Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tips for Artists from a Guy Who Can't Draw

For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading and reviewing art samples from various artists who are applying to illustrate a book cover I am working on. (Not a comics project) This is an arduous process that usually leaves me feeling like this:

I have seen a LOT of good art portfolios by some incredible artists, but as usual, there are many new artists that make the reviewing process difficult. So today, I'd like to post a few tips to any artists that will help them get more art jobs.

Get a website for your portfolio
If you can't build your own, there are quite a number of free services (Flickr, DeviantArt, ComicArtFans) that you can use. It was at ComicArtFans that I saw Pierre Villeneuve art for the first time.

The best thing about such sites is that they give you a way to display your art with nice thumbnail previews. Like Pierre is doing here:

What is good about this is it allows a prospective editor or customer to see a lot of samples all at the same time. Then we can zero in on the one we like the best very quickly. (I really like this page by Pierre btw)

The other thing that is cool about ComicArtFans is that it gives you a nice way to group your art into categories. (I don't know if DeviantArt can do this or not)

Keep Attachments Small
Art samples in an email should never be bigger than 5 megs. I received one sample that was 24 megs.

I didn't even know Gmail could handle files that big. As it is, an editor may be reviewing your portfolio over a slow connection like a 3G network on their iPad or phone. They will not be able to easily view huge files. Make it easier on them and keep the file size under 500K if at all possible.

Don't send your art in a PDF
Not everyone even has Adobe PDF reader on their computer, so you don't want to lose a possible sale that way. Plus, there are some people who just hate the PDF format out of hand (as this graphic that I found floating around the internet will testify.)
Include references if you have them
If you've worked on other projects in the past, mention them. It shows a certain level of professionalism that gives people confidence in working with you.

Double check your email
This sounds like a no brainer, but I received several emails with no links to a portfolio site and no attached art samples. Just a sentence saying, "Hey. I saw your ad. I am interested." I don't know if these people forgot to send me a link or samples OR if they intended for me to ask them to send me more information. The sad truth is, I've only got a limited amount of time to review art, so their emails lose out to the people who sent me what I needed the first time.

Don't worry about your English
I've worked with people from all across the globe. It's nice when an artist can communicate in English, but I don't worry about it too much if they can't. We will find a way to communicate. :)

 Have a great day!

- Jim

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