6 ways to get commissioned as an illustrator

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Getting your first commission as a creative in any field can be tough, but with self-belief, perseverance and a solid plan of action, you can bag that first client and kick on.

Following a recent interview with California-based freelance cartoonist, Malane Newman, here we break down her her six tips on how best to sell your services as an illustrator. 

Build a massive portfolio


"The more you have to show, the better your chances of being hired," suggests Newman. "Clients often need to see that you can do what they want. So have a lot to show."

While a large selection of work could be key to showing your varsatility, maybe you'd want to pick out a few of the best examples of your work. Either way, it's good to show a snapshot of what you can do, especially considering the competition out there today.

Develop numerous skills


"Having different skills opens you up to a variety of projects and helps to keep your work levels and income steady," says Newman, who has made sure she's kept up to date with evolving technology throughout her career. 

"For illustrators, learn different drawing styles. Learn ALL the predominantly used software programmes. Keep up with technology."

Practice, practice, practice


"Artists should NEVER stop learning or progressing their skills. Keep practicing until you master it all," she adds, explaining that you can never know too much about your creative discipline.

Newman learnt how to write HTML and CSS to offer website development along with web design at one point in her career to broaden her skills.

Be a business professional at all times


"Write boilerplate contracts for EACH of your service offerings. Create branding for your contracts, receipts, website, business cards, etc.," adds the artist.

"Set deadlines and stick to them. Be self-disciplined. Run your graphic business like any other professional business."

Don’t be afraid to fire a client


Once you've gained interest in your services, don't sell yourself short. Be confident in what your have to offer and don't be afraid to move on if something isn't right.

"Not all clients are good clients. Just as they are deciding whether to hire you, you should be evaluating whether you want them as a client," adds Newman. "When one door closes, another door opens."

Market yourself


Finally, make sure you have a presence online where prospective clients can see who you are, what you do and some of your work online. Update your Creativepool profile regularly and continue building your network by interacting with the community.

"The internet is full of low-cost or free ways to market yourself or show off your work," concludes Newman. "Take advantage of every possible avenue available."


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