31. It’s important to maintain a portfolio that showcases the strongest pieces. I regularly painted new paintings to upgrade my portfolio. I geared my portfolio paintings to showcase my strongest abilities.
32. Promotion is key. Every few years I advertised in a “source book” such as the Workbook. Earlier in my career I mailed promotion pieces out by the hundreds, and followed up with phone calls. Nowadays, there are email promotions.
33. When asked to give a bid on any assignment, my method is always to work closely with the “existing budget.” Sometimes it is a delicate process to get the art director to reveal it. I often say, “Look, I want to work with you. So tell me your budget and that way I won’t be overwhelming you with a much higher price.” That usually works, and sometimes the art director might share with me prices that other illustrators have bid. The other side is that I never want to underbid on a job where it turns out that I’ve asked for less than they would have paid me!
34. Always get additional fees for selling unlimited printing rights, the original painting, and/or a “buy out.” On every estimate and invoice I state: “Artist retains ownership of copyright.”
35. Always be sure to have a signed estimate or purchase order before beginning any assignment. Never start an assignment before being given a “go ahead.” Almost every time that I have done that (in order to save time), it has been the “kiss of death” for the job – simply bad luck!
36. Never agree to any deadline that is not feasible. I have never failed to meet a deadline in my career, but I also know my limits. If I cannot complete a quality illustration on an impossible deadline, I speak up before taking the job. Be prepared that even as time is ticking away, an art director might pause before giving approval to move forward on comps or line drawings. I always write on my estimate, “This deadline is based on timely approval of all sketches and comps!”
37. The more preliminary work that has been approved, the better the chances for success. I have tweaked line drawings and placement on an illustration over a dozen times before beginning the final art. I never charge extra for any of this. I will charge an additional fee if the job changes direction completely and/or if the ingredients change mid-stream. It is also important to anticipate revisions on any final illustration. There are usually quite a few people involved that have to be pleased!
38. Presentation is important when submitting a final illustration. I always mount my illustrations, and have an acetate overlay for protection. Recently, my work is digitally submitted and the original is never shared. In those cases, I prefer to do my own scanning. Even though I don’t own a super-expensive scanner, my scans are superior due to my correcting any flaws on the illustration that are visible when highly magnified.
39. Plan on following up regarding payment for every job. My invoices state, “Due and payable in 30 days.” After thirty days I always call. Frequently, the invoice might not even be in their system!
40. Follow up on any job to obtain the printed sample. Although that sounds logical, sometimes getting a sample of a printed job is extremely difficult. Often, an art director works hard to get copies from the client for their own purposes. Prepare to be disappointed, as the printing process usually does not flatter any illustration.
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