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How do we get art directors to consider using illustration rather than photography? Perhaps we can try thinking like a photographer - having represented both photographers and illustrators, our experience is that many photographers position themselves as a photographic business geared to a particular client niche. Conversely, an illustrator's position is often "Can you believe I get paid to do this!?!"
We in the illustration discipline of the visual arts can learn from our photography colleagues. Their most obvious and easiest example to emulate is the website.
Many successful photography sites are simple and well-designed, with clearly organized sections of large pictures and reassuringly professional contact information. These sites open and load quickly and the user is able to easily maneuver among an inviting number of images.
Sadly, we cannot say the same for illustration websites. Representatives, art directors and designers receive countless email solicitations from illustrators. As typical recipients, we offer our view of sites that make us stop to take notice and explain what gets deleted in seconds.
A business website is your livelihood's main promotion vehicle-not a place for scrapbook intimacies or blog-type musings (an additional personal website can always be created to share that information).
A business site needs to convey your artistic sensibility in an aptly designed, easy-to-navigate presentation. If your work is refined, display it in an elegant form. If it is decorative or playful, the site can reflect that energy. Investing time and money in your website must be a top priority.
No matter how enticing your mailed promotion or exhibited work may be to a client, those pieces are but a prelude to experiencing the breadth of your work in the online world.
So how to find a good web format or a designer? Spend time visiting sites and note the design credits of your favorites. Notice the ease with which you can move within it and see the pictures. Are the thumbnails large enough to five visual information or are they just an artsy crop? Do the thumbnails open to a comfortable viewing size? Rollovers, clicking on the next thumbnail, clicking on an arrow to go forward and backward-all are preferable to continually going back to 'home' in order to proceed to the next image.
Your site will need to make a dynamic, fast impression-most people want to get in and out of sites quickly. Create an indelibly fine impression with a compellingly designed home page, quick entry, easy mobility and by using illustrations with a powerful impact as the first few images viewable on the site. As an art director moves on to other less-considered sites, your art will likely remain in mind.
To create your best presentation, cull only the very best examples of your life's work. Each successive click should generate an experience of Pow! Pow! Pow! without a dud among them.
When you have lured a client with your talent, make it a snap for them to reach you. Your email address is best when it matches the name in your web site. Maxartist@maxartist.com is considerably more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be readily available at the phone number listed. If a machine must answer, make it a welcoming, clear announcement stating your name and a polite, short message.
If you don't have an assistant who can readily contact you, then call in frequently for messages. You can't have a successful enterprise if you miss calls from clients who want to give you business. If you are represented, display that contact information significantly and proudly.
If we all follow these suggestions, perhaps the next time an art director thinks photography, they'll think again.