What would you ask an AD?

  • Hi guys,

    One of the prizes for winning the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase was getting 1-1 meetings with 3 ADs. I have my first meeting with an Art Director this week. I'm a little nervous and don't want to blow such a good opportunity. I'm not sure how long the meeting will be but I'm guessing under 30min.

    I'd appreciate any tips/advice on what I should ask or discuss during the meeting! 🙂

    Till now these are the things I can think of (please let me know what can be added/omitted) :

    • I've researched the AD and the publishing house so I can reference the titles I like
    • My strengths as an illustrator
    • Brief on other projects/clients I've worked on/with (to show professional credibility)
    • What kind of stories appeal to me
    • How I can be a good fit for their publishing house
    • Future plans (author-illustrate my own book)

    I'm planning to update my website portfolio with a few new pieces in case they want to have a look.


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    @Neha-Rawat i’m so jealous! 😂😂😂✌✌✌️ I’ll try to think of some questions for you. I’ll get back to you soon.

  • I totally understand your nervousness. I would be too, so I think it's totally normal to feel that way. You'll do fine with all your preparation I'm sure!
    When they say meeting with an art director, that is a little bit open. Is there a stated purpose to the meeting? Or is it just to have them become familiar with your work and make a more personal contact?
    Maybe you could reach out to someone else who won the portfolio consult in the last few years and ask them what kinds of things they discussed? That might help you feel more prepared possibly.
    Good luck 🙂 you'll do great!

  • Make sure to ask "Are you interested in working with me on future projects and if so, how should I follow up with you? If not, are there any other AD's at your house that you feel would be a better fit for my work and how can I reach them?"

  • Pro

    @Neha-Rawat I agree with @StudioLooong! You've got really good talking points to show them what you have to offer and appear under your best light, so you just have not to forget to "ask them out" so to speak 🙂 Make it super clear you want to work with them, ask them if they have upcoming projects that might be suitable for your art style, and ask them what are the next steps to get to work with them / what you can do to get there. This chat is a great opportunity but the most important thing will be to actually "ask them out" and follow up. Good luck!

  • I am sure you will be fine! Your work will speak volumes for you 🙂
    Will they be going over your portfolio with you? I've had meetings with ADs before and the fact that they are flicking through your portfolio puts you at ease as you can just talk about your work with them (though these were IRL meetings so not sure how that would work online!) I wouldn't worry too much about having a big spiel over how you are a good fit for their publishing house. It isn't really a typical job interview and if they like your work then they will see that you're a good fit without hearing a rehearsed speech (unless you actually have something specific you want to mention!)

    I'd also use this time with the AD to your advantage. Yes it's amazing to get this chance to show your work, but they also have a lot of knowledge to share so maybe it would be good to think of some questions to ask them about children's publishing e.g. what do they look for in an illustrator, what kind of stories do they love to aquire etc

    Definitely ask if you can have their email or the email of someone in their team to share new portfolio pieces with in the future.
    GOOD LUCK! I am sure you will be amazing 😃 Let us know how it goes

  • One question that I am always curious, but they may not be appropriate questions to ask in person though .... 😜

    How do they decide the commission fee different illustrators. What are the different levels there? Is it one receives certain awards or have worked in the industry for certain years, then their fees suddenly jump to a new level?

  • @Neha-Rawat how exciting. I totally understand that you feel nervous.
    You have got a very good list which covers all the questions I would ask if I were in your place.

    Some thoughts:

    • I will only mention the past projects I personally want to do more of the similar projects, just to keep the focus. I would not worry too much about the credibility - you won a big price, your portfolio gives all the credibility they need to hire you.

    • Let the AD talk as much as possible about your strength, and ask follow-up questions regarding that. This is an indication what the AD would probably hire you for. Maybe you can add the question about if they have a project that will fit you here, to show you are very interested in working with them.
      I once had an AD I respect very much looked at my work. He talked a lot about what I did right. First I thought it was sort of waste of time - I did not need hearing compliments, I wanted to know what I need to improve. But after some months, I started noticing that I am doing more of the things the AD said I did right. I am more consciously embracing these things. Then my work changed visibly.

    • Maybe spend time to talk about the author-illustrator project. If you already have a story to pitch, tell the AD an elevator pitch. I might even ask if the AD is interested in the story, and if she/he wants to have a look once you have a dummy ready. Then ask for contact information.

    • I would not worry too much about how you can be a good fit to them. It is their job to figure out that :-). The way the AD talks about your strength could reflect a lot regarding the way they see how you can fit. I also would not worry about what do they look for, and what they are interested in acquire. My agent has shared some of these information. I found it useful to some degree. But I think ultimately, you need to be you to be an artist and illustrator. Also, I think it is really hard to come up with questions related to this subject without being to general or vague.

  • @Neha-Rawat First, some questions for you: were these ADs chosen before you won? If so, did they help choose you as the winner?

  • @Coley They haven't stated any purpose of the meeting. I suppose it's a make-the-best-of-the-opportunity meeting hehe. Thanks!

    @StudioLooong @NessIllustration Thank you! Yes, I'll definitely make sure to show them I'm interested in working with them. I understand this was like the main point but my brain went spastic and I couldn't figure out how to "ask them out" haha. Thank you for laying it out!

    @eriberart Thanks Erin! I'm not sure if they'll be going over my portfolio. I'm guessing they'll have it around for reference so that they are familiar with my work. I updated my website with a few new pieces just in case.
    As for the questions, I went through their website and they have a nice FAQ which pretty much answers everything! But yeah, maybe I can bring up one of those points to discuss anything further

    @idid I suppose that's how it works in most industries? Experience, customer/client reviews and acknowledgement through awards would definitely bump you up 🙂

    @xin-li You've given some great points to think and discuss. Now that I read what you wrote about the AD complimenting your work, I had the same experience with my agent when I'd just joined. And I too have been subconsciously pushing myself further in those areas so I get what you mean. Thank you so much!

    @carolinebautista They said they usually first ask the ADs who judged the showcase and then they try others but they did ask for our preferences as well. I'm not sure who the judges for this showcase were.

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