Edit: I'm happy to say that freelance has been going well, and since Big Huge was picked up by 38 Studios, I've been on as a remote contractor with them. Good stuff!
Well, its been a bit since I've written an update, and plenty has happened since the last one.
I was unfortunately laid off at my job at Big Huge Games, along with about 50 others. Upsides include that I had to bite the bullet and get a new laptop (its niiiice), and also my artwork got featured on the Kotaku website when they did their story on the game that we will no longer be making. I guess that's life though, roll with the punches and take the good with the bad.
Freelance has been picking up, and recently I got the attention of a client that I'm REALLY excited about (its one of the big ones!). I'll spill more beans on that when things are set in stone, right now its all looking very positive, but I haven't actually been given the assignment yet. I'm also working on a few different art tests for studios, so hopefully one of them will be a fit, I'd be happy to work at any of them.
So I was thinking, in light of losing my day job and kicking the freelance machine into high-gear, having a strong portfolio is only half the battle in this industry. I mean, if your work is great, well great, but you hafta be able to relentlessly pursue studios and clients with your work, and keep your ears open for potential match-ups. I mean, its a lot of work that doesn't yield immediate results.
My keeping up a blog [link]
, making the trip to NYCC 09, having a presence on www.conceptart.org, sending out postcards, and emailing are all part of the same game. I had professors in college say that postcards were a waste when it comes to self promotion. Well, if ALL they were using was postcards, then I would agree. But if you've been interacting with a potential client at conventions and on their blogs and periodically sending email updates, a postcard can be "the straw that broke the camel's back" in getting them to consider you for work. I'm serious about this! Its all the little things that add up, there's more to being a successful artist than simply making good artwork.
Ah, I think I'm done with my tiny rant for today. But if anyone knows of any studios who need a concept artist, feel free to point me in their general direction.
EDIT: I got rollin' on some related stuff below in a reply, so I thought I would just add it up here to keep it all consolidated.
If you're having trouble finding new clients to work for and don't know where to look, its actually kinda simple when you stop and think about it. Check out professional illustrators' sites where they list their clients. Sure, there will be clients like Marvel or WotC, generally tough nuts to crack. But you will also find smaller companies that are easier to get your foot in the door. Fantasy Flight Games was one of the first companies that ever gave me a freelance gig (still do, from time to time). So look everywhere where you'd expect to find the names of new companies. Even in Spectrum you can find out what some of the artworks were done for, and once you know the name of the company it was done for, its simply a matter of tracking down that company online and finding their contact info.
Once you do have clients, one of the best ways to prevent your freelance stream from "dying" is making sure you find every excuse to email them every two months or so. "Hey I want to share this new piece I recently did" or "Hey I'm free for the next few months to take on more work, got anything coming up?" can work.
So yeah, I think its all pretty common-sense once you get the ball rolling and get into the groove.
Also, my other bit of advice is to keep on contacting professional illustrators who you look up to, and ask them how your portfolio could be better tailored to get freelance work. Even if only 1 in every 5 respond, if you email 25 artists, thats 5 good opinions you can chew on.
This is a good blog to keep tabs on too, [link]
loads of helpful self-promotion advice.
And as always, visit my blog: [link]
and feel free to subscribe, even!