Finding a side-career as an occasional artist
June 2, 2012 1:45 PM   Subscribe

How do I find work as an illustrator / artist? I've been drawing for years and people think I'm good enough to ask me for the occasional commission / spot illustration. I'd like for this to happen more often, and maybe get paid now and then.

I have realistic expectations about being an artist, I have a solid backup job/career to support me financially. I am almost used to rejection.

I've been asked to do artwork before, mostly commissions (paid or otherwise). I don't actively look for gigs because I don't really know how.

I'd like to get more illustration work, and I don't know where to look. I'd like to make stuff for publications, spot illustrations, and other things. I have no idea how this is done.

How can I best advertise my work, and willingness to work?
Who should I send my portfolio to?
How do I find these people?
Do places like the New York Times and The New Yorker just take unsolicited submissions that I can just spam?

MeMail me if you'd like to see my work.
posted by hellojed to Work & Money (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I checked out the DeviantArt link in your profile. Looks good!

If you haven't already, be sure to get together a portfolio of the things you mentioned: "Stuff for publications, spot illustrations, and other things." You may need to get out and talk to people you know. Don't do imaginary stuff--make sure your portfolio is full of actual project work, even if you did it for free.

Don't send your portfolio to anybody. Take it with you when you go to meet them in person.

Ask local graphic designers (look them up) for advice or for a brief informational interview. If they have work and are kind enough to offer, great. Don't show up just to ask for work. Ask how you might find work. Do everything they say to do, then come back in a month or two and show them that you did all of it. You want to build relationships of trust right now if this is going to become a thing for you.

Ask local web designers if you can make some web graphics for one of their side projects.

Ask local IT support people if you can design a flyer or logo for them.

Talk to local non-profits--small ones. Offer to do flyers.

Go to your local college(s) and talk to the staff there. Ask them what they think you should do.

When I taught graphic design at my local college, people came in all the time to take a class, and I helped them find work if they asked me for help. Everybody left the class with a better portfolio. Some left with jobs in hand. Some them were in graphic design, some illustration.

Talk about your efforts on Facebook. Share with family and friends. Lots of work gets passed around this way.

Don't spam anybody. Don't just put stuff out there. Make sure you connect with people in person and show them what you can do for them.

Hope that helps!
posted by circular at 2:48 PM on June 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Circular gave you great advice! I'm just letting you know that it's heartily seconded.
posted by safetyfork at 3:06 PM on June 2, 2012

Response by poster: I should mention that my deviant art account hasn't been updated in like 2 years, so it doesn't reflect my current output. Thanks for the advice!
posted by hellojed at 3:21 PM on June 2, 2012

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