Resource Review: Inside the Business of Illustration


I’m using some of the information found in this book, but not quite as much as I seem to be using Nuts & Bolts. Arisman being an illustrator and Heller being an art director, they are able to give both perspectives of the business. It also includes a reprint of a talk that Milton Glaser gave before the ICON 3 Illustration Conference. Some of the specific pages/quotes I am or may be using:

  • (PDF 01) “Uncertainty can be productive if perceived as a part of a larger picture and how the illustration business will function in the next decade will be the result of the flux experienced today.”
  • (PDF “101”) “In the past two years, with the formation of the Illustrators’ Partnership of America (IPA) and Illustration Conferences, the business issues of illustration are being addressed in a more organized way. The IPA’s mission is to enhance and promote the illustration business for present and future generations of illustrators by retaining and protecting the intellectual property rights of its members and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of illustrators. The organization provides legal advice, information on protection of images on the Web, human resources (i.e. health insurance), education options, and a library service.” (I may not use this for my paper, but it is useful to know of)
  • (PDF 102) (on sending a visual book of related images rather than a single card of different samples) “My rationale for sending a visual essay instad of a single image in a promotion piece is simply that the art director can get a better grasp on how the artist thinks and forms an idea. The added component is that it’s harder to throw away a small book. After years of doing this I know it works. Not for everybody right away, but it starts the process of moving into the outside world with your images. Some students have gotten jobs immediately. Some receive replies of interest from art directors and requests to see their portfolios and some get no response until their next promotion piece. This is an ongoing process, not a one-shot piece. Take the time and energy to send a promotion piece that is worth sending.”
  • (PDF 103) Heller: “I receive as many as thirty postcards a week and at least a dozen URLs for illustrators’ Web sites. It’s more than too much for two very good reasons. One, I simply cannot process that many artists – many of whom are quite good judging from the postcard. Two, as a form, postcards are not very distinctive. Frankly, I tend to discard them after a week or two because I just don’t have the space to keep them in a visible place.” “I agree agree that the idea of telling a story in six of more images is useful. I further agree that a package of disparate samples is not the most effective way of getting a personality across, and, finally, the postcard format is too generic. But I am not opposed to making a conceptual promotion. The worst idea is one that tries too hard to be clever, but a clever presentation free from artifice is worth its weight in gold.” (next page) “Today I’m more apt to save a piece that looks like considerable thought was put into its conception and manufacture. For example, I am a total sucker for anything done in letterpress because this tells me three things about the illustrator: One, that he or she understands fine printing. Two, that he or she has aesthetic taste. Three, there is a level or design sophistication that hopefully will also be apparent in the artwork, as well. I guess this leads to another point that is important to me. It’s one thing to be able to illustrate intelligently, it’s another to have a holistic sense of visual communications. If I see that a promotion piece is smartly conceived I have more faith that the artist has intelligence. If the art lives up to this promise then he or she’s got a great one-two punch.” “The concept of promotion is a step-by-step process regardless of what form it takes (mailers, booklets, gallery announcement, etc.). The first step is to identify the people (art directors, collectors, etc.) who show interest in your work. The second step is to stay in contact. For example: you send out a mailer and get a note back, “Nice work. Stay in touch.” A month later you get an assignment from another magazine, you have a small show in a galley, you have a new piece you are really excited about. You send it to the interested party with a short note – “Thank you for the nice note you sent me regarding my work. I’ve enclosed a copy of (tear sheet, gallery announcement, new piece) for your files.” Send them an announcement of your new Web site. Web sites are good vehicles for promotion but the same rules apply. Only put up what you are most proud of, not what you think they will buy. If you are located in a big city, go to openings – Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Art Directors Club, etc. Bring your promo cards – if the opportunity seems appropriate, talk to art directors and give them a way to see more of your work. Never bring your portfolio to an opening. Always know what kind of work (publication, book jackets, etc.) the art director does. Too many young illustrators don’t take the time and effort to research the names of art directors and familiarize themselves with past images they commission.”

Date You Found the Resource: 2/28/13

Type (category) of Resource: Book

Title of Resource: Inside the Business of Illustration

Author: Steven Heller and Marshall Arisman

Editor: Nicole Potter, Monica Rodriguez

Publisher and Place of Publication: Allworth Press, an imprint of Allworth Communications, Inc., 10 East 23rd St., New York, NY

Date of Publication, Copyright, or Web Post: 2004

Medium of Publication: Book

Name of Library: N/A (Prof. Mansfield’s personal library)

Name of Database or Search Engine Used: N/A

Summary: This book is about the business of illustration (obviously), and whether illustration is a dying art or will experience a resurgence. The authors, Marshall Arisman (who is an illustrator), and Steven Heller (who is an art director) explore various ideas, including: “illustration versus fine art”, personal style, communication through illustrations, “making the most of promotional efforts”, “pros and cons of professional representation” (agents), “handling difficult price negotiations”, and “exploring a wide range of venues for illustration”.

Usefulness: This resource could be very useful, as it is relevant and knowledgable.

Source Location: Book (will be scanned and notes taken)

Credibility: The authors are very knowledgable and credible. Steven Heller is the art director of the New York Times Book Review and co-chair of the MFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts. Marshall Arisman is a well-known illustrator and painter. He has been featured on Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Nation, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. He has paintings in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian, and the Guang Dong Museum of Contemporary Art in CHina. He is the chair of the MFA degree program, “Illustration as Visual Essay” at the School of Visual Arts.

Response: I think this resource will be helpful in answering many of my research questions.

Response: I hope that this resource will be one of my most helpful.

Validity: This resource is consistent, logical, and relevant.


About Phoebs

Phoebs is a Fine Arts student pursuing an Honors degree in Illustration.
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