I just had to share this note our agent Christy sent an aspiring children’s book illustrator today. She was asking for advice, and this is like a mini course in what to do to find your style and get into the industry! It may not be rocket science, but it does take talent, industry knowledge and persistence!
“Thanks for your email. And congratulations on your interest in joining the wonderful world of children’s book illustration! Your first step is to visit book stores. Look at trade, educational and mass market books, and study the artwork (and the difference in artwork) in those markets. Compare it to your style. Is your artwork geared more towards the trade market, or more mass market? Then you’ll kinda know where you belong!
Move beyond pencil in your artwork. Sketches are SO important and good idea to show, but you need FINISHED SAMPLES. Lots of illustrations (color and black & white) showing characters, storyline, character growth and interaction. Show a consistent style or two. That helps you to be memorable. Work on samples that tell little stories – 2 or 3 sequential illustrations that have a story flow and book feel. Art buyers (and agents!) need to see this.
Once you have a good portfolio of samples (black and white & color), build a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you will need one in order to easily show your work. You need to have an online presence. They can’t HIRE you if they can’t SEE you.
And then, get yourself out there! Get advice and feedback on your samples and portfolio from industry professionals and follow it. Listen to what people want and are looking for…and their honest critiques of your work. But most of all, have fun with it! Working artists are lucky because they get to do what they love! Have fun with the process of finding your style, and then enjoy working on your samples and building your portfolio. It should be a fun journey – not a mountain to climb!”
here is an aspiring artist by CAT artist Meryl Treatner