Thursday, February 6, 2014

Art Director AMA: Ask An AD Anything

-By Lauren Panepinto

So I had a bit of a panic over this post. I not only realized that I'll never ever top the Artist Selfie post for pure awesomeness (which I can't take credit for, it was all Greg Manchess's Captain Morgan and all the other shameless brave contributors), I also realized I've sailed through 15 posts purely answering questions here on Muddy Colors that artists ask me constantly when they meet me in person. And I have a few huge posts in the works (Contracts, Social Media, etc.) but I need some more time to develop those big boys.

I needed to refill my question queue. It's been awhile since the end of con season, and it's a long way till Spectrum, of course, I turned to Facebook, and asked for post topics. And immediately I was given a bunch of great ideas by some fabulous friends. And I realized, if I could get such a great and immediate response from just the small circle of artist friends who haven't defriended me yet over way too many posts about kickboxing and leggings...maybe I should open it up to the greater Muddy Colors readership.

So here we are. I am asking YOU, readers of Muddy Colors—artists or not—what are your questions for me? You have an Art Director at your disposal. Ask Me Anything.

You have all week to post questions, simple or complex, short or long, silly or serious, in the comments below. A week from now I'll close comments, and then spend next week answering and I'll post all the replies in my next column. The questions that are big enough to make whole posts on their own I'll start answering one by one as individual posts.

I will try to be wise and Jedi-like and answer everything, although I reserve the right to combine similar questions, and avoid anything too personal. Though, I can't really imagine what that would be, given I post everything on Facebook anyway...

Consider it an early Valentines Day present. I've been thrilled to hear so much good feedback on the posts I've done so far, and here's your chance to steer the ship.

Professional and Geek Qualifications: Creative Director of Orbit Books, Yen Press, and Redhook Books for 6 years. Prior to that worked at Doubleday/Broadway, Picador, and St. Martin's Press. Worked in the On-Air graphics Dept at MTV, assisted the Creative Director of Perry Ellis, interned at boutique design firms, have a design degree from the School of Visual Arts. I was officially a comic book store girl in 2 states for over 7 years (minor degree in X-Men, Hellboy, Transmetropolitan). At one time could kick a ton of ass with a Black/Green "Tree-Hugging Vampire" Magic deck. Still own my original Millennium Falcon and Ewok Village playsets. Have dressed as Mara Jade, Lara Croft (pre-movie, of course) and Dark Phoenix on various Halloweens.


  1. First of all, awesome idea and post.

    Secondly, not sure if this qualifies as 'complex' or simple, but after college in the US I moved back to Germany and I am finding the market here concerning bookcovers (the type I'd like to do) pretty much lacking in oppotunities. Often it feels like the publishers are reusing either the US or UK covers or photoshop something together. Not saying there's no oppotunities here but sometimes it sure feels like it.

    So my question is kind of two fold. One: for someone who can't really do all the big conventions in the US, which one would you consider THE convention to do, not necessarily job wise but contact wise? I want to take a year and really really prepare and see what happens.

    And the second part is, is it even realistic to try to break into the US cover market, given that I can't really just fly over to a meeting or something like that? I know you mentioned before that if you don't live in NYC (for example) you need to invest 1000% into marketing and networking, but realistically speaking, how many of your artists aren't actually located in the US?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. That's actually pretty awesome. Oh and one more question... favorite X-Men?


  2. My wife and I are planing on attending spectrum live this year. This will be our first con in eight years. Between us we work in about seven different styles including a collaborative style. When we put together our portfolios for reviews at spectrum, how should we organize our varying styles of work? Should we show each art director all of our best work, even if as a whole they do not look very similar stylistically? Or should we create one portfolio for each style and only show the works to art directors who represent an interest in that portfolio's specific style? Should we try to present ourselves as a team that also does work separately? Or should we present ourselves as individuals who sometimes collaborate?

  3. Hello Lauren,
    My question is about the invoice. After the assignment finished and the client paid full everything, should I send an invoice that indicated everything is done to the client? Besides, should the client sign any kind of document or give me any tax form?

