Monday, July 30, 2012

The Cover Letter Decoded

I was recently asked how an illustrator should write a cover letter. 

First of all, why would an illustrator need a cover letter to begin with?

We have many ways to social network and promote ourselves. Often we forget to touch base on a more personal down to earth level. A cover letter is a casual introduction written with a direct purpose. 

Reasons to write one includes: 

• A teaching position.
• A chance to do a talk or a seminar. 
• A book proposal. 
• A nice introduction to compliment a self promotion piece you sent in the mail
• A way to advertise your website.
• A Gallery show.
• A proposal to sell work in a art shop or gallery. 
• An introduction to an art agent because you are hoping to seek representation.

When it comes to cover letters you want to write from the perspective of what a client wants to read. You must also consider keeping it short, sweet and to the point. Our audience are often pressed for time. There many steps to consider in creating an effective letter. The typical cover layout generally goes like this:

• Introduction

• Who you are
• Purpose of writing
• What you do/experience/the benefits you can provide
• Summery
• How you can be contacted

• Thank them for their time and attention

This is where the cover letter gets more complicated...

It is always important to address it to someone. "To whom it may concern" is an automatic cover letter kiss of death. If you do not know who to contact look for it on their website or try calling the place of business to find out who to address it to. If that does not work address to the "art department," or just write "hello,". If you know the company name then use "To the  _____ team," 

The subject line of your email needs careful consideration. State it clearly-a short sentence is best. It's important to choose your words wisely so it does not come off as spam. If you are not sure do a subject spam check and look for trigger words.

Define why you are contacting them. State a purpose- "I'm contacting you because I'm looking to get involved in your company." or "I'd love to be considered for freelance illustration work because..." 

Throw in experience, education, self projects, spotlights and your website. Keep it friendly, check spelling and always follow up. 

The biggest thing to think about...

The biggest power that you have in a letter is to ask for what you want. If you can state this clearly, professionally in a down to earth manner then you have mastered the complicated process of writing a cover letter. 

To sum it all up- think of cover letters as a friendly introduction that is thoughtfully written by you. It promotes what you do on a casual level to help touch base with future clients. Most importantly, it's another way to advertise yourself in your own voice in a more direct way.  


Jasmin Garcia-Verdin said...

This was really helpful! Thanks!

Iris Biran said...

Thank you so much!
These tips came right on time for me and they're very helpful!