Please help me figure out where and how to promote my graphic "art" now that I have a portfolio site.
January 18, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out where and how to promote my graphic "art" now that I have a portfolio site.

So I have my portfolio website up and running (after having virtually no web presence for like a decade plus. My work (as featured) tends more towards gigposters, record covers, music-related stuff etc.

I know this sounds naive what the hell do I do with it?
I am not in any way suggesting that my work is good enough to be featured in design magazines or anything like that, but how do the people whose work does get that work out there and in front of eyeballs?

Are there sites I should be posting to? People I should send my stuff to?

I know its a pretty wide question, but to be honest any bit of info would be a big help.

posted by Senor Cardgage to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I can provide a link to the site if anyone is curious, but didnt put it in the post because I didnt want to seem like Im self-promoting here.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:18 PM on January 18, 2012

Put it in your MeFi profile, that's what it is there for.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:19 PM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: Good idea. Done and done.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:21 PM on January 18, 2012

I know this sounds naive what the hell do I do with it?

What do you want to do with it? That's the first question.

I am not in any way suggesting that my work is good enough to be featured in design magazines or anything like that, but how do the people whose work does get that work out there and in front of eyeballs?

Socialize. There are some type of socializing events in your town. Go to a few, make a thing, so 2 a month or 1 a week or something. Had out your business card. Don't have one? Get one.

Go to art exhibits and openings. Talk to the artist and to people, let'em know you're doing creative things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: I guess I want more people to ask me to make posters and record covers and otehr such gooferies.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:29 PM on January 18, 2012

check out a site like behance? create a profile, upload your work, link to your site, profit?
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 4:36 PM on January 18, 2012

Behance, Coroflot, Cargo Collective to name a few free portfolio sites where people can find your stuff, sending it off to sites that feature web designers (I don't know where general designers post their wares) in hopes they'll feature it (siteinspire, Awwwards, Web Creme, CSS Zen Garden), finding gig poster forums and creating a repertoire there, sign up for Dribbble and mark your profile as a potential recruit or get an invite from someone you know that has one. I get a lot of interest/messages from my LinkedIn account even though I don't have any design work up. Zerply, Geeklist, the Graphic Design StackExchange are good places to tout your skillset in more of a hands-on/get to know other people like you and find a gig that way kind of thing.

But if you need work right now, you gotta hussle yourself.
posted by june made him a gemini at 4:51 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You should read this before you think about Behance, Coroflot, etc:
posted by luriete at 4:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I disagree with the link above.

I never go to Behance or Coroflot and think of Behance or Coroflot. I go there because I know there's going to be an abundance of talent to choose from and it makes it easy for me to dive right in and single out the person who does the type of work I am paying for. I don't even need to go through either of these sites to contact this person because they either list their contact information or their www. Any good recruiter will go straight to that if they like what they see or if they notice you haven't updated in awhile.

I also know a lot more people that get requests through these sites than they ever would by doing the legwork to have their sites seen standalone. It's a database, above all else, that says "Hey, I'm here, I exist," which is a lot more than hoping someone stumbles across your portfolio .com on a whim.

Like that rant about Kickstarter acting as a web hosting company that charges 6000% what others would, these sites were set up so all you had to do was select and upload and fill out a few forms. If you don't find benefit in being a part of a collective network where your work can do circles around the rest of the portfolios on it, then, yes, it is a waste. If you are not good at what you do in your field, you will obviously run the risk of getting sidelined, but that's a risk you take putting yourself out there on any site, even and especially your own.

I say, if you can promote yourself on a website where you're not paying them to do so and no one has to pay them to reach you -- why the hell not?
posted by june made him a gemini at 5:53 PM on January 18, 2012

One of my (former) classmates did this with his illustrations. After graduation, he went home, did an illustration a day, and posted them to Society 6. Then he shamelessly (with a sense of humor) plugged them via Facebook and other social media sites– don't be afraid to do this, your friends will either love it or block it from their newsfeeds– no harm, no foul.

I recently asked him how his work had gotten so popular– several of his pieces went viral, and he's now been featured in several illustration/design/art magazines– and he said he spent a while following those people online who were known for their good taste and ability to make things popular.

So once he had established those connections, he promoted himself to the tastemakers. The ones that liked him got him noticed!

Tl;dr: smart networking online, self promotion, a sense of humor.
posted by lockstitch at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hi, I'm an illustrator and designer too. Nice work man!

This is how I do promo:


• Don't send anyone stuff online. Smells like spam, no one likes it.

• Have a nice portfolio presence. You nailed this one, yours is great. Don't spam the url.

• Have a portfolio feed. Not a dedicated site, they're always cumbersome to update, next thing you know you're full of work and can't update this month, etc. Have something simple like flickr and always drop the latest there.


