3 Things Art Directors Wish Artists Knew

Authors note: I have been an Art Director, an Illustrator and a Creative Director. These are some tips I’ve noticed along the years in each of these positions.

You’re looking for work.

You’d like to connect with an art director or a creative director but you don’t have a clue where to start. Where do they hang out? What are they looking for? How do you reach out and make a connection? There’s so much competition these days how do you even get noticed? I’ve put together a short list to help shed a little light on how it works. Keep in mind other creative directors may have different opinions, so what works for me might not with another. With that said, here is a list of three things you can try that will definitely get you noticed and hopefully keep you working.

1 Be a Pro.

Be a pro, even if you’re not. One thing art directors want to know is, if they give you the job, can you handle it? I can spot a rookie portfolio a mile away and I avoid them like the plague. Why? Because it’s a huge gamble. As much a I wish I could, I don’t have time for on the job training, that’s why I work with pros. Being professional means delivering top quality work that is consistent with the work your showing in your portfolio, no surprises.

Your art director needs to know they can trust you and you won’t leave them hanging. The best way to do that is by demonstrating your abilities. In other words, show your work.

  • Who are your clients?
  • Do you have recommendations from previous clients?
  • Are you showing professional work?
  • Do you write about your process in your blog or on your social media?
  • Are you posting consistently on your site or your social media?

Professional experience counts but so does great work. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Show your Work.

How do I find artists? Most times when I need an artist I have someone in mind but when I don’t here are a few things I recommend to get you to the top of any art directors list:

  • Don’t be shy about showing your work. You can’t get work if nobody can see what you do. Social media is the best and cheapest way to do that right now. Post often and post regularly. The more stuff you have out there the better chance you have of finding work. Be careful however to keep the quality of your work at it’s best, whenever possible. You never know when the right set of eyeballs will land on your feed.
  •  My favorite site for viewing art is Instagram. If I have time and I like your work I might click on your bio link to learn more about you or see additional art. Make sure that link takes me somewhere good. If you’re using an art listing site or something you don’t own make sure the viewer doesn’t get mired down with that site’s sales pitch or by something poorly designed. If the link leads to your own site, same deal. Easy in, easy out. Keep the flow simple and clean.
  •  I like it best when artists have their own websites. Maybe I’m just an old timer but if you don’t have your own site it makes question your commitment. I get it though, there are a lot of options out there so if you choose one make sure it works for you. That means no distractions when your work is being shown, no annoying pop ups, opt-ins, ads, or someone else’s logo all over your work. If you’re choosing a secondary site to show your work that site needs to be clean and work for you, so choose wisely.

3. First Come First Serve.

Once I’ve narrowed down the field I send out a request to several qualified artists to see who’s available. The first artist to respond is usually the artist I work with. It pays to get back in touch quickly.

Here’s a little trick: Post your preferred contact method  i.e. email, IM, phone, text, whatever on your contact page. That way you won’t miss a request. The more ways I have to get in touch with an artist the better chance we have of connecting, but always list your preferred method first. If you don’t have your own site put your contact info somewhere in your portfolio. Usually up front and then again at the end. You would be surprised at how many artists turn this into an Easter egg hunt. Don’t fall into that trap. Make it nice and simple and I guarantee it will pay off in the end.

Bonus – Side note.

I know I said three points so let’s just call this a bonus. This is something I run into from time to time and I thinks it’s important to mention. It has to do with scheduling and availability. I don’t care if you have a full time job. It’s not important to me unless it’s going to get in the way of us working together. How you manage your time is completely up to you, but I don’t want to work around your full time job schedule. If you can meet my deadline great, if you can’t because your full time job is going to get in the way, please don’t take the job. You missing a deadline because your “real job” got in the way is not a valid excuse. When you don’t deliver that means I can’t deliver. When I can’t deliver that makes me not only look bad but will most likely cost my company money to make up for the lost time. I understand your desire for extra work but sometimes no is better than yes if your schedule doesn’t support it.

Be available and easy to reach. Calling you after hours or only on weekends is not fun. Do I work odd hours? Sometimes, but those are my hours and I guard them very carefully. If I didn’t I would be working all the time and I don’t like working all the time. So think carefully before you agree to take a job. If your schedule doesn’t support you giving it your full attention out should probably find something else that does…

Hope these tips were useful. Good luck in your search. See you next time!


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