  4. Great initiative Lauren!

    It's quite difficult to come up with interesting questions, since you have already given soo much information out there. So, I'd like to start with a big thank you for all the time you've spent already in your earlier posts.

    I'd like to ask you about the future.. And specifically, about the future in the field you work at. Do you see things changing? How are publishers shifting their business, and how, as an art director, is your work is evolving? I know that print books will never disappear (much like radio was called dead, and still going strong!), but it's unmissable how big e-books are becoming, in both sales and piracy.

  5. You brave and wonderful woman.

  6. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

  7. I'm unemployed and so I can't get to any conventions or anything to meet anyone in the business. I also have no agent (or even think any live anywhere near me). What is the best way to submit artwork to a company trying to get hired? Also what do you think are the most important skills an artist should work on that stands out in a portfolio?

  8. What do you tell an artist who is unwilling to do corrections because doing it is against/outside his/her art style?

  9. How should I prepare a portfolio to get through an international art director editorial? Do you think it's better to make a selection of specific illustrations (based in some books) or just send my finished work?

  10. In other creative Fields such as Video Game, Art Directors are almost always individuals with years of related Art experience themselves. Art directors in publishing however are more likely to be graphic designers or have no art experience at all it seems. How does not being an artist help and/or hurt an ADs ability to do their job or portions of it effectively?

  11. oooo these are all great questions so far! I'm getting excited now...

  12. Im a young artist just about to leave a relatively small and young college in the middle of New Hampshire. With a small student population its been easy to get noticed by my teachers and fellow students. However I fear that as soon as a graduate that I won't be able to create enough momentum to get noticed at all. My interest are in the realm of concept art, But with so many great and talented artist already in this field, and just as many young artist like my self working for the same goal. How dose a nobody like me get noticed by art directors like you?

  13. How is the best way to receive contructive critics.

  14. I've been hoping for a post on what art directors want to see in an artist's website. I think I've read previously you want to be able to right click on images and no contact forms. I would love to read more pet peeves and common mistakes. It would also be helpful on what you what appeals to you on an about/contact page or even what catches an art directors eye on a home page.
    Thanks for all of the great articles!

  15. Thank you very much for giving folks this opportunity. My question is this,

    When an artist sends in work samples and perhaps the work just isn't quite technically proficient enough yet, does that leave a bad impression if you see the artist's name come in on new work again, or do the less skilled works not even leave enough of an impression so that you don't even really remember the artist's work if they improve and submit again?

  16. About evolving reader technology... How do you see the expanding use of kindles etc changing the composition of the classic book cover? The classic top 1/3 of the page being used for title / credits / etc isn't necessarily... er, necessary anymore. Do you feel that is going to lead to diversity in what sort of art direction will be provided for upcoming book cover art?
    And also: while developing my own portfolio of work, is there a particular canvas dimension ratio you recommend for pieces to be added into the portfolio that reflect the potential change in composition demands?

  17. Lauren

    Such a great opportunity you've given all of us internet-ers. My question: What are the most annoying things - or your pet peeves - an AD comes across when looking at portfolios online?

  18. J. Jarvis has said "the function of your portfolio is to instil confidence in the AD" List 5-10 things that compromise your confidence in an artist when looking at a portfolio.

  19. Lauren, thank you for taking questions.

    A simple question that doesn't seem entirely simple: Does an artist's religous morals as to what they do or don't paint, change they get work? I understand that if there is a uncomfortable situation you, as the artist, suggest solutions rather than quitting the job. However, I'd like to find out what an AD thinks about keeping personal morals and working in the industry.
    Thank you! Your articles are always great to read, and this one will be a feast!

    1. Can you elaborate a bit? One example I can think of is say, the sexiness of a female character maybe? Can you give me an example?

