Every year, education establishments produce thousands of illustrators, but what happens to them all after they graduate? after reading relevant articles and asking exgraduates of the situation, I believe self-promotion and the initiative of the illustrator plays a big role in the establishment of a designer. Not only that though, the industry cannot commission every illustrator after graduation. There are not possibly enough magazines, newspapers and book jackets available. Darrell Rees stated this fact within his book – How to be an Illustrator. I also believe it to be attributable that there is an expansion of practises that come under illustration- animation for example. But then this would clash with multimedia design. You will also notice that most illustrations recently, are quite dependant upon graphical shapes and elements produced and rendered entirely on the computer. This could also suggest a shift into graphic design. It seems illustration holds the means of design in any field. So what has been happening when these students graduate? Well, it has become apparent that photography, especially manipulated photography has become 'more effective in comparison to an illustration as Steven Heller states in an interview, that, "I am an advocate of illustration and saddened by its loss of stature among editors who feel photography is somehow more effective (and controllable)." Manipulated photography, because of the reality, the image says everything it can, in as truthful an opinion as possible and so in some opinions it is more substantial.” Yet, I don't just believe this to be the only means to have had impact of the loss of illustration graduates within the design industry. I believe it more to be the the fault of the illustrator themselves. If your work is original and demonstrates strong concepts, then your illustration is doing its job. But how do you let people know that your work is what they are looking for?
To begin with, making contacts becomes an important part of self promotion. At first, just getting your work seen, to gather opinions on it, but then to do your market research on what sort of mixtures are being produced within the industry and not adapting yourself but presenting yourself to be what a client needs.
I read within an issue of Varoom, that 'the most fundamental part of self promotion is letting the work speak for itself'. Which inevitably leads down to communication skills and getting the message across to the viewer instantly. Your ideas become apparent straight away, yet, it doesnt necessarily become an act of printing out as many posters as possible, you have to target the right people.
Every illustrator wants to be noticed, and every commissioner/client wants new talent, original work and thinking. Yet to be noticed you need to work at it, you need to be progressive and proactive. This approach to self-promotion has become the establishment of any successful practitioner. But, once you have inspired people with your work, you cannot wait for the phone to ring. Using your skills as a visual communicator, you have to inspire people. You must arrange meetings, send out mail shots, postcards and keep at it.
After reading apparent articles on self-promotion, the majority speak of how commissioners find their illustrators. This is where self promotion becomes important, targeting the right people. Obviously a newspaper is seen and read everyday. Everyday an illustration is illuminated and more often than not a commissioner will see your work. 95% of the time, the internet is maybe the biggest chance of finding new talent and issues in comparison to a physical portfolio.There are also many competitions about for illustrators to enter into where new talent would be noticed and also internships with Agencys. internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, and it is a big chance to create a network of contacts.
As I have been questioning exgraduates, some who have progressed within the illustration industry, others who have had some drawbacks, I specifically began to question their opinion on the following question
“what makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?
I received numerous returns to the question, most picking up on the valuable point of self promotion and the gathering of new contacts. 'Raw talent is important and should be the deciding factor that separates a commercially successful illustrator from a respected one. To develop a long term career it is important to develop your own approach to your own work and to keep it fresh and stimulating to yourself. Avoid getting jaded and continue to follow the professional approach listed above and you have a real chance of making it long term.' as andy pavitt states. Ben Jones who is based in London but is presently working, back in Manchester, stressed his views on the importance of developing a number of illustrations a day, and not just when you are a assigned a brief.'Art directors need to see your work before they can commission you.' This practice enables an illustrator to keep on top of design and opens up new aspects. It can also encourage an illustrator to work in a number of ways which doubles the chance of a commission. I am not saying this is the way forward but it enables you two see things from a different point of view and develops your practice and ideas which are the ((potential)) to your illustrations. I have received lists of factors, do's and don't for this question. Not handing in an image late and always finding new ways of promotion and also listening to criticism and not always regarding it as a downfall when you go to show your portfolio.
After visiting London and making arrangements to show my portfolio around and gather opinions, I feel confident upon making such arrangements in the future and it has developed my knowledge of what to do next. An ex-graduate who I have been contacting in relation to my work and the industry was lucky enough to have an internship with Big Orange studios in London. She now works as a full time designer and illustrator. I was told by one of Cheryl Taylors colleagues that one of the reasons she has become an established illustrator is due to the contacts she was able to make when she was on the internship. I have recently been told that I have been chosen for the same internship at Big Orange studios. My plan of action is to gather as many contacts as possible whilst I'm in London and to develop my practice in terms of market research of the illustration industry and seek advice from the established illustrators I will be working with. If I had not have got this chance, which I believe to be one of the big stepping stones for an illustrator, I would prepare self promotion, mail shots, postcards and always be updating my website. At every chance, I would go and show my portfolio around agencys and be prepared to develop produce more work every chance I get.