November 6, 2008

How to Fight a Lousy Market

Freelancing is a risky business, economic crisis or not. You? You knew that going in. You are the kind of person that relishes a challenge. You know that when jobs taper off and the voices on the phone belong to more telemarketers than art directors, that is not a time to cut your promotional expenses. You've made up your mind to be an artist for a living, and that is a commitment that outlasts any dip in the dow.

We all see the relationship between the market and the jobs we get as artists. When consumers get scared, corporations get scared, and they cut their advertising budgets. That puts the squeeze on the editorial market, and before you know it, you're wondering if you have enough change in the couch for a value meal.

But, when our industry get squeezed, you must remember that

  1. There is still work out there for a talented professional, and

  2. This market driven hesitation is only temporary

The best way to deal with spare time on your hands is not to panic, but to regroup and to promote.

Everyone else is wringing their hands, waiting until the market looks up, but not you. You are out there making connections and getting your work seen. You have a goal, an idea of where you want to be, and you are not going to give up because of a slump.

Clients are still out there, and so are opportunities for creative marketing. There are still lectures to go to, parties to attend, and hands to shake. Now that those who are less serious are ceasing to promote themselves, so much the better for you and your amazing work.

If you don't have a plan, now is the time to get to work on it. Take out your portfolio, load your website, take a good hard look at all your promotions. What do they say about you? Are they professional looking? Is the quality and style of the work consistent? Are you showcasing only the best of your artwork? Where is it that you as an artist would most like to be in five years, and do your promotional efforts reflect that? If not, you have some serious leg work to do in your chosen markets. Take the opportunity to focus on this and you'll be glad you did when the market turns around.

If you're a young illustrator you may not remember being affected by previous economic slumps. We've been through many, and you know what? Illustration never died. It cycled. And with each cycle came more interesting projects, new and interesting artists, and no shortage of new ideas.

Be one of those artists that comes out on top when the market returns. Get your promotional machine in place now so that its momentum can carry you when you're insanely busy with work.

Muhammad Ali illustration by James Bennett

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