happy earth day…with gratitude

Earth Day (3)

thank you Priscilla Burris for the gentle reminder…. we need to ‘watch’ and care for her…..

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I want to apologize for the delay in this next part to “CAT NIP Promotion!” We had a sad loss in the family that took me away for a month…. but life continues and we must promote it!

the three spring ct this is myself Chris, Billie the agency ‘research assistant’ and Christy Ewers, my daughter and partner in CATugeau LLC.  We are celebrating the team, the now and the future with a kiss out to all!

NOW…down to the VERY IMPORTANT part of the ‘WHAT’ you must have in your portfolios…online and in person.  You must show very good and consistent characters and character development.  It’s most essential for children’s book industry projects as they are all about story telling. And what are stories?  They are scenes in a person, animal or thing’s life history!  whether a moment, a day, a month or a year or a lifetime, characters and their growth and change is what stories are all about.  So you MUST show it!

“Character” = (Webster’s) “complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person” or “a distinguishing feature”.

” Development”= “unfold gradually or in detail”  or ” to go though a natural process of growth and differentiations = evolve!”

So Character Development in ART then is an artist showing a unique character’s individual growth and change in REACTION to the story line events and over a period of time. (could be a few moments possibly!)  This uniqueness for trade books is what the reader/listener identifies with and sympathizes with  to experience the events of life through them and helping us understand and internalize the stories underlying components. The success of this for a story is often determined by the artist’s visual depiction of these all important story characters and their details of life.

How do you do this in a portfolio of 15 + images only which must include lots of different elements of your talent?  you take two or three sequential action scenes from a ‘story’ (doesn’t have to be an actual one) and paint them!  Take a piece you’ve done with a memorable character(s). Now imagine what happened just before this image…and/or just after it.  Same character(s) but different emotion, setting, time.  Make it clear you can show this ‘development’ in these 2 or 3 images. Good to do this for two stories at least…total of 6 images maybe. Place them together in the portfolio. They are probably the most important things you’ll have in your portfolio. It amazes me how many artist portfolios miss this! It makes the buyers ‘leap of faith’ to hire you to do a sequential book project much less of a guess.  Remember, LET THE ART DO THE TALKING.  SHOW you can tell a story with characterization.

Now we’ve covered the ‘WHY’ and the ‘WHAT’ of portfolios and promotion, we’ll next get to the ‘Where, When and How’. Tune in!  (and write me questions anytime…..)

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“MOM’S SCHOOL” launches….

we are SO excited to celebrate the launch day for MOM’S SCHOOL illustrated by our Priscilla Burris and written by Rebecca Van Slyke, published by Francis Gilbert of Random House!  It’s SUCH a fun adventure school for the training of women to become wonderful mom’s as a child might imagine it.  And DAD’S SCHOOL will follow in a year’s time! can Dads wait?


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I am lucky enough to live in a small town, Williamsburg VA, that values art, history, learning and organic, deep beauty in all it’s views!  Our Muscarelle Museum of Art is host to one of only two viewings of more than twenty-five drawings of master Leonardo da Vinci~ ( the other in MFA Boston in April – June).  I’ve been to the show and listened to two experts lectures about the importance of and hidden magic in his drawings…so many of which were lost.  Da Vinci only painted a few over 20 completed paintings and it’s believed that his studies for these were almost more important to him than the finished work.  It’s most revealing to get so close to these wonderful small studies…and notes.  He was left-handed, and wrote his notes backwards to make it easier for himself (!) and the viewer can see the left-handed cross marks in the silverpoint markings he used often…as in the image from this “most beautiful drawings, I dare say, in the world” (Sir Kenneth Clark) of  a head for The Angel in he Virgin of the Rocks 1483 on loan from Biblioteca Reale, Turin.  STUNNING.

Scan0002  you can’t look at the eyes and not think of the Mona Lisa either.  So intimate….   We as artists and humans are always aware of and in pursuit perhaps of beauty, wisdom and perfection in its many, but illusive, manifestations. This is a up-close study of just that.  Lucky me!

