Before the invention of the internet and social media, the most common way that illustrators would have found clients and gained commissions was by contacting editors and publishing houses directly by letter or telephone and arranging a meeting to show their portfolio. We may have lost the face to face contact whilst working with clients because of emailing and social networking websites. However now that illustration is an increasingly popular course choice within Britain’s art schools, the competition to get discovered by art directors and gain commissions is challenging. Is it time to go offline and physically connect with potential clients?
In a series of recent video interviews by (Computer Arts, 2016), four freelance illustrators who work with MP arts (a London based agency who represent twenty seven image-makers, designers and illustrators) discuss the various ways that they find clients.
Michael Driver graduated from Kingston University last year. He creates broadly physiqued and colourful characters with touches of texture. Tim Higgs, the managing agent of Mp Arts discovered Michael’s Instagram account after he completed a personal project to create as many editorial illustrations as possible in two weeks. He managed to create 15.
Here are the links to Michael’s work:
Also attaching “Nicer Tuesdays: Michael Driver’s Highlights of 2015” from It’s Nice That. Michael discusses what he has been working on since graduating and upcoming projects in 2016.
His advice for finding an editorial commission is to find the art director for a magazine(s) that you want to work with on social media and get their email address. Email the art director and ask if you could send a physical portfolio of work. Although it is pricier than sending a link to your website or a digital portfolio he believes that the art director is much more likely to keep the portfolio. An email can easily be ignored, deleted or discarded but a physical collection of work that you have put time into sending is more valuable and special. Michael emphasises that he does a lot of chasing clients. At this stage in his career it is crucial to find work so that he can pay rent.
Jamie Jones graduated from the University of the West of England in 2012. Since then he has been busy working for a range of notorious clients including; Google, Variety and Wired UK. He states that his work has recently became more “tech based”. Wired Magazine was a company that Jamie wanted to work with. His illustrations based on technology really suited the style of the magazine so he contacted them, networked and built up a relationship with them. Now Wired magazine is one of his biggest clients.