Now you have a portfolio full of very nice illustrations that you love and that you are confident showing. Now Get commissioned by clients and get your art noticed. There is various ways to get commissioned by clients and even more exist that I don’t talk about here. Here I just want to talk about what I know and my experience.
I admit I am not the best at talking about myself as many other artists. But as a freelancer you need to find clients. You need to be both an artist and a commercial agent. Thing I was never taught or even thought about the commercial side of things when I decided to become an artist. But as my experience grew, I realized how important it was.
First step, be confident, appreciate your art, find your strength and be nice to yourself. Now :
Show your work, get commissioned by clients
You’ve done your best and you have put your best work into your portfolio. It’s time to show it to the world. There is actually a full book about that called Show your work by Austin Kleon. It is a good read, I highly recommend it.
Even if I feel like it’s the less likely for you to find clients to commission you. There is still a possibility to be discovered through social medias.
I am mostly using Instagram because I’ve always loved the very image oriented platform. The platform though has many flows. The main being that your are lost in the mass of other artists that try to make it there. I feel like the point is not to “make it” on Instagram but rather to be there. Use it as a secondary way to show your work, show your personality, show who you are and how you do and think things. It’s some kind of a blog but even more visual. You can share little snippets and glimpses of artworks. Talk about things you can’t on a blog, like what do you think about my new found love of cacti? People love that and even if your following isn’t big, the one that do will appreciate and create a stronger bond with you. Maybe they love cacti too!
Twitter does exactly the same thing in a different way that I am not really sure I understand its ways. It’s more text based, I am an image person. But maybe you do and maybe you don’t like Instagram. Find your own place that will allow you to interact directly with people. Maybe among those will there be a future client. Facebook groups are also a good way to meet authors and promote your art.
Just don’t count too much on social medias they are too volatile and fleeting. It’s only a part of the way.
Events and networking
I’m very shy, but I’ve seen the benefits of going to locals events. I still need to work a lot on my courage to really make it a thing. I’ve been to local events and recently I tabled at a convention . Events are the best way to network. You meet a lot of people and exchange face to face. There is nothing better to start a good relationship with a potential clients. You can even get commissioned by a client on the spot!
Go out there and get yourself known. Get a nice illustration on a business card and talk to people.
You might also like to meet with your other artist colleagues. Even if they are not potential clients it might really be interesting to meet them. First benefit would be to know who is around in your city and create links with them. I go to an even every month called “Drink and draw” as it’s name hints it, it is a low stress, casual event that reunites the artists of Bordeaux. The goals isn’t networking really but it is also part of the game. You never know where client might come from. Friends in the trade that know your style can sometimes redirected their client to you if they are busy or if the work asked is more into your style than their. Never underestimate the power of networking and knowing people.
Reach out to potential clients
What about going to find the client itself! Here there is a tons of ways to do so, both online and in real life. If you are planning on finding editors you can always try to reach out to them. Publishers are a very good way to find work as a children book illustrator.
Show your work to editors.
Here it is mostly like networking. The best way is of course to meet in person. You can also send mails to art directors and collections responsible. The advice I can give you for these is DO YOUR WORK. I mean don’t go head first and send tons of emails. Before you send an email, try finding out a bit more about the editing house or the collection you would like to illustrate in:
- What is their style?
- What kind of stories do they publish?
- Do I fit in that kind of work?
Editors will look if you fit in their editorial line. Also keep sending emails. Try sending mails often, not every weeks but every three months or two months showing new work and renewing your good hopes. Editors and art directors are always very busy people and they might not answer you. But if they keep seeing you and like your work they will contact you.
Find your niche and get commissioned by clients from this niche
Your niche is things you like and do. It is a part of your universe. It can take a while to find though and it’s only one of the ways to find clients. But it’s a very good one. I’d advise you, just like your style, to take the time to think about what it could be. For exemple I like watercolor, drawing cute things, telling stories and talking directly to authors. So I do children books that incorporate those elements. So when I do my research for new clients I try to reach out to people that love the same things as me. It will be easier to create a bond and transform a connection into a client.
Find an agent
Agents are in fact the commercial agents you are supposed to be if you are alone. This means they get to do all the research work for you minus a commission they take for their work. If you’ve read the amount of work that is needed to promote yourself and get new clients, you might agree to a little fee off your paycheck. Because the work of commercial agent is quite tedious and needs to be done! The advantages is that agents have a repertoire of possible clients to commission you. And since it both in yours and their interest that you get commissioned by clients it is a win-win situation. Finding an agent is basically the same work as finding an editor. You need to check what kind of artist they like to represent and show them your portfolio.
A website working as an agent : Reedsy
I now want to talk to you about an agent like service that I use a lot to find client. Reedsy is a website that works just like agent. They work to promote their website and attract authors that they put in relation with you. Their specialty is self published authors.
Reedsy built a very efficient website, very nice to work with for the confort of both the artists and the authors. I’ve been working with them for a few years now and I’m really enjoying the process. For exemple the collaboration for Sleep tiny dreamer started through Reedsy. They of course take a little fee along the way. Since they created such a safe environment, take care of all the promo and all the financial technicalities I feel like it’s well deserved. (I promess I am not sponsored. I’ve just been experiencing the platform for a few years and it’s the only platform of that kind that I accept and to work with)
All they require is a good portfolio strongly oriented toward the type of work you would like to do. If you want to do children books on Reedsy you have to have at least one children book already made in you portfolio. For reference you can look at my profile there and see how it looks to potential new clients :
I hope you know have some ideas on how to get commissioned by clients and find new clients. Don’t hesitate to comment and tell me about your ways or your experiences and also if this post helped!
Have a wonder week and read you soon !