Art by Doug Cenko

Art by Doug Cenko

APRIL (2017)

Two literary agents look at illustrators' websites

Jill Corcoran and Jodell Sadler

Make the most of a story moment [in your illustration]!

Agents Jill Corcoran and Jodell Sadler of Jill Corcoran Literary treated us to a rich afternoon of looking at illustrators' websites, talking children's publishing today and putting our best feet forward as illustration artists.

In a presentation assembled just for us, packed with a wealth of tips about how to present yourself online as an illustrator and potential author-illustrator, Jodell summed up her recommendations (and challenge to us) this way:

"How do you package your art to show us as agents and art directors what you really want to do and what you want to work on?"

Once you've sorted that out for yourself, you can "organize your website to show what categories, what projects you want to work on," she said. [Continued below Part 2 of the replay.]  

That settled, "show a consistency of styles and approaches" in the work you showcase on your site, Jodell said.

If your style varies from project to project, "explain your differences so that your presentation seems more organized than chaotic," she continued.

Watch out for clutter. Think what your website will look like on mobile. Make sure you have media-friendly images, so they'll load handily online, she said. That means size them (smush them right, not too big, not too small) for easy display and loading on smart phones, tablets and PCs, too.

For subject matter for your illustrator's gallery' the word is 'action.'

"Action is story," Jodell said emphasized. "Have three or four illustrations of the same character doing different things in your portfolio. (We want to trust that you'll be able to render and carry this character through 32 or more pages.)"

"We like that '360 degree' perspective. You want to position your character[s] from different points of view doing a lot of goofy things."

Images should have "a sense of sequence and page turn."

"They should demonstrate that you're thinking story and how to pace you story," Jodell continued. "Remember, you're mining for every moment in your manuscript. Making the most of every pause and page turn in your story and the sing-song between those moments.

"A sense of pacing and 'page turn' are so integral to your skill as an illustrator," Jodell said. And this sensibility should not just carry through not just your dummy spreads, but in shorter image sequences in your portfolio.

Caveats: Be careful about how you mix words and images on your online portfolio. Words and pictures, if used together, must work together, on every level.

That's where your online critique group and illustrator friends can help you.

And from Jill: "Understand what your best work is. Your best work is what you open with.

"Show only the best and lead with your very best. It's your portfolio! That's the one thing we see. And we give it seconds. Seconds!

"But if we stop, we stop for a long time," she said.

Have no track record? No published credits? It's OK, both agents asserted. Get that site up. Put yourself out there, anyway. "Being 'debut' is actually awesome," Jill said.


 Show notes:

Weebly for video sites.

Squarespace for artists's sites.

And my two cents, WordPress for both!

Two agencies specializing in children's book illustrators

The (London headquartered) Bright Agency

Catbird Productions, NYC-based illustrators' agency and packaging company owned by former Bright Agency U.S. manager (and prolific children's author) Kirsten Hall  

Facebook children's author and illustrator support group founded by Jill Corcoran with author Martha Alderson, Path to Publishing.

Jill Corcoran Literary Agency (with submission and query guidelines for agents Jodell, Adah Megged Nuchi and Silvia Ariente and some really good support articles on the site aimed at writers and author-illustrators, too.

You can spend an evening absorbing all of the helpful information and resources on this site.

Jodell's KidLit Collegewith its summer lineup of online presentations and critiques, like Giraffe Picture Book Master Class, an eight week online mentoring course taught by Jodell Sadler starting June 7.

Illustration related Twitter venues mentioned by Jill:
(You might already know of these, but they're certainly worth a reminder)

#KidLitArt - regular Thursday night informal (themed) illustrator Tweet chats with the wonderful KidLitArt gang

Penguin Putnam children's division sr. art director Giuseppe Castellano

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts.

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