Friday, October 15, 2010

My First Crack At A Professional Illustration Job

These last few weeks were exhilarating, challenging and exhausting.  I completed my first major commercial illustration job and boy did I learn a lot!  I anticipate my next jobs to be a lot easier because I learned so much from the process and through working with an amazingly patient client.   I'm not sure if I can post the final paintings yet but I can highlight the most important things I learned from doing this project.

6 Takeaway Tips From My First Illustration Job:

1. Take Time To Evaluate Your Artistic Process:  When evaluating the job at hand try to plan out exactly HOW you are going to complete the job and what tools you'll need to do your best work.  Then discuss your process with the client and ask for any tools or extra time you'll need.  Don't let your process be a surprise to the client.  For example:  Will you need detailed reference photos? Will you need real life references?  Will you have to do a lot of extra leg work to research or prep for the project?  How long will each painting really take?  How long will each revision take?  All of these questions are important to think through because if you get to the middle of the project and realize you don't have all the tools you need or the time you need, you'll feel stuck.

2.  Consult with a Pro Prior To Signing Contract:  Talk to another commercial Illustrator before taking the job to learn about what the process is like and what to include in a contract.

3.  Consult with A Pro To Keep Your Head on Straight:  During the job you might feel isolated and frustrated and have no one to consult with when you question or doubt yourself.  Don't bother your husband or your mom - they won't get it.  Try to contact other illustrators throughout the process so you can vent to someone who really understands what you are going through.  I received some great tips from illustrator, Karyn Servin, while I was working on my project.  She also helped relieve some of the stress I was feeling.

4.  Take Time Off:  Give yourself time to step away from the project and force yourself to think about things other than the job.  While it is necessary to give 110% to the job, it's important to remember that you'll do better work when you are healthy, happy and enjoying life.  At first I was trying to work every day, all day, and I thought about the project around the clock.  Finally when I started taking appropriate breaks and gave myself time to breathe, I ended up producing better work and enjoying the process more.

5.  Don't Be A Mind Reader:  This is sooo important.  I don't know how many times I jumped into a new leg of the project without being 100% clear on what the client was looking for.  I THOUGHT I knew what they were looking for but it wasn't until I asked very specific questions and got very specific feedback, did I realize what to do.

6.  Don't be stubborn:  At the end of the day, even if you don't think a painting needs a brushstroke here or extra color there, listen to what the client wants and just do it to the best of your ability.  This isn't about what you like, it's about what THEY like.

This list could go on and on because I did learn a lot.  But all this learning is making me itch to get started on another project.  So I'll leave you with these 6 tips - I hope they help!


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