Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get Noticed

A basic guide to self-promotion

Artists are an independent bunch. Many of us have our own way we use our chosen medium, style, way of promoting, and pricing. We are self employed and make money off of our unique perspective. Each artist will have a slightly different take on promotion and even what success is. With that in mind, here's a general guide to promoting one's art in order to attract those who will pay for it.
As an Illustrator I'm approaching the concept of self-promotion from that perspective, hopefully many of these ideas will be useful for starting this process in most creative fields.

The Website 
What to Include 

12-15 pieces for beginners (up to thirty pieces for those with industry experience). 
Maintain a cohesive style while showing a diverse subject matter. 
Make visual comparisons and keep a strong narrative flow. 
If possible make your best piece the first piece in your portfolio, another stunner as the last, and enough visual diversity throughout to keep interest. 
Grouping by subject matter together in a small portfolio can make it stagnant. Put pieces together that  stimulate the eye in differing ways, yet compliment each other.
Like looking through a magazine, your portfolio should tell a story of your artistic personality. 

Do not pad your portfolio with mediocre work. Flaws stick out, and in the end, are what's remembered. Be very picky about what makes the cut. Then cut out a few more pieces.
What you should be left with is a cohesive, interesting, and beautiful selection of your absolutely best creations. 

Ideas for Enhancing Online Portfolios:
Be sure to, whenever possible, tag and make searchable specific content.  For example, if a client wants to see your proficiency at painting cats and only cats, they can simply search for them instead of going through all of your work and wasting precious time trying to find them.  Many clients would rather look up another artist than wade through your entire portfolio looking for one thing in specific.

Register your sites with Google, it makes your page more credible and greatly improves its searchability.

Contact Information:
Use your professional e-mail address, not your school address which can often mark potential jobs as spam.
It is important to use your permanent address, not dorm address, so if a client mails you something over break, you can respond. They also may file this temporary address and thus lose contact once you move. 

When listing your updated phone number, make sure your answering machine is clear and professional.

Your Bio page or section on your website should be a concise guide to who you are and your interests. If possible, include any relevant awards or facts that might connect you to the viewer. Maybe they went to your college or lived in your home town. A Bio page is not essential, but its a nice touch.

Link to Store: 
It is best to make it as clear as possible when a visitor is about to leave your site, perhaps this was not their wish and they can't figure out what happened. If possible, make any links to external sites open in a new tab.

Art directors are busy people. 
Don't waste their time with lengthy intros or a complicated web design. 
An elegant design that allows for easy navigation, minimal clicks, and quick loading screens are optimal. 

Social Networking
Being completely honest, updating Twitter, Behance, Tumblr, Linkedin, Facebook, Creative Heads, and other art accounts isn't the highlight of my day, but social networking sites are highly important tools that link you to those who want to look at your work. Think of it as a platform you can use to reach possible employers.

Tips for Social Network Success:
Add art directors, creative directors, graphic designers, and the art departments of companies that share your aesthetic, values, interests etc. Get to know their work and do research on what they are looking for. Sometimes but not always, you can introduce yourself over these sites. Don't rush, adding a contact is like telling someone your name, its incredibly awkward to immediately expect something from someone who hardly knows you. So just say hello, properly introduce yourself and check in every once in awhile. Think of it in terms of an actual relationship, because that is exactly what it is. Don't use it as this account for personal content; if you want to tweet about how great your breakfast was, get a personal account.

1) Keep it Classy
Future employers have zero interest in your ability to duck face while wasted.

2) Keep it Current 
Is your profile picture from your teenage years?
Is your page loaded with outdated fan art?
Replace these immediately and plan on posting sketches and current projects as you complete them.

Think of your networking accounts as a conversation with an employer. It should be friendly, concise, professional, and give a clear view into your thought process, communication skills, and your artistic personality.

For a list of networking sites to join, check out our Checklist for Crazy People.

Generally, a mailer is a 4x6 postcard with an image of your creation on one side and contact info on the other. You can send them to people to introduce your work to them and hopefully inspire them to visit your website. Make it clean, beautiful, and informative of your style. Other that that, it's up to you.

Who should you send mailers to?
Who were you looking to interact with on networking sites? In reality, one can get lists of art directors to "mailer bomb" for fairly cheap. However, I still recommend searching for companies that hire illustrators in your field with a similar aesthetic.Think of what the client, art director, etc as a person might want instead of as a symbol in relation to you. You are in a much better position to make a connection if you actually share interests and personality.Make a relevant, creative, beautiful presentation, and follow up.

Love music, posters, and cover art?
Go to a record store and jot down the names of companies whose work you admire.
When you have a passion for the work or what the company does, it bleeds into your work.
Work with and for what you love.
This idea is, once again, expanded upon in our Checklist.

Business Cards
Buy fancy cards from Moo.
Buy cheaper cards from GotPrint.

You can look up galleries of business cards for inspiration, but remember to keep the style cohesive with your other promotional materials. Keep it simple, and leave some space for them to write notes. Make your cards relevant to your industry, don't have a watercolor artist/yoga instructor/life-coach style card. To much information can turn you into an oxymoron.

Get Noticed
Competitions and conventions are good marketing tactics, competitions being the cheaper option. If you do attend a networking event such as a convention, have a pitch planned before you leave. All this is is you describing who you are and what you do in a clean, professional, and quick way. No "uuhms" or furrowed brows.

Be confident, friendly, and helpful.

Sell Your Work
Make some money, it might not be much to start off with, but you have to begin somewhere. How well you sell depends on how well you can network and promote yourself. I personally have a Society6 account, which is easy and professional, but more expensive than other options.
Choose for yourself and comment on your favorites!







Art Fire


Cafe Press



Greeting Card Universe

Good luck all!

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