Post by James
Born in 1989 in Decatur, Indiana, Rachel Linnemeier works in oil paint and watercolor. She finished her undergraduate B.F.A. in painting with a minor in art History from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Her current body of work deals primarily with the concept of relationships. Some of her pieces examine the irony of wordplay, while others focus on interpersonal interactions. Currently residing in Indianapolis she plans to continue painting and aspires to be an illustrator.
You can see Rachel’s latest work on her website.
(Illustration by Thomas James)
It’s no secret that an Illustrator’s portfolio, whether online or physical, is their best chance at making a good (or bad) impression on an Art Director or other potential client.
The thing, is many Illustrators still get things wrong in some very critical ways.
So, here’s a brief look at some simple things to avoid with your own portfolio:
Mistake #1 – Trying to Please Everybody
One of the most enlightening concepts to be found in Episode 47 of the EFII Podcast with Marshall Arisman is the idea of creating the type of work that you feel passionate about.
Rather than spending too much time trying to figure out what every Art Director wants, be sure to balance that with a healthy dose of your own vision and aesthetic.
Naturally, it makes good business sense to pay attention to the needs of your clients, but never at the expense of your own artistic spirit. If you go too far towards trying to please others, you’ll betray many of the reasons you wanted to make a living creating art in the first place.
Instead, focus on the type of work that you actually want to do. Marshall Arisman offers some great advice on trying to determine the subjects that you have actual knowledge of, and presents his own career as an example of what can happen when you create from within yourself, rather than from without.
“I spent three years trying to please somebody, I didn’t know who they were. Now that I’ve gone back to me, this thing seems to be working.” – Marshall Arisman
Mistake #2 – Including Published Work That Sucks
For better or worse, published Illustrators are generally perceived as having more clout, experience, and even talent, than unpublished ones. You and I both know that this isn’t always the case.
This also goes for the work itself.
One mistake that many Illustrators make is to fall prey to the temptation of including certain pieces in their portfolio simply because it has been published, even if the quality is inferior to the rest of their work, or it simply doesn’t fit.
Rather than elevate the impression your portfolio makes, this actually has the opposite effect. When Art Directors are viewing your work, they are most influenced by the worst piece, not the best, and they are rarely as impressed as you are that something has been published, especially if it sucks.
Instead, your list of recent clients or projects is a much better place to mention that your work has been published, without feeling the need to show the work itself. This concept simply brings us back to one of the most basic and important elements of your portfolio: quality over quantity.
Mistake #3 – Holding on to Work for Sentimental Reasons
When refining your portfolio, it can sometimes be difficult to remove a piece that lowers the overall quality of your work if you are too emotionally attached to it.
It may have been the first project you ever worked on.
It may be an Illustration of your favorite character.
It may even be an Illustration of your favorite pet.
Come on, we’ve all done it.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Art Directors and other potential clients don’t have a sentimental attachment to your work. They have a job to do and are looking for an Illustrator to hire.
As I mentioned earlier, clients are most influenced by your worst piece, so including work for the wrong reasons can mean the difference between landing and losing a gig.
Removing an Illustration from your portfolio doesn’t mean it no longer exists. It simply means that your portfolio is reserved for the work that will help you get your next project, and should be treated as such.
We make the mistakes above because we’re human.
It can be hard to draw the line between business and pleasure when building or fine-tuning our portfolios. Our egos and emotions can get in the way and cloud our vision of what works and what doesn’t.
It can always help to get a second opinion from someone you trust, but in the meantime, consider whether you’re making any of these mistakes with your own portfolio.
Do you know of some other mistakes that Illustrators commonly make? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
I love mixed media, and just had to share these neat altered photographs by Johan Thornqvist! He takes the photos on the streets in Sweden, using his phone.
Follow more of his work here :
It’s that time again, folks, but first we’d like to thank all the wonderful people out there who participated in last week’s topic, BEGINNING. It was one of the biggest weeks we’ve had in a while in terms of number of entries, and you can see them all here. And in case you missed it, here’s our intriguing Pick of the Week for the topic.
Now without further ado, our new topic for this week is:
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 participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!
Happy Illustration Friday everyone! The new topic for the week is now live, and we’d like to highlight our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic, BEGINNING, which is this intriguing piece by SILEE. It’s always nice to see more abstract interpretations of our topics, and this is a great example of that. Check out all the other entries for this topic here.
