Thursday, March 29, 2012

How illustrators get work.

When I people and tell them what I do I often get asked, "How do you get a job illustrating a children's book, do you advertise?"

Well here is a quick overview on one way a freelance children's illustrator can get work.

First things first. 
Create a great portfolio. I'm not going to go into that here. But here are some places where you can find some great tips on creating a professional portfolio.
Paper Wings Podcast
Escape From Illustraiton Island

Next put your portfolio online. 
In ancient days I heard illustrators went to New York and other famous places where art directors work to show their portfolios. I think you can still do that. I did once. Even if you do this you can't not have an online portfolio.

Below are a couple of suggestions of places where you can create beautiful online portfolios. There are many though so do your research.
Behance Network

Now you have to get people to look at your stuff.
Or in other words advertise.
The most common way to do this is by sending postcards with one of your fantastic illustrations to people you hope will hire you.

My Most Recent Mailer
I use to create my postcard. They are cheap as free for 4x6 postcards and I like the quality well enough.

Get a mailing list together. 
This process takes a long time to do right. Make sure to look for publishers that publish stuff that they might actually hire you for. For example if you draw only children don't send mailers to a publisher that only publishes fantasy for teens.

SCBWI has a resource for this if you are a member or you can find The Children's Writers and Illustrators Market and get contacts from here. I usually get it from the library as it changes every year but you can also find it on amazon.

Be consistent with your mailers.
I heard an illustrator speak once and he said it seems to take an art director about five times of seeing his work before he remembers you. So you can't send out one mailer every 18 months and expect it to be a huge success.

Mailer Tip: Get all mailers for the year ready to go at one time.

I learned this watching my mom send mailers for her Real Estate business. (Quick shout out to my mom. She is an awesome Real Estate Agent. Sold me my house and did a great job. Looking to buy or sell in Utah? Give her a call. ok back to business) She gets all her mailers for one year ready at a time, and then files them ready to drop in the mail box.

If you can afford to do this I highly recommend it. Choose how many mailers you are going to send out in the year set some time aside and create the art. (Or even better use art that you've used on a recent published project.) Order, address and stamp all of them at once. Then label each with the month that it needs to be sent out and you are all set. When the time comes you can just drop them in in the post.

p.s. If you do buy the stamps all at once be sure to plan for any postage price increases that may be on the way.

 Buy Prints or Cards and Gifts illustrated by Manelle.


  1. Great advice, Manelle! And I like the "cheap as free" Homestar reference. :)



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