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Witch_turtle
10-15-2013, 07:36 AM
Art is my hobby. I've always had a knack for drawing/painting in particular, although I haven't developed my skills to the extent I have with my writing (which I am pursuing professionally). But lately I've been thinking I want to start really practicing and developing my art, as I have lofty aspirations of becoming an illustrator on the side--I'd especially love to illustrate some of my own written works.

Of course, everywhere I look I see "don't bother, publishers hire their own illustrators" or "only professional illustrators have a chance of illustrating their own work" type info/advice. My question is, what constitutes a "professional" and how do you get to be that person that publishers hire?

I have been paid for a handful of my artwork, maybe ten or a dozen pieces, commissions that came through casual connections--friends/family members and people who hired me based on recommendations from friends/family members. But it would seem to me that, despite these being paying jobs, they aren't "credits," not the way selling a short story to a pro-paying market is a "credit." So how does it really work? Anyone can put up an online portfolio and say they take commissions, but will that really get you anywhere? Or do you need to be professionally "published" as an artist the same way you do as a writer?

Any advice? Insights? Recommendations for reading material? I understand it's another hard industry to break into and it's going to take a lot of time and perseverance to build up any sort of reputation, I just don't know where to start--other than, say, submitting art to some of the magazines I submit my fiction to. :)

Violeta
10-15-2013, 04:52 PM
Hmm... I've met artists who either made illustrations, or paintings, or digital art or whatever. Either way, they had such level of awesomeness they got hired by publishers and other important people. How that happened, I don't know. But I'll tell you this; these guys were all in DeviantART (not exclusively there, mind you, but there they were). Common factor? Yep.

If you haven't already, I'd suggest you join in and keep practicing your art skills. And if you already know of DeviantART or are a part of it, well then, keep on trying!

I guess you need to produce quality works, get people interested in them and grow from there. The more you practice, the more you produce, the better you'll get and the more people will know you. Including, but not limited to, publishers and stuff :tongue.

P.S. I can't tell you especific names because I don't remember them, but yeah, their success and the fact that publishers hired them left me in awe. Oh, btw, not all of these artists were big names, eh? I seem to recall at least one or two, who just enjoyed making photos and for one reason or another, they got hired by publishers or at least, their photos did, since they ended up in pretty covers for big (semi-big?) time authors.

So yeah. You keep on trying! ;)

Torgo
10-15-2013, 04:56 PM
Get an agent.

JeremieD
10-15-2013, 05:14 PM
I'm not an artist specifically, but as a webdesigner I actually get most of my work by word of mouth. I advertised a little and did a bit of prospecting. Now my clients basically tell people they know that they enjoyed working with me and thats how I get my next contracts. This for me is a part time business so I don't need much work but that how I got my business to start.

robjvargas
10-15-2013, 05:34 PM
In my distinctly informal dictionary, if someone pays you to do it, then you're a professional. And if someone paid you, then that counts as credit.

A graphics house may not consider those credits worthy enough to hire you, but they *are* credits, IMO.

I would recommend you get some kind of formal training. If nothing else, it marks your commitment to your craft. If you can find an artist's studio in your area, they might even let you intern/apprentice. Although, in my highly limited experience, they look for college students for those positions.

Witch_turtle
10-15-2013, 07:16 PM
Thanks for the quick responses everyone!




I guess you need to produce quality works, get people interested in them and grow from there. The more you practice, the more you produce, the better you'll get and the more people will know you. Including, but not limited to, publishers and stuff :tongue.


Seems legit :) Like I said, I'm definitely at a point right now where I need to practice a lot and develop my artistic style/skills, but I like to think way ahead.

I guess word-of-mouth is a legitimate way of finding work, too, as long as you end up getting noticed by the right people. Torgo, I never really considered getting an agent for my artwork, so thanks for the tip--I may have to look into that in the future. I was speaking with someone who's a student at a local art & design school who was telling me a bit about it, chiefly that you need a portfolio to audition to get in. I suppose if I want to go that route, developing a portfolio would be the place to start.

Again, thanks :) I'm just really curious about this stuff and enjoy hearing other people's perspectives.

Alessandra Kelley
10-15-2013, 09:53 PM
There is not, in art, a landmark which when you pass it you are deemed a professional. There is no equivalent of professional publishing which can be pointed to as proof of professional artist status.

The main way is to behave with professionalism. There are a lot of ways to do this.

Craft your artworks to the best of your ability. Store them with care. Keep records and documentation. Educate yourself about the use of contracts and use them for all transactions and commissions. Use business cards, postcards, websites, and other ways to let people know who you are and what you do. Treat your clients in a professional manner, with courtesy and respect. Do your work in a timely fashion to your clients' needs.

There are many people who try to define what a professional artist is. Some of the definitions are useful, but a lot of them drive artists to the art world equivalent of vanity publishers.

For the North Carolina State Fair, an art professional artist is one who earns "a substantial income" from artmaking or who teaches art.

