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.