again. That time when we all resolve with great intention to organize the house/lose the weight/run that marathon/kick that bad habit/save up for that thing we’ve been wanting……and a few months later lose motivation because we just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. The same can be said for the business of children’s illustration. An artist can jump into the industry with the best of hopes, but become discouraged when those hopes don’t become reality.
So, how can we illustrators push our art and our careers to the next level in ways that yield results? It comes down to setting the right goals. Goals such as “I will get published this year” or “I will get that trade book” or “I will win that award” aren’t goals that we can actually do anything about. We can’t make our favorite publishers hire us, and we can’t make that committee give us that award. However, we can set realistic goals for ourselves that can make our art more competitive in the marketplace. I recommend identifying 2-3 goals for your ARTWORK, and 2-3 goals for your BUSINESS.
Your Artwork We’ve all done it. We’ve gone into libraries and book stores, browsed the shelves of new children’s books, and sighed, “I wish my art was as good as insert-name-of-fabulous-artist-here.” In fact, most of us have several illustrators that we admire, usually for different reasons. This is informative! We can look at the artists that inspire us, evaluate our own portfolios, and make a wish list. Continue reading
For my first post for Once Upon a Sketch a couple months ago, I wrote about tips on how to build a solid portfolio (Here’s the link). With the relaunch of the site, I figured now would be a good time to continue that theme and so today’s topic will be “Breaking into the Biz”; what to do once you have that portfolio. Although, I think having a strong portfolio is still the most vital part in landing work, having the best portfolio won’t help you one bit, if your work never gets in the hands of the people who need to see it! So here is a list of ways to get your work out there and get your foot in the door:
Digitally – Your portfolio in digital format:
Website – In today’s world, it’s practically a requirement to have a website of some kind where you can showcase your work. Not only does a website serve as a digital representation of your physical portfolio, it’s also the most efficient way to reach the masses. Here are a few general ideas to keep in mind when designing your website:
Remember your website is merely a means of highlighting your art, so like your physical portfolio, the art is what’s important! So your site must be clean and simple to navigate. It’s okay to have a few bells and whistles to spruce it up, but keep in mind that people generally have very short attention spans (for instance, mine is about 3 seconds), so if your site takes forever to load because of a fancy animation, it’s not doing you any favors. Also, a good rule of thumb is to make sure your artwork is accessible by no more than two clicks of a mouse.
One of the benefits of having your own website is that you are not limited to 12-16 images. So you can be more liberal about what you want to include in your site. But keep in mind that you’ll want to make sure your best work gets seen, so make sure they are placed where people will see it first.
The style of the site matters too. Meaning the overall look of your site should share a similar style to your art. Not only does it make for a more single, cohesive and harmonious package, you won’t confuse your viewers.
Your work should be categorized appropriately. It seems pretty obvious, but you should definitely arrange your work in a logical and orderly fashion…I can definitely spend all day talking in detail with suggestions about grouping and organizing your artwork, but that could be a whole post in and of itself. Continue reading
So you want to develop for children’s movies, but what are companies looking for when reviewing portfolios? Sony Pictures Animation put up a great video of what production designers Michael Kurinsky and Marcelo Vignali are looking for when reviewing portfolios and making hiring decisions. It’s a nice glimpse into what this studio is looking for and they include some good suggestions for your portfolio.
So many people think that getting an agent/rep is the end all be all. “If I get a rep then I know I will have made it and so much work will be thrown my way that I’ll have to turn stuff away!!” Yeah I used to think that too. So let’s get rid of that myth from the jump.
1. Getting a rep DOES NOT guarantee that you will get work! It is not the promised land!
Norm and I both have reps and we still have to bust a lot of pavement to get work. We have to constantly promote and market ourselves. Having a rep is a great tool and asset. But it’s just one tool in your toolbox and should never be the ONLY tool in your toolbox.
There are multiple ways to get work within our market. So look into all your options. Get info from multiple sources before you make your decision. Use every possible resource you can to your benefit. Maximize your opportunities.
In the following video Will Terry gives his opinions on whether an agent/rep is necessary. The answer to the question is, “No.” And truthfully they never have been. But Will goes into more detail about the current market and what it takes to be successful whether you have an agent or not. Enjoy, learn and as always, take notes!
A great way to spread your work around Facebook is by joining like-minded groups. Groups let you share things with the people who will care about them most. For artists it’s usually their artwork and news about the industry. Let’s look into how to join groups and then how to share with them.
First Sign into Facebook. Go to Facebook and sign in. Once you’re signed in at the very top of the page is a blue bar that says “Search for people, places and things” begin typing and a list of groups/pages will begin to pop up. For this example I typed in “illustration”.
If a group pops up that you like click on it or at the bottom of the results you will see an area that says “see more results for (keyword)”. Once you’ve found a group you like the look of navigate to their page. On their page click the “Join Group” button at the top of the page by their group’s name. If successful the text in the button you clicked should have changed to “joined” or “Cancel Request”. If it comes back with “Cancel Request” this just means the administrator needs to approve you before you can join the group. Once you’re a part of the group you can now post things to the group’s wall. To do this, go to their wall then at the top of the page you will see the group’s cover image and just under that is the name of the group followed by About and Photos.
Now if you’ve got something to share with the group just below that you should be able to enter what you’re excited about. Then you can type in your news and press the Share button. Everyone in the group that has liked that page and everyone that views that group will be able to see it. You can also add Pictures, Videos and Web Links onto group’s walls. It’s a great way to spread the word about your latest project, a new blog post, or just what you’ve been up to. Remember to keep it related to what the group is about.
If you’ve got any suggestions for Facebook groups people should join please leave them in the comments below and let us know what you thought of this post.
Here’s an inspiring video by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. In this video he visits a school and shares his process of becoming a illustrator/writer with the kids. His story sounds like a lot of other artists out there. Going to school, sending out postcards and never hearing anything back. But the thing that sets him apart from others is that he continues to work at his goal never stopping until he reaches it. This video is not the most in-depth but I still found it inspiring. Watching the kids interact with him as he tells his story really reminded me of why I do what I do. For a more in depth look at Jarrett’s journey visit his TED Talks on How a boy became an artist!. But in the meantime, give it a watch and let us know what you think about it in the comments.
By now we should all know that to be successful in our industry you need to have an online presence. Freelance artists must promote their work in as many places as possible to gain exposure and attract as many clients as we can. This infographic made by the PrintRunner Blog shows statistics and sites that designers and illustrators can use to promote their portfolios.
The infographic discusses statistics for each site and the advantages of paying for each service. Most offer a free version but a few do not. It also talks about the pros and cons of each site, whether it offers mobile support and the site’s community size. It also has a few best practices when showing your portfolio online. Here is the full infographic. Take a look at the graphic and decide which service you would like to use to promote your work.