Episode 04: Our Most Embarrassing Stories in Illustration

  • This episode was awesome! Not feeling the greatest today, and this was exactly what I needed! Laughed myself to tears! Thanks so much, guys! LOVE this podcast.

  • SVS OG

    Funny episode! Am sick in bed with the flu so it was the perfect medicine to alleviate this crappy feeling 🙂

  • I have an embarrassing moment as an illustrator for you. This goes way back, in fact it was my very first job as an editorial illustrator. New York, back in the days when you would drop off your portfolio at a publication for the art director to look over. One of the hot spots for illustrators was 1960 Broadway, upper west side, an unassuming building that housed , Longevity, Omni, Penthouse, Psychology Today, and several other publications i'm forgetting all in the same building. All of these magazines were a showcase for illustration. So my friend and I dropped off our portfolio and went off to draw people in central park for a few hours , that or hang out at the MET, which was free back then. At the end of the day we went back to pick up our stuff. I remember there was a security guard watching over this pile of portfolios , my friend found his ,but mine was not there. So I'm scared to death thinking my portfolio , which had some originals in it, was gone. My first time dropping off. So I inquire with the guard and he checks a list and says " you need to go up to the second floor". So , you know at this time I still don't think I have a job, and I'm nervous about where my portfolio is, I'm thinking someone just left it some where. I'm standing in the elevator thinking what magazine is on the second floor. The door opens. It's this amazing reception area with 'Penthouse' in big letters over the reception desk. I'm like maybe twenty, my knees are knocking together, I'm standing there in shorts ,grubby from hanging out in the city all day. I walk up to the receptionist, she takes my name and points me to some seats that look as if they are a mile away across the room. And she says "The Art Director will be out in a moment". My heart is now pounding through my temples , but I make it to the seat. Moments later a striking woman is making her way towards me extending a hand to greet me, I jump to my feet, we greet each other and she takes me back into the offices saying she loves my work and she has something for me. Now I am completely in my head ,I'm running this 'montra' i would say to my self over and over..., "Ok, if (Brad Holland, or whoever was the hot illustrator at the time), can do this, why can't I". We reach her office and she throws a couple of recent 'Penthouse' magazines on the desk in front of me. Now I am really sure that this has never happened to me before. I'm barely old enough to be looking at this stuff, and I'm like, what do I do , just nonchalantly peruse through these nudie mags. in front of this lady. Thank god she takes one of the magazines and turns to the page where the editorial section that she was considering using my work was on. Cool it's a spot illustration and it pays $600 . She takes a transcript of a story and we read it over. Great I got the job. So stupid me,I still have the magazine in hand and I utter this little gem "wow! So your an art director, how do you deal with all this nudity day in day out?" "Well ", she says," It is a multimillion dollar publication". Ouch! I thanked her and made my way back to my friend who could not believe my luck. The illustration went over really well , I ended up doing about 7 or 8 more spots for this wonderful art director. Chris

    PS: Also under the weather, what's that all about?

  • Thanks guys! Your podcast really cheered me up after a nightmare client morning. It also re-reminded me I don’t have to take every job!

  • SVS OG

    My most embarrassing story:
    I've got a TON and I'm still waiting for enough time to pass when their affect might stings less. (Eek, I just had a flashback of one and it feels so fresh.) But hearing the stories of 3 artists I admire so much does help, just a little. I'll be attending a local SCBWI conference this weekend where I expect to add to my embarrassing story stockpile.

    What I've learned from your stories and my main takeaways:
    -Take careful notes at meetings, or record it for review later
    -Avoid saying negative things about others
    -If you have a meeting with someone, be prepared and make sure it's mutually beneficial
    -We ALL have embarrassing stories.

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud.

    P.S. The artwork by Tanner Garlick above is great!

  • @c-davies Incredible Awesome story!

  • @jthomas I will dig up the piece I did. I think it was on the Gulf War.Chris

  • I couldn't find the original but I found a tear sheet. The section was called view from the top....

  • @teju-abiola @Lee-White
    I was going to mention the same thing about faxes for medical documents. I've had times where I needed to follow up on things because one office hasn't received a fax, but the other side said they sent it--it's frustrating! I kept thinking, "Why can't they just use email!?" I know regular email isn't secure, but it's still annoying to deal with faxes. I have no idea why realtors still use faxes, though!

    Lee, you're not alone on having trouble remembering names! I wish I was better at that!

  • I laughed out loud on the train from work yesterday listening to this. I wish this sort of thing was part of every college course for everything, it's so good to hear that even pros make mistakes. Another inspirational podcast.

  • SVS OG

    This isn't embarrassing really, but its a moment that I regret, and I still get that sinking feeling when I look back just like they talked about in the podcast:

    I went to the National SCBWI conference two years ago. One of the things I was really looking forward to was, of course, the illustrators showcase. All illustrators had the chance to set out their portfolios with a stack of postcards/business cards and all attendees, including agents, art directors, and editors, could go and peruse them.

    This was the year BEFORE they downsized the national conference, so when I tell you it was packed, I mean there was absolutely NO elbow room at all. I met up with an illustrator I had met in an online critique group, and we set out portfolios out next to each other and chatted a bit, until the room just became much too loud. At this point portfolios were overlapping, both sides of the table were being used, and there were STILL some illustrators who didn't have table space for their porfolios--some just stood by the wall holding it out for people to see. (So I TOTALLY support their decision to downsize the conference this year. I'm excited to go again in the future when its less crowded... but digress.)

    I came to the realization that standing beside my portfolio as most illustrators were doing was actually filling the space where someone would need to stand to actually look at my work. So I talked to my online friend and we decided to take turns watching each others portfolios while one of us got out of the way, so there could be space for people to see our work.

    I went and elbowed my way in to see some other illustrators work and really enjoyed that part of it, I met some really cool people who I still follow on social media. But when I got back, my friend had some news for me.

    "Where WERE you?? Arthur Levine was looking at your portfolio! He loved it, and he wanted to meet you, but we couldn't find you! He ended up just taking a postcard and moving on."

    Arthur Levine heads the imprint that published HARRY POTTER you guys. He loved my work, and wanted to talk to me about it, but I wasn't there for the meeting.

    Moral of the story: Stick around your portfolio at showcases. Also, if you can only make it to smaller conferences, that isn't actually such a bad thing--its much harder to get lost in a crowd that way.

  • No professional mistakes yet, but certainly cringeworthy that I sent in my illustration for the TRAVEL contest and it was the wrong size. Broke my own rule: always write down the specifics for contests and post them near your computer. And double check before sending. Facepalm. It likely won't be my last mistake, but I have a pretty good track record of not making the same one twice...

  • To some degree, just about every piece of art I put out in the world makes me "cringe" a tiny bit. I'm always way too close to my projects and it's difficult to always be objective.

  • Pro SVS OG

    My most embarrassing story was from about 2002 when I first became interested in getting into illustration. I knew nothing about the business and blindly sent these out to Martha Rago who was at Henry Holt at the time. I had liked the book "Hondo and Fabian," so decided to send these out to her. I have learned so much since then and this still makes me blush with embarrassment. I hope one day to have an amazing portfolio to professionally present to her and perhaps one day remind her of this submission. It was wonderfully kind of her to even take the time to respond.


  • Pro SVS OG

    @sarah-luann Wow that is some story, I hope you emailed him letting him know you were available to meet anytime 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @jake-parker the Loved this episode. So full of laughs as well as good, practical lessons. Thanks for sharing your stories!
    P.S. The IRS still uses fax machines too. If you have several hours or days to kill, you can try it out. Just pray they don’t ever ask you to fax something in.

Log in to reply