Today I am going to continue with the celebrating theme that Erika started yesterday. This illustration by Sarah Chalek should help us get in the mood – Sarah was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2011. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/illustrator-saturday-sarah-chalek/ Today’s post is geared towards illustrators. In the next few days, I will do the same for writers.
Here are some observations I made from last year while working on Illustrator Saturday. Below is a list for ILLUSTRATORS to do this year. It gives you lots of little things you can celebrate as you check them off during the year:
1. Work on adding new illustrations to your portfolio. Every illustration you do gives you the possibility to improve on what you already have. Plus, with each illustration you do, you will grow your skills.
2. Start a website that shows off your art in an easily accessible way. I’ve been preaching this for so many years, but there are still so many illustrators without a website. If you are serious about a career in illustrating, then correct this.
3. Start a blog or a tumblr account that has sketches of things you are doing. You want to share your work with the internet! Blogs are free, so there is no excuse to not get this job done. Just because it is a blog, doesn’t mean you have to put up something new every day. (Please note: make sure your visitor have a way to leave a comment.) Oh, and please don’t hide who you are. The big reason to have a blog is to build your audience.
4. If you have a facebook page, you need to include your artwork. If you don’t want to mix up your work with your friends, then get another facebook page. You should also have your website address listed on your facebook page. You want to make sure people know it is you and how to find more. (If you have a blog, you can set it up to automatically post over to facebook – no you are not adding more work.)
5. If you have illustrated books, then make sure you have them on your website and let people know the titles, the author, and the publisher. Show the covers, and give interior art examples. Just make sure they are illustrations that are good.
6. Always include your contact information. You want to make it easy for someone to offer you a job. This does not go away, because you have an artist rep. I think finding representation is a wonderful thing, but you don’t want to lose all control over your career. I have tried many times to invite someone to be featured on Illustrator Saturday and could not find a way to connect them.
You could say, so what? It’s just a blog. But I could easily be trying to share a great opportunity with you that came across my desk or I could have been someone with a good paying job. Now you probably are saying why didn’t you call the rep.? I have done this and also emailed, but only a few times (weeks later) did anyone get back to me. Any savvy illustrator knows how important it is to get their work seen, thus a good reason for you provide your contact info.
Don’t take a chance of your agent being away and an email from a potential client falling through the tracks. Get your contact info up on the internet. And if someone uses it to say how much they adore your work be gracious and thank them.
7. Take some classes. This will not only improve your skills, but will provide great networking opportunities.
8. Exhibit at local small press shows or SCBWI conferences where you can sell your art and network.
9. Make up promotional postcards to use at shows and conferences and give them to as many publishers and people as possible.
10. Use what is left over to mail to art directors. If you have an agent, they may already asked you to do this. If they are against you doing this, then by all means listen to them.
11. If you hear about an anthology being put together, contact the editor to see if they need any artwork to go with the stories. These usually are small drawings done in black and white, so they don’t take long to do and it is a great way to get on peoples’ radar.
12. Always look around the Internet for blogs that would do an interview, talk about what you are doing, or use a piece of your art on their site. If you are reading this and haven’t sent in something for me to post, ask yourself, “Why not?” I get over 3000 visitors a day from all over the world. Sounds like a great opportunity to me. (Note: If you approach someone about being on their blog, write it up, so they understand exactly what you have in mind. Give some examples of interview questions, too.)
Remember that any publisher who does picture books will need illustrations. Don’t forget to check out the small publishers.