Some advice? anyone... anyone lol

  • I am wondering about a portfolio and putting your stuff out there and agent stuff and all that. I haven't put a portfolio together to try and get work because in all honesty.. I don't have the foggiest of how to go about it. Then of course it comes back to asking the question "is my stuff good enough yet?" I've spent a lot of time (like most of you here) working to improve my drawing/painting abilities but at what point do I say to myself "ok, someone will now be interested in my skill set." ??? I asked a question similar to this one a few months back and got zero responses. I would like it if those of you who have went through the agent thing, or those that have put together a successful portfolio to show could give me some insight. I'm really not sure what my next step is on this journey other than still working on my craft daily.

  • @Kris-Knight have you watched the latest @Jake-Parker video on youtube? I think he offers a very realistic step-by-step 'solution' that you can apply to your 'problem'.

    I'm not sure if you want some kind of portfolio feedback. If that´s what you want, I would begin creating a website and upload your best/favorite pieces. That´s a first important task you have to resolve.

  • @Dado
    thanks. I'll be sure to take a peek at jakes vid

  • SVS OG

    I agree that Jake gave some very good advice in the video.

    As to knowing whether you're "good enough" yet... if you're like most artists I know, you'll never feel like you are. You have to just get over that, shake it off and start putting stuff out there--on social media and elsewhere. Notice what people respond to, and don't take negative feedback too personally. Keep moving forward. Thats really it.

    Starting with a good website I would say is the best place to start--give people somewhere to go to see your work. Its also a good exercise for you to actually see all your work on a page and honestly tell yourself if you have enough good pieces yet or not. I first put mine together when I was still a student (taking Will Terry's business class, actually) and wasn't doing much marketing and I wasn't really expecting to get much work from it--it felt like a good idea though. But a year or so later when a work opportunity came up, I was SO grateful that I had something for them to look at that I didn't have to scramble to put together at the last minute. Definitely a good thing to have just in case you meet anyone you want to show your work to.

  • Just watched jakes video. Was a nice inspiring video but it really came down to one thing... it said answer your own question. Unfortunately, that doesn't help someone who does not have an answer. lol. Besides, in reality it is not "you" that creates the opportunity by saying "I am good enough", it is someone else who has to open the door for you by believing you are.

  • What's the harm in putting a portfolio together? It would at least be a start. You could post your pieces on this forum to get some feedback, or, if there is a local SCBWI chapter in your area, you might be able to join a critique group. It sounds to me that this is what you want to do, just by asking the question. I do family photography on the side, and have a website through squarespace. It's very easy to set up, and their technology help services are pretty good. It's a yearly expense, but it's tax deductible. If I didn't have my website, I wouldn't have any business. I think you should go for it! It sounds like your concern is... will it be good enough? Well, you definitely won't know if you don't try (cliche, I know...but true). You can always change a website and add your best pieces in as you build your portfolio. If you let fear control your decisions, you may never get started. You're not the only one, we all feel this way at times...:) Good luck to you!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hey Kris,

    My business class is releasing this week and goes in depth into how to start and build your business. It's a topic that I feel passionatly about because we NEVER really talk about it. In school, I took 4 years of art classes and we never once talked about who our clients were. We NEVER talked about how to get into the business. I think right at my senior year we had a "business" class that made us design a business card. How lame is that?! 4 years and nothing.

    So every illustrator is left holding the bag. We all have to start from scratch because no one will say out loud that we are actually doing this to make money. And with that, there are very specific business principles that MUST be followed to be successful. The business video is going to be 7 parts and the one that releases this week is only the first three parts. It's over three hours long and goes in depth into our lives as career artists.

    The big thing I want to get across in the video is that not only is the business side of our industry never talked about, but the "life" you have as a professional illustrator isn't ever mentioned either. Each field in illustration is actually vastly different in terms of the life you will have if you pick that as your focus. Things like how you prefer to work, how much risk you are comfortable with, how much patience do you have? are all discussed. Each one of those questions may point you to an area that you weren't expecting.

    So, long story short, this information is coming. In your case, you are definitely not ready for an agent. An agent is for illustrators that are about 2-3 years in and getting steady work. An agent is not for someone starting out. There is no reason not to get your stuff out there, but wait for the business video and follow the course work. It will save you a massive amount of time and energy and hopefully give you a good focus to build from.

    Hope that helps some. : )

  • @Lee-White
    Thanks for the reply Lee. Very straight. I appreciate that. 🙂

  • @Carrie
    Thanks for the reply Carrie :). It sounds like a website is the way to go.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    I'm going to add more here just because once i get started on this topic I have trouble stopping. To elaborate on what I just said, illustrators are fine talking about technique. We will talk about it all day. Show you how to paint step by step. What blue did I use? no problem, I'll tell you all my paints and brushes and canvas, and computers, and programs.