Is your business smart enough?
As artists, we tend to be motivated by creativity and inspiration. That’s great, but it’s important to remember the value in taking a strategic, analytical approach to business, so that you can maximize your potential to get clients, save time and money, and find success in your chosen market.
Right now, there might be artists less talented than you getting the projects you want simply because they’re running a smarter business. The nice thing is, it’s never too late to start doing this yourself.
Here are 9 ways to start running a smarter business right now:
1. Know the Industry
One of the reasons artist representatives are so valuable is their knowledge and understanding of their target market. They live and breathe the business of Illustration every day, making connections, doing research, reading blogs, and staying up-to-date with current trends and and events. If you don’t have an art rep, you’ll need to do this for yourself in order to become a player in your corner of the industry.
2. Create a Promotion Strategy
Rather than spam everyone you meet, take the time to build an effective mailing list, as well as a plan to create a personal brand and market it to the right people on a regular basis. You will benefit much more from a concrete strategy than a haphazard approach to promotion. Here’s a resource that can help.
3. Know Your Budget
Too many famous artists died dirt-broke to deny the importance of managing your money well. Make your budget a priority to protect your business from being crippled by financial surprises.
4. Manage Your Time
Create an effective schedule that works for you. Stay aware of how much time you have to work with and organize this valuable resource to be sure that your priorities are being met.
5. Create a Social Networking Strategy
As with your other promotional efforts, it’s a good idea to have a general plan and schedule for social networking. Otherwise, you might end up wasting countless hours getting lost in friend requests and retweets.
6. Stay Organized
Keep your mind clear and your thoughts direct by making lists, creating a system for cataloging paperwork, and maintaining a clean and orderly workspace. Nothing will hinder your creativity more than a life in disarray.
7. Stay Current
The elements that affect your business are constantly changing. Try to stay on top of developments in the areas that are relevant to you, such as social networking, technology, and the inner-workings of your particular niche. This will help you to adapt and keep up with the pack.
8. Look to Your Peers
Keep an eye on your fellow artists and freelancers to see how they’re running their business and try to determine what they’re doing right. You can learn a lot by looking outside your own situation for ideas and inspiration.
9. See the World Through Your Clients’ Eyes
A big part of your job is satisfying the needs of your clients, and the best way to do that is to understand them. Try to ascertain the goals of those in your niche, so you can figure out how to best help them along the way. Taking the time to do a little extra research will increase your value as a creative professional.
Although we may feel helpless from time to time, it’s amazing how much control we have over our own success. If you do your best to run a smart business, you will not only be more of an asset to your clients, but you will have more clarity and freedom to create your next masterpiece.
Do you make use of any of these ideas? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
This week we are getting back to some basic color theory with a video from Sessions Online College of Art and Design, that has some good suggestions on how to use the color wheel more creatively and effectively.
I’m the first to admit that the video is a bit bland and not too exciting, but there is a ton of good info in it and I like the examples she gives at the end.
So, If you’ve ever got stuck, or needed some inspiration when choosing colors, check out this tutorial. It’s fun to throw a shape into the middle of the color wheel and give it a spin like you’re playing Twister and see what you come up with.
Post by Natalie
Jennifer Orkin Lewis (AugustWren) is an illustrator and painter based in a little village outside of New York City. After graduating from RISD with a textile degree, she spent many years as a textile stylist designing prints for children’s clothing and lingerie. She now works as a freelance illustrator and is thrilled to draw and paint every day, incorporating a love of color and pattern into her loose and joyful style.
See more of Jennifer’s work on her website.
This week’s topic (BEGINNING) is inspired by Illustration Friday’s very own new “beginning”, as we announce our new Managing Editor Marc Scheff!
Marc is an Illustrator and Art Director who has also been a long time contributing Editor of Illustration Age. He’ll be joining the IFriday team to engage the community, reinvigorate our content, and generally make lots of fun and rewarding things happen for everyone involved.
You’ll hear a lot more from Marc in the weeks and months ahead, but for now please welcome him to the family.
And, before we forget, here’s this week’s Pick of the Week for “SEARCH” by Jordan Kay:
Post by James
Meet Italian illustrator Daniela Spoto. After earning her degree in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts she moved to Berlin where she currently lives and works.
Daniela has taken part in several exhibitions in Italy and in Berlin and collaborated with several independent, international publications.
You can see her latest work on her website.