July 26, 2010

Interns: the Who, What, When, Where and How.

Over the past 20 years, I've had a hell of a crop of interns from every school imaginable, including Savannah College of Art and Design, Pratt, SVA, Academy of Art University, Brigham Young, Parsons, RISD, Ringling School of Art and Design and Syracuse University, among others. Generally speaking, the students have heard of me or are familiar with one or more of the artists I represent. They contact me and express an interest in learning about the business Illustration. Many of my interns have gone on to successful careers in the arts and several have become permanent assistants in my office.

In my opinion, the best thing about being an intern is listening, you hear all the negotiations, all the gossip, the dirt, and you are privy to the highs and lows of this profession. For the first time, you get a feel for the fact that art/illustration is a business, and the client is king. You learn about negotiation, contracts, secondary and tertiary usages, and working under deadline. I've been told it's an eye opener because illustration under deadline can be a true pressure cooker and only the ones who can juggle many balls in the air survive and live to tell the tale.

Interns also do the small stuff like going to the bank, the post office and delivering portfolios... but most importantly they are tasked to use their creative minds to do research. For instance: developing a list of potential targeted clients in the wine industry, or some other long term project that they have to use their computer and research skills to think through a problem and go around obstacles. It can be challenging but I think these skills will help them in their own career. After all, if we have to do it, some day they will have to do the same type of analysis.

One of the perks of being an intern at my place is that if there's an art event, for instance at the Society of Illustrators, an opening, a show, etc, I always take my staff. We also offer something quite unique: a mentor program. After awhile an intern gets to know all the illustrators in the group and picks one that they feel is stylistically simpatico with their own style. We pick a real project that has come through our doors and they work on a mock version of it in consultation with their artist/mentor. We at the office also critique the on-going work since all of us at the office have gone to art school and are savvy about the ways of the commercial art world. This assignment is quite different than the run of the mill school assignment.

And it's fun around this place. We're all a little wacky. We all know this is an interesting job, but we're selling dreams not developing the next vaccine, so we keep things in perspective and keep it as light as possible. They have to put up with my choice of extremely eclectic and eccentric musical tastes. Also, they don't have to raise their hand to ask me if they can go to the bathroom.

So that's what I do. I'm sure that other reps have their own methodologies, but at least this will give you an insight into how we function.

If you're interested in joining our small band of eccentrics, send us an email.

Who: Any current or graduating art student.

What: I've always described it as a working fly on the wall. Learn by osmosis, use your eyes and ears while you're tasked by my staff or myself for specific projects.

When: It's an all-seasons position. Most interns opt for one or two semesters or a summer internship at a minimum of 1-2 days a week. When should you think about doing this? Probably best for Juniors, Seniors and MFA candidates.

Where: My office. Madison Avenue, New York, NY. We don't work long-distance.

How: Call, write or email (richard@richardsolomon.com, 212-223-9545), after looking at my websites (www.richardsolomon.com and www.artonagrandscale.com.) Tell me a little about yourself, your background, your school, your interests in illustration/art and your schedule.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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