I am an illustrator just entering the children's book market. (Currently illustrating a new work with HarperCollins.) I have a blog of course, and don't particularly find it a taxing labor to keep up. (What artist doesn't like another venue?) But I am curious to know whether I'm just belching my thoughts into the ether (and for a slew of other illustrators,) or whether artist's blogs are perused by editors and art buyers. Is it a valuable way for an editor to find/get to know an illustrator? Do you regularly view artist's blogs? Did you just snort like a train whistle and say: "Like I've got that kind of time!!!???"I do not look at artists' blogs regularly. But I do have cause to look artists up sometimes, and I'm shocked and irritated when I find they have no web portfolio of any kind. WTF.
I was, in fact, just browsing a bunch of new artists' portfolios this week. Actually, I'd like to say something about that. (Though as I am an editor and not a designer, you can feel free to take this with as much salt as you like.) Here are the things I'm looking for when I browse artists:
Yes, this ought to be a no-brainer, but it's clearly not. If you can do people, show me that. If you can't-- if your proportions are always a bit off and you can't get a 3/4 profile right and you can't figure out why your children just look like short adults, then for the love of mike don't do people. You're conveying that you have no idea when your work is subpar and when it isn't. Do some adorable animals-- we have lots of work for adorable animals.
Mood and Character
I see some really charming stuff sometimes-- art that would make great merch. That's right, I mean art for posters or bedding or sippy cups or some crap like that. Because all it is is decoration.
I'm trying to tell stories, here. Give me a hand, for chrissakes.
Have you noticed the way many children's books are funny? That's because human beings like to laugh. And publishers need illustrators for those funny manuscripts who --shocker!-- have a sense of humor, too. When telling a joke, author and artist must be a team, or the joke will fall flat. Imagine Laurel and Hardy, but instead of Laurel, you've got a guy named Snorel who is really, really tired of Hardy's antics and is projecting a strong "was that supposed to be funny?" vibe. The thing is, it takes real skill to put a sense of humor into your art. Those people who can are golden.
Your Own Style
For frike's sake, don't fill your portfolio with the assignments you and everybody else at your art school did. Because they're going to look like everybody else's. It's nice to give brand-new artists a shot. But if I can get the same damn look and feel from somebody who already knows all about the business and has a track record of making their deadlines, who am I going to go with? You must stand out.
The usual suspects:
- Very traditional-looking portraiture. (Congrats. I know it takes skill. Also, snore.)
- Disney has come for your soul (and career). (Hey, you can do Tinkerbell! ...I don't like Tinkerbell.) Know who you can work for with that style? Disney.
- Fricking cartoony find-it-on-any-damn-greeting-card art. (Do you ever eat vanilla ice cream and wish it was... you know... less flavorful? Do you feel the same way about a lot of "art"? I don't.)
So I can tell you know there's a difference between what plays in the two industries. And yes, two industries. It's not just "the book industry". This falls under the same rubric as authors who don't read children's books. No interest in the field in which you're trying to find work? You are such a waste of my time.