Hints and Tips for Illustrators
Putting your portfolio online makes it easily accessible worldwide and saves a fortune in photocopying costs. But visiting editors are likely to be in a hurry so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to see your work.
Speed and navigation
It's very important to make sure your site runs quickly. Faced with a long wait to see an elaborate opening page, busy editors will wander off to other illustrators' sites instead. So avoid Flash animation unless that's the particular skill you are trying to sell.
On the actual portfolio pages, use small thumbnails of your work that can be clicked on to see a larger, higher resolution version. Those who choose to do this will be happy to wait for this to download because they know they want to see it.
The navigation needs to be very clear. Don't try to do anything unusual or use icons instead of words. Potential customers don't want to play guessing games - they just want to see your work and well-chosen names for your links are an easy way to show your range.
Organising your portfolio
Although you may instinctively divide your work by medium (watercolour, crayon etc), editors may be more interested in whether you can draw cats, people or horses. There's no reason why the same picture can't feature on more than one page so you could divide it into black and white, colour, animals, people, landscapes etc.
From a potential customer's point of view, there is little point in organising your work as greeting cards, books, calendars etc as the same pictures could be used in each. It's better to indicate these aspects of your work in the introductory text or the 'about me' page.
Protecting your work
Obviously placing your pictures on the web makes them publicly available. You can protect them in several ways.
- Keep the resolution high enough to look good on screen but too low for the pictures to be successfully reproduced on paper.
- Write your name on each picture so that it's still viewable but not suitable for reproduction.
- Put a copyright statement on your site, including contact information for those who decide they want to use a picture.
It's good to include a page about yourself, including relevant background details about your training and experience. Don't forget to indicate where you work - you don't need to give your address but you should at least say which country you live in.
Mention any books you've illustrated as these show you are professional and used to working with editors. You could include comments on how you tackled the artwork - any specific challenges the book presented and which medium you chose and why.
To attract more visitors to your site, you could also include information on how you work, tips for new illustrators or a guide to drawing cats or whatever else is your speciality. If you don't feel very confident about writing articles, you could just put a series of pictures showing the various stages in developing an illustration.