Hello to all the introverts out there, this post is for you.
It is time to put yourself out there and start pitching your work. I know it sounds icky and scary but as a fellow shy and introverted artist myself I am going to share the tips that have helped to get over my fears of sharing my artwork. Otherwise, do you know what is going to happen? Other artists, even one's less talented than you are going to get ahead because they are taking a chance and being proactive.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could just make pretty illustrations and pattern designs all day and they magically marketed and sold themselves with out you having to do anything? That would be the dream, but unfortunately it's not how it works. As much as you draw and create new work you have to also be sharing and marketing and most of all pitching your work all the time. Otherwise no one will know that you or your work exists. How are you going to make sales of your work if no one knows that they are available? How will art directors know that they can work with you on super dee duper fun commissions if they don't know that you exist? If you want to make money from your art you are going to have to put in the work to get your art out there.
The top mistake artists do with their marketing strategy.
One mistake that I see many artists doing as their only marketing strategy is posting to Instagram. I am guilty of this too sometimes. We see sooooo many other illustrators and designers growing on the platform and getting signed on some very cool collaborations with huge companies and we think that that could be us too one day if only we had a huge following. Well sure, but just posting to Instagram is hope marketing. There is the possibility that an important Art Director will discover your feed and love your work and get in contact with you, but that could take years of consistent posting and hashtagging.
But what if instead you got in front of them first? Let's get proactive!
Direct emails to art buyers and art directors is the number 1 way to get your art, illustrations, pattern designs etc in front of the right people and will lead to making money from your art the fastest.
By sending your portfolio or specific art work (we'll get into that in a bit) to the people that are actually in charge of purchasing art and commissioning art to their companies is how you will land your first art licensing deal, your first commission or collaboration. And it could even lead to getting paid with in a month. Some deals and projects are quick and you could start making money from your artwork right away. Doesn't that sound so much better than posting to Instagram and hoping someone will find you?
I'm going to bother them by emailing them. Ummm it's an art director or art buyers job to look at art for a living. I would turn this on it's head and think of it like you are doing them a favor. Instead of them have to scroll through Pinterest and Instagram looking for artists they would like to work with or just working with the same artists they always work with because that's the easy way out, you present them with new art that they have never seen before. Maybe it's a perfect fit now. Or maybe in the future. Win!
No answer means they hate my work. Art directors are busy, they most likely have inboxes full of pitches of artwork to sift through, including yours. wink. Taking the time to send a reply that the work is nice but not a great fit right now but maybe in the future takes them time. They could be silently tracking and following your work and will get in touch when they have a project that works with your style. Even if you do get an answer which is a no this is an opportunity to ask for feedback and to ask if you may contact again with new work in the future. Don't take it personally. Sometimes art directors are looking for very very specific artwork and yours just didn't match. If you consistently pitch your artwork every month or so they will start to get to know your name and your work and learn that you are consistent and persistent and you'll be building a relationship even though it's kind of one sided to begin with. Just keep going!
There is one set way of pitching and I just don't know what to do. Every person and company is different so there is not one way of doing things. As long as you are friendly, not too pushy ("you must look at my art, it's the best, you're stupid for not buying art from me" then you will be fine. There is another human being behind the email that you are sending and from my experience everyone has been really kind and supportive in this industry. I have never received any nasty replies etc.
So introverts, it's ok to be shy and it can still be scary pressing that email send button. But you really really want this. You want to make a living from your art! So yes rejection is tough in the beginning as it feels so personal but as time goes on these no's or no answers start to not really phase you. And as you start to get commissions and sales your confidence grows. It get's easier I swear!
Here are my 5 top tips for writing great email pitches:
Keep it simple. No need to put together a pdf presentation, a 100 page super designed portfolio or anything fancy. No one has the time to flip through that except your Mom. Just write a simple email like you would to a friend quickly introducing you and what you create. Share why you would like to collaborate with the company, and share a link to your portfolio website and Instagram too. Mention that they can get in touch if there is any thing in particular they are looking for too. That's it. Easy peasy.
Be friendly. It is nice to add in some personal touches like saying "hope you are doing well" or mentioning something personal "It's such a gorgeous day today in Sweden." to make your email's feel less copy paste. Make sure to name the art buyer or art director by name and personalize the email by mentioning the company and certain products you admire without going overboard. Ex. "I especially love your stationery line and I could see that my illustrations would be a perfect match for your notebooks."
Not too much artwork to look at. You should definitely include a link to your website so that the art director can get a feel for you and your art style but it can also be a nice idea to attach artwork directly to your email so they can immediately see your work. Make sure that you attach very small jpegs or pdf files so their email inbox doesn't get bogged down and you keep examples to around maximum 3. It is also a good idea to present these artworks in sell sheets. A presentation page with your logo, the artwork, the artwork title, and your contact information. That way if printed or shared within the company your name and contact information is always attached to your work.
Follow up. Again art buyers and art directors are busy. Make sure to follow up if you haven't heard anything in 5-7 days with a friendly "Just checking in to see if you have had time to check out my artwork." No need to be pushy or sound desperate. You can follow up again 1 more time a week after that. If you receive no answer don't get discouraged. Try again with new artwork soon.
Be consistent. Send new artwork to your list of contacts about 1 a month or so and no less than quarterly. You want to make sure that your art is in their inbox consistently. You also want to make sure that you are sharing new work. Make it a habit that you create one small collection of illustrations and patterns per month that you send out to your contacts. By doing this you will consistently be making work and consistently building email relationships!
Lastly, how do you even find art buyers and art directors to contact?!
If you are a premium member of Skillshare you can head over to watch my class How to Professionally Approach Art Buyers with Your Artwork. I go through the process of finding email addressed, how to pitch your work and keep track of your contacts on Airtable.
If you are new to Skillshare you can use my affiliate link to get a free trial and get access to this class right away as well as my many other classes and the 34,0000 + classes on the platform. Skillshare is incredible!
Thank you so much for reading and I really hope that you found this helpful!