    2. Sure thing!
      How about gore or violence in a scene? Depicting a figure doing something in a scene, say being cornered in an alley. There is nothing wrong with that, until you are given extra information about what the character will do to the other, perhaps an attack of some kind. Creating the art on simple directions compared to knowing what's happening or going to happen in the scene.
      The sexiness of a model is a great example of where one person's morals come into play, and how much they are comfortable with. It could even be a political moral, and not agreeing with how minorities are not included or how the female is mistreated.
      I hope this clarifies my thoughts better?

  20. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

    I am self-taught, and beginning to transition from spending most of my time, studying, learning and building my portfolio to actually “selling” it. I got into Spectrum Live with a table in the artist section. At these type of events, what kind of display do you expect to see from a beginning illustrator looking to make the jump into professional work?

  21. Hi Lauren! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

    I have a general dilemma with my own artwork at the moment - I wanted to ask you a question about portfolio unification & consistency.

    I went to art school with a focus on concept art & fantasy art. After I graduated, I realized concept art wasn't my forte. My interest in concept work also waned as I grew older & was surrounded by all types of different artwork at sva. While I still enjoy fantasy artwork (I love cover art for books), I discovered editorial illustration and gallery work to be interesting as of late. I also discovered the joys in trying out new mediums.

    Something I struggle with is with the unification of my work. I enjoy working in many mediums.. and while I keep the mood/subject matter pretty much the same (I like dark, ominous, serious, etc) - I feel like using different mediums make my work feel scatterbrained/not committed. I, personally, feel that everything flows together, theme wise, - but if you look at my portfolio, one piece is in ink, another is acrylic, another may be oil - etc. If I wanted to work for a company like Orbit, would you be put off by that? I'm worried about consistency. I feel like the overall mood is consistent, it's just the mediums that aren't.

    Some of my favorite artists are people who venture in all types of mediums. I can look at their work and still recognize it, even though they switch from realistic to flat, etc. They are types of artists who do a little of everything, (books, galleries, fine art, editorial spots, etc) One of my biggest fears is having this rigid style that boxes you in.

    How do you show unification & consistency if style is constantly evolving?

    Thank you!
    Cristina Bencina

  22. Hello! I'm a college student striving toward some creative career when I graduate. For some time now I've been snooping on this site ( and many others ) for opportunities to contact many of the poster-ers in regards to internships. I am eager to learn directly from artists who hold careers in their hands and art in their hearts. How would you advise someone like me to get into a process like that? I don't know where else to go other than emails, but I also don't like to harass people too much. (Bonus Question: Do you think internships are good learning experiences for college students?( V.S finishing out a degree ))

  23. I am about to graduate in May. I feel like I've got a shot to get into the industry, all i need is time to build and network and paint, but what am i supposed to do until i break in?! I plan on sending out postcards, self advertising, the works, but until then can you think of anything i should be doing? should i apply for residency? check out grad school? start writing grants? get a job? where should i start while i'm doing the footwork? I'd love to hear from other artists too…

    1. I've been out of college for almost ten years and it has seriously taken me that long to figure this one out. I tried really hard right away to get work. Nothing happened. I realized I would need to improve my skills and create a stronger body of work. I ended up going into retail and working doing my art on the side. Sometimes months would go by without doing any art. I sort of got lost in the wilderness.

      Not to long ago I discovered a website called It allowed me to build a business and sell my services to a large and diverse community. This site doesn't pay tons of money and it won't get you rich. But what it has done is to allow me to practice my craft while getting paid for what I do. Instead of creating a portfolio full of personal pieces, I now have a lot of quality work that I have done for professional clients.

      The biggest benefit this site provides is that it forces me to be an artist every day. It forces me to treat it like a business. Someday (hopefully soon) I will out grow But it has served as a way of lowering the bottom rung of the ladder so that I could start climbing my way up to where I want to be.

    2. Hey guys, altho I appreciate the community help, let's just post Qs for now and save the discussion for the answer posts. I have deep reservation about sites like fiverr, logo tree, 99designs, and all of that that I will address. stay tuned.

