Sunday, 6 May 2012

Big Illustration Party Time Excellent Podcast

It was recommended that we listen to a podcast called Big Illustration Party Time, found here. The podcast is recorded by illustrators Kevin Cross and Joshua Kemble, and consists of them talking about all sort of issues associated with being a freelance illustrator. The particular episode we listened to cover lots of things to do with getting work and self promotion. 

They started off by talking about cold calling art directors. Unless I'm mistaken, they were talking about cold calling AD's to talk to them and see if it was ok to email over work, and they came to the conclusion that sending a cold email was less annoying and probably a better thing to do. I don't think I'd ever considered really phoning someone up just to ask if I could email them my portfolio, but who knows, maybe speaking to them first might actually guarantee a response to your email? On the other hand, we've always been encouraged to try and speak to someone directly when it comes to portfolio visit meetings, which I think makes more sense as its quicker to get a yes or no, and arrange times etc. 

They went on to speak about how to use email as a self promotion tool. Here are some of their tips for sending emails and compiling mailing lists:

  • Compile a list of art directors and send a first email to them all. Any that send you a reply, add to a separate mailing list to send your 'newsletter' to in the future.
  • Email every 3 months - to both 'fans' and prospective employers. 3 months gives you lots of time to come up with lots of new work.
  • Add a ''remove from mailing list' option so they can opt out if they want
  • Try using BCC for the mailing list to avoid spam filters 

It was interesting to here them talk about sending bulk emails via mailing lists, as it something we've kind of been old not to do, as it goes against the idea of personalising your correspondence. I think however that if your doing it in the for of a newsletter, its obviously accepted as standard that these won't be personal. Setting up a newsletter type email is really something to think about, as long as you do a good job, as you can embed links and images into the email so people don't have to waste time downloading and opening separate files.They recommended keeping the content short and sweet, and trying to make it look interesting with nice type etc. They also suggested sending a thank you email after a job is completed is a good thing to do as shows that you appreciated getting the work and are open to more work in the future. In contrast to the Charles Hively podcast, these guys seemed interested in the idea of sending out promo Christmas cards, although they hadn't tried it yet. On one hand, there is something a bit insincere about sending out a card that is also self promotion, but on the other hand, its seems stupid as an illustrator, if you are going to send out a card, that it wouldn't be something you've designed yourself. Maybe this would be best kept for clients you've already worked with rather than prospective clients,'s a bit weird anyway to send a stranger a card.

In the next part of the podcast, they spoke about social networking and portfolio sites. This was something I'd recently been involved in a discussion about, so it was interesting to hear what these guys had to say. Here are their suggestions:

  • Spend money making your own site awesome rather than paying for portfolio sites that may not be worth the money
  • Things like Illustration Friday can be good for networking and also building your portfolio quickly
  • Putting work up on sites like Flickr can be good exposure and help increase traffic to your site
  • Using social networking like twitter might not get you work directly, but can get you invites to gallery shows or exhibitions

 I definitely agree that networking and getting your work seen is so important. I'm already on a few social networking sites, but Flickr is something I'm definitely going to look into. Getting your work everywhere will definitely make your life easier and increase your odds of getting work, however I do think its good to edit where you put your work in one sense, and just stick with reputable sites and one with strong illustration communities otherwise its probably just making more work for yourself to update them. I think it's probably trail and error to find the places that work best so I'll hopefully try a few more places in the future and see how it goes. 

Finally, the guys made a point at the end of the podcast about the importance of networking and keeping in contact with other students from your course. I definitely hope to keep in contact with students from my course where possible, and work together in the future. They also recommended getting involved with whatever you can, such as groups or podcasts, and to keep yourself involved and motivated if you want to make a career out of illustration.

Overall, the podcast was really helpful and they had lots of good tips and advice that I can use. In contrast to the Charles Hively podcast, their advice seemed to come more from an illustrators perspective, and even contradicted some of the things Hively suggested. I think from this I can draw the conclusion that self promo isn't a science, and some types of promo will go down better with some people than with others, and it might just be a case of giving things a go and seeing how it works out.


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