Before the advent of the Internet as a promotional tool, and before FedEx was an option for mailing artwork to clients, illustrators basically had to live in New York City and deliver the work themselves.
Living in New York City meant interacting with art directors on the phone and in person on a daily basis. Personal connections and working relationships were formed this way.
The Internet has made it possible for an illustrator to work for a client in Los Angeles and live in the U.K. To be able to work for clients across borders and great distances is an exciting thing, but it changes the foundation of how professionals forge working – and personal – relationships with potential clients.
To that end, social media has added a little personality to an industry that’s gotten a little cold and detached.
Your mother always told you to be yourself, so why would you want to cover up the true you? This may sound a little pretentious, but my own artwork is a reflection of who I am. My earlier portfolios consisted of images built from personal narratives that I created in a very down-to-earth way. The type of work I’m often hired to do usually involves very personal moments in time, filled with themes of self-reflection and self-discovery.
How I use social media is an extension of who I am on a personal level. I share artists and musicians I enjoy, I reply to comments in a very snarky way, I share those revealing moments in time when appropriate. Most of all, I interact with potential clients on Twitter in a very personal way – not because I want to make a sales pitch at the end of the day, but to form a genuine relationship with them that makes me seem easy to talk to, and easy to work with when the right job comes along.
In the same breath of pushing for a “be yourself” approach to presenting yourself through social media, I will also advise the exact opposite. In life, we have moments when we put our feet in our mouths and wish we didn’t. The beauty of social media is that you can choose not only what content you want to present to the world as “true to you,” but you can also hold back content that you feel could be a little too personal, damaging, or possibly break some NDA you just signed.
A good piece of advice would be: If your mother would be shocked to hear you say what you tweet, I wouldn’t tweet it.
If a potential client doesn’t like how you present yourself through social media, he or she probably won’t work well with you on a project.
We all have to come to the hard conclusion that not everyone is going to like our work, or like us personally. Everyone has buttons that, when pushed, leave them cold to everything you say – just like there are buttons that, when pressed, will spark their interest and intrigue them.
If you’re treating social media as a semi-filtered version of your true self and a potential art director is turned off by it, that’s OK. There are other art directors who will enjoy looking at your tweets on DnD meet-ups, string theory, pictures of cats with sliced bread around their head and that really awesome job that finally went live.
Daniel Fishel is an illustrator and hand letterer who originally hails from the Keystone state but resides in Queens, NY. Daniel’s has worked with a range of clients such as The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Nylon Guys Magazine, Arizona Iced Tea, Lands End, No Sleep Records and many others. His work has been recognized by American Illustration, the Society of illustrators and 3×3 Magazine. Daniel Fishel Illustration + Design
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