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bringiton

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Hi all, I need some advice from professional illustrators. For the past year I have been trying to put together a portfolio together so that I can start approaching people to see if I can finally pursue my dream of being an illustrator. I have just finished illustrating a book for an author that is due out this year but it wasn't done through the conventional methods and I pretty much did it for peanuts. I was fully aware what I was getting myself in to and I was treating it as an experience and more pics to add to the portfolio. I do believe that the book will do well and have every faith it will be a success for the author.

Anyway I finally feel that I am ready to approach this via the proper routes and would like to find an agent. I have done all my research and made a list of who I want to contact but I am getting cold feet. I was wondering if maybe you guys could take a look at my website and let me know if I am ready yet? I would really like some honest advice, if it needs a lot of work then I will hold off and keep practicing. The website is still a work in progress but is 90% finished. I haven't got much funds so this is something I have put together myself so I do know its a bit basic. Any comments or tips would be greatly appreciated my add is

http://www.corrinascreations.co.uk

Thanks oh wise ones
Corrina
#1 - June 12, 2011, 01:28 PM

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One piece of advice I have if you want to send to agents is to have a website for the children's book illustration that is separate from your other freelance work. You want to show that you are focused and committed to illustration, and that you are not being pulled in other directions, and also the agents won't have to go searching through your site looking for the illustration work. Free sites from Wordpress and Google etc are totally acceptable for an online portfolio if finances are tight. A lot of your work is very nice (Underwater Paradise and Memories on your home page are really lovely), especially the fine art and aboriginal pieces and I think you'd do well to bring that level of sophistication to your illustrations. As they are they may be too cartoony for trade books, but that's just my opinion. I think your fine art animal/nature scenes look more skillfully done than your illustrations of people (the people in Memories are well done tho, that could be a good style to pursue, but I would tone down the cartooniness of the animals' eyes in that piece for illustration), so you might want to either focus on animals/nature, or spend some time developing your human characters.

For a portfolio you want to able to show a good variety of types of scenes. Different perspectives, action, emotion, etc...and it's good to show that you can draw the same character consistently from different angles and with different expressions. Just something to keep in mind when choosing the pieces you want to display. And showcase only your best work. 10 publishable quality pieces are better than having 30 pieces, and 20 are only mediocre. Don't add anything just for filler.

Look at other children's illustrators' sites and see how they display their work, and read as many picture books as you can, paying special attention to the artwork to get a feel for what publishers are looking for.

I hope this is somewhat helpful to you. There is some really good potential here and I think if you developed a consistent style throughout your pieces you'd have a good chance of success.

Good luck!!
#2 - June 12, 2011, 03:55 PM
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Simon_Turnbull

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I don't have an agent, so take this with a grain of salt. If your work doesn't fit with the rest of their stable, (in both subject matter and execution) they'll pass.  If you can find an agent who has your type of work you might be lucky, but without a track record of work behind you, again, they will most likely pass. It isn't about how good your work is, it is about whether you fit with their business model and will be able to impress their clients.

If money is tight, you'll be thinking twice about promoting yourself. In those circumstances, my judgement would be to hold off.  The time and resources you spend on promoting will take time from creating new high quality samples that will get you work.  At the very least, pare your portfolio down to the best stuff, get a better website and re-photograph your paintings (they look a bit washed out).

Good lock with it all.
#3 - June 12, 2011, 07:00 PM

bringiton

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Thank you both so much for taking the time to look at this for me, and I take both of your comments on board. I'm going to keep working at it, I'm not ready yet, but at least I know I am slowly working in the right direction.

Atremesia, you have hit the nail on the head with being pulled in all directions. When I started this all I wasn't quite sure where I was going with everything,all I knew was that I wanted to share my work with the big wide world somehow. I was originally thinking about illustrating for greeting cards but as time has gone on I have been lead down the path of children's books, I guess I really need to make my mind up which path I want to take.

I agree my forte is not people, I do struggle with them and feel much more comfortable painting nature scenes and animals so at least I have narrowed that down. I have always wanted to illustrate a book with the aboriginal theme but I'm useless when it comes to thinking up story lines. I have asked a few contacts to come up with a storyline for a picture book based on Australian animals and this will be my next project.

I will hold off with approaching anybody yet and maybe try again towards the end of the year when I have a better portfolio. Thanks so much for the advice, no doubt I will be asking for it again later this year ;)

Corrina
#4 - June 13, 2011, 02:51 AM

ladylind

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Corrinas,

I totally agree with Artemesia, your work has got great potential!  And there is no reason to spend a bunch of money on a website either because the most important part is the artwork.   I would suggest focusing the artwork, like these guys have suggested, but also keep the glitz to a minimum on your site.  If you are working towards an agent or a publisher, then only include things that are specific for them.  So I'd take out the information about what is sold and I'm not sure you need the titles either.  There is also no reason to include where the text will go because that's a given.  Keep the text to a minimum throughout because agents and publishers are busy, they'll just skim over all of that and get right to the artwork. 