  24. When reviewing the tons of artists on the fly I know you (ADs) don't have a lot of time to sit down and analyze every aspect of the artists work. I am sure you get a quick impression of what they are and are not capable of and move on.

    So, with that in mind... Is it obvious when an artist is hiding behind a "style" to cover any gaps in their knowledge of fundamentals. Have you ever been tricked before (in either way)? Not that I am trying to trick ADs. I know I have a ways to go before I play in the big leagues.

    I'm don't mean something like always hiding hands or dropping the same lighting on a similar pose all the time. But take a name like Raymond Swanland. I love his work and it is obvious that even with the angular comps/brushstrokes and intense contrast he knows what he is doing. But lets imagine a time when he was a young duckling working on that style that is uniquely his. Would you pass over something like that saying he doesn't understand lighting, or he is cleverly hiding a lack of knowledge of anatomy by blowing out details.

    I am just trying to figure out a happy medium. I look at a lot of working professionals now, and all their stuff, while impressive, looks the same. When I finally send off to the big art directors out there I just want to know I have given them something that is uniquely "me" without shooting myself in the foot looking like I don't understand something.

    On a similar note; Can you think of any cases where you hired someone you suspected might be hiding gaps in their knowledge with a "style", because the style worked for what the project called for?

  25. As a graphic designer in a small but expanding community, I often find it difficult to be creative with the jobs I take. Both my boss and clients want things done fast and cheap. I've long since lost my desire to excel and push my skills further but this is only hurting my career and livelihood. How do you manage to turn out work you are happy with putting your name on when you are forced to do so much that you are unhappy with? How do you find the motivation to do things on your own when you're already burnt out with doing crap all day and you lack the confidence needed to do your own work that you would be proud to tell people you did? I don't know if you've ever dealt with this problem or not but hopefully you can shed some light on this for me. Thanks for the great stuff you're doing on here.

  26. Thanks! The flood gates are now open, I feel for you. ;)

    Forgive me if this has already been asked. What's your go to method for finding new freelance talent and why? I'm sure you search many places, what are a couple of your favorites? i.e. An art dump email account, a specific forum, art site, etc.

  27. I am currently a student attending Game Art and Design program. I would like to become a Character Designer or Concept Artist for gaming. That's my chief aim. But, in the program I noticed more technical (Character Rigging, Level Design, etc) courses than creating concepts later on. I'm not interested in those courses. Therefore, I'm in a situation where I'm not sure if I want to continue further. I'm currently looking at other options, such as the Illustration or Industrial Design program. Since I'm going towards the gaming industry, what does an Art Director expect a candidate to know in terms of skill set? Also is taking Game Art and Design program is the right decision for pursuing a career as a concept artist or character designer?

    1. I am sry to disapoint you, lad, but nobody will take you streight foreward as a character designer- that's the fun part and you'll need to work hard towards it. There is no "I am not rly interested in this" here. You need to be good at everything. Fuck me, Kotaki used to do textures for quite some get the idea? It's gonna be ugly

    2. I don't entirely agree with Gollor's somewhat harsh reply. I am sure you are more than aware that you won't walk into a job as a character lead, or senior concept artist.Companies do take on junior concept artist from time to time ( the last place I worked did so several times ), you kjust need to keep any eye out for positions. Or better yet, get your stuff to Lead Artists / Art Managers or Creative Directors at companies that you like the look of. Even if they don't have anything there and then they'll keep you in mind should anything pop up. Or maybe even take you on in a short term capacity if they like your work....conversely, of course, you may never hear from them again...

      There is nothing wrong with learning things that you don't think you'll need to know later on, because you'll find that you DO need to know those things at some point. If you have an understanding of rigging and level design, you can create not only create concepts that you know can be created, but you'll also have sufficient insight to argue your case if your designs get knocked back 'for technical reasons'.

      I have been in the games industry, on the art side, for over 20 years and have done tons of stuff that i wasn't really that interested in ( still am, in fact... ) but it's all knowledge at the end of the day, and some of that stuff I actually enjoyed.

