Plea from a wannabe

Hello everyone. I've posted a few things, but don't think I'm very well-known here... Anyway, I'm a university senior, about to graduate with a B.A. in Theology. I minored in Studio Arts with a concentration in figure drawing, and I have been drawing all my life. I want to become a professional illustrator and religious artist. Since many of you are professionals, I would appreciate knowing how you started out and what advice you might have: practical things like getting an agent or not, submitting one's portfolio to people, making contacts, approaching publishers, how this business works. Please tell me your stories!

Thank you!


Lawrence Klimecki, deacon said...

Hello Mary,
There are other members who are more qualified to answer this than me (I'm still trying to figure it out after 30 years.) But I thought I would get the ball rolling.
The basic idea isn't too complicated. Find the publishers that publish the type of work you do and cultivate a relationship with their buyer.
That said there are countless variations on that theme. The best place to start really is with yourself. Take an honest look at the type of work you do, the type of work you want to do, and the type of work you are really passionate about, these are not always the same thing. Next thoroughly research your market. It is not really about competing with others as it is finding the right match between what you do and what a publisher needs.
If you want to do children's books you may want to consider joining the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They focus more on writers than illustrators and the younger end of children's books but they are still a good resource. The annual Artist's Market book can also be a good resource to start with but be sure to verify any information you get from it because things change quickly these days.
Once you have matched your passion, with your art and some likely prospects for publishers then you have to begin building a relationship with their editor or art director (whoever is responsible for the art buying decisions.) The buyer has to know that they can rely on you to solve their problem and that sort of trust takes time.You can do this best by communicating regularly with them via email, postcards, samples, whatever the Buyer's preference is.
I have never had an agent, but there are many resources on the web that list their pros and cons.
Oh, and never stop learning, keep reading, studying, learning from others who are doing what you want to do, and always continue to improve on your skills.
I hope this helps get you started, good luck, God Bless.

Mary MacArthur said...

Thank you very much Lawrence, that is just the sort of thing I was hoping for. I will definitely be referring back to this.

Anthony VanArsdale said...

I've been thinking what to say, but there's not much I can add to Deacon Klimecki's comment. That sums it up quite well.

Wishing you all the best!