I totally get you about putting up all your work.  When I started my website I did the same thing and it was a great way to get feedback from people about what is working and what isn't.  How else would you know?  And it takes guts to put your work out there for everyone to scrutinize, you'll need that to keep you going!!!  So you're off to a great start.

Keep up the good work and best of luck to you!!!
#5 - June 13, 2011, 06:14 AM

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Corrina, you don't need to come up with your own storylines. There are plenty of illustrators who don't also write. A good way to build a portfolio is to take stories that are now in the public domain (a google search will give you a long list) and do 6-8 scenes from a couple different stories. If humans are something you struggle with, concentrate on animals (you can always work on humans until you are confident you have mastered a good style with them before putting them on your portfolio). You can even take stories that were originally written with human characters and "retell" it with animal characters.

Illustrating takes time to master. Keep at it!
#6 - June 13, 2011, 07:38 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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bringiton

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Thanks again, I knew I would get some constructive criticism on here, its all very well showing friends and family but they tend to be a bit biased ;) I will have a play about again and simplify everything, removing pieces that aren't relevant. Thats a great idea about using a storyline with humans but changing it to animal characters. I thought I had cracked what style I wanted to pursue with the pastel, cartoon studies but will experiment with another style as well to see where that takes me. As they say practice makes perfect and as Arnie says.......I will be back ;) he he
#7 - June 13, 2011, 12:28 PM

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Hang out at the children's section in the library and the book store. Study the award winning illustrations. Study the best selling picture books. Follow other illustrators who write blogs and learn from their shared wisdom.

It's said that you aren't proficient at a style until you've spent 10,000 hours working at it. (I don't remember who said that...)

Keep working on your craft. If you can get to some life drawing classes and learn how human anatomy works.
#8 - June 13, 2011, 06:41 PM
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bringiton

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Thanks Lyon, I have been reading picture books and childrens books for the past 7 years due to my two little people so have studied a whole variety of different styles. I'm going to keep at this until I am 100% sure what style I am going with. I knew it wouldn't be an overnight process so will keep at it until I'm the best I can be. I hope you guys dont mind if I pick your brains again in a few months time to see if I have improved.
#9 - June 14, 2011, 09:49 AM

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Corrina, why not hang out here more often? We were all new to the game once and I learned SO much more connecting with other writers/illustrators than I ever could have on my own. Read the older illustration threads, learn about the industry and the market. Ask questions. This is what this community is here for. Support, encouragement, help along the way. And as you learn, you'll be able to share your knowledge with others that are just starting out. I've also met some really close friends here, and they have helped me grow as an illustrator and as a writer and have been there for me when I needed a good kick in the pants  :blush. It really helps to have people who you can connect with on that level who know. Friends and family are great, but they can only offer so much help and support as their understanding of the process and the industry allows.
#10 - June 14, 2011, 11:51 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
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bringiton

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You know what Artemesia,I am going to do just that. I have signed up to so many art sites over the past year and a half and spend way too much on one site in particular. Its been great but now that I know where I want to go with this I feel I need to channel my energy in the illustrating field, so this site is ideal. Will def spend some more time on here and go through the old posts.
#11 - June 14, 2011, 12:22 PM

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YAY! Good for you!

Welcome to the community!!  :welcome
#12 - June 14, 2011, 12:50 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
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KoalaWalli

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I like your style but style should be the last thing you should work on, I think you have it down pat. However if you are going to put more focus on animals might I suggest studying animal anatomy and proportion. It would really push your work and show true professionalism as an illustrator.
#13 - June 15, 2011, 11:02 AM

bringiton

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Thanks for the words of encouragement KoalaWalli, I'm 80% decided on the style to pursue, just going to try a few other experiments to make sure. I will def be practicing hard now, the last few months have been extremely busy but I now have time to do this properly again so it will be practice, practice, practice for a bit longer. I am going to treat my next pieces as I would my paintings and really go to town on the detailing. I dont want my work to look realistic, its more about shapes and colours for me but I agree I do need to know the basics still so I will take your advice and start studying their anatomy more.
#14 - June 16, 2011, 05:05 AM

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Hi Corrina :)

Here's a few things that struck me when I went to your website:

*The site itself doesn't look professional - use a plain background if you haven't got a relevant and subtle pattern. This isnt true for everyone but if you have no experience of design, its best to opt for something low key. That way you arent going to interfere with the way the illustrations are displayed on screen. Have a look at some well established illustrators websites and see how they do it.