      Ultimately, if you do want to go into games and concepting, don't be blinkered so early on. It'll all be good in the end. Learn as much as you can about as much as you can, especially whilst at college where you have the freedom to explore them. You'll be asked to do the same in the 'real world', but will be under pressure from deadlines, art directors, co-workers and the dreaded production staff ( joke...some of the are OK ).

      Hope that was useful advice for you. All the best.

    3. Hey guys! I appreciate the time you're taking to answer, but let's keep these to just the questions for now, and save the discussions for the answer posts for now. Thank you!

  28. VERY cool of you, Lauren. Thanks for extending such a kind gesture.

  29. Here is my question: Are all ADs that gorgeous and if so, where can I get one? Thank you :]

  30. Hi, I'm an illustrator living in Barbados. I studied in NYC, but after returning home I've been finding it challenging to get my work out there. My question is, as an illustrator overseas, what is the best way to get an Art Director to view my portfolio? As mailing promotional cards can get expensive when living so far away. Thanks!

  31. While a lot of folks are looking for ways to get noticed without going to conventions due to the expense, I feel that might be the easiest, and most fun way to try to get folks to look at my work. I was wondering if you would be willing to make a list of all the major conventions that are frequented by art directors, especially by ones in the gaming industry? Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  32. Hi Lauren! Firstly, thanks for everything you do for our industry. This give-and-take and transparency is INVALUABLE!

    My biggest bugaboo is about pricing. I never know if I'm charging a price commiserate with my skill level and the difficulty of the project. Then, figure in rights (like the various marketing options--card art used for the packaging, cover art used for banners and such), and I have no idea if I'm being unreasonable for getting taken! Not sure this is something an AD can address, but it never hurts to ask!

    Thanks again,

    1. (That should be OR getting taken. Bah!)

  33. Hi Lauren,
    For your publishing house, when you contact a new artist for doing an assignment in the first time, do you tell him/her about your budget for the project OR you ask him/her how much it will be charged?

  34. Hi Lauren! I am a graduate illustration student looking for a summer internship as a studio assistant or intern at a book publishing firm. My aim would be see the business of illustration put into practice and get in contact with professionals in the field. Do you know of any specific studios, individuals, or book publishing firms that offer such a position? Do you have advice for approaching individual artists (especially those that might get frequent inquiries) about studio assistants in a way that respects their time, but also catches their eye?

    Thank you!

  35. Can you give a few tips for a someone fresh out of art school? how to break in etc?

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Hi Lauren,

    just want to thank you for doing this and for being so open with us. You are Awesome!!

    I think I want to ask you the questions probably most people want to know, but feel awkward in asking!

    I think this is a rare moment where if you don't ask you don't get. I don't think I could ask this sort of question face to face at a convention, but here and now I am going to be bold and get it out of the way.

    So my questions are:

    1. Working on a cover for a publication house such as orbit or any of the bigger publishing houses. What sort of time scale are we talking about for getting a commission completed, from initial contact right up to that dreaded deadline?

    2. Just how long is your ideal for getting the best from your artists?

    3. How long do you like to give for ideation and thumbnails, and what is your ideal working relationship with the commissioned artists?

    4. And the often dreaded question about money that no one seems to want to talk about. What is a rough estimation for the charging of a book jacket illustration for one of the larger publishing houses.

    5. Do you pay on a half now, half on completion. Or is it payment on invoice 30 days from the finished product.

    6. Also what is the average kill fee, and what do you see as a reasonable amount to pay extra for revisions. Do you expect a certain number of revisions to be provided before you expect to pay.

    I'm going to be terribly British and apologise in advance if I have asked anything untoward but on Q&As of this nature these sort of questions often get skipped over.

    Kind regards,


  39. Hi Lauren,
    Thanks very much for doing this!

    How do I work with an Art Director that refuses to view thumbnails/roughs/comps before proceeding to final?

