Submitted by Sebastian Skrobol for the Illustration Friday topic NATURE.
In preparation for their upcoming online workshop Building a Freelance Illustration Business, Illustrators Salli Swindell and Nate Padavick followed up their article 20 Pieces of Advice from 20 Illustrators by asking art directors for a brief, top-of-mind response to the following question:
“Why would you hire a freelance illustrator a second time?”
Art Directors are a very busy bunch and we thank them all for their time and thoughtfulness.Read on for their insightful responses. Also be sure to check out Salli and Nate’s educational and inspiring online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business here.
VP Associate Publisher, Ten Speed Press
“I would hire a freelance illustrator for a second time if they over delivered! Skill, flexibility, patience, and collaboration are what I value most.”
VP Creative Development , American Greetings
“I would hire someone again based on the quality of work and how hard I had to work to get it.”
Art Director, Going Places, Malaysian Airlines In-Flight Magazine
“I would hire a freelance illustrator for a second time if he/she was someone who is conscientious and delivered his/her work on time. It’s very likely that he/she would have already been producing the kind of work I like as otherwise I would not have hired him/her in the first place.”
Art Director, Design House Greetings
“Well I am assuming that I like their style and art or I would of not have hired them the first time. I will hire them again and again if – I find the artist easy to work with – fun, pleasant, open to feedback. They have to be willing to tweak their designs to fit our needs and art direction. I know that many artists are concerned about their look and their brand but we need to ensure that our product will sell and if that means we need to alter the image we need to have artists who are willing to work with us.
If they provided the above and get their work in on time and in a professional format I would hire them again.”
Senior Art Director New Product Concepts, American Greetings
“Awesome delivery of the goal ON TIME.”
Associate Product Manager, Mary & Martha
“There are 4 things I look for in every freelance illustrator we work with:
~The illustrator’s raw talent
~Their ability to take a design concept and creatively flush it out
~Effective collaboration and communication with director ~Timeliness.”
Managing Partner, Jasper + Black
“We work with design talent globally and two attributes set apart those we work with again: project management and communication:
Project Management: It’s critical that our collaborators understand the importance of managing against deadlines. There is nothing more frustrating or disappointing than receiving questions about the project a day before it is due. We need our collaborators to set aside time to think, develop, revise, and finalize. Decline a project if you don’t have the time, I’ll respect you more for it.
Communication: From confirming the receipt of a creative brief, providing a timeline and budget, to discussing the creative brief in further detail, communication is critical. Know when the phone is better than email to communicate, and vice versa. If you have specific questions or want to provide an update, use bulleted emails … it helps even the poorest of writers to organize their thoughts.”
Art Director, Wall Street Journal
“I usually hire an illustrator a second time if they are easy to work with and timely.”
Senior Director of Creative, Design Design, Inc.
“I would hire an illustrator a second time if:
~Their designs were current and on trend with what I was looking for.
~They were flexible and easy to work with.
~Their art files were very well organized and complete. ~If I needed additional art to complete a product…such as art for a gusset on a paper gift bag or a border on paper tableware, and they were happy to oblige.
~They used our contract and made few or no revisions to it.
Senior Creative Planner, Hallmark
“My answer would be that they meet or exceed my main goal of the project (assuming it’s a visual one). They deliver what I’m looking for and hopefully more…over and above would guarantee a second time with them.
Note – deadline also plays into it of course, a fast worker is a dream but the end goal is to get the visual I need. ”
MARY ANN HALL
Editorial Director, Quarry Books and Rockport Publishers
“When you get the work, and you just say YES. This nails it. This is finished, perfect, thought-out, ready to sail. Or, if you want a little tweaking, they are flexible and happy to accommodate, explore different options, and just keep trying things until everyone feels it’s right. Either scenario leaves me wanting to work with someone again.”
Color & Design Consultant
“Low maintenance – they need to prove themselves before asking for this, that and the other.”
Design Director, Chronicle Books
“The main thing I would consider before hiring a freelancer for a second time, apart from the quality of their work, would be the experience that I had working with them the first time. Was it a good work experience? Were they pleasant to work with? Were they good communicators (i.e., did they ever go M.I.A. for a period of time and/or never email me back—more people than you would think do this!)? Were they (relatively) on time with their deliveries? These are all questions I would ask myself and the answers would factor into my decision to work with a freelance illustrator again.”
Art Director, Yankee Magazine
“My answer would really be related to collaboration. Of course skill and ingenuity is key but one of the most important things for me when working with freelancers is the ability to collaborate and offer resourceful solutions to problem solving and a collaborative spirit knowing that with editorial there is a team-like atmosphere and remembering that they are working for a client and while they are being hired for their aesthetic and style, there needs to be some level of flexibility.
As a side note, I always tell any creative who asks about how to pitch to a client, you really need to know their brand and their following or their brand identity and who their core readership is. I wouldn’t propose your work unless you really know that brand and feel that your work is suitable. That is the best way to get noticed, show the client how your vision fits into their brand.”