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CAT NIP: “WHAT” part 2,

I left you last article thinking about the fact that your website and person portfolio and all your promotional material BETTER BE SAYING THE RIGHT THING about you, your style, your professionalism.  So now that you’ve got that settled in your mind as you’ve reviewed your samples, let’s get to the overall a of WHAT should be in and being seen in your collection of samples.

To start, you only want to have maybe 12-15 of your very very best work in a physical portfolio, and basically the same on your website. Leave them wanting more, but enough so they KNOW you a bit.  You want the images to be as big as they can be on the website so the viewer doesn’t have to struggle to SEE the details.  And no one will do a lot of scrolling unless they are mesmerized, so have your BEST ‘wow’ pieces first. And think about grouping that makes visual sense.

I will list the MUST HAVES now:  and get into them each a bit.

Characterization… showing interesting, appealing characters grow…more on that in it’s own ‘WHAT’ part 3 to come next!  HUGE!

KIDS and people (all ethnic types and ages), animals of all sorts, interacting in their lives. Figures (no nudes! lol) and gestures.

Expressions…happy, surprised, sad, questioning, angry, love and content, lost…….

Sense of place and time…scenes!…sequential scenes. Inside, outside, night, day, school, home etc. ATMOSPHERE

Ability to tell a story! not all ‘presentation pieces.’  Show sequential scenes and page turn ability.


Perspectives…up/down, close/distant, complicated/ simple, surprise us!

Black and White…. if you do this, show it. At end perhaps.  Later elementary and middle grade b/w tone art is very needed these days.  Show a couple from same story-age appropriate.

Two styles max….not including b/w.  You want to be REMEMBERED, and they can’t if you aren’t even sure who you are.  Once they know you, then surprise them with more!

So this is a lot, I know! and you can’t show everything in 15 pieces, but you can make them want to SEE MORE. Arrange your pieces so the BEST ‘WOW’ is first, and then a sequential piece showing more about the characters and ‘the story.’ next. (doesn’t need to BE a story actually.)  Think about what you are evoking as you place images…. think thematically even, styles together, GREAT piece at end of color too, and b/w together at end (or separate page on website and then show more.) I think using both sides of a physical portfolio is a plus…shows a spread big like a real picture book. or two images from ‘same story.’ Think like a buyer…what would WOW you to contact this artist and want them to work with you!?

more CAT NIP ‘WHAT’ very soon…all about the all important Character!

YIPPEE  BURRISPriscilla Burris…character master!





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CAT NIP: moving onto “WHAT”…..

Now that we’ve talked about WHY you might need and want a ‘portfolio,’ let’s examine WHAT a portfolio actually is! And begin to talk about WHAT goes into/onto it.  An online  website portfolio is an absolute MUST in today’s markets = showcase of your best marketable work.  Not a blog (though that’s good too) or Pinterest (also good) or a collection of artists grouped together (though that too is helpful) or your AGENT’S SITE (also MOST helpful.) You need a site of your own.  There are free ones and many that only cost $20 or so a month, and you can control what’s on them easily and directly. Talk to artist friends about their experiences with website companies. Buyers want to see that you are professional enough to know you must have a WEBSITE today….that’s linked to all the other places you might have work. Even your agent will want to link to your site so clients can get to know you and your work better. A note…. clean and simple and big enough to see easily.  Don’t make us work too hard!  Editors and ADs and Agents are often over worked with little time for the FUN job of looking at samples of talented artists! MAKE us want to turn the page!

