I paid $200 to be in a 'room' with Art Directors.
And illustrators and historians and get both a historic and up to date perspective on the industry, and more.
As a nieve wannabe illustrator 30 months ago…
I wondered, “how could I build relationships with art directors?” This one question was the catalyst that unlocked a path for me to become an illustrator, at the end of this post I share the steps, for me, it took 30 months to get through the steps. But the path inevitably leads to the end outcome if you keep going.
I’m sure there are ways to get into Disneyland for free. But the easiest way is to buy a ticket.
I paid $200 to get into a virtual room with current and past Art Directors, Art Historians specializing in Illustration, and other illustrators.
We talked for hours about the ups and downs of the profession.
We looked at each other’s work.
I got a piece reviewed.
I wrote to the two Art Directors who reviewed my work and showed them a revised version of the work based on their feedback. One wrote back and said that my work definitely fits with the products they are making and would recommend my work to the team. And invited me to stay in touch.
This is the beginning of a relationship with an art director
So here are the steps in reverse order:
Repeat the process below while waiting for the seeds to turn into fruit.
Engage with the feedback on your work, to show what it’s like working with you.
Reach out to upgrade from a group encounter to a 1-1 encounter.
Look for opportunities to show your work and get feedback from people who hire illustrators
Look for opportunities to connect with industry professionals and peers, (some of these opportunities are free and some have an entry fee, I’ve used both)
Make work that you are proud to show, and keep this work on hand for when opportunities arise. ( Have someone look at your work who will objectively tell you if it’s work worth being proud of)
Some great advice I think I found through Giuseppe Castellano, Founder of the Illustration Department (a brilliant resource for all illustrators; professional and aspiring) -- as follows:
Notes from two American Art Directors.
1. It’s totally cool to send a DM with a link or pdf twice a year to get art directors to look at your work.
2. Author/illustrator titles are in demand because it’s so difficult to pair texts with artists.
3. Social media is how art directors look for work, especially on Twitter, so refresh your work there often.
4. Share the work, but also share who you are.
5. Publishers are expecting shorter turnaround times for work.
6. Keep your work organized, show you know the difference between middle grade and picturebooks for example.
7. Presentation matters, e.g leave space for text in spreads or cover art, and don’t put important details in the gutter.
8. Publishers are publishing more graphic novels than ever.
9. Show your interest in your portfolio via your work.
10. Do mockups of covers you wish you had the job to do.
11. Artist Postcards are no longer effective because ‘work from home’ continues.
12. When you’re making work for Art Directors to consider, think of it as a visual transaction.
13. Your online presence is key to getting your art discovered.
14. There is a trend to expanding characters beyond picturebooks. (Toys/Animation/etc)