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Illustrator looking to get in front of agents to get picture book projects

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I keep reading that authors should not look to hire artists. I also see that many authors illustrate their own books... I feel like the artist/illustrator has a hard time then getting the great book projects. Please help me understand what to do. I've been a professional  illustrator for over 30 years.  I am a member of SCBWI. I can do lots of styles. Agents don't want to see that. They don't want what they already have, but they don't really tell you what they want... so what's an illustrator to do? Self-publishing authors use Fivver or themselves and it shows... you get what you pay for. I know I can do some amazing work for picture books. I just need to get the chance.
#1 - January 18, 2021, 10:56 AM
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 12:14 PM by bill-dussinger »

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I think everyone is frustrated competing with a glut of other artists for a relatively small amount of illustration work.  Especially this last year.  I don't know about you, but my work all but dried up after March.  I wish us all better luck in the coming year! 

(If you've been working as an illustrator for 30 years, I doubt I can give you any practical advice you haven't already heard.) 
#2 - January 18, 2021, 11:50 AM

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I'm assuming you've been doing other types of illustration and are looking to break into a new market. Have you looked at artists' reps or just literary agents?

Some reps scope out pages on Instagram and the like from what I've heard, so being active there by posting illustrations may help. Make sure all of the art you show is picture book friendly if that's what you want to do. You can also submit directly to some art directors and even book packagers. Don't leave out educational presses. And of course, a website that showcases your style, participation in SCBWI's Draw This competition monthly, and sending out postcards of your work can't hurt.

(I'm not an artist, but I listen to them and read about them.)

#3 - January 18, 2021, 06:17 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Hi Bill,

Here are some things you might try:

1. Look at other, published illustrators' websites. Note their styles. Maybe you just need an updated portfolio.
2. Attend conferences (even virtual), so you can get your work in front of art directors and editors, and so you can get feedback.
3. Send postcards to editors/art directors. Showcase your best work on the front and list your contact info on the back. Resend twice a year.
4.  Apply to illustrate for book packagers and educational publishers.
5.  Go to independent publishers' websites and find out how to submit your work.
6.  Send your information to children's magazines. Get some credits doing magazine illustrating.
7.  Chat with published illustrators, if you can make a genuine connection. Ask for feedback, if it seems appropriate (but no stalking!).

Good luck. Hope this gives you some ideas!

Jody
#4 - January 19, 2021, 04:53 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, BUSY BUS series, EMERGENCY KITTENS, and more!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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