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Playing at pirates or thoughts on promotion

daily doodle for May 14, 2010
daily doodle for May 14, 2010

I have come to the end of my work related projects. Sadly, I have not spent an equal amount of time on promotion while I was busy working on those projects, so I find myself in the uncomfortable position of being ‘unemployed.’ As a freelancer, and self employed illustrator, I realize this is a common occurrence in my profession, especially for the lone artist. Many of my fellow illustrators are also bemoaning a certain lack of paying work.

In years past I would have met this dilemma with fatalism and fear. But now I just realize it is part of the ups and downs that accompany the freelance lifestyle. I know what to do. Get out there and pound the proverbial sidewalk. Which brings me to the sad state of affairs that I have not yet discovered the secret formula for what works in bringing in new clients. After working as an artist (and a freelancer) since the late 80s, one would think I had gotten this part of my profession figured out. That would be a resounding — not really.

So, it is time to create a postcard mailer. On a small bit of real estate measuring approximately 4″ x 5″ minus mailing requirement to meet postal regulations, I have to showcase my work and convince an otherwise busy art director, editor or business person that I am the exactly right artist for his or her needs. My postcard also has to stand out enough from the 100s of others also crossing the potential client’s desk that day to warrant said person to take the time to visit my web site and see more of my art and assess if my skill sets and style match the current project needs. It is a daunting task to say the least.

Not only do I need talent, skill, style and perseverance, I also need a good dollop of luck. My postcard has to arrive on a day when the person receiving it is in a receptive mood, has the need for someone with my particular style and focus and a project available for me to work on. That, my friends, is a lot of ifs.

Which brings me to the playing at pirates part. In the past I have sent out art already created, or portions of books recently published (or about to be) and this time I’ve decided that won’t do. I’ve decided I need to create a series of illustrations meant just for this promotional purpose. I spent a week or two considering my options. Said options are endless, limited only by my imagination. And as you may have noticed I have a vivid imagination.

I have several pieces I started and abandoned for whatever reasons. One of these is a pirate girl I began to develop for a friend’s blog and never got past the rough sketch stage. I don’t know if the friend’s project ever went anywhere, but I do really like the sketch and want to move it from the ‘someday I’ll finish this’ pile into the completed project pile.

Being the over-achieving artist, Type-A personality that I am, I have decided to take the original drawing and instead of completing the sketch I have, to take the concept and make it bigger and better. So instead of one lone girl pirate, there will now be a bunch of children playing pirate. With a boat. And a parrot. And maybe a treasure map or two. The postcard has morphed into a full fledged story line.

Why do I do this to myself?

My sketch book awaits! Wish me luck.

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