How to Approach Art Directors Without Being Annoying


Art Directors are busy people.

This should come as no surprise, because Illustrators are busy too.

Obviously, part of your job as a creative professional is to put your work in front of the right people and hopefully inspire them to hire you for their next project. As with anything, there are both right and wrong ways to do this.

If you’re not careful, you run the risk of annoying Art Directors and burning bridges forever.

Here’s a look at 5 things to consider when approaching Art Directors and other potential clients:

1. Target Your Audience

The absolute first step you should take is to narrow your contact list to the Art Directors who are actually looking for the type of work that you do. You’ll only be wasting their time, and yours, if you are soliciting clients who have no interest in hiring you.

Examine the work that they’ve done in the past and consider whether your work or approach fits within that scope.

Having some knowledge of an Art Director’s work is obviously a good practice anyways when building your mailing list, but it’s also the best way to make a good first impression.

2. Find Out How They Want to Be Contacted

Every Art Director is different in the ways that they prefer to be contacted and the ways that they prefer to seek out new Illustrators.

Some publications and other organizations post ‘Submission Guidelines’ on their websites, as well as in resources like the Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market.

If this information isn’t readily available, be sure to ask this question in your initial contact. If they are open to further contact, they’re likely to appreciate the gesture and let you know the best way to keep in touch.

3. Start a Dialogue

Remember that an often overlooked element of marketing is building relationships.

That’s why it’s so important to try and make a ‘human’ connection with Art Directors, Editors, and other potential clients. Social networking, online forums, and industry blogs are making this easier every day.

Participating in conversations will help you to build memorable bonds with your target audience.

4. Don’t Sell Too Hard

Rather than coming on too strong like an overbearing salesperson, keep things simple by telling the Art Director about yourself, showing some of your work or linking to your website, maybe asking a question or two, and leaving it there.

They may not respond on the first contact, but they’ll probably turn their back on you forever if they feel unwanted pressure.

5. Don’t Overdo It

As stated earlier, Art Directors are busy people, just like you are.

Imagine if you got an email every week from someone wanting to sell you something. It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? And, it probably makes you never want to do business with them, no matter how wonderful their products or services are.

Instead, send semi-regular (perhaps 60-90 days), relevant updates on your work to stay on their radar, while being very careful to not overstep the boundaries.

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Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at
Thomas James

Posted by Thomas James on 09/21/15 under business
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