2011 Directory of Illustration Page

December 19th, 2011 | Posted in Freelancing

The 28th addition of the Directory of Illustration is out and has been arriving on the desks of prospective buyers of illustration for the last few week. Above is my page in this year’s addition. The Directory is a large sourcebook of illustrators, containing the purchased advertisements of over five hundred artists.

I get many inquiries about marketing one’s self as a freelancer, and especially about efforts like the Directory. My basic feeling on it is that, while expensive (about $2400 for a single page), it is a worthwhile addition to other forms of direct marketing for many. One thing I’ve found true is that it’s best to be in the book consistently for a few years, as the old one does not get tossed when the new one comes out. You get a couple of years of mileage from a book, but being in a couple in a row means that your ad gets seen and remembered year to year, and that helps get jobs. Rare has been the year that I can say for certain I did got enough jobs to cover the cost of the ad, but I’ve never gotten much more that a few jobs beyond that per issue. I do know I have gotten several long-term clients from being in the book that have made it worthwhile overall.

One caveat: it does no good to be in the book if your work does not have the professional appeal to get calls. I have seen young artists waste their money on advertising in this or other sourcebooks when their work is just not comparable in skill and professionalism with the other 499 artists surrounding their page, and they don’t get a single call. I would not consider paying that kind of money for an ad in any sourcebook until you have established yourself and your work as being of solid professional quality and your style appeals to art directors and prospective clients. Direct marketing via postcards and mailings to targeted clients still works better than a sourcebook. Once you are successful with that marketing strategy, then consider investing in a sourcebook ad.


  1. Looks great Tom!
    Ellie =)

  2. Tielman says:

    Appreciated. I spent plenty of time pursuing promotional avenues that didn’t work out. It’s good to have your clear understanding of how it has worked for you.

    I’m coming more and more to the belief that every artist should study and practice marketing, if they don’t have someone doing it for them. The best artists I know personally are not the best-paid. They’re not the worst-paid, either, but their potential far outweighs their earnings.

    I made a decision about three years ago to focus on business instead of art, and it’s been paying off. It looks like you, Tom, are not only hard-working, but you do your research and pour your work into smart areas. That’s partly why I follow your blog. The other part, of course, is great caricatures.

    If you ever want to do a Mailbag on colossal failures in your professional life, where you worked for weeks or months on a project that went nowhere, I would be happy to know you’d been there too!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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