Written for Computer Arts Magazine October 2014 issue, on newsstands October 16th
I was working at a well-known magazine recently when I witnessed an Art Director turn down a super-talented illustrator.
Confused, I asked the AD why they were being passed on like a bad meatloaf and the answer I got caught me off guard a bit.
What this illustrator had failed to do was list the details most Art Directors look for on artist’s websites: things like the client, the date, the context etc. The Art Director was left guessing if they had any professional experience; he was left guessing whether they could execute on a tight deadline, where they were based out of (they take time differences into account) and when each piece was done. Worse yet, this illustrator used only a gmail account—that included a number. Eek!
Having worked professionally in the creative field for a few years, the simple premise of what information your copy conveys wasn’t something I ever seriously considered–but it’s something I’ve since heard other clients mention as a reason they hire or don’t hire someone. Art Directors want to know you can be counted on; they need you to RSVP and show up in time for the party, no matter how well you dress.
As a fellow creative, while I may swoon over a well-designed website complete with clever copy and top-tier work, it doesn’t mean Mr. CEO will. Many creatives cater their online presence and website to other creatives rather than to the people who pay them. With money. Sure, a gorgeous site that pleases your comrades is important, but so is pleasing your clients—both current and prospective.
I’m not suggesting you strip your site of all personality and make the copy full-width, 25pt Times New Roman, I’m merely urging you to ensure that you offer everything that someone trying to hire you needs. What are the must-haves? Include the name of the client/agency the work was for, the date it was published and the category (editorial, advertising etc.) if you can. This helps give clients an idea of your working style/speed without you having to say how long it took you. And for goodness sake, list exactly what you did. It sounds like a given, but if you show a magazine spread complete with a hand-lettered title, illustration and editorial design, outline the aspects that you executed or if you did it all, credit yourself—and don’t forget to list the Art Director. Including a few interesting details about the project never hurt anyone either—there’s a way to make a sale without being greasy.
Overall, your clients have better things to do than make guesses about you, so be specific and honest, ensure that your site is easy to navigate and (bonus) is mobile optimized. Don’t use a gmail if you’re serious about being a professional and do spell-check. And remember; what’s published online remains forever, so think twice before tweeting.