What a beautiful Etsy shop @NessIllustration !!! I’ll put it at the top of my list of inspiration! I’ve been thinking of opening an Etsy shop since a couple of years, but it’s such a lot of work and I never seem to find the time.
I’m rarely on the forum these days (I’m an old SVS alumna), but I wanted to tune in for @xin-li because I’m going to Bologna too in April (like every year), and I’m always happy to meet new faces with shared experiences. If you’d like to meet, just DM me and we can set up a place and time for a coffee and chat.
I work nearly exclusively in book publishing and I can confirm that Bologna is a great source of contacts and contracts both. Most of my work is from return “clients”, and many of them I met at Bologna. That first contact is often the start of a multi-project collaboration, that keeps growing and evolving. If it’s your first time in Bologna, feel free to ask how to “walk the fair”.
To contribute to the topic: I get work from my agent (I’m repped by Transatlantic Literary), book fairs (Bologna mainly - I’ve just started going to Frankfurt this year) and sometimes from Behance. I got my very first book contract from Instagram but I think that it’s a very rare occurrence. I think one contract in a year for a literary agent and a debut illustrator is not bad - it gets more and more when the first books come out and you get a bit of a “name”. The publishing industry moves very slow, book projects take a long time, etc... But once you’re in the door with medium-large publishers, contracts keep coming and keep getting better.
I’ve done my first book in 2016 and now, at the end of 2019, I was in a place where I could quit my day job to do full-time book illustration. Maybe now I’ll have the time to open that Etsy shop!