My year of chairing the Society of Illustrator’s annual show is over. Below is the blurb which will be published in the annual book. It’s a rah-rah speech, which I thought was appropriate to share today, when the Student Competition results were announced. The portrait above is by Kris Mukai.
I don’t think you’re allowed to declare a “Golden Age” while you’re living in it. But isn’t it fair to say that this is a particularly fruitful moment in illustration? Far from being the final deathblow, The Digital Revolution has reinvigorated our industry with new energy and enthusiasm thanks largely to the generation who grew up online.
Context used to define what illustration was. Then the pirate ship that is the Internet stripped illustration of that context, and to some degree, the client, which made us very unhappy and afraid. More fundamentally, this reversal also untethered our notions of what illustration should look like, where it should live, and what it should do. As a result, the community, which is now thriving online, is deeper and more diverse than it has ever been.
Young illustrators, seemingly unfazed by the fact illustration was declared dead 60 years ago, are getting on with the business of making stuff. Not only individual images, but also showcases for those images: anthologies, collaborations, galleries, self-published books, games, visual essays, products sold directly to fans. (Illustrators have fans now.) How thrilling to see illustration cross-pollinating with journalism, comics, design, art, animation, and other disciplines that barely have names yet. Conventional clients have taken note. Why wouldn’t they? It’s good work.
The best young artists are seeking to define their careers on their own terms. I see this in my students at the School of Visual Arts. For better or worse, they are not content to be someone’s hired hands. They desire to be professionals, yes, but not to create work that only “solves the problem”–it must be meaningful on a deeper level too. It must have soul. When I was a student, I was happy just to render fruit in markers, if that’s what was what my teachers requested.
I’m pleased to see so many new names in this year’s annual. Their work sits comfortably amongst that of seasoned professionals. And while I think there is still more work to be done, the Society of Illustrator’s mission of celebrating illustration and its evolving manifestations seems on track. Congrats to the selected winners of this year’s annual, particularly those new to the Society. Let’s push each other higher and harder and see where we go next.
Thank you again to the jurors of this year’s show, Chris Buzelli and John Hendrix for their help and guidance, Vivienne Flesher and Chelsea Cardinal for their work on the poster, Director Anelle Miller and her staff. Lastly, thank you to Kate Feirtag, my right-hand lady, for her patience, preparedness, and dedication to The Society.
zachmeyerart asked: Hi Sam I had a question about studio spaces, and at what point in your career could you afford a studio space, and if you had any suggestions for getting one thats affordable. Im currently a working illustrator and live and work in a hobbits closet.
Didn’t you prank call me once pretending to be Chang Park?
Some more student zines. Happy holidays everyone.
Top row: AJ C. Second row: Ashley Jung, Katelyn Ong. Third row: Leslie Rubio, Tong Liu. Bottom row: Yoon Cho, Claudia Lee.
Some pages from the final zine project I give my students every semester at SVA. Great job kids. I’m going to miss you.
Top row: Boeun Choo. Second row: Claudia Lee, Jenna Bae, Liza Q. Third row: Marlon Preuss, Nina Yoshida. Bottom Row: Yoon Cho.
jhonnymcjhon asked: Ive finally gotten my first illustration assignment , its only for a small spot illustration in a new england hunting magazine but its a start! I was wondering if you knew how I find out what to include in my invoice i send them after the assignment is completed? like what legal terms and conditions region and usage and all of that im very uninformed about after having graduated art college & I find it very difficult to find this information online,I was hoping youd have some advice or resource?
Why so anxious J? No one is expecting you to know it all. In fact being new and fresh is one of your greatest advantages. You don’t need to trick your clients into thinking you’ve been doing this for years. Ask the people you’re working with what they need. They’ll have a far better answer than I can provide. Most artists, myself included, learned this stuff gradually over time. There isn’t too much you can really fuck up. People are forgiving. Art Directors are our allies. etc etc.
Most illustration invoices need the following information:
Your name, address and contact information. All of it.
Your social security number if you live in the United States.
A clear and obvious description of the job(s) you did for them. Be specific. You can include rights and usage here if you want.
The amount of money they owe you for that job.
Congratulations on finishing your first job. Keep up the good work kiddo.
jhonnymcjhon asked: when your mailing a promo to an art director do you adress it directly to them with the adress of the company they work at or do you adress it to the company and write ATTN: (their name) ? I know its an amateur question but the last thing id want is my mailers to go to the wrong place or get lost in the mail system because of a mistake like that
Just relax buddy. Relaaaaaaaaax. Either is fine, probably doesn’t hurt to list the company name. Take a deep breath. The reality is, most(99%) of promotion gets thrown in the garbage/deleted. Successful promotion isn’t about sending out one or two big mailings, it’s about good habits and steady consistent sharing over the course of many years. Which isn’t to say that your first mailing can’t yield great results. Just remember that you will have plenty of opportunities to tweak and fine tune your process as you go. Ask your friends and see what is working for other up and coming artists. The techniques that worked for me are in some way no longer even relevant. Every generation needs to take the time to figure out for themselves how best to share and promote the work they make. Good luck.
jhonnymcjhon asked: what is the best time of year to send out illustration promos in the mail? I just had my first foldout promo printed and Im worried because its the holiday season now and i dont want it to be overlooked
Now is a great time, actually. A lot of professionals take time off over the holidays, leaving opportunities open for new artists. When I was first getting started I always worked a lot in December, I suspect because more established illustrators were away enjoying their winter vacations. You’re correct in surmising that it’s best not to send promotional material out over the holidays, as it can get lost or ignored when busy people return from time off. But to be honest, waiting to promote yourself for any reason is generally a bad idea. More often than not, I’ve seen “waiting for the perfect moment” used as an excuse to procrastinate or delay promoting one’s work.