I haven’t done a lot of self promotion in the last few years as I am lucky to have several steady clients that keep me very busy, and I seem to pick up enough other jobs through word of mouth to fill in whatever down time I have. I used to spend thousands for ads in source books like Serbin’s “Directory of Illustration“, but stopped when I was constantly turning down work for lack of time.
The problem with that is eventually even the best of client relationships end. Art directors change, the concept and look of publications change, projects end or any of countless other factors cause what was once steady, reliable jobs to go away. If you place too much faith in that kind of work, it will burn you in the end.
Years ago I did a ton of work for a company called “Business and Legal Reports”. They had begun a project where the wrote and direct marketed comic book style publications about the dangers of young people smoking, doing drugs, drinking, etc. to schools and youth organizations. I got the first job via one of my early ads in the Directory. I actually was taking over for another artist who had done a lot of the layouts but had proven unreliable, so I cleaned up his mess for them. For about three years we did four or five booklets a year, and the pay was quite good. Then the art director on the job left to go have some babies, and that was it for that client. I tried to continue the relationship with the new art director, but she apparently had artists she was used to working with didn’t need me. I’ve had that happen more often than not with a new art director in a company or publication. They are loathe to use the same artists or visual look as their predecessors, as they feel the need to put their own stamp on whatever they are taking over. Sometimes that’s just to justify their new paycheck, but in all fairness usually when an art director leaves it’s for a reason… a new visual look is wanted and so a new person is brought on board to provide it. Regardless, even the longest of professional relationships is vulnerable to these changes.
That makes it important to constantly be pursuing other clients. When one goes away you need another to step in and take it’s place. So, this year I placed an ad in the Directory (seen above). It’s busy and colorful, with samples of both my line and color and fully painted techniques. I went heavy on the political imagery as it will be the 2008 book (it’s distributed this November) and in a presidential election year it’s smart for caricaturists to push the political imagery.
We’ll see how it does. Usually I only get 6 to 10 jobs from one of these ads, but at least one ends up being a good return client. Those are the ones you are really looking for.
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