Managing Editor, Gibbs Smith
“I would hire an illustrator for the second time because the first time they were able to creatively respond and adapt to art direction for the first project.”
Partner/Creative Director, Little Jacket
“If the working partnership was as remarkable as the work product, then I’d gladly hire a freelance illustrator a second time.”
Art Director, Meredith Corporation
“I would gladly hire an illustrator a second time who has proven that they can be flexible and are not only willing, but happy to make changes to their artwork to better align with editorial content and opinion.”
Studio Director, CSS Industries
“I would hire a freelance illustrator the second time around if they met the deadline, provided organized, user friendly files, understood the product and end user and checked in before the assignment was due for feedback.”
Art Director, Telegraph Media Group
“If I had had a good experience working with an illustrator before, I will use them again. It’s a given that I like their work for the appropriate job. Keeping to deadlines is key, and where clients are involved, it’s even more important, as with those jobs, we have to take into account various other people and deadlines too.”
SALLI S. SWINDELL
Co-founder of They Draw & Cook, Studio SSS
“I would hire an illustrator again and again if I could sense a bit of their personality and joy in the art. Otherwise it feels like assembly line imagery. I like to think the artist enjoyed the project.”
Thanks to Salli Swindell and all the Art Directors who shared their thoughts. Be sure to check out Salli and Nate’s upcoming 3-Day online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business.
Posted by Thomas James on 07/27/15 under business
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Some people balk at the word “freelance”, as if it implies low quality work by lazy people in pajamas. In most cases, they couldn’t be more wrong.
After spending many years building and running my own business, there’s one thing I know for sure:
Freelancers work harder.
As many of my fellow Illustrators can probably attest to, running your own business takes everything you have. The person is the business, and the business is the person. There is no separation between the two.
Every aspect of running a creative business, from accounting to promotion to production to client relations, is the sole responsibility of the lone freelancer, which means that it’s up to the individual to succeed or fail.
This is why many freelance Illustrators either spend long hours toiling away in their studio or throw in the towel and go back to punching time clocks. If you’re the type to stick it out, you probably work harder for more hours than your peers who work for someone else. What’s more, you probably sacrifice more of your personal life and leisure, which is something many people who don’t work for themselves fail to understand.
In fact, I’ll go even further by saying that most freelancers I know work harder than any boss I’ve ever had anywhere. Period.
Pride of Ownership
The benefit of this is that the freelancer owns every success, every milestone, and every moment of pride that comes with running a successful business. On the flip side, of course, they also own every failure, every weakness, and every loss.
This can make for a more stressful life, to be sure, but it also yields the satisfaction of a path less traveled, and a sense of identity that can never be achieved by working for someone else.
Here’s to all the freelancers out there who work their butts off every day.
Posted by Thomas James on 07/27/15 under business
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Amy Ng blogs at Pikaland, a popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce.
I like to challenge conventions and ideas alot.
And one of the topics that I can quickly get hot under the collar about is the topic of education. I think it’s a field that needs to be challenged, especially in this day and age where information runs freely and so abundantly. I’m not against the idea of learning. Far from it – I’m challenging the idea that learning needs to be in a formal environment, for a minimum of 2 to 3 years, learning about things that ultimately do not help you get to where you want to be.
You see, I get a lot of questions about pursuing a Masters degree, or even a diploma in a field that they love, i.e. art or illustration. And if you’re a student who knows what you want, and you have the means to go to a college or university, then by all means, go for it. But only IF you want to and feel very strongly about it and know what you want to get out of it. For the rest who don’t know what you want or can’t afford to go to college or university, then this article is for you. For those of you who don’t know whether to continue your education or not, then this is for you too.
I spent 5 years in a public university and graduated as a landscape architect back in 2004. I spent my life following a very predictable arc – primary school, high school, university, and then work. Only I didn’t work in the field that I graduated from. I felt that I didn’t belong, and after 6 months of intense internship where I gave it my best shot, I decided that I wasn’t suited to being a landscape architect. I hated the long hours, and the red tape that governed each project. I hated dealing with contractors and having my design torn to shreds due to shrinking budgets. And I hated AutoCAD with every fibre of my being. So much that I did my technical drawings manually (i.e. completely by hand) during my final semester when everyone else was doing theirs via computer.
So when I graduated, I turned to publishing immediately. What made me go to a publisher with nary a resume and no work history to prove my worth? Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I demonstrated what I could do instead. I wrote up an article and laid it out in Adobe Photoshop, to give an idea of the sort of articles I think should appear on the magazine. I got a callback for an interview and was hired on the spot as an editorial assistant. You wouldn’t believe the amount of push back I got from my peers and my parents about going for a job that required skills I didn’t learn in university! People said it would never work, and that no one would hire me – not without a Mass Communication or a journalism degree. I challenged it and proved them wrong. A few years later, I even went on to helm an architecture and design magazine as an editor; and even started a regional design magazine for a publisher. My years of education went full circle back then – my years of studying architecture and design made me very much sought after in the publishing industry.