In Australia an artist must show concerted intention to derive profit from his or her art to be classified as a professional. This includes activities like offering work for sale, applying for grants, and entering art competitions.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has ruled that artists are not professional, even if art is their sole and substantial source of income if they derive too much pleasure from their work and do not work as hard at earning money as the Dept.of Revenue deems proper. (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/07/19/arts/demars-artist-tax-audit) This is currently in dispute.

One rule of thumb given is that one is a professional artist when one earns a profit from art in three out of five years.

This does, however, leave a depressing number of artists out of the category. If there is one profession which earns less than writers from its work, it's artists.

So, since there is no clear definition, I go with acting with professionalism.

Polenth
10-16-2013, 12:32 AM
This is based on my research, rather than having done it. But the main objection I found to author/illustrators for picture books wasn't the general principle. Some agents specifically wanted them over writer-only clients. The issue was lack of art skill in most cases.

This is one reason why I'm back at school taking art. It's good for basic skills, but I also need to think where I'd like to go with my picture book style.

As for the rest, if I had a photorealistic style, I'd totally try the magazines. I know some artists have gotten book cover commissions based on their magazine appearances. You might as well give it a go.

veinglory
10-16-2013, 12:34 AM
It never hurts to look at open calls and see what kinds of work is out there. I stopped doing illustration years ago but I still get the occasional request. Editors often have very specific needs and trouble finding the right illustrator.

mistri
10-16-2013, 02:42 AM
One artist I know through work as a magazine designer has his own Tumblr and often gets reblogged elsewhere. He has one specific project from his uni days that gets a lot of attention - it's beautiful and I can see why it would work for publishers.

Through one of these reblogs he has since been commissioned to illustrate a children's book. He's not even sure if he'll do it as he's so busy with his 'day job' but I think it's what he's meant for.

Sometimes talent just rises to the top but you do have to have your work visible somewhere in order for that to happen.

(bear in mind I have no knowledge of the art work, I just have this one anecdote!)

Gale Haut
10-16-2013, 09:21 PM
Specialize.

EdgeOfDark
10-16-2013, 09:31 PM
Okay, here's a stupid answer I got from one of my arrogant, acerbic professors in college:

"You become a professional when you get paid for this." (Stabbing a finger at my manuscript).

Any wonder why I spent most of my college years in some of the poorest places in the world as a humanitarian volunteer? Time well spent.

Witch_turtle
10-16-2013, 11:14 PM
Thanks everyone. Lots of avenues to explore :)

In general, I'm thinking, Step 1: Improve skills, Step 2: Get visible, Step 3: Market work.

I do have a deviantart gallery from long, long ago. It hasn't been updated in many years. Perhaps I'll clear it out and start filling it with a carefully curated selection of my best works, and go from there.

Tanako
10-20-2013, 05:02 AM
Art is my hobby. I've always had a knack for drawing/painting in particular, although I haven't developed my skills to the extent I have with my writing (which I am pursuing professionally). But lately I've been thinking I want to start really practicing and developing my art, as I have lofty aspirations of becoming an illustrator on the side--I'd especially love to illustrate some of my own written works.

Of course, everywhere I look I see "don't bother, publishers hire their own illustrators" or "only professional illustrators have a chance of illustrating their own work" type info/advice. My question is, what constitutes a "professional" and how do you get to be that person that publishers hire?

I have been paid for a handful of my artwork, maybe ten or a dozen pieces, commissions that came through casual connections--friends/family members and people who hired me based on recommendations from friends/family members. But it would seem to me that, despite these being paying jobs, they aren't "credits," not the way selling a short story to a pro-paying market is a "credit." So how does it really work? Anyone can put up an online portfolio and say they take commissions, but will that really get you anywhere? Or do you need to be professionally "published" as an artist the same way you do as a writer?

Any advice? Insights? Recommendations for reading material? I understand it's another hard industry to break into and it's going to take a lot of time and perseverance to build up any sort of reputation, I just don't know where to start--other than, say, submitting art to some of the magazines I submit my fiction to. :)

Honestly the best advice for that is "PRACTICE" i'm a artist too my self. i draw comics and i illustrate. ive been doing it for a while now. all i do is practice. i have a online web comic which have been running for 3 years now (boy with a secret) which i update twice a week and i have a pretty good solid fan base. I have published a comic book and i have also been published twice in a independent comic anthology.

Over the years i just practiced and strived to get better.
feel free to check out my portfolio TANAKO'S CREATIONS (http://www.tanakoscreations.com/) If u have any questions feel free to contact me and i'll gladly help you :)

Calliea
01-11-2014, 05:56 AM
What I can tell you after actually studying art and looking at various art-related job offers, in most cases it doesn't matter at all if you're a pro with papers or not. You need a portfolio and you need to make it good. That's what people hiring you will be interested in.

Portfolio and software you know and use.

There's also the huge factor of art subjectivity. What I deem ugly and unfinished, someone else might call a 'style'. Obviously there are works that are universally good (whether you like or dislike them), but often there's a fine line between incompetence and said style.

And yes, this post was a bit oldish, but this board isn't exactly overflowing with life so maybe OP will still want more replies :D