*You have too many categories - what do you do? I would keep your art and illustration on two different websites (unless your art directly relates to your illustration, i.e. you're selling originals/prints of what is displayed in your portfolio).

*The organisation of the information on your homepage is confusing - you're not writing a newsletter, you are trying to showcase your illustration work. If it was me, I would put your news in a 'News' section and showcase your best work with minimal text on your homepage.

*Have one tab called 'Portfolio' - when you've built up enough work to start grouping it, then you can group by subject (animals, children, educational etc) within your portfolio.

With regards to your illustration work, I would say:

You are good at concepts/composition but the execution is letting you down (don't forget, this is subjective and just my opinion). The Cedric illustrations are the most appealing to me but as KoalaWalli said^, you will get a more professional look by studying the anatomy of what/who youre drawing. Use Google images and make some preliminary sketches before getting down to character development.

I would lose the card designs completely, I think they let you down (the ones with type in particular). You dont have to give up on them, just spend some time researching and developing and then build up a quality portfolio.

Don't run before you can walk - its really tempting to put everything you have into your portfolio to bulk it out a bit BUT this is not putting your best foot forward. If you want to work illustrating childrens books, you need to commit to coming up with new illustrations on a regular basis. It is better to see your website/portfolio as a work in progress - always being updated with fresh new things. You will build up a strong portfolio if you work at a steady pace. Dropping it and then picking it up again only when you have a project on will not result in a good portfolio. Nor will banging out 5 illustrations in one day. Be like the tortoise, not the hare.

The things I'm telling you here are things I have picked up myself (about my own work/portfolio) along the way.

Also, please do not work for any author for peanuts - it will not guarantee you work and its not doing anything for your portfolio that you cant do yourself. Your Aboriginal work is absolutely AMAZING - why not research some Aboriginal folk tales/myths and illustrate them for children as a starting point. You could put together a non-fiction book about Aboriginal customs/life and illustrate it for children. Please dont undervalue your time/skill by working for free or promises of further work from the author - most of theses requests come from authors who are self publishing (and dont usually earn enough from their book to pay themselves minimum wage, never mind an illustrator) or who havent researched the industry enough to know that publishers usually choose an illustrator for their text, its very rarely the authors job.

Phew! Sorry to go on - I hope this is helpful to you :)

Max x










#15 - June 17, 2011, 04:06 AM
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I echo what everyone else is saying--
clean, minimal web portfolio- you don't explain your art- you just show it-

practice, practice, practice-
and if people are not your thing- take a figure drawing class- yes- sketching nudes- or a least people- take a sketch book out to parks, busy downtown areas get a coffee and sketch.
#16 - June 17, 2011, 08:07 AM

stacebee

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Hi Corrina,

You already got such great advice but I thought this may also be helpful. Literary agent Jennifer Laughran has this post on what to include in an illustrator portfolio.

http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2010/11/illustrators-portfolio.html

Draw , draw , draw  and good luck !    :hangloose
 
#17 - June 17, 2011, 09:00 AM

Corrina,

One thing I just wanted to mention is that if you are freelancing and selling artwork online, you might need your site the way you have it and that's fine. You can always create a new site for agents and editors. Like everyone said - just a simple wordpress site for free is fine. But if you're selling to people through your other site, no need to cannibalize your business...
#18 - June 17, 2011, 09:18 AM
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bringiton

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Helloooo.... wow thanks all for the tips, especially you Max!! Well it has to be said I am slightly embarrassed about the site now lol and it is going to take a major over haul. I have looked at other sites and see where you all coming from so this will be worked on soon. I will get rid of a load of stuff, only keeping the ones I am really proud of and will get rid of loads of text and make it as simple and clear as possible.

As for what to include on there, Im torn.. I will put some of my better Cedric pics on but I do have a soft spot with my aboriginal studies, they have always had a place in my heart. I am going to experiment on a few more illustrations to try and combine  the two techniques to see how that works, it could go horribly wrong or it could be just what I’m after. Do you think it would look wrong to include Cedric and say some of my paintings ie memories, underwater paradise and a few aboriginal pieces. I know everyone says you should have one style and really work on that but I’m so torn between the two at the moment. I love my cartoons and I love the aboriginal stuff. Would it be a big no no to have both in the same portfolio on the one website? I will off course remove all notes about prices etc and make it simple, simple, simple.

I know I’m an impatient so and so but at the same time I really want to make a go at this so I am holding off with it all and going to practice my little socks off. If you don’t mind I will post new pics to the site as and when I do them and ask for your advice again just to see if I am on the right track.

Yes I knew I would be rapped on my knuckles for undertaking the book but it was purely for practice. We have built up a lovely relationship together and we were just helping each other out from an aspiring author to an aspiring illustrator. She knows full well that it was a one off on my part and any future jobs will be charged at the going rate.

