Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So you want to be an Illustrator!

In recent years there has been something of an illustration boom, with publishing houses and advertisers taking more and more risks with cutting edge illustration in order to stand out. The role of graphic designers has also shifted more into this area, whereas in the past typography and layout were more likely roles. Technology has also helped to open up new areas to creative types, as it has become cheaper and easier to do more things.

If a Graphic Designer is interested in getting into illustration there are several things they can do. The main thing is to get educated and up to date on the wealth of technological tools available, and to keep up your basic drawing skills. Life drawing classes are a good idea.

Once you have the skills and the ability to create great illustrations then its all about promotion and getting work. You can either do this yourself or you can get yourself an Illustration agent.

Resources for helping you include the highly recommended books of Stephen Heller. These include The Education of an Illustrator, Inside the Business of Illustration, and, Marketing Illustration. There is also a wealth of online resources such as blogs and tutorials. These include Escape from Illustration Island, Illustration Mundo, Drawn!, Illustration Friday.

This link has a whole lot of useful articles on how to promote yourself as an illustrator.

Suggestions for self promotion include

-Getting a great online portfolio and business card
-Building a mailing list, then sending updates on what your up to.
-Sending out flyers or business cards
-participate in online communities and forums
-Start an illustration blog.
-Use social networking. Online or in person at business events, etc
-Do work for free for charities or political organizations.

Here is a guide to some of the more practical elements of setting up your own illustration business.


Another way is to try and get yourself represented by an illustration agent, who in an ideal situation, handles the more mundane yet crucial tasks involved in connecting you with your target market, allowing you the freedom and time to create your next masterpiece.
They can draw from their hard-won mailing list of contacts in the industry to send promotional mailers and announcements as well as help to match your talent and style with the projects you are most compatible with. The best art reps can sometimes negotiate a better rate and contract than you might be able to because of their experience and knowledge in the field. As an added bonus, an agent can often offer guidance to help you to fine tune your portfolio and branding for a particular niche market.
In exchange, the agent receives a percentage of your fee as commission for securing the project, and the Illustrator is usually responsible for covering the costs of promotion. It also takes time and effort to find an agent who will suit you, and often you might not get all the work you need from an agent.
The Jacky Winter Group from Melbourne is one agent from Melbourne that seems to have a good approach and a very impressive stable of illustrators. (Jacky Winter is a Native Australian Robin, not a person)
Jacky Winter also have a section called "The Hatch" which works like an incubator to nurture young and emerging talents.

All of illustrations posted here are by Australian Illustrators represented by the Jacky Winter Group.

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