A couple of months ago a friend let me know that there would be a national illustration conference called Zero2Illo held right here in Nottingham, only ten minutes walk from my house! I booked tickets straight away for Tom and I so that we could attend our first conference together. (Tom doodled in his notepad throughout, so I've scanned his pages which you can see below!)
The talks weren't really about drawing techniques, but were themed around how to market yourself as an illustrator and how to get your work noticed. I thought it could be useful to post up a few of the things we learned from the day, as they are useful for anyone who is interested in promoting their own work, be it handmade jewelry, portraits or even your own blog or website.
In attendance were Rod Hunt, Stanley Chow, Kate Slater and Kate Hindley amongst others (image of the panel above from the Zero2Illo site). Tom and I found their advice to be pretty useful overall, although one or two bits of advice they said seemed to contradict others! Here's a round up:
Advice by Rod Hunt
- Make your own luck
- Build a brand (you are the brand)
- Create a visual identity
- Invest in your career - time, money and resources
Create a signature style
- it should be recognisable as you
- Indulge your personal interests in your work
- Be unique
- Create a niche
Harness the power of the internet!
- Your website's your shopfront
- Personal blogs are useful
- Try creating an email newsletter
There was also some advice from a panel of book publishers, including Igloo Books and Nosy Crow who explained what helps them choose to work with an illustrator.
Things publishers looked for when choosing who to work with:
- How quickly can an illustrator work?
- Novelty is often key in children's books - eg pop up, touch & feel
- They like to see character led stories with personality
- Seeing an illustrator's blog is like a visual diary of what drives them which is useful
- A consistent drawing style
- Easy to navigate websites
- Try and be memorable when sending out work eg decorate envelopes
They also said as an agency they get over 50 submissions per week, yet only take on about 8 illustrators a year. Not great odds really!
- Marketing is key
- Bring your own personality into your brand
- Its also important to hone your business skills
- Opportunities are out there if you stick at it!
My favourite part of the conference was hearing Stanley Chow (whose portraits you might recognise) talk about his first commission. Just for fun he designed an image of the White Stripes which he put on made into a pretend gig poster, which happened to get found by their management. Stanley got a call that night asking if he'd design a USB stick for the band which ended up winning him a design award. So personal work can be a great way to get noticed!