How do you guys get feedback?
@mollylgm This is a great question. I've used my kids, wife, illustrator friends, illustration professors, random people on the internet, the SVS forum, and the critique arena videos. The valuable bits seem to appear as a pattern or thread in all of their responses and resonate with or confirm a suspicion I've had about my own work. Often it's something I was blind to based on a reasonable but faulty assumption. Or something I need to study that I thought was outside of my preview.
People respond in two ways. The first is nice but not terribly clear. This is 80% in my experience. I think it's really hard to confidently critique someone's work and give them practical advice on where to go next. It takes both expertise and great communication skills. That said, people will let you know if something is unclear or misleading in your storytelling. Mostly, they'll be a little too polite and that's ok. You'll still get good clues.
The 20% of direct, actionable advice comes from sources like Will Terry. Jake and Lee are so great too of course but Will really epitomizes this for me. As you may have noticed in the critique arenas, he's not one to mince words. He tactful but he really wants to give students the information they need to move forward. The trick for me with these sources is to take their criticism seriously, but not blindly. It's like a powerful cleanser or something. Use enough to get the job done but don't let it damage anything fundamental in your work. Ultimately we have to make the choices on our own based on the feedback we receive.
So, the bottom line (in my opinion) is, use all of the above as sources until you get the answers you need to confidently make what you want to make.
@mollylgm I created a Facebook group community to facilitate that sort of exchanges It's called the Freelance Illustrators Café! https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelanceillustratorscafe
@Jeremy-Ross. Thanks. Aha yes I should as family and friends more. For some reason I feel more nervous asking them for feedback than asking strangers
@Chris-Philpot what a fantastic range of people to get feedback from! Yes, watching critique arena has been so helpful. I fully agree with your advice to look for trends in responses!
Just to follow up with you if thats ok, do you have any suggestions for how to get knowledgable people in the industry to even look at your work to give you feedback? have you ever successfully reached out (out of the blue) to someone asking?
^I've just checked out your website and it looks and your so established I'm not sure this is the best question for you!
@NessIllustration aha i discovered your channel yesterday. Awesome content Thanks for sharing!
@molly Of course. I'm established as an editorial illustrator specializing in informational stuff - that's true. I'm not at all established in the world of picture books. It's like learning a second language and I'm starting over in a lot of ways. I do take your point that my peers are older and experienced, so I'm not starting out completely from scratch.
Knowledgeable people giving workshops are a great option. SCBWI seems to have a lot of this kind of thing at various price points. I think instructors associated with SVS courses might be a good target. I got a lot of great connections through the ICON conferences if those ever happen again.
I do recommend emailing someone who's work you really admire directly. This sounds a bit crazy, but it can come across as a huge compliment to that person, no matter how famous they are. I've had a few emails over the years from students about my editorial work and I always respond right away. I watched friends from college email their dream boss or studio and get internships. The validation of a perfect stranger asking an opinion on something they really care about is worth a lot to that famous illustrator. You might not hear back of course, but it's worth a shot.
Maybe an initial email complimenting their work (specifics are good) and suggesting you are facing a specific challenge in your work. Maybe ask if they ever give workshops or could point you in the direction of improving said specific challenge. Something like that. You seem very diplomatic and savvy and your instincts are probably better than mine on the exact wording. Maybe I should email someone myself and see if this is good advice!
donnamakesart last edited by donnamakesart
@Chris-Philpot I agree! I messaged an artist I admired on instagram a few times and he always responded with long thoughtful replies.
Likewise people in this forum have been very helpful and kind! Giving good constructive feedback.
@Chris-Philpot. Its cool interact with someone who, not only is actively making a career out of one sector in illustration, but is also exploring another. Makes the whole pursuit seem more real!
Hadn't heard of ICON before- thanks. I will definitely take your advice on emailing someone. I've been thinking about emailing Jim Kay (Harry Potter) to ask him about his process. I'm sure he's insanely busy, but like you said, its worth a shot
Your specific advice is really encouraging. Aha if you do email someone else let us know
VeronicaMui last edited by
@Chris-Philpot I second this - I, too, have messaged artists I admire on Instagram. Usually the trick is to get one who is higher leveled than you, but not so high that they won’t have time to read their messages. I find it helps to test the waters first - I will usually comment on their posts and stories and see if they like my comments or say anything back (stories are perfect for this because comments goes straight to their messages). If I feel like they’re consistently noticing my messages or responding in some way I may directly ask them for their opinion. Do always start with a sincere compliment and it’s always nice to give them an easy out (“I’m sure you’re busy and if you don’t have the time to answer, I understand!), then ask one direct question. It’s really important to think about your question too, not just “hey, what do you think?”.. just my two cents
@VeronicaMui This is really smart. I can't wait to get stuck again so I can try it!