Friday, 19 August 2011

Illustration 101 - Self Promotion

Every creative knows the importance of self promotion. Without it the chances of being "found" dwindles and less work is available to us. There are many methods available to us for self promotion, how do you find out what methods work, who to target, and how to have successful campaigns for promotion?

Erica - Self promotion for me starts with who I am, aka. my brand. Without knowing who you are and what you do, it's hard to make yourself marketable. So step one for self promotion should always be defining these two aspects. From there, create the visual identity that you associate to that brand, web layout, banners, business cards, email formatting, etc. Once basics laid out put them into practice. Use them constantly, become your brand, but be professional. No one likes emails that are littered with poor grammar, spelling errors, or shorthand.   Even if you have the best brand in the world and an amazing portfolio, being a dolt will quickly get you overlooked or ignored.
Everyone's journey into branding is going to be different so I'm not going to get into that, let's skip how to brand yourself, and assume that you have already established yourself and your brand. There is a lot of debate floating around about whether electronic promoting (blogging, email campaigns, social networking, etc) is better than print promotion (post cards, portfolios, letters). It takes a lot of experimentation to find out what works and doesn't. It takes time. So start now.
My own promotional methods utilize both print and electronic mediums. I am a sucker for traditional work, I love holding something in my hand. Tangibility means a lot to me and in a today where the majority of correspondence is done online, I appreciate physical even more. Spend some time figuring out what you like, and what your budget is. Twitter, Facebook, emailing... all typically free. Printing postcards, making portfolios to take to meetings, fliers... all not free. So establish your budget and stick to it, especially if you are experimenting, don't waste tons of money on a postcard mailer that only 5 people of 200 read.
My personal methods for promotion are as follows:
Electronic- website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Behance Network, Society 6, Etsy.
My website links to all of these. Each one is slightly tailored for a specific use, and some are experiments. As I progress and take on more work I'll venture out into other sites and networks. But for now, having a tightly knit "base of operations" between these works well for me. As long as I update them frequently (which isn't always the case). I'm still a little web-shy. But eventually I'll get over it.
Printed- Postcards, business cards, fliers, specialty promo items, packaging.
I try to make sure that everything I make can be identified as coming from me, even if it doesn't fit my "brand".    I want people to know its me, and to know how deeply I care about what I do. Enthusiasm goes a long way I think. Right now, I only used printed materials when I know I'm going to be face to face with someone. Seeing my face and being able to hand them something will make me more memorable. I'm new enough to the game that being able to do so will show people that I'm willing to put myself out there and that I am living what I do and am willing to stand up for it publicly.
No matter what method you use, believe in it and know that it's not just your brand or your work you are marketing/promoting. It is  you, and that makes all the difference in the world. In the words of my mother, "What you do and how hard  you work is a direct reflection of your character and what kind of a person you are. Make sure that your work tells people all of the positives of your character, not the negatives."

Jo- Working in the creative industry has become competitive, I guess for most jobs nowadays! With the 'x' number of students and graduates all going for the same thing you need to start promoting yourself the earlier the better.

Both print and electronic communication go hand in hand. You need something physical to give and send to people as well as having an online presence.
I have promotional postcards and business cards I hand out to people and also when I do my craft markets. If you're feeling a tad creative why not make a pack of promotional items to hand out to potential clients/ agencies? Like have a few postcards of your work all nicely packaged plus have some info about yourself and where they can find you. I've seen artists using stickers which is pretty clever.
I'm not too keen on carrying a massive portfolio around unless if the client wants to see work printed then fair dos. In that case I'll bring along the book or magazine for them to see the real thing. Personally I find that they're a pain to carry around ono the tube and expensive. I rarely use mine anyway, instead I send out a pdf CV and portfolio to people if they want more information about me.

Before I had a website I was using Flickr (and still do.) For me Flickr was a great tool to promote my work, once I got my head around it's very easy to use. And when you start to get people leaving nice comments about your work you feel super good about yourself! Now I have a website, which my blog is integrated within it, and I keep it updated with the latest news and work I'm currently doing. The role of technology and social media has enabled me, and like many other artists, to communicate and reach a far great audience (by the way I'm NOT dissing print.)
I use Twitter and Facebook a lot simply because I can always update people about what I'm up to. I sell prints and paper goods so I'm on Society 6 , Etsy and Envelop.

I am also up for trying out new things such as Pinterest and The Fancy. Although it's not in anyway promoting myself it allows people to see what my interests are in a visual way.

There are so many ways to promote yourself nowadays sometimes I still find myself running round in circles trying to update everything! The key to it is to spend a bit of time during the week to update your blog or your website with new work etc.

Please tell us about your promotions in the comments below. We would love to hear about it!


  1. I just wanted to stay that as an Illustration student in my second year of a degree, i found this article extremely helpful! We are undertaking a self promo project right now and have been discussing print based promotions a lot aswell as most of us trying to build online presences. Thankyou so much for all the tips! This was really clearly written and has given me some new ideas! :)

  2. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

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