A physical portfolio today is really only used for visits with clients when you travel to NYC for instance.  You’ll need one if you plan to showcase work at an SCBWI conference type event also.  In both cases a nice simple 11×14 leather or plastic carry ‘book’ is a lovely size…not too big to be annoying as you push ‘slush piles’ off some editors desk, or hog the entire display area at a show, but big enough to nicely show copies (only) of samples in an actual ‘picture book’ size.  You can also attach an actual dummy to this size easily for shows. (No oversized or boxed ‘student’ types.) For mailing or ‘drop offs,‘ (when you can’t get IN to see an editor or AD but they do take ‘books’ overnight)  an inexpensive 9×12 black plastic clear sheeted display book works very well. (lots in Office Depot and Staples etc)  They come in 6 or 12 pages….no bigger is needed to house the 10-15 GREAT sample copies you’ll put in them. Loss happens and you don’t want your expensive real-leather-with-logo imprint to be lost! Keep it simple and clean looking….no ‘boxed’ painted or with cute ‘hang offs’. That’s annoying and distracting!  You only have ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION.  Make it be a professional, neat, business savvy impression. REMEMBER….the ART does the talking.  Not you so much; not clever ‘books’ or envelopes (tho’ fun for a thank you later!); not “more and bigger is better”!

Now you have your online and in-person portfolios…. WHAT do you put on/in them!?
This will take several CAT NIP sessions to chat about.  I want to start now by asking you to think about one of my favorite phrases:  PORTFOLIO PORTENT.  “pro-tent” = “something that foreshadows a coming event.”  Like a wordless picture book, your portfolios will talk to the buyers.  The sample pages foreshadow what they can expect from you should they hire you to illustrate a project.  THINK ABOUT THAT!

And it better be foreshadowing/saying the RIGHT things!  Think about that till the next ‘WHAT- b.’ part of our CAT NIP series!

(foreshadowing!= ‘content’ for your portfolio’s samples pages)

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CAT NIP…small teasers to motivate



‘I promised in my last post to write a series about portfolios and promoting your artwork. Last weekend’s SCBWI FL event prompted me to see the need for an informational update on these subjects, and I’ve decided to call the series CAT NIP  an appropriate way to use our agency logo brand! (Christina Ann Tugeau) These will be little ‘teasers’ to help motivate artists to rethink or reorganize themselves promotionally.  I hope to help you better understand the WHY, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of it all.

Let’s start with the “WHY” of a portfolio.  I already mentioned last blog that today your WEBSITE is actually your best portfolio.  It’s hard to get ‘in’ to see buyers, but if you want to be hired …you have to be SEEN That is the “WHY”.  Buyers need you.  They constantly require new, unique art for their story manuscripts and educational programs. They are always looking for new visual styles and approaches.  Your samples presented on your website and in your physical portfolio needs to show them YOU…the professional, dependable, talented, unique, consistent YOU.

Another way of looking at this = your website, blog, mailers etc. are your resume if you are corporate…your audition if you are a musician, dancer or actor …your head shot if you are a model.  It’s ONLY PURPOSE is to show off your talent and style to potential buyers you hope will hire and pay you to do a job for them.

If you are not ready, or are not interested in being hired, you do not need a portfolio!   Again, it’s only purpose is to SHOW your work to buyers by letting the ART DO THE TALKING….. and to get you hired to do work you are paid for.  All else comes after an understanding of this simple fact.  Put your business hat on when you are choosing the images that will be seen as ‘you’. (more on that later)

Websites make it easier for buyers to find you. Understand that buying this sort of assignment art creates a dilemma for the buyers! They can not see the actual art before it is assigned to an artist…  It has not been created yet! That’s also what is so exciting and wonderful about this industry. It is a huge LEAP OF FAITH for them to hire you as their artist.  Your website portfolio must show them what they need to know…. that they can trust you to take a manuscript or specs and turn them into just what they are needing. (their job depends on it too!) So your portfolio must give them this confidence to hire YOU (and not another artist) for their needs.  This is the ‘WHY’….and leads us into the ‘WHAT’.  Tune in for more CAT NIP soon!  (and spread the word…the WHY of my doing this series is to help artists…get the word out, please!)

Chris Tugeau 3 (3)portfolio reviews during the Bonita Springs Artist Afternoon Feb. 21 2015 with SCBWI members from FL and Chris Tugeau, rep and owner CATugeau Agency LLC

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