I have some email questions that are starting to stack up. I'm going to try and take some time here and there to answer some on my blog. Hopefully, I can provide a little insight for anyone else dealing with these issues. Feel free to add your own tips that may have helped you in your journal to being a successful artist.
"I have a couple questions about the interesting life of being a freelance illustrator. I feel like I'm running like a chicken with it's head cut off, and not sure were to find work. I'm kind of grounded in the city right now, so commuting out of state for work is out the question. I figured you could give me a few pointers. Like what to look for when doing a freelance job search, and how to bypass a lot of BS and bogus jobs. I guess what I'm asking is what do I need to work on, who do I need to reach out to, and what are some of the key things in helping you find work. I mean besides an actual BOMB portfolio. Anything you can tell me I would greatly appreciate it."
What to look for when doing a freelance job search, and how to bypass a lot of BS and bogus jobs.
I would be wary of doing any work for a person who is hiring artists for their personal project ie children's book, graphic novels etc. They don't have a company’s budget to use as payment. Often it's their own personal savings and they expect a lot of work for a little money. A client should have a contract set up for freelance artists. If they don't it's a red flag. If you ask what their budget for a job is or what the deadline is and they don't know it's a red flag. A person who hires artists regularly should, at the very least know these things and have a contract to offer.
What I'm asking is what do I need to work on, who do I need to reach out to, and what are some of the key things in helping you find work. I mean besides an actual BOMB portfolio. Anything you can tell me I would greatly appreciate it.
What to work on: The number one thing that I notice about student level work is people are not taking their own good(“good” is the operative word here) photo reference and applying that to your sketches. This applies to just about everyone that was in my class and most aspiring artists that I meet. And for some reason everyone seems to fight it. Not sure why that is.
Finding work: Ugh, Welcome to the world of being a professional artist. There are no guarantees for work. A few things to consider. Not in any particular order
1. Networking. Staying in touch with people from school; teachers, classmates, artists from conventions etc. You emailed me so....check.
2. If you’re not working on freelance jobs you should be working on your portfolio. Even if you get to a point where freelance is pouring in they were never quite as fulfilling as personal work. This has helped me to grow as an artist and also get the work that I enjoy and resonates with my artistic needs.
3. It may help to pick out the top ten places you would like to work. Provide each with a nice customized portfolio package geared to reflect what you think they are looking for. You should also follow up with potential clients. If you only have 15 quality pieces in your portfolio think about sending eight now and seven or eight in a month or so. So you don’t give out all your goods at the same time. AD’s get flooded with work so it’s good to remind them you’re still around as often as possible.
4. Promote yourself consistently. This helps if you have new work to promote with. See #2
5. Competitions, Conventions. Gallery shows, Meeting local art directors etc.
6. If you have a group of talented friends consider forming an art collective where work and money is divided to make promoting the group as a whole a bit easier.
7. Note, all the promoting in the world will do little if the work is subpar, mediocre, or just good. Good isn’t good enough. This probably should've been #1.
Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head. Hope this helps.