    They think it's a superior workflow to do final art right away based on the text description and make revisions from there.
    This winds up resulting in massive amounts of time in revisions or complete do-overs.

    They see roughs/sketching/thumbnails as unprofessional.

    I sometimes encounter this situation when submitting work to a group of managers acting as "art director." Usually they don't come from art or graphic design backgrounds.

    Is there anything I can show them/say to them that could sway their opinion?

    See you at IMC,


  40. Lauren,

    I have been preparing to get an exhibit at a convention and was considering SFAL. Am I biting off more than I can chew by jumping in at this level? Are there other conventions that you would recommend I start off with before I try SFAL? Also, as a first-time exhibitor, what should I prepare for my booth? Do I need a booth all to myself, or should I try to share one with a friend?
    Sorry, the more that I wrote the more questions I realized I had. Thank you for your time. I truly appreciate you taking your personal time to answer our questions.


  41. Lauren, I am somewhere in limbo between being a student and a professional. I graduated awhile ago from a university that focused on modern abstract art with no regard to technical skill and acted as if they had never heard of Illustration or anything related. So, mostly I am self taught but that leaves certain things unanswered mostly on the business side, as you can only learn what you know you are missing or you don't know what you don't know. I understand the art of picture making but not who or even where to take myself to find work. Alot of that is complicated because I travel a lot, currently in Korea for an undisclosed amount of time, and end up living in small out of the way towns when in the States due to my wife's work where being a painter can mean I painted the side of a barn. (Wouldn't believe how many times I got asked if I could do something like that.) So, my questions to you are:

    How can I find a worthwhile mentor with real experience to help me without spending a ton of money for a class?
    What is really expected of an Illustrator?
    What kind of work is there and how can I find it?
    Where would you recommend living, in the US, to best be in the mix and help find work and why? I am potentially getting the chance to move to San Francisco but could possibly go anywhere right now.

    Thank You,

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for doing this! I'm late to the party but I came up with a question about an area that I've been trying to figure out for awhile now.

    My question is about negotiating prices for illustrations. Since I graduated last May, I've had the mindset to work on whatever I can get my hands on. I've dealt with a handful of clients with different resources. Ranging from self published authors to established companies. My business skills are still very young and in the end I'm never satisfied with the price we agree on, and, I often end up working for less if the client can't pay as much. As an art director who has worked with the best, what advice do you have for young artists when it comes to negotiating a price? More directly, how can I ask for more money with out scaring a client away?

    Thanks again,

  44. Lauren, please remove this if it is a horribly stupid question and I'm embarrassing myself...

    Question Entitled: Looking Professional Is a Full Time Job.
    (not worth a whole post but maybe can be cobbled in to a Representing Your Personal Brand note)

    How important is it to always dress the part? When you have an artistic career, you have a lot more creative license when presenting yourself. Colorful hair, piercings, tattoos, fun clothing... these are things we are used to seeing (especially if you live in a major city) but how acceptable is it REALLY? Some times you walk into a meeting and you don't know who is on the other side - maybe it's not the time to let your freak flag fly? But then you over dumb-it-down and look unremarkable, feeling like you've left behind your armour and didn't even make a blip on their radar. Asking yourself "did I represent my personal brand?" and "will they remember me at all?"

    Yes our art speaks for itself but sometimes we have to speak too... so when is it okay to look fabulous and creative? When is it time to pull out the ho-hum pant suit? Can physical appearance affect our chances of being hired/taken seriously/distinguished from the pack? When are the times we should look remarkable and when should we tone it down?

  45. Can you explain the process of deciding what illustrator you will use for a project, and (besides quality work) rate the top 3 most important things you look for when considering an artist that you have not worked with before?

  46. What is the most effective way to promote to an Art director? SInce these days getting face time is almost impossible and e-mails get lost in the shuffle, what is your favorite way to receive and is the promotion you most respond to. Thank you.

  47. What are your top 10 "must read" books/articles/blog posts for creative people of all types. Thanks, I look forward to reading this!