    But the second you ask— How much money did you make on that job?" People look at you like you are crazy. I have seen that look many times. Because I DO ask. And NO ONE will ever answer it. We are doing this as a job, TO MAKE MONEY. So we can MAKE A LIVING. And everyone acts like that isn't a part of it. ITS THE BIGGEST PART OF IT in my opinion. Otherwise I'd just be doing paintings for myself and not spending hours and hours trying to get and maintain my clients. Honestly it's totally bizarre to me that we are saying we all want to do something professionally, but then don't talk about the professional aspects of it at all. Everyone is just in the dark.

    My first portfolio that I took to new york consisted of images I liked. That was the only criteria for including them and it couldn't have been more wrong. I didn't think about WHO I was showing the work to. I didn't think about what they were looking for. I just included images I thought were good because my teachers liked them. I look back and shake my head. I was lucky that a few people saw something in a few of the images and pointed me in the right direction. I can only images the countless other people just blindly building portfolios like I did and then praying that it works out.

    That tends to be most illustrators plan btw. Just put images out there and cross your fingers that the right person sees you and it all works out. Kind of like fishing. Let me tell you, there is a much more direct and specific route that deals with really understanding that we are in business. We are not just artists making random things. We are part of a bigger industry and the second you understand how you fit into that industry you can begin to control how it all works.

    Sorry for the rant. I just feel so bad for the thousands of people who are just struggling so much because we will never talk about the fact that we are doing this to be in business.

  • @Lee-White
    OMG Lee. Preach on!!!!!! That is how it is for me. I feel lost in this "place." I absolutely want to be able to make money doing this. lol. Feel and become successful. Unfortunately I feel like I am in a labyrinth with only my pencil and paper... I can work all day on my drawings.... but then where do I turn in the maze to head the right direction. I'm looking forward to your class. BIG TIME!

  • @Kris-Knight I think Lee really knows what he's talking about. Sounds like this business video is coming out at the perfect time for you!

  • @Carrie
    Absolutely :). Can't wait 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @Kris-Knight While we are all waiting for Lee's class with huge anticipation! ..some more things to read and watch which you might find inspiring/helpful...

    Some tips from Giuseppe Castellano on portfolios:

    Will Terry's video on How to Set up Your Portfolio:

    Will Terry's video Am I Good Enough To Be An Illustrator?:

    There are more out there....but all this will be plenty enough to get you thinking, I reckon!

    About the whole 'answer the question yourself' about when you are good's difficult because being 'good' is a fuzzy area....some people have made great livings with average skills as artists, because they found a good niche (in his video Will cites the artist who founded the Oatmeal as an example of this)…and there are probably amazing artists out there who have the skills but what they paint isn’t something that people want to buy (e.g. too dark/weird/niche etc)

    A better set of questions would be 'Are there people out there who would buy my art? Who are these people? What do they want to buy? How do I reach them?'' If you can answer all those then you are ready to go 🙂

    I’m also going to say that absolutely you can create opportunities for yourself, it’s not just about waiting for someone else to do it for you. You can do so much these days by self-promoting and doing it yourself. I know we usually dream of the traditional way with a publisher - and that’s great, and definitely possible - but it’s not the only way these days. You can do things with a big social media following (look at loish on Facebook, just passed 1 million followers!)..artists like Jake have funded projects through Kickstarter instead of the traditional way…and you can create your own prints and/or products to sell (I do this).

    Will talks about this fourth way in this video here, it may not be how you want to go but food for thought:

    Anyway good luck putting your portfolio together 🙂

  • You can find some great tips also on There is like 5 hours or maybe more just on portfolio creation. You can also get backstage pass for more business related podcasts called Escape from Art jail. Good thing is you can listen to it while you draw 🙂
    There is also children books show that deals specificly with children books, they even had Will Terry on one of these shows.

  • @Jiří-Kůs thanks 🙂
    yeah, I think I listened to the pod cast of the one with Will on there when it came out but I haven't listened to anymore. Haven't listened to the "escape from art jail" one. I will put that on my list 🙂 thanks.

  • @Dulcie
    Thanks for taking the time to put down those links. I will definitely give them a listen :). thank you.
    Yeah, I agree about the whole "fuzzy" area thing. I guess I am unsure of where I fit in the scheme of things. 😞

  • @Lee-White I wonder why schools rarely provide these sort of inside information for illustrators about business especially when students are paying thousands of dollars for the education? Anyways, thanks so much for your words!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @KelvinBurnett3 it's because we get grouped in with fine art. Many instructors at school are actually too old to be in the field, or they are full time faculty and don't really do illustration as their main income. That sets up a bad situation for students. At the school I went to, most of the illustration staff had stopped doing illustration and were showing in fine art galleries (the worst business model of all time- which I explain in the video).

    So, when critiquing students it was just overly self indulgent. If a students wants to do an assignment with mud and play-doh? Sure! go for it. You can do anything. It's mainly just people doing what they want to do cause that's their "style". But this is so short sided in terms of understanding how to make a living.

  • I agree with everything said above and the only advice I can do for you if you´re still feeling lost and don´t know where to start to find your niche is:
    Keep doing art and keep doing experiments. If you´re stucked, try to study different artists and If you´re in a hurry to make money you can also think about a niche that requires simple illustrations like graphic design. That´s not the path I often see being recommended by masters but It worked for me 🙂

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