This post is one of a four part series:
How to contact Art Directors: Part I – Marc Scheff
How to contact Art Directors: Part II – Jon Schindehette
How to contact Art Directors: Part III – Lauren Panepinto
How to contact Art Directors: Part IV – Mike Linnemann
Again summarizing from previous posts: This is a blog series to help art students as well as new artists familiarize themselves with the best ways to go about contacting art directors, when starting out as an illustrator. The goal is not to be a nuisance and make a good impression.
In order to give you a well rounded perspective I asked a handful of art directors to answer 10 questions on the topic. First was Marc Scheff from Tree House Brand Stores and second up was Wizards of the Coast Art Director Jon Schindehette and now we’re taking a look into the world of Book Publishing with Lauren Panepinto from Orbit Books.
1. What is your preferred method of communication if a new artist is looking to make contact and why?
Email. Send me a link to your site, and maybe 1-3 loses jpegs attached if you want me to see something specific. I keep all my files digitally for artists, so I can easily email to editors/authors or print them out for meetings.
While we’re on this topic, please good god have right-click-downloadable jpegs on your site, and they don’t have to be hi res, but nice enough to print out decent on a letter size piece of paper. I understand you don’t want people to steal your work, but they’re going to do it anyway. Making it easy for A.D.s to show editors nice examples of your work is critical to you getting approved for a project. And no I don’t send them straight to your website, because god forbid they see one piece that isn’t perfect in there, and then it’s all over. I send them the pieces of your work that most directly apply to the job at hand.
2. Social media is becoming increasingly popular amongst artists as a tool for networking, how do you feel about artists befriending you on Facebook? Is there a right and a wrong way to go about it?
I am a mainly Facebook person, and I’m happy to befriend any artists that ask. It’s honestly the primary way I’m seeing your work updates. However, I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to try to keep my work and personal personas separate – I don’t think it works, and that’s a whole other blog post right there…so if my updates of goofy kickboxing and randomly climbing up roadside dinosaurs on the way to illuxcon bug you, then consider yourself warned now. Although I do try to keep generally to geek and/or art topics when posting.
Bonus social media: do process posts on instagram, and pin your portfolio pieces on pinterest. Kekai Kotaki & Richard Anderson are a great example of good ways to show sketches and little fun stuff on instagram.
3. Conventions are a great opportunity for networking, both for artists and Art Directors alike. However some new artists are nervous about approaching Art Directors in person just because they would like a job. What is your advice to this and how do you prefer that artists introduce themselves to you during conventions?
If we didn’t like artists stopping us to talk we wouldn’t last 2 days at our jobs. If it were random artists stopping us at the grocery store, or at a bar, I would still be ok with that, but at conventions? you’re AT a convention to meet artists, so really, we’re going to be more open there than anywhere.
4. If you ask a new artist to email you after meeting in person. How soon after the meeting should they do so? (ie. The next day, next week, next month)
if i ask them specifically for a job, the sooner the better, you want to impress me with how on top of shit you are. If it’s just “keep me updated on your work” then within a week or two – before I start to lose the face-name-work connections.
5. When emailing an Art Director for the first time – what should the ideal email contain?
If we met, mention where, then a link to your site, and maybe 1-3 loses jpegs attached if you want me to see something specific.
6. It is no secret that many Art Directors are busy people and get a lot of emails. If your email goes unresponded, should you send a reminder email and if so how long should you wait before doing so?
If you emailed just to update new work and say hi, then don’t follow up, ill get to you. usually the time it takes me to get back to you is proportional to the amount of stuff I actually want to say. if I’m sitting on an email for a while it’s because i actually want to respond with more than a k, thanks, bye.
However if we’re actively working on a project together, then id say 48 hours is a non-annoying amount of time. unless you’re like leaving on vacation and there’s something you need to finish, or some emergency. honestly i don’t think you can over-communicate when on a job. sometimes i’m held up waiting for editor approval, or author approval, but i’ll tell you that i am.
7. On that note Art Directors may ask for artists to send them periodical updates. What is the ideal timeframe for you to receive such updates without feeling like you are being spammed?
If you have something new to show, then attach it and then there’s no timeframe. if it’s just a link to nothing different in your portfolio then maybe once every month or two is enough.
8. How do you personally seek out new artists and how do you keep tabs on the artists you have met?
Interwebs, Facebook, pintrest has been a big one lately, instagram, blogs, and most importantly, other-A.D.s recommendations. I do a lot of portfolio reviews, but maybe only 10% of the people i see are ready to work. thats more of a student thing.
9. What is the most positive encounter you have had with a new artist and what is the worst?
Best are the ones who are good AND on top of their business game. keep in communication, helpful, understanding about revisions. You know that neil gaiman speech that was going around? he’s really just rephrasing what A.D.s say constantly. Be Good, Be Nice, Be On Time. If you are 2 of 3, you will work, if you are 3 of 3 you will have so much work you have to turn work away.
10. Do you ever get tired of having to explain the same things over and over to new artists?
God no, thats my job. I consider it the ultimate triumph of the artist-A.D. system when I see a portfolio young – maybe in school, maybe just out, maybe self-taught, see it progress over a few years, until it’s finally at the point that they’re what i need (and then a book has to come up that matches their style, which can be a frustrating wait) – but when it all comes together it’s an epic win day at the job.
– Lauren Panepinto
About Lauren: Lauren Panepinto is the Creative Director at Orbit Books, one of the leading publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Asides from being an Creative Director with many years of experience she is also a passionate geek, who loves to sport colorful and creative leggins. She studied Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts.
Lauren lives in New York City.