Taking the time to set up a good portfolio site will pay off, especially as it’s often the main consideration when it comes to being hired.
“When you are working freelance in creative industries, there is no interview,” Bartel explains. “The mentality is, ‘Prove to me you can do this through your portfolio and I’ll hire you.’ The art is your interview.”
Things to keep in mind when working with clients and art directors.
While a developed and polished portfolio will help your cause, networking to land a gig will take a huge amount of effort. From literally knocking on doors to sending out dozens of pitch emails, all while trying to build a social media following, connecting with art directors and hiring managers — or working to get yourself an agent — will take a lot of hustle.
Once you’ve been hired, your next step is managing client communication, from their expectations to trying to discern exactly what they want you to do.
“It’s so important to fully understand what the client wants and for the client to fully understand what the illustrator is going to provide,” Ooyevaar says. “I’ve been in situations where either my client didn’t really articulate what they wanted or they didn’t know what they wanted. So I made assumptions and I didn’t quite explain clearly what I would be providing. Transparency and being really clear to set expectations is super important.”
“Hit your deadlines. That’s the number one reason why editors and art directors keep coming back to me.”
Understand that people looking to hire artists have a need. They may love your style, which leads to a conversation, but they might be looking for something very specific. This makes clear communication and asking a lot of questions even more essential.
“You are being called in to solve a specific problem,” Chris Kindred explains. “They know that you’re talented — otherwise they wouldn’t be emailing you. And if you are able to do what you do and do it very well, they will hit you up for something else in the future.”