November 18, 2010

Art Party of the Year

On November 11th, the annual American Illustration Party took place at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on New York’s legendary Lower East Side. This is the one party related to our business that I look forward to the most. It takes place in what used to be an ornate, historic synagogue, but is no longer a place of worship. It definitely is the place to be. Why? Because there is good illustration and photography to look at and great people watching. The space fills up very quickly with a mix of artists, art directors, art lovers, and the usual New York hipster crowd. New friends are made, old friendships are renewed and, even a little business is taken care of. Of course, being at an art party means heavy drinking and lots of war stories, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Several of my artists attended, and my staff and my interns joined me for the evening. On a personal note, I met an old friend, Julie Lieberman, a professor of illustration at the Savannah College of Art. We had the time to catch up over a glass of wine, and she invited me to speak to the students, along with one of my artists, John Mattos. You never know what can happen when you are at the American Illustration Party. Who knows, maybe next year a trip to Paris!

Even though the place was super packed I did get a chance to take a quick walk through of the artwork on the walls. Several of our artists had pieces in the show and they included Tim Bower, Scott Brundage, Dongyun Lee and Jason Seiler (in order of appearance below.)

The AI Party celebrates the annual launch of the American Illustration book. Over the years, AI has been the go-to source for new and cutting edge illustration and photography. It is the place to be seen if you are breaking boundaries, and many of the featured artists and photographers have gone on to great careers in their fields.

My recommendation... enter next year.

November 5, 2010

How To Promote

This week, I had a group of grad students from Marywood Universities in my office. I had received a phone call weeks before from a long time friend, Lynne Foster, asking me if she could bring her class in for a visit. I was happy to accommodate her. My staff and I chatted with the students about the business of illustration. Of course they were interested in how my company works, how I get jobs for my illustrators, how I select artists and how artist submit their work to me, etc.

One of the most interesting questions was: how does an individual artist promote him or herself? I replied that one needs to be creative. Don’t be afraid to be different.

Buy a contact list that has been vetted of legitimate creatives in our business. You can send out emails periodically; a sequential series of pieces that show your problem solving abilities. From mailing to mailing, you shoul have a consistent “signature style” that shows the targeted art director that they can count on you for a specific "look.” When it comes to direct mail, of course one can start with the old reliable post card, but you may want to step it up and be inventive... the artwork should be memorable, but the packaging can do the same.

Be active in the online community. Sites like Behance, Twitter, Facebook, and Drawger give you a chance to showcase your most current work and discuss it with other creatives. Enter contests and juried shows, including the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, 3x3, Society of Publication Designers, and Spectrum.

When it comes to Illustration Directories, there are many, both online and off. These include Workbook, the Directory if Illustration, The Ispot, Illustration Mundo, Foundfolios, and many more. Some of these are costly, but some of them are free of charge.

Do your homework, do research, ask friends, ask art directors, if you know any, and working artists. Pick their brain as to what works for them and what doesn’t.

I realize that an illustrator working alone can’t and wont do all of these things, nor do you have to. Many successful illustrators pick one style of promotion that they feel suits them best. But you have to do something to make your presence known.

I hope that the hour that I spent with this group gave them food for thought and inspiration.