Thanks so much for the link Stacybee, I will have a good old look at this when I get home.

Well I guess one good thing about this post is to show people how not to put a website together lol. I’m pleased that even though there have been some negatives at least there are positives as well so there is hope for me yet 

Thanks guys and have a great weekend
Corrina
#19 - June 17, 2011, 10:22 AM

T Howell

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"I am going to treat my next pieces as I would my paintings and really go to town on the detailing."

Corrina, I believe the above plan will put you on the right track. I see two Corinnas at work (as you have indicated): one that's endeavoring to make it in children's book illustration, the other who has passionately pursued this inspirational connection with Aboriginal art. Go with the passionate you, give it your whole heart, and apply it to all that you do. See where it takes you. And yes, keep at it, keep drawing, keep exploring and growing. I know you will.

Blessings.
#20 - June 19, 2011, 11:52 AM

bringiton

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Thanks T Howell, yup I do seem to be split in two, very frustrating! Well like you say I'm gonna go with the heart for a bit and see where it takes me, I seem to be selling a few of my paintings lately which is really confusing me. My heart wants to illustrate but people seem to like my paintings...arrrgh lol I need to try and work my paintings into illustrations so gonna have a good play about over the next few months with it all.
#21 - June 19, 2011, 01:30 PM

T Howell

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I can tell you this because I have at least four creative endeavors within me, going all different directions—design, acting, art, and writing. But I’ve decided to focus on two: writing and art (hence my website name: studioambidextrous) http://www.troyhowellstudio.com/

I wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing more great creations from you.
#22 - June 19, 2011, 02:07 PM

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My website is clean and designed for an art director- my blog on the other hand- is all me- with anything that is taking my fancy at the time- posting work in progress, illustration friday- which I think would be very good for you- and interaction with other artist and illustrators- and blogs are free- having the two lets you meet all your needs and fancies.
#23 - June 20, 2011, 07:20 AM

bringiton

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Hiya Julia, I think my website is going to take a complete back burner for now until I get some more practice in. Now this blogging thing sounds ideal, something just fun and light hearted. Can you recommend a good place to start,it has to be fairly idiot proof he he I saw something about the Illustration Friday challenges, something like that would be great just to get me practicing. I did try to sign up to the watercolour wednesday but didn't hear anything back. Can you remind me what the link for Illustration Friday is again?
#24 - June 20, 2011, 01:35 PM

bringiton

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Hmmm so I have had a little play and I think I quite like the idea of combining the two together. Going to practice a lot more obviously but curious to know your thoughts on it, am I heading along the right lines? The pic is at:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=217216891651755&set=a.161890233851088.31642.139672249406220&type=1&theater

Corrina
#25 - June 22, 2011, 12:33 PM

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I can tell you this because I have at least four creative endeavors within me, going all different directions—design, acting, art, and writing.

Ahhhh! Could "focus" be something we all struggle with - mine is art- but which handicraft- weaving, embrodiery, etc , writing, but which genre- pb to ya and nonfiction, but also have some screenplays in my head- I keep telling myself I can probably do everything I want, but probably not all at the same time- certianly not if I want to master any of them- !

I use blogspot- it is free and very easy to set up- there are template- but with a little digging you can set up a page with the same "flavor" as your website" and attach a picture for the header-
#26 - June 23, 2011, 06:10 AM

bringiton

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Hey all... Im back ;)

So I have just finished giving my website a serious overhaul. Would you mind taking a look and seeing whether this would be good enough to start approaching people with? I have been practicing with different styles as well and really feel quite comfortable with giving this a go now, so will be contacting agents over the next month. I think the site look tonnes better now and cant thank you all enough for the suggestions. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it

Corrina

www.corrinascreations.co.uk
#27 - July 17, 2011, 02:59 AM

Simon_Turnbull

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Wow! that's a really big improvement. I'm impressed. It really represents your work and puts the focus on the artwork. Very clean and straightforward layout.

I do have one nitpick with the order of the topmenu. You have your about page listed before the artwork galleries. It's my personal preference, but I think this is counter to how most users desire to move through a site. Might even come off as a little egotistical. ;)

All in all, good job.
#28 - July 18, 2011, 08:18 AM

bringiton

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Thanks Simon and I never thought about that before but yeah can see where you are coming from, I have now moved the about me tab to the end. I am so pleased you think its an improvement. I'm just so glad I came to you guys first before showing it to agents / publishers etc, it could have been some what embarassing!
#29 - July 18, 2011, 09:09 AM

bringiton

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Hmmm competition is fierce is it not!! Trying to stay positive but the more you read up on illustrating and the more you start looking into peoples portfolioss the more intimidating the whole process is. Can see this being a looooooong old journey!
#30 - July 19, 2011, 11:24 PM

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