Need Website Advice

  • Moderator

    I need an assessment of my website. I don't want it to be just a static portfolio, a collection-of-images site. I want it to be an active artistic hub. I have a blog that I have gone back and forth on including or not, but I'm torn as to whether that is "professional" or not. Currently, it is not linked.

    I have culled it many times to make it more kidlit-oriented. And I think it is reaching the point where I need to cull it again.

    I am currently driving people to it for my newsletter sign-up, but it also has links to my Ko-fi and my storefront.

    Some specific things:

    1. I know that when it comes to the children's illustration field, less is more. But the majority of professional artists out there don't limit their galleries to 14 images or less, so I'm a bit torn... I anticipate my future will probably not be in professional children's publications but instead be in print sales with a narrative illustrated aesthetic. To be honest, that may be the heart of my problem... Brian Kesinger's independent publication career has been a shining example of an artist defining their own success outside of the mainstream, and I think more and more people are finding success outside of the traditional children's publication field. I had hoped to emulate that. Multiple small streams of self-generated income and self-generated projects.

    2. I need opinions on whether it's too much and what to include or exclude. I feel like I don't have the capacity to assess what is good and bad anymore. It was clearer to me two years ago and now as I get deeper into the woods of trying to make this happen I'm losing my sense of what's effective and what isn't. I should be getting better at being able to determine that, but I feel like I'm getting less and less objective.

    I would appreciate any advice you proffer. I'm... To be honest, I'm not achieving what I had hoped, and there are many many signs that maybe I need to just settle on being a hobbyist and throw in the towel. I'm a later-in-life second-careerist that sees the potential of his current career disappearing around him, and so there's some pressure to make it work and dive in now while my day job still exists. But my results haven't matched my aspirations, and I'm now trying to re-examine what my strengths and weaknesses actually are.

    I don't have a local critique group of peers and feel like I have little hope of finding one in the face of Covid. My attempts to get into one through my local SCBWI chapter have been unanswered, and I don't quite know if that says something about my work or not... My artwork was featured in this last month's newsletter and the response has been crickets. Additionally, my social media results have been lackluster. Sooo... It all seems to be adding up...

    I'm wondering if a perusal of my website might suggest pathways I'm missing...

    Thanks so much. I really really appreciate it.

  • Pro

    @Coreyartus Hi Corey 🙂

    I think you've hit the nail on the head - your portfolio is still scattered and no focused enough, and I think that's because you're quite scattered and feeling a little bit lost yourself...

    You say your future will not be in professional children's publication, but your are trying to make your portfolio more kidlit oriented. Why? :o It seems as though that's not where your interest is but you think that's what you HAVE to do to illustrate professionally. That's not the case. There are many markets in illustration!

    But I think before you continue any further on your portfolio you need to do some soul searching and figure out where you're actually trying to go. You say you're becoming very discouraged because you're not achieving what you had hoped, yet anyone would have trouble reaching destination when they don't know where the destination is and what path they're going to take to get there. You have a lot of work in your portfolio, so it's clear to me you've been working very hard. Yet much of that energy is being expanded in all directions instead of being focused into the one direction. So it's inefficient and might burn you out.

    Figure out what you want to do, do some research into different markets. Once you've figured out your market, research it further and find out what kind of work is being made in that market. Then eliminate all your work that doesn't fit that, and create a few more targeted pieces for that market so you have at least 12.

    Once you've figured out your direction, you will not need a category for other illustrations or studies, just the relevant stuff. You will not need an active artistic hub. As fun as that sounds, your portfolio is not the right place for that. Other artists would care about something like this, not clients (and that's who your portfolio is for: clients) Your portfolio will work best if it has only one goal and focused every page and piece into that goal: getting an art director to hire you for a specif kind of project in a specific market. Anything that doesn't fit that goal doesn't belong there. You can still have a blog separately if you wish!

    You have a lot of potential and it would be a shame if you were to give up now. You're working so hard, but spinning your wheels because you're not focusing that energy into a clear direction. I hope this helped 🙂

  • Hi Corey,
    I agree with what Ness said in general, and I'm in much the same spot as you, launching another career out of both interest and dreadful necessity, while it seems like the old income streams might become permanent casualties of the pandemic. I'm also in a spot where I'm doing a lot of my learning here on SVS, and so I am very influenced by kidlit in my portfolio, but I am not ultimately sure that's quite where I need to end up. It's so frustrating to navigate when you're halfway in the dark. Anyway, I sympathize, and I have a bit of direction to offer you in the vein of culling images on your site, and maybe honing your direction in general.

    What if you picked out maybe 6 images you've made that were just the most fun to work on. You were in the zone, and you love the colors and the line and texture and subject matter. Sit with them for a while, tack them to your bulletin board. What do those 6 favorite images have in common with one another in terms of target audience and theme? Do they suggest 6 more that fit well with them? Could those 12 images present a picture of what kind of work you prefer to be doing? In which contexts could those favorite images be printed or sold? Are there 2 or 3 illustrators you admire who are doing work that these remind you of?

    I think fewer closely-related images presents a stronger overall impression than many more loosely-related ones. (although, I should follow my own advice on my site! It's time for me to cull, too!)

  • Moderator

    @NessIllustration and @Valerie-Light

    Thank-you both so very much for your insight. I think you're absolutely right, Vanessa--I've always struggled trying to figure out where I fit. I have to answer that question first before I can do anything. I've figured out that there are specific industries in illustration that I don't want to go into (gaming, movies, animation), but not enough information about where I do think I want to go (prints, merch, self-published stuff). It's "safe" when you tell yourself you're still a student and you still have a lot to learn--no illustration is in the wrong direction, and everthing is an opportunity to build skills. But eventually you actually have to pick a path, and start investing time and energy in that. I need to research the path I want, and do work appropriate to it.

    And Valerie--thank-you for such a valuable approach!! I'm going to look at my body of work in that light... I know there are pieces that came easier and were more pleasurable to create. And others that (on balance) were more of a struggle (albeit, at some point on each piece I felt "in the zone" to a certain extent). I know I have preferences I felt I couldn't indulge when I was making a LOT of those pieces. What happens when those constraints are off, and I create what's in my heart and just let it go? I know I felt that way on some of those. I think you're right--I need to look at those pieces closely, especially in light of the path I select.

    Thank-you both so much for your help. I needed to hear these things. I appreciate you advice. And now I have a lot of work to do. 🙂

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