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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

10,000 Hours

Frogs have nothing to do with this post.

In the book outliers there is a chapter about how people that "outlie" (I don't think that is actually a word but you'll have to get over it.) in their particular fields always have 10,000 hours doing that thing before they really succeed at it.

At my recent illustration conference (I know I keep talking about it but this is my last post on it for now) I met a guy with at least 10000 hours drawing stories. He told a story about getting his first book published that went something like this:

 "My friend and I had this story we worked on and I did the illustrations and we showed it to an agent and he sold it to a publisher. Now I have a contract for my second book. The End"

My first thought was, "wow, I wish it would work like that for me."

My second thought was "Wait, there must be more to his story."

There was. It turned out this man was the writer and illustrator of a syndicated comic strip for about five years. He totally had 10,000 story writing hours in before he wrote illustrated and published a children's book, seemingly just like that.

His name is Mark Pett. Probably some of you have heard of him.

I'm pretty sure I have 10,000 drawing hours. But I also want the story writing and illustrating hours. Thus very soon. (although I don't have an exact date yet) I will be starting a new blogastory (that link goes to my first attempt). That's the plan.

On what do you want to get your 10,000 hours?

 Buy Prints or Cards and Gifts illustrated by Manelle. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ebook Thoughts

At the recent illustration conference in bountiful we heard Will Terry talk about ebooks. He had some great things to say about creating and selling them. Instead of me recapping it I'm just going to post his video about it here.

This was basically his presentation now here for all of you to enjoy.

And If you need some info on creating ebooks you can also check out this post on Julie Olsen's blog.
She has step by step instructions on how she created her ebook.

 Buy Prints or Cards and Gifts illustrated by Manelle. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

100 Picture Books

At the BDAC illustration conference we got to hear picture book author Anne Bowen talk about picture book writing. (she's very good, check out her books)

This is the best picture I got of her. She is in the scarf.

She mentioned hearing somewhere that a person should read 100 picture books before they try to write one. Now, I am sure in my time I have read at least that many. But it can't hurt to do it again.

I decided to read the 100 books and pay special attention to the writing. Normally I pay most of the attention to the illustrations so this was a bit of exercise for me.

I started checking books out at the library and reading them. I picked books randomly off the shelves making sure not to judge by the illustration or how well known the book is.

I haven't gotten through the whole hundred but here are some of my over all observations so far.

First: I noticed that I don't like a lot of picture books.

Second: Books that have gotten, or are getting, a lot of attention usually deserve it, especially when compared to all the other books out there.

Third: The shorter the text the better I like it. When I look at a picture book I imagine reading it out loud to a child. If it's too wordy I don't think I would get through with out skipping parts. The shorter tighter stories also felt more fun and less weighed down by words. 

I also enjoyed the books that have a narrative story rather than those that were more of a list type book. But I think the list books tended to have a better rhythm and rhyme scheme in their writing.

Here are some of my favorites so far.

I felt like each of these books have fun tight text, told a great story, and worked well with the illustrations. 

What kinds of things have any of you discovered about picture book writing?

 Buy Prints or Cards and Gifts illustrated by Manelle.  


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