• Have a 'making of' feed. A behind the scenes look at your process. Kinda of a backstage pass, a bit secret, but generous once inside. I post all my refs, thoughts, sources, ongoing sketches for my jobs in chronological order, tell the story of each piece. Needs to be didactic, imagine that you're teaching an assistant. Screen recording during work sessions works great, then you speed it up later, add some nice music and post to youtube, people love and always forward that kind of stuff.

• The didactic 'making of' feed builds social capital. You're helping, not showing off. Start hanging out in facebook with artists from your area who you admire, trade tips, talk shop, help noobs, always be generous, people sometimes will forward some of your stuff, try to figure out why. Be low key about it.

• Also dilute your feeds with lots of bullshit, social media is not a blog, sometimes that obscure collection of Expressionist movie posters gets 1 like while MY CAT'S BREATH SMELLS LIKE CAT FOOD gets 22 likes, 14 comments and 2 shares.

• (Check out Bob Staake on facebook, he is a master of dilluting a portfolio feed with bullshit)


• Print out stuff. My favorite format is A5 postcards, print everything digitally, low quantities as needed. Get to know the printers in your area, ask around for price/quality, you need good thick paper, my fave around here is an A3 laser printer that accepts up to 230g couché, print one sheet and slice it up.

• The postcards must be absolutely spam free, on one side just your art, on the reverse your contact info in say a 3pt font

• Print 10-postcard sets, (that is 10 different postcards, basically your top 10 images) and put them in envelopes. Pick nice colorful envelopes, design a tasteful looking seal with the postcard thumbnails and your contact info in 3pt font and have it printed on sticker paper, use these stickers to seal the envelopes. I like to put thumbnails on the seal because it allows the person the option of engaging further, opening the envelope etc. or not. Never do mystery, people hate mystery.

• These are your portfolios, always have some with you. The postcard format is good for meetings, people play with them, choose the one they like, maybe stick it on the corkboard.

• Next, cold calling and personal contact. I hate this part but it works.

• List clients you'd like to work with on a spreadsheet. Magazines? Design studios? Labels? Soundsystems? Monthly parties? Weekly gigs?

• Also list absolute crap clients you have no interest in working with whatsoever.

• Research each client. Find the person responsible for the art, sometimes they're called art directors, art buyers, sometimes just designers. Call them. Start with the crap clients so you can practice your approach and develop a thick skin for rejection.

• "Hi, my name is Senor Cardgage, I'm a designer looking for new clients, can I send you my portfolio"?

• They'll try to make you send an email, don't. Say it's a limited print run portfolio, send it by snail mail.

• If a person's not there, never leave voicemail, call next week. Be extremely polite, gentle, inobtrusive

• After mailing the folio, wait the number of days for delivery, call again.

• "Hi, this is Senor Cardgage, I sent you my folio, it was in a fluorescent yellow envelope (envelopes need to stand out), did you get a chance to have a look at it? What did you think?"

• Listen what they have to say.

• If at any step you feel bad vibes, just let it go. On the other hand, some people are incredibly open, go with the flow.

• If you do this 100 times. and get 10 responses and 1 sale, that's an UNBELIEVABLY GOOD AVERAGE

• Keep it up continuously. Instead of trying to send all 100 at once, commit to sending say 3 a week, and do it every week. Marathon, not sprint.

• Chin up! It's a numbers game. Don't feel bad if people reject you, it doesn't mean that you suck. Thick skin!

• Next level is high-end promo. This is my favorite! Find the absolutely most expensive printer in your area. Around here there's a shop with a crazy 6 color printer and acid-free fine art paper, you wouldn't believe the colors on it! Not limited to CMYK, they have some wild reds and deep greens that look like they're from RGB. Print a very very limited run of your very favorite images, small size, A5 or even A6 like small jewels. Fine art paper has gorgeous texture, leave LOTS of whitespace. These are your year-end holiday cards, for that special, meaningful A-list you want to impress.

• Explore other fun formats, flickr had little books you can print, quirky, maybe team up with some friends and make a tiny zine, put in stuff from the music scene you like, trade or give out to fun people at parties.

• In the local market I'm in, there are no 'art agents' ie someone who gets you clients for a cut. But they might be an option in your neck of the woods, check it out. Hit them up pretty much as you would do clients.

• That's it! It's about people, so IRL, printed stuff and personal connections are the best.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
posted by Tom-B at 10:31 PM on January 18, 2012 [20 favorites]

• Digital printing tends to get expensive and look crap in big sizes, another good format for you to explore would be silk screened posters
posted by Tom-B at 10:39 PM on January 18, 2012

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