  48. Thanks for this opportunity!

    I'm not sure if my question can be answered in a general sense - I'm assuming this differs based on how an organization is structured - but here goes: How is an Art Director's role supported by others in the organization? In other words, when it comes to making decisions on the direction of creative, is it the case that the AD's word is final? Are there times when the decision is superseded by others, and if so, how is this communicated to the rest of the organization so the AD's role isn't "muddied"?

  49. Thank you for the opportunity, Lauren

    When talking shop with some colleagues, I heard of more than an instance in which an illustrator feels 'constrained', since s/he starts getting more and more assignments within a rather narrow range (only objects, for instance, or just old guys, or just goblinoid monsters).

    I realize, of course, than an AD assigns what is needed to the artists that, according to the AD's judgment, are best suited for it. The fact remains that if one's range of pieces starts narrowing it isn't that good a thing and, given that time is limited, painting enough personal pieces to counterbalance an heavily slanted portfolio isn't easy.

    Do you have any suggestion to make easier for an illustrator not to get pigeonholed into too tight a range of subjects?

  50. I have many questions. Many.
    Firstly, I second Gollorr’s inquiry from a few days ago: are all AD’s, that gorgeous, indeed, and where in the hell CAN I get one?!!

    My other questions are publishing industry specific, and of a topic I’ve not heard mentioned amongst the plethora of industry advice out there. So I’m hoping you can shed some light on this rather dubious obstacle I’m faced with.

    We all know that publishing is a fast changing industry, and that there are a myriad number of illustrators competing for a limited number of commissions. Every year there is a new edition of the “illustrators and writers market” book. If I am correct in assuming that most of the larger publishers are in that book, it seems that most only commission a small amount of titles every year, and that it’s a fairly incestuous industry in that the big name illustrators like Weber, Giancola, Martiniere, Dos Santos, Manchess, McGrath, etc, are filling the majority of those commissions. So rather than asking how I’m supposed to compete with the Dos Santos’ and the Manchess’, my question is…are there enough smaller publishing companies out there (who maybe can’t afford the top tier artists) that can sustain the careers of talented but lesser-known artists? And if so, how do I find these publishers? How do I reach out to them? I’ve heard advice such as going to bookstores and collecting the names of publishers from the inside jackets of books (and after trying to do just that I was left just feeling overwhelmed) and even if I could make a list of publishers from said endeavor…most of the art directors/art buyers for these publishers aren’t even listed. How do I go about marketing myself when I can’t find who to market myself to?
    And finally, I’ve heard a few AD’s say they prefer portfolio submissions via email. My last question is what is your preferred method of us sending images in these emails? Do you prefer one image only as a JPG or my entire portfolio of 10 or so images in a PDF? Multiple JPGS, or other method perhaps?

    That’s a ton of questions I just asked, I know. But any relative advice is definitely appreciated. Thanks you for helping us out, Lauren ☺

  51. Head abuzz with so many questions, but most of them sound trivial.
    Anyhow, thanks for the opportunity, Lauren! We are all much obliged.

    So, what does it take to get the Art Director's notice (or fancy) for some larger project (card game, or a book collection, or something like that), compared to other applicants? Do the most reliable artists get the job (the ones who don't break the deadlines)? The best ones? The most experienced ones?
    I suppose a newbie could always sneak an illustration or two for a larger project, but I was wondering what would make the submission more likely to succeed. Sorry if I sounded vague. :)

    And if it's not too bold of me to ask, would you be interested in giving me some tips about my work? If you have time, please check some of my paintings and drawings:

    Best wishes,
    Darko Stojanovic

  52. Thanks for opening the floodgates here.

    Just two questions: How difficult/rare is it for siblings to publish together (assuming that both are skilled) me, doing the cover art and my sister doing the manuscript?
    I know the publisher's primary concern is selling, and I believe the two of us could slam dunk that, I just don't know how willing a big company would be to give us that freedom/opportunity.

    Secondly, how often do publisher's take on books written and illustrated by the artist?

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