Was my 5 years spent in university a waste of time? It’s hard to say – and I say this with the utmost affection for the time I was there. I probably might not have met my husband if I wasn’t there (he was a classmate). I’ve met wonderful teachers. But I’ve also found teachers outside the system by my own efforts. Maybe I was just lucky, considering how back then we didn’t have the choices that’s available these days. The internet was still in its infancy, and I was young and didn’t know where to look. So we followed along a very linear path – one that our peers took. And the ones that our seniors followed before that. I do wish however, that I could have cut the time I spent in university in half, although it wasn’t something that I could control. I wished that I had travelled more and explored student exchange options overseas. Maybe that’s it.
On the upside: I’m grateful for learning more about fine arts, design and the experience of working in a studio through my time in university, and for the friends I made along the way. I made sure I was in control of what I wanted to learn – I enrolled in a degree that taught me the basics of design and art, even though deep down I knew that I might not work in the field I studied in. The reasons for doing so was a little complicated – I didn’t have access to a lot of courses in public university, and I didn’t go to a private college because of financial restraints (I didn’t want to get myself or my parents in debt). I made sure that the lessons I learnt, however, can be applied to virtually anything I was interested in life.
And that’s what I want people to know.
That you’re in control of what you do. That you can choose to learn at your own pace and to create your own outcome. That you don’t need a title to define yourself – you’re better off focusing on the things you want to learn, rather than what you will call yourself at the end of a degree. That you’re no longer following a linear path – you have a wide open field at your disposal. And yes, that may be terrifying at times, but it’s also a very exciting time.
I set up the Pikaland blog in 2008 precisely because I didn’t know much about illustration. I wanted to learn more from the artists I saw online. I saw their work, and I devoured their bios and statements; and went looking for patterns in their work so that I could try to get a glimpse of why they chose to create the way they do. It was always about ideas, and not so much about their techniques.
For 7 years (it’s approaching 8 now!) I learnt on my own. I saw thousands of illustrations, read thousands of bios, artists statements and concepts; talked to hundreds of artists and learnt what I could about this unique career – one that has changed so much throughout the years. My personal accomplishments include being an illustrator, art director and educator. And I want to give back to people, and show others that it can be done. I took control of my own education, and I now I teach others how to do the same at a local college, and online as well.
And it’s the best feeling in the world – the thought that I could do whatever I wanted, if I put my heart into it.
I’ve come out the other side – still learning as I go along – and I’m happy to say this: so can you.
[Illustration by Lim Heng Swee of ilovedoodle]
Submitted by Peter Donnelly for the Illustration Friday topic NATURE.
You can even get a nice print of this illustration here!
Happy Illustration Friday, fellow creators!
We’re ready to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the wonderful illustration above by Karl James Mountford, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of GARDEN. Thanks to everyone who participated with drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. We love seeing it all!
You can see a gallery of ALL the entries here.
And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:
Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).
Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.
Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).
Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the public Gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!
Eva Cabrera is one of the exciting new talents to come out of Mexico in recent years, along with her Boudika Comics cohort Claudia Aguirre. I stumbled upon their table of comics a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con. Boudika Comics has a few collaborative books available now, including The House of Dreams, Daymares, and the brand new Mavi.
Eva recently dipped her toe in the big publisher pool with two variant covers for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comic and Bravest Warriors. She has also worked on various other projects like Esa Visita children’s book and No Entren Al 1408 Stephen King tribute anthology.
You can follow Eva Cabrera and see the latest art on her twitter page here.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates
Illustration by Thomas James
It can be dangerous to spend too much time comparing your own Illustration work to that of your fellow artists, but there are times when it can be beneficial to your art and your business.
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves getting caught in the trap of unhealthy comparisons. It can be easy to find yourself looking at someone’s art and marveling at how much better they are than you, or how much more successful. This only results in feelings of doubt and uncertainty, which can wreak havoc on your creative output. If you find yourself in this situation, maybe it’s time to back off and return to your own voice and think about what is unique about you.
However, it is also a mistake to go too far in the opposite direction and close yourself off from your fellow Illustrators altogether, thereby passing up opportunities for personal, professional, and artistic growth.
There’s no doubt that paying attention to your fellow Illustrators can be a great learning experience when done in moderation. There are so many things you can learn from the ways that other people communicate visual ideas, promote their work, design their website, etc.
Whenever you come across an Illustrator that inspires you, take a moment to think about what it is that’s grabbing your attention.
Have they tackled a topic in a way that you might not have considered?
Do they have a unique skill or technique that you can develop within yourself?
Are they running their business in a way that you can apply to your own situation?
Questions like these can help to turn simple admiration into a more studious approach that can make you a better Illustrator. No matter what level of experience or talent you consider yourself to be at, growth and education should be a regular activity, lest you become stagnant and complacent in your craft.
The important thing is to be mindful of the ways that you can take the things that you learn from other artists and make them your own without simply copying their approach.
Do you consciously study the work and practices of your fellow Illustrators? What are some things that you’ve learned by doing this?