Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Illustration Fiction We Tell Ourselves

© Holly DeWolf

1. I'm not ready! 
The reality is, we are never going to be a 100% ready. There's always something to do and something to improve. Being ready is a process. This process should include a plan. Once you begin with your plan then start with the small tasks and keep going. Illustration is not about being done or finished because ideas don't stop. 

2. I don't have time to promote. 

You can't afford not to. Promotion is one of the largest components to this profession. If you do not promote yourself then who will? If you do not have an agent, then it's up to you. This job is a daily event that includes social networking, updating your website, posting news, sending mailers, emails, phone calls and blogging not to mention making work. It all comes down to a pre-scheduled system. Once you begin doing this on a regular basis then it will become one of your greatest assets and a regular creative habit.

3. I don't need a blog. 

It's not essential to have a blog although it is a pretty powerful tool to getting attention to your work. If you do it right with SEO and RSS, then this will drive more attention to your work. After that, your focus can involve answering questions, showing what you do, while focusing on what clients and art buyers should know about you. Add advice, tips and daily musings-this can be used as another promotional advantage to you. 

4. I can post whatever I want online.

Sure but it will cost you. There is a fine line when it comes to being open and honest. It's true we need to be out there however we do not need to reveal every aspect of our lives 24/7. Post like it's a conversation, post great links, bits of humour, casual parts of your life while presenting it in a positive package. Not sure what to say? Start small. Start with humour and remember you do have an audience that is paying attention even when you think they are not.   

5. Unpaid and low-paying jobs will pay off.

For how long? And how will this portray you as an illustrator? Always believe you are a professional who deserves to have an income. You have bills like everyone else. You would never expect your dentist to examine your teeth for free. It's also important to convey to our art buyers that our industry is not a hobby. If we keep accepting free work the buying market will keep asking for it! 

6. I don't need a portfolio.

Yes you do! Telling people you an illustrator is not enough- they want to see what you can do. If you are not sure where to begin, there are options. Here are some to consider: a physical book of work to take with you, a mailer, your web page, your blog, your linkedin, your fb like page, member sites such as That's My Folio, a slideshare presentation, a video, and a iPad slide show. Make it easy for your buying market to find your work online. If they have to search through links and pages, they will move on to someone else. They are bombarded with illustrators looking for work everyday. The easier you make your site, the more you will stand out. 

7. I'll let the client make all the decisions. They know what to do.

Working with a client is a group effort. Never ever believe you are not part of the creative decision making process. This is where you get to exercise your negotiation skills especially when it comes to price and the usage of your work. Always use a contract. Always keep open communication before, during and after projects are completed. After all, this is a working relationship that can lead to more work and good word of mouth.  

8. I Don't feel like working this week.

Again, it will cost you. Consider this: there are how many illustrators out there looking for work? The gap between illustrators and the amount of available work is HUGE! It's important to rest and take time for ourselves however, we need to work hard at illustration in order to get something out of it. It's no wonder the average work week for some illustrators is 60+ hours. We are a hard working bunch even when the money is not coming in. 

My talent is enough! 
I honestly wish it was for all of us. Sadly, it's a buyers market and we are expected to be more than just image makers. We have to compete with many skills, many styles, and trends. We need to be a big package of skills that is going to move us into the spotlight and in front of the buying market. We cannot do this by locking ourselves in our studios while only making art. Like the quote from John Augustus Shedd states: A ship in a harbour is safe, but this is not what a ship is built for!