I've been researching into this a lot, because, well, I want to illustrate for a living. There are some very interesting things out there to help the emerging illustrator promote themselves, but I am honestly confused by the massive amount of information available. I wish there was one place you could go to get a step by step guide on "How To Be A Working Illustrator And Promote Yourself", but everyone seems to have their own opinion. I'm at the point that I figure I'd better just jump in and see what works.
So I think I'll be making several of these "Forays into Marketing" posts to chronicle my personal experiences, 1. to look back on and reflect later, and 2. in the hopes that my journey might help some other people. Because this isn't a working illustrator's blog, it's mine, and I'm nowhere near working full time as an illustrator. Hopefully reading about me being honest with my struggles and making mistakes as I make them will help someone else.
I mentioned some books I have picked up in this post. I've been trying to compile a list of publishers I can send postcards to, and it's been . . . interesting. Some publishers don't post their addresses and some don't want to look at unsolicited work, etc, etc. And then some of the contacts in the books I mentioned are purely for writers, no clear instructions for illustrators. Gah!
I have also looked at the past year's contest winners, like the Chesley Award and others to try and get recent art director information. I've turned up a few that way. Still, my list seems pitifully small.
Another idea that I am wrestling with is this idea that university put in my head that my promo pieces have to be "memorable" and "unique". Part of me wonders if that isn't just trying to guild bad or mediocre art. But if you have good art AND a memorable promo . . . Ugh. I'll never get anywhere with all this. Also, no illustrators that I've seen or tried to Google post pictures of their promo pieces. At least the unique ones don't. Which I can't blame them for - if you have a unique idea why put it on the net for a thousand other people and their moms to steal?
Also, I only have three new pieces for my portfolio, and they're kind of on a higher level than some of my old stuff. So do I start sending things out now? Do I wait till I have 8 or 9 new pieces? Which at the rate I'm going wont be till December. Of course I'm asking these questions like there's a right or wrong answer . . .
So changing topics before I start questioning the meaning of the universe - here are some sites that I am considering using for printing my promotional pieces:
Moo.com - multiple card in one batch for the same price
And Mailing Materials:
ClearBags - what I use for packaging the prints I sell in my store
E-SupplyStore - what I use for mailing the prints I sell in my store
Now, I also have a large format printer that I can use to print out my own promo pieces, but I am considering the time/cost benefit of that. It's obviously cheaper to make everything myself, but the time I'll have to put into it might make some of the above services more effective as far as time goes.
I remember different people saying in school that 50% or more of your time should be spent on promoting and marketing yourself (holy crows). I'm not going to lie - I cringe whenever I remember that. But we'll see how this goes.
In other news, I've recently made a change in my life to devote more time to art, which is where I am supposed to be. I am nervous and questioning my sanity a little, but it was past time for a leap of faith. Basically, I quit my job and am taking part time work so that I can focus more on my art. I think I'm walking around with a permanent deer in headlights look on my face . . .
Also I am sick again. That's 4 times since September. The cells in my body are conspiring against me. But they won't win . . .