A Checklist for Aspiring Illustrators to Get Started on their Career
This article was originally posted on Kiri Østergaard Leonard’s Patreon.
1. Your portfolio should only consist of your best pieces, remember one weak piece will weaken the whole portfolio. Don’t put too many images in either. 10-12 images are usually optimal. The content of the portfolio depends on what kind of illustration you want to do, make sure to do your research on the field you’re interested in first.
2. A good, strong bio will come in handy for your website, promotion mailers, emails as well as social media promotions so get to it! It shouldn’t be more than a few sentences but it should sum up your skills and attitude well. You can do a longer, more in-depth bio for your ‘About’ section on your website.
3. Using your own name as your domain name is just a nice, easy and professional way to go about it and as a bonus it makes it easier for people to look you up after you’ve networked in person.
I use One.com for my domain hosting, they offer the first year for free and then it’s about $35 a year afterwards, that’s less than $3 a month: Very inexpensive.
4. Now that you have your domain from #3 it’s time to get a website and out your portfolio online so you can start showing your work!
5. Now that your website is set up you need to start finding clients to show it to. Look up artists whose work is similar to your own and see who they work for, also just search on Google for magazines, publishers, galleries and what not in the genre you want to work in.
You can also go to book stores and see who publishes books you think you could be a match for. Make sure to update your client list regularly and make sure the companies already on it are still in business.
6. Now that you have a client list you need to design some promotion mailers/postcards and emails to send out. Research the best ways to go about this online!
7. Send out your mailers to your client list.
8. Personal projects are the best way to practice your art while gaining experience and building a body of work you can use to show to potential employees. For instance illustrate a well known story you really like!
9. Google Alerts are great for getting an email with call to artists directly to your inbox daily. Then you can browse through and see if any are a match for you.
Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award-winning fantasy artist, children’s book illustrator and storyteller from the oldest Kingdom in the world: Denmark. She is passionate about folklore, mythology, and its impact on the human experience. She’s also enamored with imagination, nature, animals, whimsical worlds, fantasy art and the psychology behind, which are topics she frequently explores in her work.
Kiri is a storyteller at heart, and is currently working on two book projects of her own making: Montague Mouse and Locke the Legend. In her work she combines deeper themes of life with adventurous, whimsical, wondrous visuals, and sometimes with a touch of darkness and mystery.